Puntarenas sits on a spit of land parallel to the coast of Pitahaya. The mud and soil brought down to the ocean by the Barranca River and the action of some of the smaller rivers to the north of Puntarenas have led to a tongue of sand known by 1722 as Puerto de Arenas (Harbor of Sands). Were it not for a very narrow stretch of land known as “La Angostura” the city would be an island. The city of almost 100,000 inhabitants is the capital to the province of the same name, which hugs most of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
Connected by road to San Jose, the country’s capital, Puntarenas is used by Costa Rican’s to cross by ferry over to the Nicoya Peninsula which is part of the Puntarenas Province and by cruise ships as a gateway to visit the various national parks in the interior. Puntarenas still is Costa Rica’s most important fishing port, while cargo is handled some 15 kilometers southwest on the mainland at Puerto Caldera, a port created in the 1980s. To cater to visitors, the beach area has been remodeled and the Paseo de los Turistas runs parallel to the beach with many seafood restaurant, cafes and bars.