200km (124 miles) E of San José; 55km (34 miles) S of Limón
Puerto Viejo is the hottest spot on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. And I'm not just talking about the sometimes stifling heat. Even though Puerto Viejo is farther down the road from Cahuita, it's much more popular, with a livelier vibe and more ongoing development. Much of this is due to the many surfers who come here to ride the town's famous and fearsome Salsa Brava wave, and only slightly mellower Playa Cocles beach break. Nonsurfers will appreciate the abundance of excellent swimming beaches, plenty of active adventure options, nearby rainforest trails, and some great local and international restaurants.
As you head still farther south, you will come to the most beautiful beaches on this coast, with white sand and turquoise seas. When it's calm (Aug-Oct), the waters down here are some of the clearest anywhere in the country, with good snorkeling among the nearby coral reefs.
This is the end of the line along Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. After the tiny town of Manzanillo, some 15km (9 1/3 miles) south of Puerto Viejo, a national wildlife reserve stretches a few final kilometers to the Panamanian border.
This area gets plenty of rain, just like the rest of the coast (Sept-Oct are your best bets for sun, although it's not guaranteed even in those months).