The Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo -

The Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo

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People often ask why


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I always return


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to Puerto Viejo.


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How despite the many beautiful beaches


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the many fascinating places


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I have seen these spectacular sixteen months


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my wanderlust spirit takes a break


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and gives me permission


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to rest my feet again


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in Puerto Viejo.


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How despite bug infestations


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tropical monsoons


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chronic mold




plaguing mosquitoes


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exotic parasites




thieves wielding machetes


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and deceitful man whores




I choose to come back


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I choose to stay.




And if I must answer

what I can say




is that here

everything is magic.




Everything is possible.




Six tiny towns

in a lush green jungle




lie on one flat road

along a turquoise ocean




where bicyclists dodge

overzealous mopeds


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rattling fruit trucks

wild horses


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untethered canines

and ambitious sloths


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balancing friends

bags of groceries


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or newborn babies

on their bars.


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The smell

of sweet hibiscus


arrecife punta uva


and pure ocean

enters your lungs


arrecife punta uva


weaves into your breath


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then becomes your soul.




Cicadas buzz

roosters crow




birds chirp




monkeys howl

butterflies flap their technicolor wings


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creating a symphony

of jungle tuned strings.


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Coarse golden granules

mingle with fine black powder


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by the sprawling jungle


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that hides

the splendor of the sea.


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Protective coral

forms natural pools


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for colorful fish



Punta Uva


and snorkelers

to see.


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Barreling swells bring surfers

from far corners of the Earth


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hoping to enter the green

and win the battle


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against an unruly wave

called Salsa Brava.




Caribbean boats named after beautiful women

rock sleepily on a coral crested harbor




colorblocked houses play reggae in the street




vendors braid hair

sell jewelry and Bob Marley shirts


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fishermen haul their fresh catch onto the shore.


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Locals speak in Caribbean flavored Spanish


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or thick Creole


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then quickly switch

to accented English




Italian, French, or German


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all who hear.




Older generations

stand at street carts




selling coconut scented rice and beans

and tender stewed chicken

with perfectly fried plantains




beside Italians baking fresh foccacia

French perfecting their pate




Israelis stuffing handmade pita

sushi-masters shaping kaleidoscope rolls.


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Seedy bars

beg sinners to indulge


Playa Cocles


in cheap shots

cheap conversation

cheap acts in bed


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quietly wait

for those ready

to look inside instead.




In this town that binds

an unlikely crew of misfits




Casanova Caribbean surfers

Rastafarian crackheads




American divorcees

yuppie turned hippies


Playa Cocles


pierced, dyed, unshaven fire dancers

former frat boys




naïve unknowing backpackers





no matter who they are

no matter what they do




is not only tolerated

is not only accepted




but is celebrated.




Some cure their cancer

others break their hearts


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but everyone finds

all that they seek.


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And any intention

any desire

any dream


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will always come true

if you simply release it




into the magical






that is

Puerto Viejo.


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The Neighborhoods of Puerto Viejo


With ten miles of pristine jungle backed beach and six distinct neighborhoods it can be difficult to know where to base yourself. Beaches become more natural and animals are more plentiful the further you venture outside of town. However, the road runs through dark jungle, which is not walkable at night, and comforts like pharmacies and ATMs are only in town. My recommendation for those without a car is to stay in Playa Cocles where you are in front of the beach but close enough to town. If you have a car, or just want to get away from it all, I recommend staying in Playa Cocles or Playa Chiquita.


Playa Negra

Playa Negra

Just north of Puerto Viejo en route towards Cahuita is Playa Negra, one of the least crowded and most affordable areas for housing rentals. The black sand beach spans for miles and it’s easy to find spots all to yourself, however it can be unbearably hot. I’ve never stayed here because I prefer the beaches further south, but it’s a good option if you want quiet beach time close to town.



Puerto Viejo

The town of Puerto Viejo is famous (or infamous) for its seedy authenticity. In town you will find the only banks and ATMs in the entire area as well as most of the bars and restaurants. A majority of the Afro Caribbean locals live in town and you’ll experience more local culture on the small streets in Puerto Viejo than in the remote beach towns. Accommodations tend to be less expensive but can be noisy as Puerto Viejo hosts several parties every night of the week. I recommend staying in town if you plan to go out at night often.


Playa Cocles

Playa Cocles
1-3 miles from town

Those looking for tranquility and proximity to town will love staying in Cocles. These beaches are best for sunning and surfing rather than swimming as the currents are strong. Beach Break is the most populated beach in the area and the only beach with lifeguards. The one grocery store, Pirripli, has a good wine selection, special imports, and fresh produce and there are many restaurants to choose from. My favorite yoga studio, Om Yoga, is in Cocles and it’s where many expat events are held. The beachfront bar Tasty Waves hosts a big party on Tuesday nights and some smaller events throughout the week, otherwise this neighborhood is quiet.


Playa Chiquita

Playa Chiquita
 3-5 miles from town

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 darling open air organic cafes, and swim in the natural pools created by coral reef. There is one grocery store, El Duende Gourmet, with specialty items like local homemade bread, quinoa, and sriracha, and there are a few restaurants and cafes.


Punta Uva

Punta Uva
5-7 miles from town

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. 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 as Punta Uva has very few.



7-10 miles from town

The quiet Caribbean fishing village of Manzanillo rests along a rugged wildlife refuge with stunning wilderness beaches. It reminds me of what Puerto Viejo must have been like before the tourists came in. 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. Though on weekends Manzanillo is packed with tour buses and locals having BBQs on the beach. I avoid it on those days completely.





Where to Stay in Puerto Viejo


Banana Azul 
Rooms start at $89 and go up to $144 for private apartments and suites
Playa Negra

While I don’t typically recommend staying in Playa Negra, I make an exception when it comes to Banana Azul. This lovely oceanfront hotel and restaurant is one of the only establishments that has a beach lounge, with chairs and umbrellas right on the sand. The rooms are elegant yet blend beautifully with the natural surroundings and offer comforts like wifi and hot water. My favorite aspect of Banana Azul is the gorgeous grounds with tropical gardens, a koi fish pond, and a swimming pool. Even if you don’t stay here, come and have lunch right on the beach, a true luxury in Puerto Viejo.


Hostal Pagalu
$12 for a dorm bed, $24 for a private
Puerto Viejo

Hostal Pagalu, behind the main road in town is one of my favorite hostels in the world. It is spotlessly clean and has a big open communal space with couches, hammocks, tables, and a nice kitchen. The hot water shower has great pressure, linens and towels are changed daily, and the vibe is fun but laid back and mature. It is about a ten-minute bike ride to the main surf beach, but for convenience you can’t beat its proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, and bars.


La Ruka
$10 for dorm, $30 for private with shared bathroom
Puerto Viejo

If you want to be close to town but not in town and easily befriend other travelers and locals, stay at La Ruka. This hostel is owned by a friendly young American couple and is right between town and the main surf beach. It’s a great alternative to the most famous hostel Rocking J’s, which I only recommend staying in if you’re 18 and don’t mind sleeping at the party, since it’s right across the street and is way cleaner. One of the owners is a fire dancer and hula hooper, the staff tends to be young locals, and the vibe is very pura vida.


$30-60 for private rooms
Puerto Viejo

With its lovely gardens and peaceful atmosphere it’s hard to believe that Jacaranda is smack dab in the middle of town. The rooms are clean and quiet and the onsite yoga and massage studio, One Love (see more below), makes it the perfect little hideaway. They also have apartments if you plan to stay longer term and want kitchen access.


$12 dorm, $35 for private with shared bathroom
Includes unlimited purified water, free bicycle use, and yoga discount
Beach Break, Playa Cocles

I recommend Om for those looking for a healthy community close to the beach. Staying here you’ll not only meet other travelers, but locals and expats who frequent the studio and the café. The location is ideal overlooking the jungle and beach, yet is a short bike ride to town. You really can’t beat the price, which includes bicycle rentals, necessary no matter where you stay, and free purified water, the tap is not safe to drink from in Puerto Viejo. Onsite yoga is world class (see more below) and Caribbeans café (see more below) downstairs has decadent treats, coffee, and chocolate. If you want to stay long term they have a work trade program offering free housing for volunteers.


Villas del Caribe
$75 for a standard room, $135 for a villa
Punta Cocles, Playa Cocles

Opt for a villa with your own private balcony, full kitchen, BBQ, and three bedrooms which overlook one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Most rooms have an ocean view which is a rare commodity in Puerto Viejo which has mostly undeveloped beaches.


Starting at $89/night for a standard room
Beach Break, Playa Cocles

A lovely hotel conveniently located across from the main surf beach in Playa Cocles. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the onsite pool with a swim up bar is key on hot days when the currents are too strong for swimming.


Tierra de Suenos Ecolodge
$75/night for a standard room, $135 for a casita including breakfast
Playa Chiquita

Beautiful bungalows and equipped casitas tucked in the jungle in my favorite part of Playa Chiquita. These bungalows are close to some of my favorite beaches, restaurants, cafes. The onsite wellness center (more below) offers yoga, health retreats, massage, and health cleanses.


Shawandha Lodge
$110-$145 for private bungalows
Playa Chiquita

Eco friendly, yet ultra comfortable, bungalows in Playa Chiquita across from my favorite beach entrance. Each bungalow has a terrace with a hammock for relaxing and is built out of beautiful natural woods. The bungalows sit on five acres with tropical gardens, a swimming pool, and an excellent French/Caribbean inspired menu.


Treehouse Lodge
$300 – $600 for beach cabins and treehouses
Punta Uva

These luxury eco houses are a truly special place to stay alone, with a partner, or with a group. They sit in the jungle a short walk from the beach in Punta Uva and come fully equipped with big gourmet kitchens, amazing bathrooms, comfortable beds, patios, BBQs, and even have eco outdoor jacuzzi tubs! I highly recommend these houses for anyone looking for a more upscale experience since they operate in harmony with the nature that surrounds them. Don’t expect air con or TV, but do expect the sounds of monkeys, birds, and crashing waves.


House Rentals

When I come to Puerto Viejo, I typically rent a house. I love being able to cook my own meals and relax in my own hammock. If you are looking for your own short or long term house rental, there are many options in all of the neighborhoods in Puerto Viejo. If you stay at least one month you will get a significantly lower rate. In the past I’ve worked with Habitat Puerto Viejo who manages well maintained homes in the area. Here are some of the houses where I’ve stayed:


Casa Amarilla
Starts at $80/night, $480 per week, sleeps 1-4 adults
Playa Cocles

Because of the big wrap around deck and the easy beach access, this is probably my favorite house I’ve ever stayed at in Puerto Viejo. It has two bedrooms, tons of outdoor seating for parties, a big yard full of fruit trees, feels very safe, and is a short walk to a quiet beach.


