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Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast Sights

Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve (Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco)

  • 10 km (6 miles) southwest of Montezuma via Cabuya Map It
  • Montezuma
  • Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

Fodor's Review

Conquistadores named this area Cabo Blanco on account of its white earth and cliffs, but it was a more benevolent pair of foreigners—Swede Nicolas Wessberg and his Danish wife, Karen Mogensen, arriving here in the 1950s—who made it a preserve. Appalled by the first clear-cut in the Cabo Blanco area in 1960, the pioneering couple launched an international appeal to save the forest. In time their efforts led not only to the creation of the 12-square-km (4½-square-mile) reserve but also to the founding of Costa Rica's national park service, the National Conservation Areas System (SINAC). Wessberg was murdered on the Osa Peninsula in 1975 while researching the area's potential as a national park. A reserve just outside Montezuma was named in his honor. A reserve has also been created to honor his wife, who dedicated her life to conservation after her husband's death.

Informative natural-history captions dot the trails in the Cabo Blanco forest. Look for the sapodilla trees,

which produce a white latex used to make gum; you can often see V-shape scars where the trees have been cut to allow the latex to run into containers placed at the base. Wessberg cataloged a full array of animals here: porcupine, hog-nosed skunk, spotted skunk, gray fox, anteater, cougar, and jaguar. Resident birds include brown pelicans, white-throated magpies, toucans, cattle egrets, green herons, parrots, and blue-crowned motmots. A fairly strenuous 10-km (6¼-mile) round-trip hike, which takes about two hours in each direction, follows a trail from the reserve entrance to Playa Cabo Blanco. The beach is magnificent, with hundreds of pelicans flying in formation and paddling in the calm waters offshore—you can wade right in and join them. Off the tip of the cape is the 698-square-meter (7,511-square-foot) Isla Cabo Blanco, with pelicans, frigate birds, brown boobies, and an abandoned lighthouse. As a strict reserve, Cabo Blanco is open only five days a week. It has new restrooms (in honor of the park's 50th anniversary in 2013), picnic tables at the entrance, and a visitor center with information panels on park history and biological diversity, but no other tourist facilities, and overnight camping is not permitted. Most visitors come with their own guide. This is one of the hottest parks in the country, so be sure to bring lots of water with you. An official sign at the entrance warns people with cardiovascular problems NOT to walk the strenuous trail to Cabo Blanco beach.

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Sight Information


10 km (6 miles) southwest of Montezuma via Cabuya, Montezuma, 60111, Costa Rica

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Sight Details:

  • $12
  • Wed.–Sun. 8–4.


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