Santa Elena (Puntarenas)
The closest township to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is Santa Elena. A popular stopover for tourists along the way, the village of Santa Elena will serve as your dining and lodging one stop shop for the day. Santa Elena is located within northern Puntarenas in the Tilaran Cordillera, just a few kilometers from Monteverde reserve. This is considered to be a charming Tico village, though it is also well known as a cloud forest reserve of its own, the local high school in the past purchasing 310 hectares of protected land to dedicate toward the conservation area. While not as big or well known as the Monteverde Cloud Forest, it is still impressive as a reserve and cloud forest viewing center.
Within this small village, you will find a humble downtown area holding a variety of luxury and budget hotels and lodges, basic township services (police office, post office, bank), and local eating options. Some popular eatery options here include Taco Taco, Sabor Tico, and Beso Espresso. Supermarkets, general stores, and tour offices allow you to stock up for all your next adventures, the latter of which offers horseback riding tours, hiking and canopy tours, and the very popular Santa Elena Skywalk tour. Along the road from Santa Elena to Monteverde, you will find several different attractions worth stopping at, such as a butterfly garden, hummingbird garden, bat museum, serpentarium, local art galleries, and several different hiking and viewing points.