Casa Santi
Starts at $80/night, $480 per week, sleeps 1-4 adults
Playa Cocles

Casa Santi sits up in the trees on a quiet street near the main surf beach. The deck is my favorite part with a big outdoor kitchen, wrap around bench, and communal table surrounded by an amazing jungle canopy full of wildlife. It has two bedrooms, one downstairs, wifi, and hot water.


Villa Peahi
Starts at $55/night, $330 per week, sleeps 1-2 adults
Playa Cocles

This darling little house is perfect for a single person or a couple. It feels very safe, guarded by a fence with two houses right next door, and has a lovely Spanish inspired design. The finishes are all new, so it’s super clean. There is one double bed, a small sitting area, a bathroom with hot water, and a small kitchen.


Casa Ambar
Starts at $200 per night, $1200 per week, sleeps 1-6 adults
Playa Chiquita

Hands down the most luxurious place I’ve stayed at in Puerto Viejo, this house has its own private swimming pool, a fully equipped kitchen, three bedrooms, and is built like a first world home which means way less bugs and dirt (if those things bother you). If you have a big group it’s an amazing deal.


Casa de la Musa
$155/night, $930/week, sleeps 1-4 adults
Punta Uva

I never wanted to leave Casa de la Musa. There’s something special about this place that you feel the moment you arrive. It’s one of the few places where you can actually walk from your front door to the beach and it’s on my favorite street in Punta Uva, where I stayed the first time I ever came to Puerto Viejo. The style is rustic Caribbean with some nice upgrades.


If you plan to stay at least one month and are looking for less expensive housing rentals, check out Craigslist (search the name of the beach town where you want to stay) or the Puerto Viejo Buy/Rent Facebook Group where you can even post your own wanted ad.



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Where to Eat in Puerto Viejo


There is an excess of incredible restaurants in Puerto Viejo, and truthfully I have never eaten bad food here. You will likely be pleasantly surprised with any restaurant you choose, but these are my personal favorites.


Como en mi Casa
$5-10 for breakfast, lunch, treats
Puerto Viejo

I’m completely smitten with Como en mi Casa and the sweet Italian couple who owns it. They’re in a cute little upstairs space where they occasionally have live music and rotating art galleries. I go for the gluten free wrap made from garbanzo bean flour stuffed with grilled veggies and the raw sugar free desserts.


Bread and Chocolate
$5-8 Breakfast, Lunch
Puerto Viejo

With homemade bread, bagels, biscuits, muffins, brownies, cookies, truffles, cake, waffles, and jam, Bread and Chocolate is a breakfast lover’s dream. It is easily the most popular breakfast and lunch spot in town. When you want to be glutenous, try the fried egg and cheese sandwich on a homemade everything bagel with well seasoned skillet potatoes and crispy bacon. Or stick with something healthy and have the gazpacho which is as good as the stuff I had in Spain. The homemade chocolates are not to be missed and my favorite is the peanut butter cup and the Queen of Sheba flourless chocolate cake.


Lazlo’s Catch of the Day
$14 for a fish plate
Puerto Viejo

I’m not sure if this restaurant even has a name, but you’ll know you’ve arrived when a tall blonde surfer dude yells “fresh fish” at you. Be prepared to wait a while for a table, to receive subpar service, and to eat the freshest fish in Puerto Viejo. They only have one item on the menu, which is a big portion of the fresh catch that day (usually several options including yellowfin tuna, whole snapper, mahi mahi, and seabass) smothered in garlic herb sauce served with french fries and grilled veggies. It’s simple, delicious, satisfying, and decidely one of the best restaurants in town.


Stashu’s con Fusion *TOP PICK*

$10-15 for entrees
Puerto Viejo

Come here for the best drinks and fusion food in Puerto Viejo. I die over the blended pina colada, which could not be thicker nor creamier and comes topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Other wonders include the watermelon cooler with white wine and the tamarind margarita. The food has inventive flavors like Indian spiced lentils with black sesame beet salad and grilled fish in white chocolate sauce. The coconut cake is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life.


Soda Riquisimo
$5-7 for local plates
Puerto Viejo

My favorite local food in town is Soda Riquissimo, a little hole in the wall with yummy Caribbean plates. My favorite is the grilled fish in Caribbean sauce with salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains.


Puerto Pirata
$7-10 for lunch
Puerto Viejo

There’s two reasons why Puerto Pirata is my favorite place to get lunch in town: it has arguably the healthiest food in Costa Rica and it has a killer location right on the beach. They serve fresh organic salads, sandwiches, raw platters, and desserts crafted an Ayurvedic chef with tons of flavor. My favorite dish is the raw salad that comes with tahini dressing and avocado. It tastes devine while gazing out at the tuquoise Caribbean ocean.


$2-4 Gelato
Puerto Viejo

Fresh Italian style gelato across from the bus stop in town. They have many inventive and delicious flavors but my favorite is peanut butter, which is incredible on top of an Arte y Alma brownie from El Duende Gourmet, the grocery store in Playa Chiquita.


Koki Beach *TOP PICK*
$15-30 entrees, 2 for 1 cocktails at happy hour
Puerto Viejo

When I want a special night out with the girls, I head to Koki Beach which has the best atmosphere of any bar or restaurant in Puerto Viejo. The brightly colored Adirondack chairs, sexy lighting, and extremely attractive staff will quickly transport you to a trendy beachfront bar in South Beach. It’s the perfect place to get a cocktail at happy hour and watch the sunset. For nibbles I’m a big fan of the fresh fish ceviche and the fried calamari.


Cafe Viejo
$15-30 for entrees
Puerto Viejo

You can usually expect a lively scene here most nights of the week. Perch up at the bar to soak in some local flavor and make new friends, or sit down for a yummy Italian meal. The antipasto platters are divine and great for sharing.


Chile Rojo
$7-20 for entrees
Puerto Viejo

The first time I came to Puerto Viejo nearly every night out involved happy hour at Chile Rojo. It has an awesome balcony for people watching and a big selection of fusion food. They tend to be “the spot” for celebrations among expats, so you can count on gringo-style Thanksgiving dinner and weekly specials like sushi buffet on Mondays and “hangover” pho soup on Sundays.


Caribbeans *TOP PICK*

$2-8 for light snacks and treats
Playa Cocles

Caribbeans makes the best chocolate I have ever tasted in my life. It is flavorful, complex, and incredibly pure. The family who owns this operation sources local raw cacao from farmers in the Talamanca region and crafts pure chocolate bars and inventive flavors using natural incredients like mint, ginger, espresso, and cayenne. You can sample all of their chocolates in the tasting room and take a tour of the chocolate farm (more below).  The cafe makes all sorts of drinks infused with chocolate and sells locally made treats like salted caramel truffles, chocolate chunk brownies, and my favorite blackberry chocolate chip muffins.


La Pecora Nera *TOP PICK*
$18-30 for entrees
Playa Cocles

La Pecora Nera is comparable to the best restaurants in Italy and is consistenly named one of the best restaurants in Costa Rica. The owner Ilario will make you feel at home with his boyish charm and thick Italian accent. The space itself is stunning, reminiscent of a Tuscan villa tucked deep into the jungle. Ingredients are imported from Italy or grown in Ilario’s garden. Fish comes from local fishermen and chicken comes from Ilario’s backyard. This is not a meal to be done quickly nor on a budget. Complementary homemade rosemary crackers come with a garlicky tapenade as well as a basket filled with homemade foccacia, rolls, and sliced baguette. Begin the meal with a platter of bruschetta topped with prosciutto, homemade ricotta, and Ilario’s own preserved peppers. All of the carpaccios are excellent but my favorites are the beef drizzled in truffle oil with shaved pecorino and the yellowfin tuna with tomato and arugula. Most of the pastas are handmade including the gnocchi, which is light as air and comes smothered in bright garlicky tomato basil sauce or baked in the oven with creamy gorgonzola, radicchio, and walnuts. All of the fish and steak dishes are excellent and served with potato gratin, salad, and vegetables. Save room for the profiteroles or the panna cotta, both made in house. Wash it all down with a bottle of imported wine from Italy and some complementary shots of limoncello and grappa.


La Botanica Organica
$6-10 Breakfast, Lunch
Playa Chiquita

This was the first café I went to in Puerto Viejo more than a year ago. Over the years it offered a sanctuary for me and became a place where I connected with expats and other long term tourists. Try the power smoothie with raw farm yogurt, papaya, banana, bee pollen, and spirulina and for lunch the vegan Caribbean plate is so flavorful and satisfying. They also have a small store selling essential oils, natural food and toiletries, and locally made jewelry.

Jungle Love *TOP PICK*
$10-20 Lunch, Dinner
Playa Chiquita

Situated in a wooden Caribbean style house, this restaurant feels like dining in someone’s home. To be fair, it’s also because the owners are so charming and friendly. They serve some of the best food in Puerto Viejo, beautifully blending flavors from all over the world. My favorite dish is the seared ahi tuna on top of a big green salad with a bright delicious wasabi sauce.


Selvin’s Restaurant *TOP PICK*
$7-20 Lunch, Dinner
Punta Uva

Hands down the best Caribbean food in the area. The service can be slow, but it is so worth it. My favorite dish is the Caribbean chicken, which is stewed slowly in an incredibly flavorful Caribbean sauce making the meat fall right off the bone. It is served with rice and beans steamed in coconut milk, a refreshing salad with pickled beets, perfectly fried potatoes, crispy plantain chips, and hot and crispy patacones, which are boiled, smashed, deep fried plantains and pretty much the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Also be sure to try the rondon which is a stew of fish and veggies swimming in coconut milk broth.


Pita Bonita
$8-15 Lunch, Dinner
Punta Uva

The Israeli owner crafts mindbogglingly soft and fluffy pita daily and sells it to many grocers and restaurants in town. For a real treat go to Pita Bonita with a group and share the many small Middle Eastern salads, hummus, hot crispy falafel, and other delicacies. My favorite dish is the chicken shwarma, which is tender and well spiced, stuffed in one of their perfect pitas and smothered in creamy tahini sauce with herbed cucumber salad.


$8-15 Lunch, Dinner
Punta Uva

Most of the time I’m really not a fan of the food at Arrecife. However on Saturdays they dish up classic rondon coconut stew with lots of spices and whole lobster. I like to order some patacones and ceviche to start and share a platter with a friend right on the beach.


El Refugio
$18-30 Dinner
Punta Uva

Deep in the jungle in Punta Uva is the tiny restaurant of El Refugio. Many consider this the best restaurant in the area, with a tiny menu changing nightly of fresh seafood and steak. The atmosphere is intimate and the food is made with care.


Cool and Calm Cafe
$7-20 for entrees

I adore this beachfront Caribbean restaurant in ultra laid back Manzanillo which truly lives up to its name: cool and calm. They’re always playing great reggae and it’s an enclave for locals. Come in after hiking in the national park and get a Caribbean plate with a fresh filet of fish, rice and beans, and patacones.



