|Disclaimer – the information and opinions expressed below are entirely those of the authors and other visitors to the area, and should not in any way be confused with irrefutably accurate advice as things are always changing in Costa Rica!
Q. “We have a week in Costa Rica, and want to check out both coasts and as much in between as possible”.
A.We really believe that with only one or two weeks in Costa Rica, and part of that simply reserved for travel days, you would be best to choose one or two main areas to visit, as driving and getting about is not as quick and easy as in the US or Europe....and that's saying it diplomatically! You'll likely have a great time anywhere you go, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Osa or the Central Valley, but trying to do too much in a short time is the single biggest mistake people make when going there....that and leaving their luggage unattended in their unlocked , or even locked, car!
Q.What are the main differences between the Pacific and Caribbean sides?
A.Basically the Pacific side is the area of the country that has received most tourist attention in the past, and the big investments, but for many it has become way too developed - Century 21 and Remax signs abound, condos, big hotels, the whole resort bit springing up all over the coast…sadly, a good deal of it second rate, and in many places you’ll find the “party” crowd interrupting your view, so be careful in your choices. However, there are still some fine, relatively unspoiled spots to explore; for example at the southern side of the Nicoya Peninsula around Montezuma and Malpais. On the Pacific side you also have the Manuel Antonio Beach Park...a big tourist draw, and deservedly so, except that these beautiful coves and bays are now only accessible via a built-up strip of motels, hotels, restaurants, shops and bars, so that takes the edge off the natural experience somewhat. Still, the Pacific side is worth exploring, especially if you enjoy socializing and want more touristic services and organized tours. The Central Valley with Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the mountain country is of course a great experience even with the rough road rides, and the Osa Peninsula, although rather isolated and hard to reach, is beyond splendid… the southwest Pacific coast around Pavones is also quiet and mostly undeveloped, with world class surfing. It’s a big little country, lots to see, so little time!
In contrast, the Caribbean side, or at least the part that is of most general interest to the visitor), only began seeing measurable tourist activity in the early 90’s, since there were very few tarmac roads before, and no electricity in Puerto Viejo until 1987. The main destination for visitors (excepting the Tortuguero National Park preserve) is actually only a small strip of calm coastline with rugged hills behind (the Talamanca Mountains ), generally known as the Caribe Sur, stretching about 20 miles from roughly Cahuita to Manzanillo, where the road ends, the incredible national park of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge begins and Panama borders. The area is still largely undeveloped - in terms of a large choice of tourist class hotels, services and infrastructure - although there’s plenty of smaller scale lodging /food/activities of good quality, and price range. The rainforest all around is healthy, dense and inspiring, and goes right down to beaches edge, which is a phenomenon you rarely see anywhere else, making the place feel exotic and magical. The whole area retains an air of authenticity, and although there are now quite a few Latin Americans, Europeans and North Americans visiting, living and making small businesses, the local black, originally Jamaican, English speaking population, still infuse the culture with a character you don’t see anywhere else in the country….something for everyone. Other than during rainy seasons, the water is always refreshing and warm (80-85) without being tepid, often that gorgeous Caribbean blue you see in sun tan lotion commercials, and the coral reefs just offshore a fine place for snorkeling and diving, although fishing is not a large scale offering here. Dolphins can often be seen in number via a 30-40 minute boat ride down to the mouth of the Sixaola River.
The bad rap on the Caribbean - always raining and full of crime - has proved in our experience at least, to be more than a little exaggerated, often put about by the Central Valley media and people who have actually never been there, or have an investment in the Pacific, with perhaps an undertone of racism. Although there can indeed be spells of heavy rain between November and February, and transitional wet periods from June to September, plus annoying incidences of petty theft, as there are everywhere in the country, don’t believe the stories and come see for yourself! The people who live in the Caribe Sur are actually rather ambivalent about the reputation, since they are happy for the area to stay less developed…but, each to his/her own for in Costa Rica, we have always found there to be at least 4 sides to any story!
