Manuel Antonio National Park (closed on Mondays) contains three beautiful beaches, casual forest trails, and a dense rainforest teaming with animal life. In 2011, it was named by Forbes as one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
The stone spheres of Costa Rica are an assortment of over 300 petrospheres that are believed to be the work of artisans from the pre-Colombian Diquis culture that settled the area and flourished from AD 750 to 1530.
Costa Rica has a small number of UNESCO Heritage Sites, four in total, and not surprisingly three of these are areas of natural beauty and environmental significance. The fourth is not actually a location but are historical artefacts, the pre-Colombian Diquis stone spheres. We decided to go and see the spheres ourselves at one of the four sites managed by the National Museum of Costa Rica; Finca 6. Finca translates to ‘estate’, referring to a piece of rural or agricultural land.
The Diquís culture emerged in the Valley of the Rio Grande de Térraba, where they established complex social, economic, and political systems to govern their society. The Diquis culture reached its peak between 800 and 1500AD, with the settlements growing into large communities, constructing large structures using round-edged boulders, paved areas, burial sites, and circular or rectangular mounds with stone walls. Their artisans created elaborate ceramic, bone and gold objects and sculpted stone spheres in key areas within the settlements. Stone spheres were also placed in alignments in public plazas, or on the approaches to the dwellings of the ruling elite or chieftains.
Over time many of these spheres became naturally buried and it was not until the 1930s, when these lands were cleared to plant banana plantations. Large numbers of these almost perfectly round stone spheres were uncovered. The largest of these apparently man-made balls is over two metres in diameter and weighs over 16 tons.
Today, virtually all of the spheres have been taken from their original locations. Many are prized lawn ornaments across Costa Rica. A collection of six now resides in the courtyard of Costa Rica’s National Museum in San Jose.
Some of these spheres have been collected, restored and placed in four sites in the region they were discovered.
At Finca 6 there is a small museum dedicated to the Diquis culture and the stone spheres.
Outside of the museum building, there are trails that take you around the archaeological sites, where you will see the locations of the main buildings of the Diquis settlement and some of the preserved spheres.
There are 3 trails – Spheres Trail (175 metres/ 0.1 mile), Alignments Trail (700 metres/ 0.43 mile) and Settlements Trail (1.2 kilometres/ 0.75 mile).
The trails are not mutually exclusive and have overlaps. If you do the Settlements Trail, it covers most of the Alignments Trail and Spheres Trail and all the important sections.
The trails are flat and easy and can be covered in 30-45 minutes.
Planning your visit to Finca 6
HOW TO GET THERE
The Finca 6 site is close to the towns of Uvita, Ojochal and Dominical. Whichever town you are staying in or coming from, you will need to reach Palmar Norte. There is a prominent crossing with shops and restaurants including the supermarket BM.
If you stay on the Interamericana Highway, take the right turn after the BM supermarket. It is difficult to miss the large Terraba river and the bridge over it. As you cross the bridge, you will find a road on the right with signs of Sierpe and the ‘M’ signboards indicating the Finca 6 museum or the stone spheres site. Follow the ‘M’ signs and stay on the road until you see a small bridge. You will see the entry road of Finca 6 just before the bridge on the left.
|Location:||WG6C+8FQ, 34, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica|
|Telephone:||T: +(506) 21006000|
Tuesday to Sunday: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Regular Rate Foreign
Best time to visit Finca 6
The dry season falls between late November and April — this is also the most popular time to visit because the weather is warm, tropical, and a welcome change for those escaping winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Between May and November, Costa Rica is officially in its green season, in which it is not unusual that the bulk of the cumulative rainfall (4-6 meters) will occur.