The town of Puntarenas is over 5 kilometers long and only 50 meters wide at the narrowest point. It is the capital of the province of Puntarenas, the biggest province in Costa Rica. For many years the port of Puntarenas was the most important port in the country. Coffee beans were shipped from Puntarenas, via Cape Horn, to Europe. The harbor lost its importance with completion of the railroad between San Jose and Limon in 1890.
Though there are no trains anymore on that railroad route, Limon still is the most frequented port in Costa Rica. On the Pacific the container ships load and unload in Caldera.
Cruise ships regularly moor at the docks in Puntarenas. Their passengers try to see as much of Costa Rica as possible in one day, not an easy task.
There were times when Puntarenas was a popular beach destination for the people from San Jose. Nowadays more people drive to Jaco for a weekend at the beach. But the boardwalk is still crowded with people that stroll among the restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and ice cream parlors. It is very hot in Puntarenas and an ice cream or a swim in the ocean is always inviting.
The port basin with shipyards, docks and warehouses is located on the north end of Puntarenas. Many fishing boats and private yachts bob up and down waiting for their next trip. Puntarenas is an important place of departure for many destinations on the Nicoya Peninsula. Passenger ferries and car ferries commute, several times a day, to Paquera and Playa Naranjo.
Information about the ferries between Puntarenas and Paquera, Naviera Tambor:
Ferry ticket fares are the following: Adult passengers ¢810,-; kids ¢485,- and cars ¢11,400,-. Departure time from Puntarenas: 7:00 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Duration: 1.20 hours.
Information about the ferries between Puntarenas and Playa Naranjo, COONATRAMAR:
Ferry ticket fares are the following: Adult passengers ¢1005,-; kids ¢600,- and cars ¢9,000,-. Departure time from Puntarenas: 6:30 am, 10:00 am, 2:30 pm, 7:00 pm. Duration: 1 hour.
Other boats leave on day trips to Isla Tortuga. This island is great for snorkeling and swimming.
The former prison island, Isla San Lucas, in the Gulf of Nicoya, will be turned into a tourist attraction in the future.