Q. “What’s the weather really like in the Caribbean?”
A. Quote “Although the Caribbean coast has average overall rainfall, the rain is distributed more evenly throughout the year than in other areas making this a more pleasant, "evergreen" environment. The average 77-86 degree F. is moderated by the warm, shallow Caribbean water and refreshing tropical breezes. The changing factor is rain and this is how it falls:
**January and November are transitional periods with higher winds and some rainy days.
**February through May are generally sunny with a little rain
**July and December are the months of heaviest rainfall
**Mid-August through the first part of November is summery with some rain.
Q.“We want to drive straight to the Caribe Sur on the day we arrive…”
A. … whatever your schedule we’d strongly advise you allow yourself an overnight night stay in San Jose, or near the airport, on the inbound and outbound, as the Carieb Sur is a good 5+ hours drive from where you land, and you never know how the road/traffic/weather conditions will be. However if your plane arrives at 8AM, and you have decided that San Jose holds nothing of immediate interest for you – which is regrettably often true for the short term visitor- and you have strong coffee and a strong stomach, you can indeed be on one of our beaches by 3PM that day. Stay alert, watch the trucks, drive carefully!
Q. “Do we need to stay in San Jose?"
A. Due to flight times and ground travel reasons it’s often a necessary stopover, specially if you arrive in the afternoon or evening and are planning to drive to the Caribbean - a 4-5 hour drive...and it's dark around 5:45 every night. San Jose is about 30/40 minutes by car to downtown from the airport . You can however opt to stay the night outside San Jose nearer the airport, and avoid the traffic and difficulty of finding your way around the town. Rental car agencies will usually deliver your car to your hotel. Cost-wise, bear in mind that as with many things in Costa Rica, you pay 17% tax on top of the room rate, and at restaurants, add another 10% for service…so allow 25% extra for almost everything.
Note - Direct Flights resumed from San Jose to Puerto Limon at $80 per person – check with Natureair.com. Pick-up your car in Limon.
Q.Do we need a car in Costa Rica, or to get around in the Caribbean?”
A.Depends on what you want to do, but if you plan on travelling around on your own, in general it's a good idea to have your dependable transport. But first, the alternatives to a rental car. You don't necessarily need a car when you're in the Limon area, and there are direct public buses from the Caribe Terminal in San Jose which leave about 4 times day for about $8 each way. Although tedious and some of the buses are way past their prime, (5 hours +) at least you can snooze and stare out the window at some interesting scenery, however, it only stops once for bathroom/food breaks. . The bus drops you in Puerto Viejo where you can get a taxi for about $6-9 to anywhere in the area. If you’re on a tight budget then the bus can make sense because the cost for a rental car can be much more than US or European visitors are used to paying…and the full-size 4WD vehicles, which are the roomiest and mosr secure choice for the road conditions all over the country can be pricey to rent with tax and insurance – from $60-100 a day from the larger agencies. There are local buses up and down the coast road, but the schedule is not frequent - usually buses go back and forth between Manzanillo and Limon 2 or 3 times a day.
In our opinion the best bet to get to/from San Jose if you’re not going to rent a car is one of Private shuttles minivans which are advertised everywhere and can be arranged to pick you up at your hotel for about $35 a each way. One of the biggest and best is at Interbus www.interbusonline.com
The pros to having your own car… independence and flexibility, plus anytime you want to venture off almost any tarmac road - even to access the beaches - biking or walking can become a hot or wet and always sweaty chore, and in the evenings it is dark by 5:30-6pm all year and the roads are only intermittently lit...and often bumpy. Further, if you want to go into any of the "villages" (from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo) it's 30 minutes steamy riding avoiding potholes and cars, as opposed to 10-15 minutes behind your own wheels.
Another option is to rent a car in Puerto Viejo from Poas Car Rental who now have an office just outside town – take the public or private bus from San Jose, and pick up/drop off your car locally so you don't have to make the San Jose-Limon drive.
Tip: Whether you drive or get a bus to and from the Caribe Sur to San Jose, we'd advise allowing a full day travel time, and certainly leaving the day before your flight home, just in case of delays on the road...but if your flight home is say after 4pm, you could get the earliest PV-San Jose bus back (7AM), but its higher risk.
Car v. 4 Wheel Drive: Our recommendation would be to rent at least the smallest 4WD vehicle - for example a Daihatsu Terios - available at most rental agencies...it’s fine for two-four medium size adults, or two children, with not too much luggage, gets great fuel economy, and most importantly will give you the flexibility to explore/access almost anywhere off the main road, at your own pace and schedule. You can rent bicycles or motor scooters in numerous locations, and take the local rides you want, which are basically up and down the coast road and side roads, but for popping down to the grocery store to pick up some milk...you'll be very glad you have an easier option, even if you stay somewhere right on the beach or next to the road. 4WD while not essential much of the time, is highly recommended at all times!