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Where to Party in Puerto Viejo


Nightlife in Puerto Viejo is seriously lacking in the atmosphere department, but the seediness is just part of the charm. Let your hair down and get low to some reggae. It’s liberating. There’s a party every night of the week somewhere, but try not to stay out past 2, that’s usually when things start to get dicey.


Lazy Mon
Puerto Viejo

In the last year Lazy Mon seems to have become a monopoly for nightly entertainment in Puerto Viejo. Most nights of the week you can expect the party here, especially Friday and Saturday nights. Thursdays they have Ladies Night with free drinks for women and an all reggae set. At sunset every night you can enjoy two for one drink specials, American style bar food, and live music right on the beach. Sunday nights, my favorite night, the stage opens around 10pm for live music, open mic for brave souls, and a fire dance show.


Salsa Brava
Puerto Viejo

In my world, Salsa Brava is far and away the best dance club in Puerto Viejo. Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday nights are Reggae Night with Roots Reggae and positive vibrations. On Saturday nights they play a nice mix with lots of 90s throwbacks. While it doesn’t typically get cracking until very late, I love to come to Salsa Brava early and enjoy the dancefloor without crowds and watch the stars beside the bonfire outside. While some of the other bars can feel seedy and “meat markety” Salsa Brava always feels uplifting.


Tasty Waves
Playa Cocles

Tasty Waves is the local watering hole for surfers and beach bums with burgers, tacos, beers, and tropical cocktails. Play pool in the day or enjoy one of their many nightly events. Monday night they play a movie on the big screen, Tuesday nights they host the biggest party in town with a live DJ and dancing, Thursdays they host an American style trivia night, and Friday night is Karaoke. A word of warning: it’s very fratty in there and they’ve famous for pouring blue shots down people’s throats. Be prepared.




Where to Shop in Puerto Viejo


Like many beach tourist towns, Puerto Viejo is littered in sarong and jewelry stands and souvenir shops. For a more authentic experience, check out my recommendations for truly special gifts to bring back home.


Farmer’s Market
Puerto Viejo

If you are in Puerto Viejo on a Saturday, be sure to join the early risers at the farmer’s market for organic produce and so much more. Italian bakers tempt shoppers with homemade fococcia bread, creamy custard tarts, and flaky pastries. Beautiful handmade soaps, almond butter, and raw cacao chocolate are other goodies to be found. If you are a foodie, prepare to overindulge! My favorite stalls include Jungle Goddess (homemade greek yoga, chutneys, kefir, and other ferments) and Talamanca Chocolate/Garden Botanicals (local chocolate, honey, handmade soap, natural health and beauty products).


Lulu Berlu
Puerto Viejo

The owner of this very special shop was once a famous designer in France. She is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met and crafts inventive jewelry, lighting, and clothing from found objects and imported fabrics. Pick up one of their handmade reversible bikinis, leather necklaces, or splurge on a mosaic mirror made from seashells and beach glass.


Luna May
Puerto Viejo

I’ve traveled all over the world with the clothes I purchased at Luna May and receive compliments on them wherever I go, which shows how versatile they are. Handmade jumpsuits, rompers, dresses, skirts, and tops are made from brightly colored Balinese lightweight fabric that packs up tiny and unwrinkles easily and are elegant enough for Manhatten in the summer and comfy enough for the beach in Thailand.




What to Do in Puerto Viejo


Wildlife Hike in Manzanillo

Walk into the jungle along trails to gorgeous hidden beach coves, climb the cliffs for incredible views, and hike the muddy jungle trails, spotting howler monkeys, sloths, and tucans. For some real adventure climb into the coral caves. I’ve heard rumors that the government is in the process of building pathways and stairs and will soon charge an admission. When I last walked into the refuge there October 2014 it was still very much wild.



Surfing is practically a religion in Costa Rica, and no trip here is complete without at least giving it a try. Surf “instructors” and board rentals are everywhere soliciting your patronage, but go with a reputable local. You can pop into Om Yoga and ask the receptionist to book you an appointment with Alex or Dexter or go to the beach stand closest to town on Beach Break right across from Om Yoga and take a lesson with Jerry. They’re all locals who know the waves well, will ensure your safety, and are all around good people.


Jaguar Rescue Center
$11 for 2 hour tour, 9am and 11am
Playa Chiquita

If you want to see some animals up close and personal, go to the Jaguar Rescue Center. The center was created to rehabilitate injured animals in the area and your entry fee helps support that cause. Guides will teach you all about the many animals in Costa Rica and Puerto Viejo. For many people the highlight is going into the monkey room where you can play with baby howler and spider monkeys.


Caribbeans Chocolate Tour
$26 for a tour of the chocolate forest and chocolate tasting
Playa Cocles

Take a guided hike through the chocolate forest and learn about the history and science of chocolate while tasting all sorts of incredible chocolate along the way. The hike pinnacles at the Chocolate Creation Lab which overlooks the ocean. In the lab you will learn about the process of chocolate creation and taste chocolate in all stages. You will experience a chocolate tasting similar to a wine tasting, learning how to identify different flavor and texture notes in chocolate to truly appreciate the complexity of cacao. This is a unique experience not to be missed.


Caribe Horse Riding Club
$50 for a one-hour beach ride
Punta Uva

Explore beautiful wilderness beaches atop a horse. Check out the full moon night tour where you ride horses along the beach under the full moon spotting all kinds of wildlife like possums, raccoons, and night owls.


Snorkeling, Kayaking, Paddleboarding

When the ocean is flat rent kayaks or paddleboards to explore many of the rocky cliffs or the beautiful Isle of Cocles, which (if you bring shoes) can be climbed and jumped from. Rent snorkels in Punta Uva at Arrecife and explore the surrounding reef.


Take a Trip With Tu Camino 

Traveling solo and looking for someone to show you the way? I highly recommend taking a trip through Tu Camino, a company started by one of my best friends in Puerto Viejo. Nena knows Puerto Viejo inside and out and leads trips that include the best of the best. Her all inclusive experience includes lodging, airport transfer, yoga, surf lessons, guided hikes, and more. The best part is that you’re guaranteed to meet great people from other travelers to foreign transplants to Caribe locals. Her next trip is 24-30 September 2015 and starts at $1299.


Photoshoot with Skin Deep Nomad

Dare to bare it all? Feel empowered, love your body, and connect with nature on a whole new level by booking a nude, semi nude, or bikini photoshoot with Sarah Landolt. The experience itself is worth it, I felt such freedom and noticed a lasting sense of body acceptance afterwards, and the photos are stunning and very tasteful. I highly recommend a nude shoot with the Skin Deep Nomad even to the camera shy. Read all about my experience and see the photos here.


Finca Tierra
$26 for a farm tour and lunch
Playa Cocles (up the hill)

One of my favorite places to spend the day in Puerto Viejo is up at Finca Tierra. An American/Costa Rican couple run a sustainable permaculture farm where you can take a course, tour the farm, or stay in one of their bungalows. Everything about this place is ingeniously eco without sacrificing comforts like hot water shower or chic design. They also have delicious meals that come straight from their food forest.


Punta Mona Permaculture
$20 for lunch a tour, $65 per night for three organic vegetarian meals, kayak rental, and tour
Punta Mona

Take a visit to the Punta Mona Permaculture deep in the jungle between Manzanillo and Gandoca. The beaches are stunning and can be explored by kayak to see whale sharks, dolphins, and other wildlife. The sustainable farm offers tours, yoga teacher trainings, permaculture design courses, and various workshops and retreats. There are no roads to Punta Mona so it much be reached by chartered boat or a 2.5 hour hike through the jungle from Manzanillo.



Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo - 089

Get Healthy in Puerto Viejo


Surrounded by nature and at the ocean, Puerto Viejo is a great place to rest, relax, and restore. Many health conscious individuals have chosen to root themselves in Puerto Viejo for this very reason. Here are my recommended spas, yoga studios, and cleansing centers.


Om Yoga and Massage
$10 for a drop in yoga class, $60 for an hour long massage
Playa Cocles

Om Yoga offers some of the best yoga in Costa Rica in a beautiful open terrace overlooking the jungle and the ocean. Classes are offered at least twice daily in a wide range of styles including Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Kundalini, and Integrative. Yoga here is more than just physical, with classes regularly incorporating specific intentions and yoga philosophy. Be sure to take a class with Avani, the owner. Massage sessions are also available and are a wonderful way to further relax after some beach time. Styles of massage available are Swedish, Thai, and Deep Tissue, and can include Reiki and Cranio-Sacral Opening as well.


Clarity Breathwork
$15 for a 2 hour group session
Playa Cocles

Also at Om Yoga is a unique form of healing called Clarity Breathwork. For two hours Avani, the owner of Om, guides you through a form of breathing that allows you to go deep into your consciousness and release stuff you didn’t even realize was in you. If you have an open mind, an open heart, and true desire to explore yourself, you must try this.


One Love Spa
Puerto Viejo

At Jacaranda Hotel in Puerto Viejo, American surfer, yogi, and massage therapist Julie teaches daily yoga classes and gives some of the best massages I’ve ever had. This woman knows the human body better than anyone who has every touched me. She offers Thai Massage (she studied in Chiang Mai), Reiki, Cranio Sacral, and Deep Tissue. I received a combination of all three and it was phenomenal. Make an appointment with her at One Love Spa at Jacaranda, or book at her massage table at her house, or have her come to you.


Samasati Retreat Center
Outside of Puerto Viejo

Up in the hills overlooking the South Caribbean, Samasati offers high quality yoga retreats, beautiful lodging, healthy meals, and stellar views. Since it’s so far from town I recommend coming here for one of their retreats or yoga teacher training programs.


Tierra de Suenos Wellness Center
$100 for a full body scan and treatment plan, $2900 for a week long wellness retreat
Playa Chiquita

This wellness center in a beautiful tranquil space in the jungle is doing incredible work helping people all over the world suffering from chronic illness. Their process works not only with pain management but total wellness identifying the underlying causes of illness and working to restore health in the body rather than simply fight the disease. Depending on your needs this may involve cleanses, fasts, infrared sauna therapy, massage, and yoga.

For those looking for a less immersive experience, Dr Greg Damato will analyze your body and mind’s overall wellness using the world’s most advanced energetic medicine device. After identifying areas of concern, for instance mine were immune system function (big surprise after a lifetime of antibiotics and a year of third world backpacking!!) and inflammation (too many hours at a computer and on airplanes) and nutritional deficiencies, Greg sends you an extremely actionable treatment plan suggesting foods to integrate into your diet as well as natural herbs and supplements, cleanses, and activities (like barefoot walking to decharge inflammation from computer usage) to aid in your process towards healthier living. My experience was incredibly enlightening if for no other reason than to show me that chronic infection and subjectivity towards illness are not things I have to live with, they are things I can heal on my own. However, do take it all with a grain of salt and remember that balance is key to a healthy life.


