Parrita, Central Pacific, Costa Rica
The small town of Parrita is located 45 kilometers south of Jaco, in the center of a 1,700-hectare African oil palm ranch.
Where did Parrita get its name?
Almost all of Costa Rica's territory was inhabited before the arrival of the Spanish. In 1924, a young German installed the first banana plantation near the Pirris River (also called the Parrita River) which encouraged migration of people from San Jose and Guanacaste. The origin of the name, so the story goes, has to do with a woman named Rita who lived in one of the original settlements. Rita had a business and received packages. “Es pa´ Rita” (It´s for Rita) was often heard so the canton was called Parrita.
The canton of Parrita is surrounded by rivers Damas, Picaritos, Palo Seco, Chires, Jicote and the Parrita. There have been serious flooding problems near the mouth of these rivers for some time. The economy is dedicated primarily to the production of African palm. These were cultivated which substituted the banana industry.
Parrita's weather is very warm since elevation is only 15m above sea level.
Along the Coastal highway beyond the Jaco Hermosa area, you will cross the Tusubres River and enter Parrita county. Because of a change in the coastal topography, the Pacific beaches in this Costa Rica area are primarily heading south.
Esterillos Oeste and Este, and the small Playa Bejuco, are quiet residential communities, with a casual tourist crowd which enjoy surfing. Vacationers can find hotel lodging at small surf camps and luxury Costa Rica vacation rentals, with very little in the mid-range price.
Parrita can be reached via the Guapinol highway from Puriscal and the inland Talamanca mountains. The town itself straddles the huge Parrita River, and further south you will find the Rio Palo Seco and its estuary, which have formed a barrier island, the Isla Palo Seco. A dirt road immediately south of Parrita leads you eight kilometers to Playa Palo Seco. A gray-sand beach backed by the mangrove swamps and braided channels of the Palo Seco and Damas.
The Damas estuary mangrove forest is home to crocodiles, monkeys, pumas, coatimundis, and wading and water birds by the thousands. Isla Damas lies across the 400-meter-wide estuary and is reached by boat ($4 each way) from the dock one kilometer southwest of Damas, 12 kilometers south of Parrita on Highway 34.
Tourists find the Class II rapids on the Parrita River to be a fun and a not so strenuous whitewater rafting adventure. As the Coastal highway heads south, and you will leave Parrita for Aguirre canton when you cross the Rio Damas.
Parrita has banks, supermarkets, restaurants, shopping, churches, and a medical clinic. There are taxis, and bus service to Quepos, Jaco, and San Jose. Parrita hasn't become a tourist holiday town yet, but retains the character and charm of small town Costa Rica. Credit for this belongs to the wonderful, friendly, and helpful people of the community. They truly live Pura Vida!
Approximately 40 minutes south of Parrita is Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica's most visited national park. You can find ample trained bilingual Ecotour guides at all prices so shop around! Adjacent to the park are the towns of Manuel Antonio and Quepos, an oceanfront fishing town with restaurants, nightlife, a small airport and a hospital.
Sport fishing, mangrove monkey tours, zip line canopy tours, horseback riding, birding, butterfly farms, water park, whitewater rafting, four wheeler ATV tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, caving, golfing, hiking, and more are available nearby. Mountains, cloud forests, and rain forests are waiting to be explored. Endangered giant sea turtles come ashore at Isla Palo Seco to lay their eggs.
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