On dealing with CR car rental agencies “…even if they can’t/won’t guarantee the exact car you want at the moment of booking, or even if they do, once you arrive you may well find that they have a different line-up of cars available, as they never really know for sure what the situation will be on that day. As with everything regarding Costa Rica once you’ve committed to the trip... double check every arrangement, and with the Car agencies and hotels agree exactly when and where they'll pick you up, and have them hold a sign with your name on it at the airport where you arrive. Make sure you have everything confirmed in writing.
DIRECTIONS TO THE CARIBE SUR FROM SAN JOSE
(It's simple, but best to drive during the daylight)
Take the main highway from San Jose to Limon (the Braulio Carrillo Highway – lovely drive through the National Park)
(Note: occasionally this road is closed for repairs/weather – the alternate route is the old Limon Road through Turrialba - slower, but delightful - if necessary.
Drive about 150 kilometers to Puerto Limon --
Turn right just before “downtown” Limon at a main crossroads/traffic light with a big green sign posted to Cahuita/ Puerto Viejo/Penshurt
Follow that road out of town and stay on all the way along the coast for another 60 kilometers or so until it ends at Manzanillo.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING !!! Before your trip, rent the Movie!
The 2003 Canadian produced movie The Blue Butterfly, starring William Hurt, was shot in and around the rainforests of Limon, and it appears a number of scenes were created in the area around Punta Uva and Cahuita, though it’s hard to tell precisely. Beautiful scenic and wildlife shots make this movie a wonderful pre or post visit primer – not a bad story either!
The 2004 Costa Rican-made movie called Caribe tells the story of the struggle between the local communities of the Caribe Sur and the oil companies and local backers. Also shot in and around the area.
Q. “ Should we bring US dollars or Costa Rican Colones?”
A. You can pretty much use US dollars anywhere at anytime...people in CR are well used to getting out their calculators and doing the sums...the rate in late 2008 is about one dollar to 550 colones. In 2007 they jiggered about with the colone v dollar and fixed the exchange rate to the detriment of the US $, but it's now climbing back up again. Many Costa Ricans prefer to hold US$ because the value is more steady because of local inflation. Generally speaking you might want to carry no more than $100-200 in cash (travelers checks are not really worthwhile unless you plan to carry a lot of money around, and then you just have to line up in a bank to change them which is best to avoid if possible). Your ATM and credit cards will get you most everything you need while in CR. However, it is best to also change and carry $100 or so in colones once you arrive, because sometimes if you haven't got exactly the right number of US $ bills, they may not have the right change and it gets confusing, and also its sometimes more convenient to pay the smaller shops and grocery stores in the currency they know best - prices are most often in colones - and then you don't have to track the changing daily rate for every transaction. Also, its best to pay for car gas in colones because the gas machines are calibrated in colones, and its best to try to avoid opportunities for getting overcharged because of rate/calculator issues!
ATMs/At the San Jose Airport: There is an ATM kiosk at the San Jose airport quite close to where you arrive...you must cross the road in front of the arrivals exit - where all the taxi drivers will be standing hoping to get your business - then you go up the flight of stairs and the ATM is there...just ask someone if you can't see it. ATM's almost everywhere give out either dollars or colones whatever you choose...sometimes they charge $1-5 a transaction, and your own bank may hit you up later for another $2-5 charge, but it’s more convenient than carrying travelers checks etc. There is an ATM in Puerto Viejo at the Banco de Costa Rica, so its easy for you to get some cash at any time.
Q.“ Should we buy trip/travel insurance?”
A.For a week or less, since the trip is so short, you might as well buy some travel insurance as it will be quite cheap. For longer trips it can get expensive, and since its generally very limited, it doesn’t always make sense. AAA in the States has a good set of options to check out. Either way of course, it won't buy you much on the spot, and neither will your Blue Cross or whatever card you use for health insurance, unless you're in a real critical/hospital situation. Usually you’ll have to pay cash for any small medical services or drugs, but then you keep the receipt and claim it back when you get home. Insurance is mainly useful for forced flight changes, luggage/personal property losses...if your bag is stolen for example then you can get some money back...though usually not for cameras, laptops and other easily losable electronic devices. If that does happen, make sure to get a statement/report from the local police for your insurance company for later. The first time we went, we bought travel insurance, and used it and it just about paid off for itself, but it was a long trip with plenty of time for things to happen...but on balance I think its worth getting because it is relatively cheap and can give you some peace of mind....remember to keep your papers straight because the insurance company will make you jump through hoops if you claim!
