The Caribbean was first visited by Christopher Columbus in 1502. He anchored at Caray, now known as Port Limón, and remained there for 17 days. He was so impressed with the coast that he called it "Costa Rica," which means "Rich Coast." But the Spanish never established a major colony on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The highlands of the Central Plateau were originally settled by a separate group of Spaniards coming up the west coast from Panamá. Later, some communications were established by way of trails to San Juan River, and still later overland down the Reventazón river valley to the mouths of the Matina and Moín rivers. The trails were hazardous and usable only by mules or men on foot. The heavy rains on the steep slopes of the mountains, the swamps and dense forests, prevented them from becoming arteries of trade and they had little value except to the occasional traveler who had no alternative. Costa Rica was divided into the settled and potentially productive highlands, without effective communication the outside world, and the sparsely populated coast where the only crop was cacao (chocolate). Limon, Costa RicaThis continued through the colonial days, making Costa Rica one of the poorest Spanish colonies in the New World. Then coffee came. Coffee was first grown in Costa Rica in the first part of the 18th century but did not begin to achieve real importance until about 1840. From then on it become vital that adequate transportation facilities be established between the Central Plateau and the eastern coast, where the coffee could best be send out to world markets. At first, coffee made its way to the coast in ox-carts routed to Puntarenas and then by shipped to Europe. But the cost of long voyage made the profit margin for growers low. Clearly, the answer to the problems was a railway to the Port Limón.
IndigenousThe first railway in Costa Rica was a 9-mile stretch of track between Puntarenas and Barranca, on the Pacific coast. This "railway," which began operating in 1857, used donkeys, or mules, for motive power and was humorously called "El Burrocarril." This "railway" was never a success but it did spur interest in developing a more effective railway later on. Between 1854 and 1871, Costa Rica considered various plans for trans-isthmian railway. The plan given the most consideration, proposed by Don Francisco Kurtze, would go from Limón, on the Caribbean coast, to Caldera near Puntarenas on the Pacific. This plan was never was undertaken because it was considered to be too large an undertaking. However, it is interesting to note that Kurtz's proposed location followed the general route along which the Costa Rica Railway and, later, the Pacific railway were constructed
Port Limon Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is a lot more than just beaches. The coast line stretches for more than 120 miles, combining tropical settings with lush vegetation and wildlife-filled waterways. In this multi-cultural environment tourists and locals lose track of time, often partying till sunrise. The Caribbean coastal region is characterized by the coexistence of diverse cultures that have left their imprint on Costa Rican history including Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, indigenous Bri-Bri and Cabecar, and Caucasians. Due to this cultural mix, the Caribbean offers visitors experience set apart from the rest of Costa Rica, including, rhythm and unique language. The Caribbean region includes the province of Limón, with is capital city of the same name, as well as important beaches, protected wildlife refuges, and diverse aquatic ecosystem. Port Limon : Area: 3549.2 mi2 Fourth province in size; 18% of national area. Elevation 10 feet. Average Temperature: 78.1 ºF Annual rainfall 120 -157
The Central Pacific region is the closest beach area to San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Puntarenas its largest city and is one of the main stops for the arrival of cruises. Many of the Central pacific's beaches are ideal for surfing. Wildlife observation is one of the region's most popular activities. Carara national Park, for example, has one of the country's largest populations of scarlet macaws.