Hidden Garden Jungle Spa
Puerto Viejo 

On a small jungle road just outside of town you’ll find the lovely Hidden Garden Jungle Spa with quiet lodging, yoga classes, holistic consulting, bodywork, and all kinds of workshops and events. I went for a Temescal (Indian Sweatlodge) which was a deeply spiritual experience that I highly recommend.


Organic Delivery

American expat Carlos makes local organic produce accessible by working with local farmers, and growing some of his own produce, to bring boxes of goodness to Puerto Viejo residents every week. If you are staying in the area and self-catering, you may want to order a box from him. You can order your goodies at Alternatively, you can buy most organic produce you need at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, just be sure to get there early.



My Secret Spots in Puerto Viejo

I’m a firm believer that magic reveals itself to those who are open to receiving it. That is to say, if you’re willing to explore and push beyond your boundaries, you will find the mystery that moves you. Rather than tell you where to find the magic in Puerto Viejo, I’d rather encourage you to find it yourself. Walk every inch of sand from Playa Negra to Manzanillo like I have and you most definitely will.



Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo - 090


When to Come to Puerto Viejo


It is always the best time to come to Puerto Viejo, but depending what your interests are there may be a time better suited to your needs. Weather and swells on the Caribbean Coast are much less predictable than the rest of the country so expect weeks of huge waves followed by flatness for snorkeling and days of monsoon rain followed by weeks of blazing sun.


Surf Season
December – March

Swells tend to be largest and best for surfing during these months, which coincide with the dry season the Pacific Coast. Consequently this time is the most populated and expensive in Puerto Viejo, tends to be relatively dry, and is quite lively. All restaurants are open, parties and events occur often, the streets of town are filled with locals and tourists, and beaches are crowded on weekends. On weekdays the many beaches outside of town remain completely deserted.


“Dry” Seasons
February – May, August – October

These months are the driest of the year with occasional rain usually occurring at night or early in the morning. February and March have big swells while the ocean becomes calm for swimming and snorkeling in May. September and October are ideal for snorkeling and sailing.


Rainy Seasons
June – July, November – December

During the months of June and November many businesses close for low season. This is also the rainiest time of year in Puerto Viejo. In fact, it is not unusual to experience weeks of nonstop rain.




How to Get to Puerto Viejo


There are many ways to get to Puerto Viejo, ranging from cheap to expensive, and all are pretty straightforward. The simplest way is to take a shuttle from the airport all the way to your hotel while the most fastest route, flying into Limon, is also the most expensive. Many travelers combine a trip to Puerto Viejo with Panama since it’s very close by.


The nearest airport to Puerto Vejo is in Limon, about an hour drive or 1.5 hour bus ride. From San Jose, Nature Air has one daily flight at 5:50am that arrives in Limon by 6:20am. This is a good option if your international flight into San Jose arrives in the middle of the night, however most flights will not arrive in time. From Limon shared shuttle vans conveniently meet passengers at the departure gate and transport them all the way to their hotel in Puerto Viejo. You can book this shuttle through Gecko Trail for $20.


The road that connects Puerto Viejo with San Jose treacherously winds through the Talamanca Mountains and should be avoided after dark if you intend to drive. The journey takes about 3.5 hours by car. A popular mode is to take a shared shuttle from San Jose direct to your hotel for around $50. Check out your shuttle options here. The least expensive way to get to Puerto Viejo is either to join a rideshare or to take the public bus. For the bus, you’ll depart from the San Carlos (Terminal Atlantico Norte) station in San Jose. It takes around 4.5 hours to reach Puerto Viejo and costs $11. See the bus schedule for details.


Travelers coming from Tortuguero on the Northern Caribbean can take a boat to Limon (departs Tortuguero at 6am and 10am, $35, 4 hours) then catch the bus (departs at least every hour, takes around 2 hours) or take a taxi from Limon down to Puerto Viejo.


Going to Puerto Viejo doesn’t just have to be a day of travel, it can also be a day of fun. One of the best ways to get down to the South Caribbean is by rafting down the Pacuare River. Tours pick up travelers in San Jose, Arenal, or Tortuguero, will take you on a day trip white water rafting, and will finally drop you and your luggage off in Puerto Viejo. Check out Exploradores Outdoors for more info.


From Panama
With Bocas del Toro, Panama just across the border from Puerto Viejo, it’s popular for travelers to combine the two in one trip. The best organized method is to book a ticket with Caribe Shuttle (8am and 12pm, $32, 3.5 hours). From Bocas you can meet them at the dock where they take you in a boat to Almirante, transfer you to a minivan to the border, help you at customs to enter Costa Rica, then shuttle you to your hotel in Puerto Viejo.



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How to Get Around Puerto Viejo


The flat paved road that connects the beach towns in Puerto Viejo makes riding a bicycle a breeze. There are plenty of places to rent bicycles in town, around $6/day, and a few scattered between Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Punta Uva. If you plan to stay for more than a week it’s worth buying a used bicycle and then selling it before you go.

Walking the beach is my favorite way to get around, albeit the least efficient and practical. Unfortunately it is not safe to walk or ride your bicycle after dark (even as early as 6pm) outside of town.

There is a bus that connects Manzanillo with Limon (stopping along the way in all of the beach towns) for about $1. The first leaves Puerto Viejo at 6:45am and the last leaves at 7:15pm. In the evening your best bet is to take a taxi, which will not be cheap but is the most convenient option. From Puerto Viejo to Cocles should cost around $4, $8 to Chiquita, $10 to Punta Uva.


**For tips on how to stay safe in Puerto Viejo, read my guide Is Puerto Viejo Safe?



Looking to create the trip of your dreams in Costa Rica? My eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica will show you how!


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  1. I am SOOO happy with my choice of Playa Chiquita next March! I’m doing an okay job of not thinking about it 24/7 until I’m a bit closer. So excited! Thanks for all the info, plus eventually I’ll want in on your organic produce hookup!

    • You’re welcome lady! I plan to be in Asia during that time but I will definitely connect you with whatever you need from afar. Get excited, it’s my favorite place in the whole world :)

  2. Anonymous Says: June 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    You definitely gave a detailed and fun to read post about PV wifey. You hit all the spots and if I didn’t know and love this place already I would be hopping on a plane to experience it myself. Nicely done :) miss you/see you soon. xoxo

  3. ompurashanti Says: June 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    love it! Nice to see a report on the South Caribbean that is current, accurate and from someone who is not catering to the 18-22 year old crowd only. Well done!

  4. Knowing how much this area means to you and what a home you’ve made there, these recommendations are extra special. It must have taken so much thought and care to even put the list together. And as someone who has visited Puerto twice (with you!), I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve chosen as worthwhile. Excellent, excellent review :) xo

  5. Anonymous Says: June 6, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Is it possible that This American Girl has never felt the magnetically charged power emanating out of the velvety soft sands of Playa Negra? It is this same healing power that brings shamans from around the world to work with their clients, and creates the energy vortex which attracts so many to this beautifully unique area. Take a walk and watch the sunset over Cahuita National Park and the surrounding mountains and you will surely find that secluded Playa Negra indeed does have something to offer the people visiting and living in Puerto Viejo.

    • It sounds like you have found magic in Playa Negra, and more power to you! Personally, I have never connected with the area, and I have such deep connections with towns and beaches towards Manzanillo which I consider far from Playa Negra. Mostly I wanted to stress to readers that each of the towns in Puerto Viejo are rather sprawling and one might feel isolated staying in Playa Negra if they take interest in the communities in Playa Cocles and Playa Chiquita or adore the beaches in Punta Uva. The best I can do is offer my recommendations based on my own experiences with as much candor as I can.

  6. […] The Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo. […]

  7. Awesome and very accurate description of what this area is like (for the ones contemplating a visit) or a vivid reminder of why we love it (for the few of us who had the opportunity to go once, and much like you, keep going back). Thank you, and I hope you don’t mind if we share.

    • Daniel, thanks for the comment and I’m so glad you resonate with my post. Describing Puerto Viejo was a big challenge, as I’m sure you can imagine. There is an indescribable energy here. Please do share! :)

  8. I am so pleased to find your post! Well done on the descriptions of the surrounding areas and, while we have been there 4 times in the last two years from California, you pointed out features that we were not aware of. So excited to have new things to put on our to-do list for the next visit. We found an amazing place to stay in Cocles and go back there each visit. It is called Physis Caribbean Bed & Breakfast located on Miss Winney Town road and we found it through their great reviews on TripAdvisor. There is also a great little eatery next door, Johanna’s Soda, with amazing lobster and plantains on the top of our list there. We love every visit there and especially the beaches, the Jaguar Rescue Center, Koki Beach, El Refugio, and the Caribe Horse Riding. Thanks for your wonderful post! Good job.

  9. […] my delight when I found some fresh, organic heart of palm this week at the Farmer’s Market in Puerto Viejo. And let’s face it, after weeks of rice and beans I needed to taste something fancy, […]

  10. […] from time to time I bring myself here. […]

  11. […] Puerto Viejo […]

  12. […] on the road and in this little Caribbean jungle town […]

  13. Rick Fuentes Says: July 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Great blog on the area. Just reinforces our choice for Congo-Bongo in September. Looking forward to all the fish and lobster I can catch and eat!

  14. […] After spending the last two and half months in Puerto Viejo […]

  15. […] route from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica to Granada, […]

  16. […] in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica I learned quickly that chocolate has the ability to elicit intense […]

  17. […] In the past I retreated to the comfort of Puerto Viejo […]

  18. Beautiful post. I’m in the middle of planning a 10-day trip to Costa Rica for my family of 4 (2 little kids) and came across your blog. As my husband and I are travelers at heart (we met in Ladakh (India) while both of us were backpacking and travelled together for a year together before getting married) I can relate to your journeys. I’m now daydreaming/planning about backpacking with our 2 kids for a year.
    But the Costa Rica trip–I was planning to spend half the trip in Punta Uva, and just realized reading your post that late November is rainy season. Does it rain quite a lot? Living in Portland Oregon where the rains/clouds start in October and go on till May, need to see some sunshine. Any suggestions for a beach on the Pacific side that’s more laid back and not filled with large resorts?

    • This American Girl Says: September 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Kim,

      It sounds like you and your husband are incredible people! I would have loved to have traveled more as a kid. I know there are plenty of families who do it and blog about it.

      Punta Uva is absolute heaven, but it can be rainy in November. The tough thing about the Caribbean is that the weather can be quite unpredictable. You could always plan part of your time on the Pacific and decide closer to the date about the Caribbean depending on the weather forecast. There are plenty of wonderful beaches in Costa Rica. Playa Guiones in Nosara is my personal favorite. Check out these two pages which have a lot of information on Costa Rica’s beaches:

      Good luck let me know any other advice you need!