Medical services around the area: “ …there is a small clinic open after 5pm most weekdays in Puerto Viejo, you just show up and go in and tell them what’s wrong….assuming you can still talk….! They don't ask for insurance of course because they can't process it, but they’ll give you a receipt for later. A quick examination/check-up fee should be about $20. Next to the clinic is a dentist's office. There is also a good pharmacy nearby, and you can get pretty much anything you need. There is a larger clinic just outside Puerto Viejo at Hone Creek for the next level of treatment and the nearest proper hospital is in Puerto Limon. If you had a major problem you would probably try to get to San Jose, where they have world class medical facilities....many people go to Costa Rica from the US for medical and dental procedures because they are very well trained there and often 1/3 or less the price in the US.
Q. “What about personal safety/security”?
A. There is an uptick of theft and sexual assault in the last 2 years in the Caribe Sur, but we’re always amazed at how many women of all ages and nations, seem to travel around Costa Rica without much concern, or report bad experiences regarding their security. Whether they travel alone or in groups they generally say that normal common sense and awareness is quite sufficient to safeguard their "personal space", although obviously in a Latin/Caribbean culture there’s going to be the odd sullen male stare, come hither smile, or annoying wolf-whistle.
Petty theft - There is a degree of petty theft everywhere in the country, so do be careful with locking and leaving things, particularly at the beaches...its advisable to take no chances or hope for the best when leaving things in a car or on the beach.... use common sense, stuff happens.
Q. Where can we buy groceries and supplies locally? Should we stock up on the way to the Caribe Sur?
A. There are many small local and medium sized grocery stores (pulperias) all over the area, where you can buy pretty much everything you need in terms of basic supplies. Although there are a couple of large US “style” supermarkets in Puerto Limon, unless there is anything particular that you need, you can waituntil you arrive at your destination to find a local shop. Who needs bruised fruit, melted ice cream and warm beer in the fridge!?
Q. What are the local restaurants like?
A. There are plenty of choices to suit any palate and budget, as well as an even wider choice in Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, so you won’t go hungry. There are even a few upscale places around Puerto Viejo where the cuisine and service are first class.
Local Activities Questions
Q.Canopy Tours and zip lines!?”
A. 1. This hotel/tour complex is close to Manzanillo. It’s recently been largely renovated and upgraded, and has a good restaurant.so worth a visit
2. These guys will pick you up and take you to your rafting or hiking trip.
3. An aerial tram ride through a rainforest on the way to Limon from San Jose...its probably 3 hours or so from the Caribe Sur, so best to go on the way to the Caribe or at the end of your trip rather than drive there and back in one day. However, you are surrounded by rainforest in the Caribbean, and you are just as likely to see monkeys, sloths and toucans right on the coast road as deep in the canopy.
Q. “ Should we bring our wet suits?”
A. “…for snorkeling and bodysurfing, as opposed to tank diving, we would say not to bother, for two reasons. One, the sea down there is rarely less than a very comfortable, 80 degrees and more, and two, its likely to be choppier at that time (November/December/ January) since it is the rainy season, which although good for surfing, may not be so great for snorkeling. And, there are at least four dive shops between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, so you can always rent some gear if the timing is right...there are some very nice coral reefs right off the beach in Cahuita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo.
Q.How’s the surfing and river rafting ?”
A.Puerto Viejo has two of the best surf spots in the country, Salsa Brava and Beach Break - there is a surfer's description in the Insider's Limon audio tour about them - and there are several other places within 20 minutes driving that can be very good. There are surf shops in Puerto Viejo. River rafting in the Pacuare River, about 2 hours drive from thr Caribe Sur is famous worldwide and there are local tour operators for every adventure.
Q. What sort of clothing should we pack?
A. For non-rafting/trekking vacations, packing light is a good idea...you won't need any sweaters, socks or jeans other than for arrival/departure in high, chilly San Jose (and then primarily between June-November)...so take mostly shorts, maybe some long cotton or rayon type pants and plenty of T shirts/shortsleeve shirts... bring a light rain-jacket and don’t be afraid to use it, as you should see plenty of wildlife even if the rainforest is shining wet. However, avoid taking any leather if you can help it, belts and shoes often turn whitish/green and moldy after just a few days due to the humidity at any time of the year - which although not that big a deal for people, sure takes a toll on leather...watch what happens to your wallet!
