Festivals in Costa Rica | Fiesta del Mar

Costa Rica · About Cultural Exchanges

Let the fiesta begin!

The Fiesta del Mar is one of many festivals held in the town of Puntarenas. The Virgin del Carmen is celebrated each year as close to July 16th as possible. TICOS like to celebrate with music, good food, and family time to honor and give thanks.

You might ask why this Virgin is so special? Let me take you way back to the 1920’s. As the story is told fisherman where out at sea as a storm approached fearing for their lives the men prayed to the Virgin del Carmen to save them and promised to remember her with a celebration each year. To this day thousands of people line the streets and beaches each year to attend this event. In 1913 was another terrible shipwreck with the Galileo crew members swimming to shore near Cano Island.

Gulf of Nicoya

The boats proceed from the Gulf of Nicoya with the Virgin statue leading the way on the first boat. Many fisherman follow in their boats decorated with wreaths and flags. Each boat is blessed by a priest so it may be strong and safe for the coming days at sea. After the ceremony the boats head back up the Gulf of Nicoya. They can be seen from the beach in Puntarenas on the pier lookouts and near the ferry located at Avenida 3 and Central 33. Find the location here> MAP.

Fabulous local food

There is no shortage of food on the busy boulevard as well as at the restaurants that line the street. There is everything from fried chicken (pollo frito), fresh pipas (coconut) to delicious ice cream treats. I almost stopped for ice cream but change my mind. The vendor was from Dos Pinos. They have a large factory on the way to Juansanta Maria Airport in Alajuela. I do eat a lot of their yogurt when I am here in Puntarenas.

This is one of the stands with a large selection of food

The food did spell delicious and tempting as I walked by many vendors but I only brought enough money to purchase some water (agua). I’ve always wanted to try a Churchill especially when I saw this sign below. What are the ingredients that make it delicious? Saved ice, assorted fruits topped with condensed milk are just some of the ingredients found in this refreshing snack. Oh and it’s supposed to be the best in Puntarenas. I’m definitely adding this to my must try list.

Churchill famous in Puntarenas

This was my first time at this fiesta. Sorry I missed getting a photo with the Virgin but I thought with the clouds it may rain. I sure ran when I heard the band playing again. I’m centrally located one block from the beach, I can tell you that it’s pretty noisy here not to mentioned trying to park if you drive. Lucky for me I live close and within walking distance. Friday night a parade came right down our street as they do often.

Travellers tip: “If you love fish they (the fisherman) have a great fresh selection to choose from over near calle central and avenida 3”.

A view of the street from the boulevard

Shopping on the boulevard

There is no lack of items to purchase during this fiesta. They have everything located along the boulevard from shoes, furniture, hats, clothing, game systems, and many more items. I like to find the unique handcrafted treasures. Today was special they had beautiful craved rocking chairs perfect for your house or condo if you plan on living here.

Rocking chairs

There is also lots of cheap items so watch out for those but they are pretty easy to spot. Don’t forget to use your bartering skills but don’t insult the vendors either. They do need to make a living just like the rest of us. These bags below were also an interesting item not usually found on the boulevard for sale.

Hand bags for the girls


Many people have driven their cars to this event but you can take the local buses, a taxi, or even hire a tour operator if you have a large group coming for the fiesta. The streets are line with vehicles and with so many it as always had made the entrance into Puntarenas collapse. What we mean by collapse is you will spend a lot of your time sitting in your car waiting for traffic to move because the streets can’t handle this much flow at one time. This happens often in many parts of Costa Rica during rush hours or events.

The bus all painted with the Cars theme


I suggest if you are coming to Puntarenas during this time of year to book your accommodations in advance and don’t chance it to the last minute. I was very lucky to get my usually apartment building (being a regular sure helps). Our building is full with families enjoying our pool, beach, and festivities. The children also start back to school so the upcoming week should be quiet here. I can only hope. I like events don’t get me wrong and love to see the locals spending time with their loved ones, but it’s also nice to have that quiet relaxing time to yourself.

The celebration

The events is celebrated each year with local bands marching the streets, rides for the children, many vendors selling food, souvenirs, and handcrafted items.

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Take care and as always this was our experience.

Pura Vida


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