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Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

Christopher Columbus discovered Costa Rica in 1502 when he landed near Puerto Limón on the Atlantic shore. Impressed by the stunning natural beauty, Columbus thought he had discovered a land of vast wealth, and named it Costa Rica, meaning "Rich Coast." The unspoiled splendor of the region is one of its main attractions, a paradise where orchids bloom year round, and forests of rosewood, cedar and mahogany scent the air. The rain forests, starting just inside the coastline and continuing into the mountain ranges, contain meandering rivers, magnificent waterfalls, national parks and wildlife preserves. Puerto Caldera is located between the volcanic beaches of Golfo de Nicoya and some of the highest mountains in Costa Rica, and is known as the Gateway to San Jose.