  19. Anna Vassilieva Says: November 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog! So much amazing information and beautiful pictures :) I have booked my ticket to San Jose for November 19th and plan to return December 10th. I am so undecided which area to visit as my dream locations would be Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva but I’m really concerned about the rainfall! Do you think it is still worth risking it to visit these magical places? Are there other places in Costa Rica that are more predictable sun-wise??? Thank you so much for writing this it was a pleasure reading :)

    • This American Girl Says: November 8, 2013 at 4:44 am

      Anna, if your dream place is Chiquita and Punta Uva, just got! You have a month, so I’d recommend checking the weather before you go and spending some time on the Pacific and on the Caribbean. Around that time the dry season will be beginning on the Pacific and there are some great places there, but the vibe is totally different from the Caribbean. This post has all of my Costa Rica beach destinations: And there are tons of other beaches in Costa Rica I haven’t been to yet that you may love. Good luck!!

  20. […] checked into Tony’s Place with Sarah, a friend I met last year in Puerto Viejo, who serendipitously arrived in Thailand the same day as […]

  21. Im SOO happy I found your blog! I’m from Costa Rica and I went to Puerto Viejo last year for the first time. I couldn’t believe I haven’t done that before!

    My boyfriend’s family owns Villas del Caribe I’m so glad it is on your where to stay list because it is a lovely place to stay! Also, Jaguar Rescue Center is truly magical!

    I’m going there in two weeks, I’m soooo going to follow your “where to eat” recommendations!

    Thank you! Keep on traveling!

    • This American Girl Says: December 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Mariana, thank you so much for your comment!! The view in front of Villas del Caribe is maybe the most dreamy in all of Puerto Viejo ahhhh…. When you’re down there, please go into La Pecora Nera and tell Ilario and Sianny I sent you :) Enjoy chica!!

  22. Great post! I commented on your Corcovado post last week, but after reading this you’re making me want to go to Puerto Viejo! I won’t be able to in this trip though (only 10 days), but very excited for Corcovado and my stay on the Osa.
    This will be my 2nd time in Costa Rica, and Puerto Viejo in the near future would be my 3rd! It seems odd to want to travel to the same country repeatedly, but CR is one of the most beautiful in the world, culture, environment, transportation, etc. Am I right or just crazy? haha

    btw I emailed Celvante Jungle Hostel twice about reservations but haven’t heard back, how did you make your booking there?

    • Camille Willemain Says: December 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      There is sooooo much to see in Costa Rica it warrants many many trips! I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count and there are still tons of National Parks, beaches, and volcanoes I haven’t been to yet. Celvante Jungle Hostel doesn’t really have wifi, keep that in mind, but I believe you can book with them on Hostel World or Hostel Bookers.

      • ok so I’m not crazy! I’d go back every year if I could. And it seems as I might! haha, I’m 2 times in 2 years so far, and it was only my first time out of the country last year

        • Camille Willemain Says: December 25, 2013 at 7:56 pm

          There are many of us addicts Andrew 😉 Just wait til you go to Puerto Viejo… better yet travel to all of the other places you want to see first so that you don’t get stuck there!

          • Haha! I hope I’ll be there soon enough though! Unfortunately, this next trip to CR will be my last for a while.. about to start my first 9-5 office job in Chicago so my next adventures will be local for sure (but I’ll finally have the $$ to fund them! haha).

            BTW, last question about Corcovado- boots or sneakers? I have some nice hiking/snow boots but I’m afraid I’ll be sick of wearing/carrying them before and after the park.

          • Camille Willemain Says: December 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm

            If you can handle it I’d recommend boots because there are poisonous snakes. A guy in a different tour group was struck on the ankle by a Fer de lance viper but his boots came up high and protected him. I wore sneakers because it’s all I had.

  23. good to know, I’ve seen a few terciopelos in my last trip so that’s always on my mind

  24. […] in me deciding to plan a trip I’ll remember forever.  The picture above is from her Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo.  I’ll be staying in Playa […]

  25. Just a shout out to say thanks for all this great info! I’ve been in planning stages for a 2/14 trip to the area, and this guide has been very helpful! Have booked a home in Playa Chiquita for a week, and can’t wait!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 1, 2014 at 6:53 am

      Thank you Dave!! Enjoy your time in Chiquita, I love it there so much. Let me know any other tips you need :)

  26. […] more on what to do in Puerto Viejo, we recommend this Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo, written by This American Girl. It has just about everything you could possibly want to know about […]

  27. Flawless! Headed back to PV in 48 hours after a similar life-changing experience there in 2011. Love love love all your posts. Hope to cross paths during the many months I plan to stay! Best of luck for 2014!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Yay thank you so much for the compliment!! Enjoy your time in Puerto Viejo and if you are there for the next year I will see you again for sure. I can never stay away from home for too long 😉

  28. Just a note of thanks for your thoughtful and informative WEB site, which I found in preparing for our trip at the end of February.

    Four of us try to get away once a year to have fun at different locations and this will be a special one as one in the group is a Vet who has a passion for animals and oversees the bird of prey center here in the OC and has already made contact with some Vets in the area to see what they may need.

    Looking forward to not only a relaxing time, but an educational one as well, thanks again for the information you have provided.
    Be there soon!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      You’re so welcome Bob, thanks for your comment! If you’re really interested in seeing some wildlife I HIGHLY recommend taking a trip out to Punta Mona. Let me know how it goes, Puerto Viejo is STILL my favorite place in the whole wide world :)

  29. Great info! Thanks. My wife and I are taking our two boys 14 and 8 to puerto viejo in March. We are renting a car in San Jose and driving to the rental house in playa Chiquita. I have recently read about many crimes against tourists in that area. Do you feel it is a safe trip for us? What advice do you have for us?

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Bill, I understand your concern. With a car you will be pretty safe. Most crime happens against tourists on foot or bicycle at night. Even if it’s early in the evening, do not walk even a short distance outside of town once it’s dark. I also strongly advise against bringing any valuables to the beach, but really I’d advise that anywhere in the world! At night just bring as much money as you need and do not flash around iphones or expensive cameras. I assume your house rental has a safe, definitely use it and keep your place locked at night. Also, do not tell strangers where you live. Sorry, this all may sound paranoid but better safe than sorry. I have spent a great deal of time there and have only been robbed once, which was on a remote stretch of road while I was on a bicycle. Good luck to you and please enjoy, don’t be scared, just be cautious.

  30. This is great! My husband and I are returning to PV for the second time from NYC. We fell in love with it the first time.
    It’s been a few years, so curious as to how much has changed. this will help and guide us a lot!

  31. Wow! This is incredibly detailed and thorough! Thank you for taking the time to highlight all your favorite parts.

  32. WOW, couldnt have asked for a better blog to land on for PV. Some much more personal than other sites. Thanks! We will be traveling to PV the 1st week in April. Is it possible to rent a car once we are there? Is it worth getting a car?Also, how is the shuttle ride from PV to Bocas…rough? Thanks for any info you can offer!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Dustin! If you want to rent a car I think it’s better to rent it in San Jose, then drive it down. You can rent a car in Bri Bri otherwise which is about a 20 min drive from Puerto Viejo. Whether you rent a car depends entirely on what you want to do and where you plan to stay. Personally I love getting around by bicycle, but at night if you’re staying outside of town you will need to either have your own car or rely on taxis. The shuttle ride to Bocas is not the greatest, hot and sweaty and a little bumpy but it’s only a couple of hours :) Good luck!

      • Actually the car rental place is not in Bre Bre its in Hone Creek ( Poas Rental) near the intersection of the road to Bre Bre about 10 minutes from Black Beach. They used to deliver cars to you if you rented. Also there is a new more convenient car rental (Adobe) in PV, office at the Casa de la Cultura across from Cafe Viejo.
        Hope this helps!

  33. Thanks for the response. Is getting a taxi a hassle ever? I like the idea of biking but would like to stay in Playa Chiquita or further from town. Id like to see a bit of each area/beach and im trying to gage how close they all are. Also, i hear the food is great in PV. What can i expect to spend each day? Thanks again for your insight!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 27, 2014 at 2:08 am

      Getting a taxi from town is a piece of cake. Getting a taxi from outside of town is very difficult unless you call them. If you’re at a hotel with reception they can easily call a taxi for you or if you have a vacation rental request a cheap cell to use during your stay. You can definitely bike from beach to beach in the daytime. My favorite way to see the beaches though is to walk. Maybe spend one day walking from Chiquita to Punta Uva, one walking from Chiquita to Cocles, and then biking to the other beaches. The food is excellent but not cheap. Expect to spend $5-7 on breakfast, $7-10 on lunch, $10-30 on dinner.

  34. I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. Are you still traveling?

  35. Wow! This is exactly what I needed to read. Thanks for such a thorough review!!

  36. I find your travel guide to PV very excellent and as a homeowner in Cocles who rents to tourists, i would love to send the link to my guests. However, your comments about the thief with machete are a real downer and would scare and upset people and drive them away from here. in fact that crime last year was caused in part by the tourist who tried to fight back a robber with a machete instead of handing over his wallet. Also, crime here is way down via the community security committee, new video cameras on the beach road monitored by a new tourist police station in Cocles with new vehicles that are patrolling the roads and beaches. I was wondering if you would consider removing that comment from your otherwise excellent travel info so i could send this blog to my clients? thank you for the consideration and happy travels!

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 15, 2014 at 2:30 am

      Thank you Willow I so appreciate the compliment and am glad that you find the guide helpful. Unfortunately I will have to say no to taking down the comment about the machete. I know the incident you are talking about, and while it’s of course not a wise thing to fight back when an armed robber is trying to take something from you, the problem is the thievery not in the tourists’ response. It’s also not the only time something like this happened. I have been reminded time and time and time again by locals and long term residents to not carry a purse at night, to watch out for the men with machetes in the jungle, and to never tell anyone where I live. I know many people who have been victims of home invasions, I know women who have been raped, I’ve witnessed bar brawls and gunshots, and I personally was pushed off of my bicycle and robbed on the main road in broad daylight. I love Puerto Viejo, very, very, much, but the reality is that I rarely feel SAFE there. I love it enough to overlook that. I know that many people are working hard to improve the safety in Puerto Viejo and I’m glad to hear that it’s getting better. I’m also planning to write a guide about safety in Puerto Viejo, as it’s a concern I get from readers often. I am definitely interested if you want to send me a private email giving me some of your impressions on the current safety there and what people can do to prevent being victims of crime. Thanks Willow and perhaps I’ll see you on my next trip over :)

    • Crystal Says: May 21, 2016 at 8:24 am

      As a solo female traveler in the area right now, I appreciate the information about safety. I was considering hiking in the wilderness refuge by myself near Manzanillo today, but decided against it because I went onto Trip Advisor and found 3 accounts of people being robbed at gunpoint and raped on the trails (as soon as last year – 2015). Honesty is best so we can make the decision to protect ourselves if we chose (for instance, by hiring a guide).