Q. “What else is there to do in the greater Limon area?”
A. Here's some other info about the area taken from other websites/sources:
If Limon is the gateway to the Caribbean, Cahuita is the threshold to the Talamanca Coast or Caribe Sur, least known but richest part of this mystical region. The coral reefs of Cahuita National Park are known by many, as is the extraordinary surfing available at several points along the coast. Half an hour south of Cahuita is Puerto Viejo, where everyone goes to party...Caribbean style of course. A water sports garden as well, Manzanillo's river kayaking is an excellent way to probe the interior. Hikes into the jungle to visit different Indian reservations give good insight into indigenous life. Other pursuits available for the adventurous nature lover include camping in the jungle and jaunts into primary forest areas like Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, wading far upriver into the interior where you're as likely as not to see several species varieties of poison arrow frogs, as well as dozens of different birds.
Manzanillo is the end of the road and the beginning of many great adventures. From here you can take a boat, a horse, or set off on foot. This area is part of Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, one of the most scenic regions in Costa Rica and one rich in flora and fauna. Nearly four hundred species of birds have been identified in and around the refuge and the only mangrove estuary on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is here. Several endangered species such as the tapir and crocodile find protection in the park. With off-shore diving as good as any in Costa Rica and enviable weather year-round, Manzanillo is as close to that lost tropical land of your dreams as you are likely to discover!
The Tortuguero Canals, a national park created in 1975 to protect the spawning areas of the green turtle (Tortuguero) and the region's rich flora and fauna stretching from Moin to the Colorado River near the border with Nicaragua. On a slow-moving boat trip along the canals (some natural, some manmade), you will see sloths hanging upside down from the overhanging trees, many different types of bird including toucans and probably monkeys and crocodiles, too. Unforgettable.
Worth the trip to Limon alone -- the Aerial Tram ride at Rain Forest, a 1,000-acre nature reserve next to the Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is one of two such centers run by a private foundation (the other is of a smaller scale and nearer the Pacific Coast). Towers, which were inserted into the jungle from the air by helicopters to minimize their impact on the site, support cables along which converted ski-lift gondolas carry six people (five passengers plus one of the center's excellent English-speaking guides). These are well spaced out and travel silently at just over one mile per hour so you can soak up the atmosphere and the unique experience of being up among the treetops of a rain forest.
This is not a zoo or Disney experience so don't expect to see a lot of animals -- nobody feeds the monkeys so you'll be lucky to see any -- but you will see birds and hundreds of butterflies, and learn fascinating facts about this living, breathing forest. This trip will be a ship's tour but it is possible to do it independently. It's a two-hour journey and entrance costs about $50 -- you will, though, find that tour groups are given precedence for gondola places.
Q. Is Puerto Viejo and the Caribe Sur in danger of growing too fast?
A. “ …the area is becoming busier – we still haven’t seen any big hotels going up, but many of the numerous smaller lodges/cabins are upgrading and renovating, which is good. There are a few active local neighborhood groups who are quite vocal in opposing ill considered/dubious development...but, there is always a danger of it becoming another Pacific zone, although it would take a number of years before that’s a problem. What’s missing now is a decent inventory of good quality rental houses as opposed to lodges/cabinas.
Q. “How big are the spiders?”
A. LIVING WITH WILDLIFE
We are blessed with a profusion of wildlife living in the Caribe Sur, indeed, being in proximity to them is one of the most rewarding experiences of being in the ocean rainforest.
In the mornings, meaning anytime after dawn, you may awake to a cacophony of sound – the roar of howler monkeys, the screeching of parrots and the whistling of toucans. You may be lucky enough to see howlers overhead or a sloth in a tree at any time, and morning and late afternoon every day is Bird Time when many of the large green parrots and toucans make their rounds before darkness at around 6PM. And just before dark the insects will abruptly come to life and make a short but very loud burst of noise before settling down to allow you a quiet evening listening to the waves roll over the beach below.
•Snakes – It is rare and somewhat exciting to see a snake, but do avoid trying to engage the enthusiasm of any of them for the sake of a photo…simply walk away if you come across one. There are several very nasty ones around. Don’t Panic!
•Make yourself known when walking…snakes ‘hear’ through vibration.
•Always use a flashlight at night.
•Never put your hands (or bottom) someplace you can’t see or haven’t checked out, especially in dark places or walking through foliage.
•Always be aware of what is around you.
•Spiders – There are many different spiders around the area - the one you’ll probably see the most outside between trees/branches is the colorful Golden Orb spider who makes a large, golden web which is considered one of the strongest ‘fabrics’ on earth and we are told is being studied by NASA. The Golden Orb can get quite large but is harmless. Still, watch where you walk outside as it is disconcerting to run face first into a giant spider web.
