Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is located on the Caribbean side of the country, and it’s a lovely vacation spot for families looking for a pura vida island vibe.
Pristine beaches coupled with a rasta vibe pretty much sums up the ambiance of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. This small town located on the southern Caribbean coast is famous for great food, lovely accommodations, epic wildlife sightings and pristine beaches looking out over crystalline turquoise water.
If you are looking for a region of Costa Rica with few tourists, a diverse cuisine and tons of wildlife, Puerto Viejo is the place for you.
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The lovely beach town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is located in the very south of Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast in the Limon province. It’s just south of the famous national park of Cahuita, and the beach is famous for a partially sunken boat just off the coast.
From San Jose, expect to drive between 4 and 5 hours, especially in the rainy season. The road between Limon and San Jose is generally heavily trafficked with large semis, as the city of Limon is one of the two main ports in the country and goods come back and forth frequently between the two cities. a good stop on the way here is at the Braulio Carillo Zip Line.
Puerto Viejo is one of the Costa Rican towns cosest to the Panamanian border, and many people will stop here to go on visiting the famous Bocas del Toro islands in the Panamanian Caribbean.
Note- There are actually two Puerto Viejos in Costa Rica, so make sure when you are putting the destination into Waze or Google Maps that you are headed to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
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Caribbean Weather in Costa Rica
Temperatures in Puerto Viejo are very constant around 80°F all year, while the humidity of the lowland tropics can make it feel much hotter than that at times.
Opposite to the pacific side of Costa Rica, where most rain falls in September and October, these are actually the driest months in Puerto Viejo. This means an influx of Costa Ricans arrive to the area from the Central Valley to escape the relentless rains.
Most rainfall in this region happens in December and January, making the tourism season opposite of the Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces.
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In and around Puerto there are infinite choices of guest houses, boutique hotels, and vacation rentals. They range from a wooden shack to really fancy. Here are some of my favorites.
This party-hostel is a popular choice amongst young travelers and great if you want to meet others on your trip. It is located right on the beachfront and has a pool. They offer bike-rentals which is the locals´ favorite mode of transport for a reason. The breeze on the bike is great when heading to the beach on a hot day.
The style is tasteful, the setting is beautiful and the service is good. This hotel with fully equipped rooms, a spa area, and a restaurant that turns into a social hub at night, offers individual spaces, that are especially great for a stay with the whole family.
If you always wanted to know what it feels like to live in one of the big wooden houses of the Limon region, this is for you. In this house close to the beach, you can relax in a hammock while toucans and parrots chatter above you, go surf on the near-by beaches, or birdwatch right from your window.
0.2 miles from the Playa Chiquita beach, this place offers tasteful rooms, that open out to a furnished terrace overlooking the tropical garden packed with exotic flowers, bromeliads, heliconias, palms, gingers, tropical fruit trees, butterflies, birds, sloth, toucans. It is also very close to the Jaguar sanctuary of the area.
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The best thing about the tropical heat is that you can pretty much live outside. In this beautiful, comfortable wooden house with thatched roofs, comfort meets Caribbean living. With stunning views of the surrounding forest, this house is within walking distance of the beaches in Punta Uva and Cocles.
The food culture of the Caribbean coast is absolutely unique. Breadfruit is a tropical tree that was brought in by the Jamaican immigrants and is found mostly in this area.
Coconuts are the most abundant food, that literally falls from the sky, along with seafood. Make sure to try the Caribbean version of gallo pinto with coconut milk, the famous rice and beans along with the Caribbean coconut curry called Rondon and the local spicy sauce, Salsa brava (literally wild sauce).
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This restaurant right at the beachfront in Puerto Viejo serves Caribbean and Central American food, a lot of Seafood, but also other Costa Rican classics. It is open until late at night and offers vegetarian and vegan as well as gluten-free options. To some, this is the most authentic Caribbean food option in Puerto Viejo.
At la Nena you can enjoy Caribbean food at its best. Shrimps, Lobster, Red Snapper, the fresh catches of the day are served up here. It is not the fanciest of places, located in a little hut along the road, but the quality is great and the close beach in Cocles will make up for it in beauty.
Right in the center of Puerto Viejo, this quirky cafe with a nice outside space is filled with books and tranquil and the perfect spot to drink a refreshing beverage or a coconut milk coffee while reading a good book, watching people around you, or simply catching a breath during full traveling days.
Things to Do
You can book a workshop to learn how these award-winning chocolates are made with fresh farm ingredients and a focus on the health benefits of chocolate. Located in Playa Negra, this project has its own fruit farm with some of the less known tropical varieties. If you have a special ingredient, that you would like to taste combined with their high-quality organic cacao, they will make you a tailored chocolate bar!!
Listen to Caribbean Calypso Music
Cahuita is famous for its music scene and holds a calypso festival every year. Calypso, which was first a form of song-battle somewhat similar to rap music is best enjoyed on a tropical night under the palm trees, with a cold drink and a pati, the local form of empanadas.
Visit Some of the Nicest Caribbean Beaches
Some of the most beautiful Costa Rican beaches on the Caribbean coast are located around this area. Every beach is different, they often host rock formations and coral reefs and sometimes the jungle reaches up to the shoreline. Some of the best are the Playa Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita, and the Playa Cocles.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
Around 20 minutes from Puerto Viejo by car or bus, the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge offers a great opportunity to explore the jungle. Listen to the howler monkeys, see red-eyed tree frogs and beware of stepping on a snake! In a guided tour, local guides will help you find the way and miss none of the animals along the way. You can hike all the way to the beautiful beaches and alternative living project in Punta Mona.