      • Camille Willemain Says: May 24, 2016 at 11:43 am

        Wow, I’m really sorry to hear that happened in Manzanillo… yes anytime I’ve hiked out there I’ve been with friends. xx

    • The “real downer” is your hyperbiz focus on increasing your bottom line rather than presenting the reality of the PV area. Better to protect people than misrep what they step into once in the area… So, I ask you, Miz Bizhead, what have YOU done as a “responsible” member of the community to alleviate the violence, the beatings, the robberies, the B&E, the rapes? Your approach as stated above is unconscionable.

  37. I have read that there is a bus that runs from Chiquita to town (PV). Is this still true? If so, do they run often? Would it be reasonable to think i could take the bus into town and if i need to return to Chiquita late, take a taxi for the return? Debating between staying in Cocles vs Chiquita (no car). Thanks for any advice you can offer. Also, are there local food options that are good but less expensive than the restaurants. I hear the food can get pricey.

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 15, 2014 at 2:19 am

      Hi Dustin,
      I believe the last bus leaves Manzanillo for Puerto Viejo at 7pm, so it would probably stop in Chiquita at 7:15pm. I believe they run every hour. If you plan to stay in Chiquita my advice would be to get a scooter as the taxis can be very pricey, about $7 each way to town from Chiquita. As far as local food, there are little hole in the walls with meals for $5, sticks of street meat for $2 each, slices of pizza for $2 each, and sometimes you can find random street offerings outside the bars at night. If only Puerto Viejo had a night market like the ones in Thailand. Then it really, truly, would be heaven :) The best way to save money on food is to cook as often as possible. Make friends and throw potlucks together. It’s healthier that way anyhow.

      • That’s the first scooter recommendation I’ve gotten. I like the idea because it allows me to stay a bit further from town. Any specific recommendations for who to rent from? And average cost. Any details would be greatly appreciated!

        • Camille Willemain Says: February 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm

          Personally I’ve never rented one, just learned in Indonesia a month ago. I know there are places in town where you can rent but I’m not sure about the price. I think your best bet is to just ask around when you get into town. A bicycle rental is around $5 per day so a moped will of course be more. Depending how long you plan to stay you may consider buying one and then selling it. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this one!

  38. First off, LOVE your website. It has been so helpful in planning my trip to CR! I have a question though, how rainy are we talking about Puerto Viejo in May? I’m from Oregon, so I know rain…but would enjoy to keep it to a minimum on my vacation. ;o) If Puerto Viejo is mostly rainy in May, do you have any other beach suggestions that might have better weather? I’m traveling May 8-20th.

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Nicole, thanks so much for the compliment! I don’t believe it’s that rainy in May in Puerto Viejo, though it is low season so some businesses owners do close. Unfortunately the weather in Puerto Viejo can be pretty unpredictable. It’s rainy season on the Pacific side in May, but I think there are still sunny days with rain in the late afternoon/evening. My suggestion is to wait until closer to the date and see how the weather is. Between the 8th and the 20th you certainly should be able to have some nice beach weather no matter where you go. Sorry I can’t be of more help and best of luck to you Nicole!

  39. Hi!
    Found your blog online (where else would I find it?) and loved it! My younger brother (whom has never been outside the U.S.) and I will be heading the April 4th. We are looking for everything that you mentioned above. You have a fantastic way of describing life and the area and sold us on where we were going. Would love to hear back from you! Have any advice for when we get there? Would love to meet up for lunch if you are around (I notice there hasn’t been a post for a while). Thanks for the great site!

    • Guess it helps if I look a little harder. Saw you have posted recently. Don’t know what I was looking at….

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks so much so glad you liked the post! If you can only choose one splurge dinner out, make it at La Pecora Nera and please tell them I sent you, they’re like family to me and will take good care of you… plus the food is phenomenal. And go to Arrecife beach, my favorite place on the planet. I’m now in Cambodia and am not sure when I’ll be back in Costa Rica, but I will definitely be there with you in spirit! I update a few times a week, just go to my homepage :)

  40. […] when my best friend announced her plans to spend three months in a beach hut in Costa Rica, I practically begged to tag […]

  41. […] of all did she expect that as soon as she arrived in the South Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, she would fall in love […]

  42. This post lead my partner and I to PV a few weeks ago and we absolutely loved it, humidity, illness and all. I agree about the safety concerns, but we were fine. I just wanted to thank you for this excellent and inspiring post.

  43. Marryam Says: June 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I will be traveling to Puerto Viejo this month and your post has made me more excited than any other I’ve seen. I love nothing more than a beautifully seedy beach town & I thrive on the nervous feeling that comes along with the visit lol. Hopefully you’re there when I am! That would be awesommmme!

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Great so glad you enjoyed the post! I’m spending the next month in the states after 8 in Southeast Asia so it looks like I will miss you but please say hello to everyone for me :)

  44. […] in the past I was constantly looking for what I loved in Puerto Viejo in other places, in Southeast Asia I realized that the best thing about travel is finding something […]

  45. Thank you for this guide! It inspired me to come visit with my boyfriend and we are exploring the area this week. It really is magical. The tacos from Tasty Waves are awesome! We are staying at Caribe Town Resort which is absolutely gorgeous in Cocles. The owners cook breakfast for us each morning.
    I actually enjoyed checking out Playa Negra. The sand is really interesting. I think we will bike down to Punta Uva tomorrow. Pura vida!

  46. […] article with loads of pictures info about the Puerto Viejo written by fellow traveler Camille: The Ultimate Guide to PuertoViejo. The post was written last year, so some of the places and prices might have changed […]

  47. Thanks for having a complete objective description of the Puerto Viejo area for those who wants to go there.
    We are going to Punta Uva for 10 days ( leaving tomorrow) and for sure this blog will be a helper.
    I am French and my wife is from Hispanic origins ( both leaving in L.A) communication should not be a problem over there. We are renting a car from SJ ( do we expect 4 hours drive ?) in Punta Uva we rented a house ( with a couple living on the property)I guess it should be safe? We also will be with our kids 15,17 and a friend with his son ( a group of 6 together), if we follow common sense safety we should be fine I hope. Regarding snakes and others unpleasant encounter what are the risk? ( I know it’s the jungle around) we plan to visits Punta Mona permaculture, cahuita PN and snorkeled in the Punta Uva beaches.
    What are your recommendations? What kind of clothes you suggest also? Thank you .

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Michael, your trip and house sounds great to me! I’ve never personally driven from San Jose but I believe it takes about 3.5 hours. I usually take the bus which is 4.5 hours. You’ll be completely safe as long as you drive at night and do not walk or ride your bicycle after dark. As far as snakes, I’m not sure because it depends where you are, the people managing your house rental will probably have more accurate information. All of your side trips sound wonderful! If you need specific advice please send me a private message, or considering hiring me for travel consulting services, thanks! :)

  48. Thank you so much for this post! My boyfriend and I are heading to Puerto Viejo in 3 weeks for a 3-month (open-ended) stay. How can we get in touch with Carlos for produce delivery? :)

    Are you still there or are you off traveling! Would love to meet a fellow blogger while I’m there.


  49. Love the post and all the pictures! I’m currently in Puerto Viajo and was looking for more information on what to do while I’m here, your post has offered many great suggestions, and weather permitting I’ll be checking out Manzanillo tomorrow!

  50. I absolutely love this post! I have just returned from Costa Rica, where I completely fell in love with Puerto Viejo too. After spending six nights there in the middle of my trip, I returned at the end of my travels for a night before I flew home as I already missed it!

    It’s hard to explain the draw and charm of the town but you’ve done an amazing job, and there’s a bunch of things here that I didn’t have time to do/see between the surfing and nightlife so clearly I am going to have to go back again!

    • Camille Willemain Says: August 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Yes yes you must come again! I’ve been 8 times and there is still sooooo much that I haven’t seen yet 😀

  51. Your post came from heaven! This was exactly the kind of information I have been searching for – thank you for sharing your insight! I want to trip down to Puerto Viejo after being in Cahuita for a month… I know I could likely stay there forever (after reading this), but what’s the minimum time that you would recommend for visiting there?

    • Camille Willemain Says: August 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Awesome! I think that three days is probably the minimum, but if you have time I’m recommend staying for a month :)

  52. […] I feel this here in Puerto Viejo. […]

  53. Wow! I plan to move to CR in the next year or two and was planning the Guanacaste region but now think I’d be happier where you are! How do you think a young 49 year old single woman would fare in your town? (The most favorite thing in the world to me is the beach.). Thanks for your website!!!!

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Jan, if you love the beach you will love this place! There’s a great community, lots of gatherings and events and it’s easy to make friends. Though, not sure how easy it is to meet a guy for a solid relationship around here 😉

  54. I’m an Australian girl and this is my first time in Costa Rica. After being in Santa Teresa we have made our was over to Puerto Viejo and I am loving it so far! However, I am very happy to have found this blog as your recommendations and advice are amazing! I am looking forward to some further exploring, so thanks so much! Pura Vida xx

  55. brandenastral Says: October 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    can you please email me Carlos info so i can get his produce while my family and i are down there? also, we found a place in playa negra we really like that is very close to puerto viejo…is it a good location to stay even if we arent spending much time there?

  56. I will be arriving in San Jose on February 22 at 12:45 Am. From what I’ve read the public buses don’t run through the night? DO you have any suggestions on transportation that early in the morning. I just found your blog a few days ago. I’ve spent the last couple nights reading it. I envy you to say the least. You are a very talented inspiring women. I traveled last year through Europe for a few weeks.. I’m working on the months part. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Thanks Nicole :) I recommend you stay the night somewhere near the airport in San Jose or somewhere with free shuttle transportation to and from the airport, and the head to your next destination the following morning. Best of luck to you :)

  57. Alexander Says: November 3, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Hey Camille, great post and super informative! I was just wandering what your take is on the rocking J’s hostel?? Also, do you know of any cool events for the full moon in PV? I have heard that rocking J’s does a cool party and bonfire but it seems like it may be a pretty americanized place / event so just wondering if you knew of any more local events? Thanks for all of your help!

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Alexander! Rocking J’s is a great option if you are young, want to meet lots of other travelers, and don’t mind being around the party. Personally I prefer staying somewhere clean and cozy and then stopping in to Rocking J’s to say hi :) There aren’t any “local” celebrations for the full moon, it’s really not a thing here like it is in Thailand. However some of us in the community do gather together during full moon and build a fire on the beach in Cocles early in the evening to set intentions and chant together. Enjoy your visit!

  58. Hi!

    I really enjoyed reading your post & it has made me want to visit this area even more. I will be coming all the way from Australia in May next year (the only time it was possible to get off work) and was completely drawn to Puerto Viejo and the surrounding areas.. but i’ve been a little discouraged by the fact this is the start of the rainy season.. Is it a ghost town during May? Do you think we will regret coming all that way only to find many of things that drew us there are potentially not open or unenjoyable? Would love any advice around a May visit to Costa Rica.