The largest spiders are of the tarantula variety, occasionally seen outside under pieces of wood, in tree stumps, or holes in the ground, and usually surfacing when doing work that stirs things up. They are not at all aggressive, but don’t tempt them. Their bite can be painful but not dangerous. Don’t panic!
Remember, all these creatures are more scared of you than you are of them, and they will generally not bite unless you threaten or tease them – bites can be painful, and may swell, but are rarely more serious. Still, you should visit the Clinic or Pharmacy if bitten, just in case. If you wake up scratching and have some swelling on your face or hands, you may have been bitten in the night by something small that got through the defences, but it will usually go away within a day or so.
•Ants – Ants rule the rainforest, and you will be amazed at the variety you may see. In the house and around food they are most likely to be extremely tiny – and arrive amazingly quickly at the presence of even a single crumb. Simply wipe surfaces clean and wash dishes soon after you use them and you may never see them. Outside, pay attention to where you walk, and especially where you stand. It’s very easy not to notice that you are in the middle of an ant city or traffic zone until you start to feel little stinging bites around your ankles.. You may also need to step over a small moving stream of little bits of green. That would be leaf-cutter ants at work, which are fascinating to watch.
•Bullet Ants – They are mostly seen outside - once in a while inside - crawling up and down trees, and are easily recognizable since you will probably never have seen such a big black ant with such huge pincers…about an inch long with a big round head. It’s actually the sting carried in the tail that you have to avoid, because being bitten can result in 6-8 hours of tedious/nasty pain. Use ice if bitten, and make a visit to the pharmacy for some pain relievers. Then just grit your teeth till it passes…which it will. Tip: Be aware of brushing or leaning against trees without looking first, or exploring rotting wood with your bare hands.
•Scorpions – Usually found outside in rotting wood or in tree bark, but occasionally seen inside, often in bathrooms or kitchens…watch out for a pale or black and flattish critter about 1.5 inches long. The best thing to do is put a jar over them and slide a piece of card under and throw them as far away as you can. They can give a painful sting, but it too passes after a few hours. Tip: Check your sandals and shake out your clothes, towels and sheets, before use.
•Mosquitoes – They are most active in the morning and at dusk, so stay alert in wooded/foliage areas between those hours, especially if you have not applied repellent. If you are prone to getting bitten, always carry your repellent and anti-itch creams with you particularly around the flatter areas close to the beach, where Sand-flies in the early morning and at dusk can be irritating. Although there have been occasional reports of dengue it is generally considered a safe zone, and no shots or vaccinations are necessary to visit.
Tip: Keep screen doors closed. Wear light-colored long sleeves and pants at dusk.
•Moths and assorted flying bugs – There is an incredible variety of moths and flying bugs, praying mantises, grasshoppers, katydids…some absolutely stunning to look at. They can show up at night and despite the screens, a few small ones manage to get inside. They are all harmless and utterly uninterested in you, trying their best to look like a leaf or piece of bark…so even though they may bang around and fly into walls and lights, they will not otherwise bother you. Our method of removing them from inside the house is very high-tech: a glass/jar and a piece of paper or cardboard to slip underneath it. It’s fascinating to see the mind-boggling variety of small creatures that nature has come up with…Sitting out on the hammock at night…its show time! Tip: Keep your camera handy!
•Geckos – These resemble very small pale lizards and come out mostly at night, padding around the roofs and walls, to catch mosquitoes and other small flying insects. For that reason they’re beneficial to have around, also they add a pleasant chirp to the nighttime chorus. Downside – gecko droppings to clean up daily.
•Millipedes and Centipedes – There are a few small, shiny/hard centipede/wormlike critters that you may see on the walls and floors which curl up when dead or disturbed. These you can simply pick up and toss into the garden…or leave them, as they won’t harm or otherwise disturb…they seem to drop from the ceilings overnight.
•Sloths – You will almost certainly have opportunities to see this marvelous creature in the wild. Even if you are lucky enough to be in close proximity…resist the temptation to touch! They may seem utterly serene, but can get quite flustered and disoriented, which puts them in danger. On the other hand, they can be much faster than you would guess, and are capable of inflicting damage with their claws. If you find an injured or abandoned sloth, it should be taken to Aviarios Sloth Refuge near Penshurt (a must-see side-trip. See “Activities.”) Refrain from touching a baby sloth with your bare hands, as they do not have immunity to germs we may carry.