Puntarenas is the number 1 canton of the province of Puntarenas, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is the most populated canton of the province. It has an area of 1842.33 km², including Isla del Coco, located 532 km from the Costa Rican Pacific coast. In addition, it is one of the two municipalities of the country whose territory is divided by a gulf, in this case the Gulf of Nicoya. The boundaries of the canton are defined as follows: to the north by the Sierra de Tilarán, to the east by the Barranca River, to the west by the Lagarto River, the Bongo River and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by the Pacific Ocean.
It was founded on November 4,1862. Its head is the city of Puntarenas. According to the 2011 National Census, the population of the canton was 115,019 inhabitants, of which 5.6% were born abroad. The same census highlights that there were 33,228 occupied homes, of which 51.1% were in good condition and there were problems of overcrowding in 7.9% of the dwellings.71.5% of its inhabitants lived in urban areas. Among other data, the level of literacy in the canton is 97.1%, with an average schooling of 7.6 years. The city of Puntarenas is conurbated with other canton districts such as Barranca, Chacarita, El Roble and Esparza. This has given rise to the concept of the Gran Puntarenas, which is a coastal version of the Greater Metropolitan Area.
For the year 2012, it had a human development index of 0.800 according to the United Nations Development Program. The municipality has all the basic services, in addition to a dock where tourists cruise ships dock, in the city of Puntarenas. It has an economy based on artisanal fishing, industries related to the fishing sector, and tourism. The canton of Puntarenas is one of the few with microclimates as diverse as those found on the seashore and Monteverde. In the canton there are many beaches that are important tourist destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. Within the surface of the canton are important biological reserves such as those of Monteverde and Cabo Blanco. Several islands located in the Gulf of Nicoya, such as Chira and San Lucas, also belong to the canton of Puntarenas.
Coco Island, located in the Pacific Ocean and famous worldwide for its rich biodiversity, has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.