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      May is definitely a quiet time, but you can get some good deals then and connect with the locals! Sometimes May is beautiful and really sunny on the Caribbean as well :)

  59. Hi there, I found your blog via Pinterest. My husband and I are planning our 3 week honeymoon in CR and are thinking about roadtripping/airbnb-ing via Heredia, Monteverde, the Pacific beaches, Manuel Antonio and finish off with 4/5 days Puerto Viejo. (yes, we are a bit ambitious but I think it can be done 😉 ) We weren’t sure where to go in that area, so thank you for all the great tips! 😀 Love from the Netherlands, x

  60. […] bring me into nature on the weekends, I had no idea how much I loved the earth until I went to the South Caribbean of Costa Rica. I felt like a kid again skipping down deserted beaches, lounging on palm trees, […]

  61. Are any of the other towns you’ve visited in Costa Rica a bit safer than Puerto Viejo? My parents who are in their 60s are looking for a warm place to visit and I thought Costa Rica would be something different than the typical Florida for Americans. Some of the theft stories make me want to steer them elsewhere though.

  62. […] that day I checked myself out of the hostel where I had been staying in Puerto Viejo. I knew that I needed to escape the town, the stimulation, and the constant […]

  63. Hola!!
    Im Paula from Chile and Im pretty happy to have found ur blog :). I was so confused serching for the best place in Costa RIca, and now i know is Puerto Viejo!:). Im traveling by myself on March so i really aprecciate the information.
    Just one thing…i really love yoga, so want to stay in a place where i can do yoga daily and also have time to enjoy around,do u think OM is the right one?

    • Camille Willemain Says: December 11, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Hola Paula! Muchas gracias, estoy muy feliz te gusta mi blog :) Yes I think that Om is a great option for doing lots of yoga, but keep in mind that there is a loud bar right next door who plays music on Friday and Saturday nights and has a huge party until 3am on Tuesday nights. So, you may want to stay part of the time there and part of the time somewhere near there. All the best and enjoy!

      • Gracias Camille to reply very quick;)..
        Do u know another to place to stay near OM? I like party but also sleep well heheeh ;P
        Muchas gracias!!

        • Camille Willemain Says: December 12, 2014 at 8:42 am

          Hi Paula what is your budget? I’ll be updating my guide to Puerto Viejo this weekend. xo

          • paufloresi Says: December 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm

            Ill wait for ur Puerto Viejo`s guide so :).
            Camille i have to say ur blog is so lovely and at the same time powerful … I felt the same way like u, years ago i went away to see the world and it was the most wonderful magnificent experiencie :D.
            Now Im again into the jungle…trying dont get too into…and waiting for my trip to Costa Rica, I know its gonna be great;)

          • Camille Willemain Says: December 12, 2014 at 8:15 pm

            Aw thank you dear, excited for you and your journey to Pura Vida!! :)

  64. Dear Camilla, I love your blog, everytime I see a new post I’m excited to read it. Can you please advise me about a good, safe car rental company in/around Puerto Viejo?

  65. Your blog as been super helpful in planning my upcoming trip to Puerto Viejo! My husband, myself and a good friend will be spending five nights in February. I’ve officially gone back and forth a hundred times on where to stay and would love your input. We will likely want to go out for dinner and drinks most evenings, take advantage of beaches and other excursions during the day, and we will likely rent a car. I’ve checked availability for nearly all hotels and vacation rentals and based on that, we’re debating between Jacaranda, Casa Amarilla, and Casa Jessica (located at Playa Negra and allows you to utilize Banana Azul’s amenities). Obviously all three of these plays are in different locations and I’d love your input. My husband is particularly concerned about safety as he’ll have two women to protect (haha). Thanks in advance!

  66. We had a BLAST in PV, The photo’s are amazing. Just looked at them and remembered all the good times!

  67. Bruce Gibson Says: January 5, 2015 at 5:44 am

    I have been to CR many times and my wife is is a Tica. Of all the places that I have been to I think Puerto Viejo is one of my favorites. The beaches there are just incredible. Can’t wait till I go back again.

  68. Well, great guide. However, I couldn’t help but notice that in the section on “where to stay” the first photo is of Le Cameleon beach club and first hotel mention of a hotel is Banana Azul. The description goes into suggesting that Banana Azul is a great place because it has a beach lounge. It doesn’t. It had chairs on the sand. Le Caneleon had a beach lounge. It would not have bothered me had the aforementioned hotel been listed. It hadn’t. It’s the best hotel in the area and it had not been mentioned but images of it had been used to create a more positive impression for another hotel.

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 5, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Hi Lue, thanks for your feedback. I can see how the image is confusing. I didn’t use it to promote Banana Azul, rather I used it as the introductory image to hotels in general. I like the beach club at Le Cameleon and featured it in last year’s guide, and I agree the hotel is definitely the most high end in the area. The reason I’ve chosen not to include this year is because they’ve built a stone wall to make their beach club more private, which juts so far out onto the beach that it’s actually dangerous for walkers at high tide. Once I actually twisted my ankle trying to climb up over it and many times I’ve walked waist deep through intense currents in order to pass it. I’ll consider replacing the photo with a different one.

  69. Jack johnson Says: January 8, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Hey, great blog. Just curious, but where was the waterfall picture taken? I’d love to check it out on my next visit! Thanks!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you so much. The waterfall is called the Bri Bri Waterfall. I have more about it in my Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica :)

  70. […] Puerto Viejo […]

  71. Thanks a bunch for all the info Camille, I’m excited to visit this paradise for the first time in March. I have one question for you… if I am flying home at 12:30pm from San Jose, what is my best bet to get to the airport for the flight? I would prefer to leave Puerta Viejo the same morning. Gracias, Johnny – Canada

  72. I am heading to Costa Rica mid November, I VERY much would love to visit Puerto Viejo but I am nervous now hearing that is it very rainy then. Would you recommend avoiding Puerto Viejo in November?

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Honestly it’s impossible to predict. This last November was sunny and beautiful, while the Pacific was pretty rainy… Wish I had a better answer for you, but there’s no guarantee.

  73. […] suggested I envision my favorite place in nature. I saw Punta Uva, my home in Costa Rica. I saw my favorite palm tree. I lay against it, I hugged it, and I sprawled on the sand beneath […]

  74. Kate Morrison Says: February 11, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Hi Camille,

    Love your blog & all your info. Thanks so much for taking the time to help out fellow travellers!!

    My boyfriend and I have converted an old yellow school bus in Costa Rica. We were there in Sept/Oct/Nov of 2014 & are coming back in a couple of days to continue our trip. We are meeting the bus in Puerto Viejo -are you there now? If so, would be great to meet up.

    Anyhow, my question for you is; can you recommend a yoga retreat near the area that follows Ayurveda?? I involved myself in one last year at Pura Vida in Alajuela which was amazing & I’m looking for the same kind of spiritual vibe to kick start this years journey.

    I see you mentioned ‘shamans’, would you know of any rituals/healings coming up that I could indulge in?? Or where I could source more information about this?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thank you kindly,

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 12, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Awesome! I’m actually in Europe now, for the foreseeable future. BUT I can highly recommend that you get in touch with Rachel from Hidden Garden, she is very well connected with healers and often hosts events at here place.

  75. Hi Camille
    Thank you for sharing your experience with the World :-) I’ll be in PV end of March, first time for me in CR and really exited about it.
    You’re blog helped me a lot to find (hopefully) the best spots in PV. Time will tell 😉
    Thank again, all the best

  76. Crisitna Says: March 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Hello Camille,
    I will be going to Puerto Viejo in about a week. This will be my first time in CR and I was wondering what the best currency to use is, Colones or Dollars? I have heard differing opinions. Or if its best to use both, then when should I use each? Also do any places in PV take debit card? Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 1, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      I recommend colones because you will get a better exchange rate. Some places do accept cards, but only the nicer hotels and restaurants. It’s best to always use cash unless you’re going out for a fancy dinner somewhere like La Pecora Nera or Koki Beach. Enjoy your trip!! :)

  77. Julie Burnham Says: March 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Wonderful blog with very helpful information. My daughter and her boyfriend are coming to PV in July. Can you recommend a place to see Sloths and also they are looking to stay in a tree house could you help us with information on those two things. thank you

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Julie the best way to see sloths is just to ride your bicycle down the road 😉 But you’re guaranteed to see them at the Jaguar Rescue Center, mentioned in this post. Also, as far as a treehouse it totally depends on your budget.

      • Julie Burnham Says: March 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm

        thank you so much do you recommend the Sloth Sanctuary my daughters boyfriend would love to see them up close and take a picture with one. Also the budget on the treehouse is around $100 and want a more authentic natural not so touristy do you recommend The Tree House in La Fortuna or one in PV thank you again you are so kind to help us

        • Camille Willemain Says: March 5, 2015 at 8:16 am

          I haven’t been to the Sloth Sanctuary so I can’t say. I also haven’t been to the Treehouse in La Fortuna, maybe someone else can recommend it on here? If you look in this post I have many recommendations for where to stay.

  78. Julie Burnham Says: March 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    What is your recommendation on visiting the Arenol volcano and hotsprings. Travelling from PV to Nicaragua to LCI should we make a stop or not? Also which do you think is better to do San Blas from PC or go into Nicaragua to LCI?

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 5, 2015 at 8:15 am

      San Blas vs Little Corn Island, it’s tough. Both are amazing. I say read the two blog posts and see which seems more your style. Regarding the volcano and hotsprings, I have a whole section on it in my ebook you can check out.

  79. […] met Sorrel this past fall in Puerto Viejo, where she’s been living since I left for Southeast Asia the year before. We immediately […]

  80. Hi there! I ADORE your blog! We are heading to Puerto Viejo in October!!! Are they any towns worth stopping by on the way from SJO?

    • Camille Willemain Says: April 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you so much!! I’m really not too sure as I usually take the bus so I haven’t been able to pull over where I want to. Cahuita is nice, but close enough to PV that you can take the bus there :)

  81. Courtney Says: June 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Puerto Viejo is one of my favorite places in the world. I had tears streaming down my face reading this. You captured it perfectly. Thank for your work and this beautiful blog. Namaste.

  82. OMG I love that I stumbled across this post. I have been traveling on and off for a few years now and have been all around the world. A few months ago, I was passing through CR on my Central America trip and I was skimming through a couple cities because I had been to CR before. I was heading to Panama and someone told me to stop in Puerto Viejo because it was on the way to Panama and it was a cool little beach town. That was all I had heard about this town in all my time traveling through Central America and talking to everyone about the places they have been. I got there and immediately fell in love and stayed for 2 weeks and I am already planning to go back this year. It is now my favorite place in the world. I don’t understand how I haven’t heard of it before. Oh and your comment about deceitful manwhores is so on point. Experienced it first hand when I was there thats for sure! hahaha

    • Camille Willemain Says: June 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Hahaha, thanks Erica! I’m so glad you liked it! PV is my home base so I’ve got tons of articles on the blog all about it :) Hope to see you back down there I’ll be making my way in a couple of months. I teach at Om Yoga there and will eventually be leading retreats.

