The Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú (tel. 506/2641-0100, www.curu.org , 7 a.m.–3 p.m. daily, $10 adults, $5 children) is tucked into the fold of Golfo Curú, four kilometers south of Paquera . Privately owned, it forms part of a 1,496-hectare cattle finca, two-thirds of which is preserved as primary forest.
The reserve includes 4.5 kilometers of coastline with a series of tiny coves and three beautiful white-sand beaches—Playas Curú, Colorada, and Quesera—nestled beneath green slopes. Olive ridley and hawksbill turtles nest on the crystalline beaches.
Mangrove swamps extend inland along the Río Curú, backed by forested hills. Monkeys are almost always playing in the treetops by the gift store, and agoutis, sloths, anteaters, and even ocelots are commonly seen.
The facility has a macaw reintroduction program, and a reproduction and rehabilitation program for endangered spider monkeys; you can spy them living freely behind an electrified fence (the trail to the enclosure is boggy, so bring appropriate footwear).
Trails range from easy to difficult. You can rent horses ($10 per hour). Guided tours are offered (your tip is their pay). The bus between Paquera and Cóbano passes the unmarked gate. Ask the driver to let you off.
Turismo Curú (tel. 506/2641-0004, www.curutourism.com ) offers snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving.