Puerto Viejo On a BudgetPuerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small coastal town in Caribbean Costa Rica in the province of Limon. There are two gorgeous National Parks nearby - Cahuita and Manzanillo, and it rains more than on the Pacific side, which is why it is so lush and green with the rainforest coming down to the sea. Clear water, coconut palms, great surf and a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere make Puerto Viejo a favorite among travelers. Located on about an hour south of Limon, Puerto Viejo is the center of activity between the smaller villages of Cahuita and Manzanillo. The relaxed, seaside town is framed by jungle, turquoise seas, banana plantations and scenic rivers. It's known for the Salsa Brava surf break and beaches like black-sand Playa Negra, but this burgeoning party town is no longer a destination only for intrepid surfers; it's bustling with tourist activity. Stylish eateries serve global fusion, and intentionally rustic bamboo bars pump dancehall and reggaeton. With its blend of Afro-Caribbean descendants, expat Europeans and indigenous Costa Ricans, Puerto Viejo charms visitors with a unique mix of people and cultures. Rastafari culture has a firm foothold in the town, and many Rastas sell handmade jewelry and other wares along the town's vibrant roadside. Nearby you'll find rainforest fruit and cacao farms and wide-open beaches. If you're looking to chill a little, party a little and eat a little, you've come to the right place.
SightsTropical forest surrounds the village and palm trees line the beach, adding to Puerto Viejo's natural beauty. Travelers can glimpse spectacular wildlife in Cahuita National Park or the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, which border the town to its north and south, respectively. Just south of Puerto Viejo, visitors will discover the sublime beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Punta Uva.
Black and white sand beaches extend for miles; they are wide and often deserted, offering stretches ideal for walking and sunbathing. Snorkeling is excellent when the water is calm, and nearby Cahuita and Manzanillo are home to beautiful, living coral reefs that provide some of the best snorkeling in Costa Rica.
There are beautiful birds, butterflies and animals to be seen. Look out for monkeys and sloths in the trees alongside the road as you cycle or walk. There is also the Iguana Conservation Tour at Iguana Verde Foundation.
Refugio de Gandoca de Manzanillo: the beauty of this refuge is incredible - it contains forest, lagoons, coral reefs and white sand beaches and is the one of the most exotic places on the entire South Caribbean coast.
The neighborhood of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is famous for its authenticity. Colorful fishing boats rock against a coral covered harbor, reggae sounds from nearby bars and restaurants, and sarong, jewelry, and souvenir vendors set up shop on the beach. In town you will find the only banks and ATMs in the entire area. Bicycle rentals are on every corner and taxis are readily available if you do not have a car to explore other neighborhoods.
Expats and vacationers looking for tranquility and proximity to town stay in Cocles. The beaches are sprawling and the waves can get enormous. These beaches are best for sunning and surfing rather than swimming. Beach Break is the most populated beach in the area and the only beach with lifeguards. There are many restaurants to choose from. The one luxury hotel in Puerto Viejo, El Cameleon, is next door and throws Reggae and Calypso parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Laid-back travelers will enjoy the beach bonfire party every Tuesday night at Tasty Waves in front of Beach Break.
The moment you step foot in Playa Chiquita the community vibe becomes apparent. Expats from all over the world carry their children and groceries down the street, sit and sip coffee in open air organic cafes, and swim in the natural pools created by the coral reef.
Beautiful beaches, elegant cabins, and incredible cuisine all grace the quiet jungle neighborhood of Punta Uva. This neighborhood is popular with long-term vacationers and families. Three of the best restaurants in the entire area are in Punta Uva. The beaches are calm for swimming and snorkeling and are famed as some of the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica. Playa Chiquita nearby is a necessary stop for markets and cafes.
The quiet Caribbean fishing village of Manzanillo rests along a rugged wildlife refuge with stunning wilderness beaches. Accommodations and restaurants are somewhat sparse in this area so having a car is essential. If you are looking for proximity to animals, peace and quiet, and do not mind the 10 mile trek to town, Manzanillo is right up your alley.
ActivitiesMany of the activities in Puerto Viejo revolve around the beach, water, and other natural environments, after all, that is what makes the area so popular. For a fun day of adventure, rent a bike. Ride it the full 24km round trip to Manzanillo and back. Make it a day trip. Each time you see a side road leading to the ocean, follow it for a hundred meters or so and you will usually find a beautiful secluded beach. It's a long but easy, flat ride on a mostly paved road. You will be rewarded with many spectacular views and experiences along the way.
Go surfing! The Caribbean coast is known for having a rasta-mentality, but it also has a strong native culture. Come in Puerto Viejo and learn to surf! There are surf schools in the area to help you learn the exciting sport. There are plenty of popular surf spots in the area to take advantage of. The swell comes during the dry season, roughly from December to April. Other time of the year the sea is extremely flat.
Take some time to sun bathe or go for a snorkel in calmer waters. With beautiful coral reefs, it is the perfect place to do so. Or go for a tour of a rain forest and get the chance to see some of the local wildlife in its natural habitat.