Puerto Viejo Travel Guide

Joi Ito

Puerto Viejo de Limon is named after the old harbor at its center, a tiny seaside village nestled along the road 4 hours east of San Jose on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast. Enclosed by dense rainforest and lush primary jungle that comes down steeply to meet the sea, Puerto Viejo lies in the Talamanca region, an area defined by dramatic, contrasting landscapes over a wide variety of terrain. 1.5 hours south of Limon, and thirty minutes from the neighboring town of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo's population is a mix of the original inhabitants of the Cabecar, Bri-Bri and Kekoldi tribes, Jamaicans, and Europeans,  and making Puerto Viejo an international enclave . There are no high-rise hotels, golf courses, or fast food franchises in Puerto Viejo, these are roads less traveled, unpaved paths leading into virgin jungle. .reflecting the community's commitment to conservation and modest development that encourages eco-conscious tourism. The beaches south of town are pristine stretches of and soft white sand, fringed with coconut palms and perfect for strolling and sunbathing. Miles of active coral reef are excellent for snorkeling and diving. With weather that is warm and green all year long, Puerto Viejo is an ideal place for escape-from-it-all retreats and unforgettable vacations.

Bordered by two national parks, Manzanillo-Gandoca National Wildlife Refuge to the south, and Cahuita National Park to the north, Puerto Viejo hums with sounds and sights of nature. It is not unusual to spot sloths lounging at eye-level, hear monkeys howling over birdsong, and encounter exotic reptiles at every turn. There is no shortage of sights to see or activities for the visitor to Puerto Viejo. Exploring the nearby national parks, bike riding from beach to beach, cafe hopping, chocolate tasting, yoga- it can all be done in a day or two, but is better spread over a week, or more. Adventure excursions and are easily arranged and well-managed, and eco-tours with informed naturalist guides may be found with a little looking. The nightlife starts late, after 10:30, and it's a casual scene that rotates between a few places- Puerto Viejo's laid back night-life starts late, after 11pm. Reggae music and reefer waft over the town, reminders of the town's roots in Jamaica and Rastafari culture. The town's most famous spot for surf is Salsa Brava, and fine waves break at Cocles Beach, too. It's easy to see why many travelers leave with dreams of returning, and why plenty never leave at all. The tranquilo life found in this little neck of the woods simply epitomizes "la pura vida."

Where to Go in Puerto Viejo

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Totem Hotel Resort

117 Playa Cocles

Sloth Sanctuary

Learn lots about sloths and see some up close and personal- though no touching here.

KOKi Beach Restaurant & Bar

user rating

Town Center

Open air restaurant & lounge in the center of town, overlooking the waterfront. Great place for people watching, good food, cocktails.

The Lazy Mon

The coolest new lounge on the beach in Puerto Viejo, with ping pong and pool.

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