Take a Look
Head for the Caribbean side of the country – Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo, also known as Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, has the feel of an Afro-Caribbean town, andlies approximately 90 miles (150 kilometers) from the capital of Costa Rica, San José, as the crow flies, or in Costa Rica, as the toucan flies! Formerly a small seaside fishing town, Puerto Viejo remains a bit of a paradox where vacation destinations is concerned. To a larger degree little has changed withthe passage of time, which is one of the major attractions. The area has not succumbed to cashing in on tourism and has instead blended it into its unspoilt and tropical environment.
Puerto Viejo may lie on the coast, but this is not a swimmer’s paradise, it is a surfer’s paradise, attracting boarders from all four corners of the globe. All watersports are well catered for, but swim with caution as there are strong riptide currents, especially at Puerto Viejo’s Salsa Brava Beach.
If your idea of a great vacation is to surround yourself with nature, enjoy fresh sea air, and chill and relax in the evenings, as opposed to craving a wild and vibrant nightlife, then a vacation in Puerto Viejo is exactly what you need.
Hotels in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Much of the hotel accommodation in Puerto Viejo can be found in smaller, individual hotels, which is reflected in the average room price. Probably more than any other vacation destination in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo has a great choice of rooms from between US$40.00 and US$80.00 per night. However, for those who are planning a memorable vacationin the height of luxury, there are a number of resort-style hotels to meet everyone’s needs. Travel out to a five-mile (eight kilometer) radius of Puerto Viejo, to villages such as Cocles, or north along Playa Negra beach and the choice of hotels and resorts doubles. While there is an abundance of low-price hostels, such as the Pagalu Hostel, Kinkaju Hostel, La Ruka Hostel,you can also consider:
- Almonds & Corals– a family-run luxury resort hotel with Manzanillo Beach and the Caribbean to the front, and tropical rainforest surrounding. All suites are perched on stilts with thatched roofs, while curtains and mosquito nets provide ‘walling’ which affords privacy, but which lets you feel even closer to nature.
- Buttercup Inn at the Sloth Sanctuary – this is a small bed-and-breakfast hotel located, as the name suggests, in the Sloth Sanctuary, and which is named specifically after its oldest resident, Buttercup the sloth. This is a real treat of a place to stay if you are a true nature lover.
- Cariblue– a jungle resort set within five acres of rainforest and which fronts onto the beach and Caribbean Sea. A great family destination, facilities include a pool, outdoor hot tub, and games room.
You’ll be pleased to know that many of the Puerto Viejo hotels have air conditioning, and details of additional hotels and resorts in and around Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, can be found here.
It can be difficult to decide, from a distance, which hotel will best meet your requirements, which is why, at Costa Rica Rios, we are here to help you. We want your vacation to be stress-free from the moment you book it, not just when you arrive, so get in touch and let us help you create the perfect vacation in one of many, many stunning locations in Costa Rica.
Restaurants in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
With an eclectic mix of Afro-Caribbean. Tico, indigenous Bribri, European and American cultures, this more than makes up for the small size of the town, so you will find a surprisingly vast array of places to eat, from low-budget shacks to fine-dining restaurants. The Caribbean influence is unavoidable, and great food is available from early morning until late evening. From Italian, Argentinean, Mexican, Asian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, North American to Costa Rican, you can do a culinary tour of the globe without having to leave town!
Here are just a few of our favorite eateries:
- Le Numa Restaurant and Bar – great for a mix of Caribbean and international cuisines
- Café Viejo – authentic Italian in a smart-casual environment
- Pita Bonita – specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine at the junction of Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva
- Maxi’s – a traditional Caribbean feast awaits on the beach at Manzanillo
- Soda Lidia – a casual atmosphere makes eating here a favorite with the locals
- Koki Beach – a treat for those of you who are eco-friendly – all the furniture here is made from reclaimed timber. Enjoy Latin fusion cooking with organic ingredients
Beaches in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
This area of Costa Rica is renowned for the best surfing on the Caribbean coastline, with Salsa Brava having a reputation of producing the highest breaks for miles around. The surf breaks over a reef, so be careful, while a strong rip-tide current also makes this particular beach unsuitable for swimming. North of the town are miles and miles of unspoilt coastline and numerous pristine sandy beaches, the ones with few local amenities being perfect for those who want to enjoy a little peace and solitude as you relax under a leafy mangrove tree, or soak up the sunshine on the beach.
Other beaches close to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica include:
- Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo – located just a mile from the town, this beach gets its name from the color of the sand, which is much darker than you might expect to find on a Caribbean shoreline.
- Playa Cocles– one of the most social beaches in the area, with a mixture of surfers and swimmers, along with other watersports’ The vibrant atmosphere of the beach owes much to the location of bars, restaurants and street food available across the road from the beach.
- Playa Chiquita – going a little further out from Puerto Viejo, Playa Chiquita is accessible only via a secluded jungle path which you may need one of the locals to point out to you. The shoreline is rocky, which helps to calm the waters, making it safer for swimming, while its secluded location means you can enjoy a relatively tranquil time.
- Punta Uva– probably has the best sand of all the beaches near Puerto Viejo, though it is a car- or good bike-ride away, located some ten miles (eighteen kilometers) distant. A couple of bars by the beach and a few restaurants in the village make this beach the perfect getaway.
- Olaya Grande – is about seven miles (12 kilometers) from Puerto Viejo and probably the quietest beach in the area, as there are next to no facilities nearby, which for some of you may be a necessity.
Things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Laid back is the best way to describe this tucked-away town on the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica. Before becoming a popular vacation destination, the town attracted a more Bohemian type, which still influences the town’s atmosphere today. With its waterside location, it should come as little surprise to learn that much of what you can do in and around Puerto Viejo is water related, but this is far from exclusive.
For those who can’t wait to connect with the sea, water-related activities include:
- Scuba diving
- White-water rafting trips on the Pacuare and Reventazón rivers
If you are the more adventurous type, there is plenty to do away from the water, much of which takes in the very best of the stunning natural surroundings and abundant wildlife. Of particular note is the Jaguar Rescue Center at Playa Chiquita, which is also a wildlife rehabilitation center. Other memorable activities and places to visit include:
- The Ara Project, which aims to re-establish the Great Green Macaw to the area
- CahuitaNational Park with 2,700 acres of jungle containing pit viper snakes, sloths, howler monkeys and white-nosed coatis
- A CariBeanschocolate tour
- Horseback riding
- Rainforest canopy tours
If you want to ask any questions about any of the activities we have listed, or if you want to know if any other specific activities are available, please don’t hesitate to ask. At Costa Rica Rios, we are here to help you in any way we can.
Nightlife in Puerto Viejo
Unlike many of the other smaller towns that are popular vacation destinations in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo has a vibrant and buzzing nightlife. Perhaps heavily influenced by its Caribbean culture, the nightlife on this coast of Costa Rica is definitely a huge attraction for those of you who only come alive later in the day!
- Johnny’s Place is the number one spot to visit and has remained so for the last 10 years. Enjoy the sounds of Calypso jams, reggae and roots into the small hours of the morning.
- Salsa Brava – named after the surf break and located on the beach, this is the perfect place to be at sunset. A laid-back atmosphere abounds, and Sunday nights are memorable for the best reggae music for miles around.
- Lazy Mon at Standfords– one of the best live music venues. Enjoy sipping cocktails in between visits to the beach and shoreline.
- The Pint Sports Bar and Grill – no chance of missing a crucial game while on vacation, but better to watch it here while enjoying one of the many microbrew beers on offer.
- Tasty Waves Cantina – a typical beach bar where you can watch the surfers or play pool. Make a note to visit on taco Tuesday!