  83. Excellent write up and photos! Thanks!! Just one thing: Under “Getting to Puerto Viejo,” under by “Sea,” you say that you can take a boat from Tortuguero to Limon. True, you can take a boat,but in NEVER goes into the sea. It travels down a series of canals and rivers. Also, Caribe Shuttle organizes two options for trips between Puerto Viejo and Tortuguero, including boat and land transport,one faster and more expensive, one less expensive and a bit slower (but includes lunch). Details at Thanks again!!

  84. That was an excellent post on the area. Really informative and helpful.

    Did you experience any issues with crime there? I’ve never been to this area, but have been hearing and reading endless horror stories about how common robberies are, and even violent crime being not uncommon.
    From all that I read and hear it seems that it is not a question of “if” we’ll get robbed, but of “when”

    I basically just want a peaceful and relaxing time for two months and to explore freely without worrying all the time about getting robbed.

    Is it really possible to have a relaxing time in the area without constantly watching your back? 

  85. I’m dying to get to PV and I have October 20-28 to go, I’m just worried as it’s so close to November, which you say is the rainiest month. Any thoughts on PV at the end of October? Should I risk it?

    • Camille Willemain Says: September 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I say YES! Last year we still had sunshine in November, and it’s September now and raining, so basically… pura vida :)

  86. Your blog is great and has been a big help in preparing for my trip at the end of this month. I had a question about the nightlife dress code in Puerto Viejo. Should we bother packing high heels/wedges or will we be better off in sandals? A lot of the bars there look super casual and we don’t want to stick out too much from the crowd.

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Hey love, yes I 100% would not pack any kind of heels! They will look silly and get ruined 😉 A decent pair of simple leather flat sandals will be more than dressy enough. Most people just wear flip flops. Check out my eBook I have an entire Costa Rica packing list xo

  87. Hi! We’re in Costa Rica right now, staying in a great house in Cocles. It’s our first time here–incredible place…

    Your guide has been super-helpful–definitely feeling the vibe and enjoying many of your recommendations. Thanks!!

    Dan & Theresa

  88. Your blog is wonderful!! I’m here now and look forward to perusing many of your suggestions (including hopefully the photo shoot:)). Do you have a recommendation for a reiki master? Also, I love your photos. What type of camera did you use?

    • Camille Willemain Says: December 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you sweets!! I used a Canon Powershot for these photos. I highly highly recommend doing your Reiki course with Avani Gilbert who owns Om Yoga at Cashew Hill. xoxoxo

  89. A few questions for you!

    As a solo male traveler in my early 20’s looking to explore the jungle, get a sense of Caribbean life, and easily meet other travelers around my age, would Puerto Viejo be a place to stay for around a week?

    I of course want to spend a lot of time lounging on the beaches, eating local food, but would also like a fair bit of partying. My entire trip would likely be 1 1/2 weeks in late April and early May. What would your recommendation be in my planning for this?

    I also would love to get in a day of scuba diving, but don’t see it mentioned much when researching on Puerto Viejo. Is it possible to dive and generally if yes, how is the quality? One of the only things deterring me from Costa Rica in general is that diving seems to be barely mentioned anywhere.

  90. Fantastic article! I’ll be doing a solo trip in costa rica in a couple weeks and am a bit nervous. I love your approach to traveling. Very relaxed and genuine. I will definitely check out puerto viejo, thanks!!

  91. Tess, Jim, Aden, and I will be landing in Costa Rica this time tomorrow, for the 1st round of this adventure.

    I am getting scared & intimidated about the path I know I’m meant to follow Camille! I know I must pursue what’s been sent me; but leaving this life, my property, my business, and all my loved ones behind…… phew!

    Finding my space, my place, work & home in a new country is very frightening to me right now. I sincerely hope you will still meet me while I’m there! I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished (especially as the task draws nearer for me), and I’d love to meet you, and soak up all you can offer (advice)!

    Brian Diciacco

  92. […] in Costa Rica   And of course: Camille of This American Girl, the Queen of Puerto Viejo with The Ultimate Guide To Puerto Viejo (And she REALLY means […]

  93. […] in the past I was constantly looking for what I loved in Puerto Viejo in other places, in Southeast Asia I realized that the best thing about travel is finding something […]

  94. Hello Camille, Can you tell me if Om still runs a hostel dorm? From what I can tell, their business model has changed, and there is no longer a hostel.

    • Camille Willemain Says: May 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Hi Crystal, yes you are right. This article hasn’t been updated since Om moved to a retreat space called Cashew Hill. The other dorm recommendations are still current. xx

      • Crystal Says: May 21, 2016 at 8:13 am

        Thank you, and I love this article. Just wanted to also let you know that the Jaguar rescue center is now $20, and a day lunch + tour at Punta Mona is $35 (sadly out of my budget). It really is magic here!

  95. I LOVED this post and am dying to visit Puerto Viejo! Thank you so much for all of this information. I am planning on going mid-August for about 10 days, it will be my first time traveling solo! I was wondering if you recommend doing Tortuguero or Bocas (budget won’t allow both)? I am a female in my early 20s, looking forward to relaxing on the beaches, experiencing local culture and nightlife, sightseeing, hiking in the jungle, practicing yoga, etc. Thanks again!

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Hey sweetie, I recommend Bocas for you :) I have a whole post on it you can check out xx

  96. […] Si deseas mas consejos sobre Puerto Viejo, visita esta página: […]

  97. What a lovely description. I feel like a piece of my heart and soul are in Puerto Viejo. I was fortunate to travel there last October and the night before we left I started crying because I already felt homesick for PV. I found something there that sang to me like a melody that my whole being has always known. I’m so excited I will be coming back in just a couple of weeks. I have a question. Are bonfires allowed on the beach?

    • Camille Willemain Says: August 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Awww, beautiful sentiment and beautiful poetic words. YES you can make bonfires :) We make them in Cocles at Beach Break and just after Rio Negro for the full moon. xo

  98. Thanks so much for such an excellent overview of PV. Your writing is poetic and clearly shows your passion for the area. You totally resolved my ambivalence about which part of coastal Costa Rica to visit! Pv it is! :)

  99. Hola amiga! I have scoured your site looking for where you went to yoga teacher training & cannot seem to find it. I thought I had read it on here before but maybe not…I am in the beginning stages of making a huge leap of faith & making personal changes. Yoga is my heart & soul. I haven’t been to Costa Rica sooooo it just makes sense to spend a month or two there while doing my 200 hour cert. Do you have any recommendations for a program? I have read about quite a few but thought I would ask you too!
    Thank you so much!!
    Shine on :)

    • Camille Willemain Says: October 3, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Hey Carrie! Thanks for your comment. I did my training at Pavones Yoga Center, it was amazing. There’s also a really powerful training here in Puerto Viejo, if you are really ready for some serious transformation, with Passion Yoga School. And if you want to do a non-immersion over the course of a few months, check out Caribe Yoga Academy :) Both are really affordable because you don’t stay on site. If none of those programs work for you, I hear really good things about Nosara Yoga Institute (but it’s very expensive).

      • YES! Thank you! I have read up on all of those…Passion looks incredible in the dig down deep and let that shit out sorta way (which is exactly what I need after this toxic few years) but I am also in love with power yoga & really get off on a killer work out. Anyways, thank you for getting back to me! I love your words & the path you’re on. I’ll let you know what I decide! Seriously. Thank you!

  100. I’ve been trying to figure out where to travel for easter (and the week after) for so long, and after finding your website, e-book and blog I’ve made up my mind: I want to go to Costa Rica!! BUT! How is it to travel here during easter? Crowded? Puerto Viejo has everything I want and need. It’s also the first time I will travel alone, so a bit nervous, but something tells me it’s going to be fine.
    Take care! :)

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Hey love… ohhhh I hate to tell you this… but Puerto Viejo is awful during Easter Week :( Most of the beach towns are FULL of people, garbage on the beach, crazy partying everywhere. I recommend going into the Osa Peninsula and hiking/camping in the national park, OR go to some of the mountain towns which will be less crowded… Sorry for the bad news :/ OR if you can manage, just got a week later…

      • I’m SO glad I wrote you before booking my ticket. Thank you so much for the reply! Even though it wasn’t the answer I hoped for… Anyways, now I know. I think I can do a week later, so no problem. Thank you once again. Enjoy Thailand! :)

        • Camille Willemain Says: January 12, 2017 at 9:48 am

          Thank you! yes! If you can avoid Easter Week aka Semana Santa, please do! Also make sure to confirm the exact dates of Easter Week in Costa Rica… not sure if they are always the same as USA…

      • Incredible information!!! I just noticed this website and I already booked my flight ticket for November 8-12 and I wanted to go to Puerto Viejo, but I see that it’s not a good date to go to that place, right?

        • Camille Willemain Says: July 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm

          Oh that’s beautiful :) Well, the weather has been changing a lot over the years and to be honest these days it’s totally unpredictable. It’s peak rainy season right now and we’ve had sun every day. November is still low season countrywide so why don’t you keep your plans open, no accommodation, and then you can decide last minute and see how the weather is. Rain or shine Costa Rica is beautiful! And yes early November is still rainy season on the Pacific too, but starting to transition…

  101. Andrew Walker Says: January 22, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for an excellent blog and for confirming my decision to take my family to the Caribbean side of CR. I’m sure it will be amazing and it looks like a very underrated area of CR.

    Thanks again and safe travels

    Andrew Walker

  102. great tips, really enjoyed your words

  103. good blog – keep it going gal – have gave me some good tips for planning my trip!!

  104. this Canadian Girl is finding her dream retirement surf mecca

    • Camille Willemain Says: May 28, 2017 at 10:26 am

      :) xoxo

      • ill be there for 3 days staying at el arbul on the 16th, 17th,18th of August with my wife and family. We will be there to photograph as much wildlife as possible and to try and do some hand line fishing with the locals for mahi mahi and other species. thanks for all the interesting tid bits of information!

  105. […] route from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica to Granada, […]

  106. […] on the road and in this little Caribbean jungle town […]

  107. […] from time to time I bring myself here. […]

  108. Should my wife and I rent a villa or stay at a hotel .
    And we also like sentual couple massages do you recommend any places or can they come to the Villa

  109. Hello,

    Thanks so much for this post- it’s the most helpful site of information I️ found by far! I️ am stuck between La Ruka/ Rocking Js hostels or Selina Hostel. Do you have any opinion on Selina?? Thanks in advance and thanks again for these helpful posts!

    • Camille Willemain Says: November 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Aw that’s awesome! My best friend owns La Ruka hostel :) I advise against Rocking J’s, Selina’s looks really nice and new and has a pool, La Ruka has beautiful vibes and very easy to make friends and feel like family.