Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve – Costa Rica’s first protected area just minutes from Santa Teresa
Costa Rica’s protected areas encompass over 25 percent of its total landmass, making it a world leader in conservation, with an estimated five percent of the world’s biodiversity found here. Costa Rica has no less than 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves.
So what does one do when they visit Costa Rica? They head out into the wild, for a deep dive into this ‘living Eden,’ as the country is often referred to by scientists and naturalists.
From our luxe beach hideaway in Santa Teresa on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, it’s just half an hour by car to Cabo Blanco Reserve, a must-visit while staying at Latitude 10. Seeking to preserve and rehabilitate Costa Rica’s tropical ecosystems and biodiversity, nature reserves differ from national parks in that community and conservationist groups manage their land.
The Cabo Blanco Reserve encompasses 2896 acres of pristine dry tropical forest famed for its biologically rich ecosystems. Anteaters, margays, coatis, sloths, white-tailed deer, howler and capuchin monkeys and a variety of snakes call Cabo Blanco home, not to mention over 150 species of trees. Cabo Blanco is also an important seabird refuge where white-threaded magpie-jays, bare-throated tiger herons, and long-tailed manakins fly overhead.
Mostly composed of secondary forest, Cabo Blanco also has a small portion of primary forest at its higher elevations. To reach and roam the primary forest, you’ll need to be quite fit; if you’re not in the best of shapes, not to worry – there are also easy trails throughout the park. An example of a more strenuous hike is the three-mile Sueco Trail, which winds through the entire reserve north to south, and ends up at a secluded white-sand beach.
One of the country’s most beautiful stretches of nature, Cabo Blanco was Costa Rica’s first protected area, established in 1963 by a couple of Swedish immigrants. The reserve is the result of efforts by private landowners and conservationists who were concerned about the overdevelopment of the Nicoya Peninsula and banded together to lobby the government. Think deserted beaches, deep-blue sea, unusual geological formations and countless tidal pools where a myriad of sea creatures live.
A hike into this spectacular wilderness on the Pacific with a naturalist guide is an experience not to be missed while staying at Latitude 10. It’s also a stellar way to support Costa Rica’s sustainable conservation policies. With only 40 visitors allowed into the park on a daily basis, it is a good idea to book a tour as soon as you’ve checked in.