Tucked away in a remote spot along the Golfo Dulce is a magnificent botanical garden. New Hampshire natives Ron and Trudy McCallister while on a roadtrip from the USA to South America purchased an old cacao plantation and created the Casa Orquideas Botanical Gardens. Located at the base of the Piedras Blancas Mountains, they turned these five acres into a majestic “Garden of Eden.” Ron and Trudy, self-taught botanists, applied their years of knowledge to create this little exotic garden paradise. Today the garden supports conservation and education efforts and hosts many visitors to guided or unguided tours every year.
Started in the 1970s, these are the oldest botanical gardens in this region. Only accessible by boat, it is an adventure just to get to these gardens. It takes 20-minutes from the Puerto Jiminez dock across the Golfo Dulce to get here. On your way up the beautiful Golfo Dulce, you will pass by uninhabited beaches surrounded by pristine rainforest spotting dolphins, sea turtles and whales. A pebble beach leads you into the gardens where over a 100 species of orchids, some as large as the palm of your hand, grow next to Helicon, cycads, flowering gingers, ornamental palms, fruit trees and other neo-tropical flora in the garden.
It is a vibrant ecosystem with wild varieties of medicinal plants and flowers. Palm trees line the edges of the garden and there is an abundance of exotic fruit such as star fruit, sweet pulp and chocolate seeds to taste. A tour through the gardens engages all of your senses: touch, smell and taste. You can pick a star fruit and smell the ylang-ylang, the famous scent of Channel #5 as you walk down the winding pebble paths. Scarlet Macraws fly overhead, hummingbirds sing from the trees and butterflies and bees are spotted nestled in the flowers as you take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this vibrant oasis.
These botanical gardens celebrate the incredible plants and flora native to these parts and play an important role in conservation efforts. A trip to this botanical garden is a great day adventure into an extraordinary pristine place. If I was on my honeymoon these gardens would be my first choice spot for a romantic day trip. With the smells and colors and enticing your senses, you get lost in the world of nature. Day trips to these gardens are organized by Crocodile Bay. The gardens also welcome volunteers, which is a great way to participate in conservation while also learning about botany. A trip to this secret garden is an adventure that will not disappoint you.