Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: Caribbean Cool in Costa Rica

Last Updated: September 25, 2019

Set along the turquoise Caribbean Sea in southeastern Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a laid back beach town with a distinctly Caribbean feel. With residents of both Afro-Caribbean and indigenous descent, Puerto Viejo offers a unique culture that can be found only in this part of Costa Rica. Here, coconut rice, Reggaeton beats, colorful homes, and a laid back attitude dominate. And with some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, lush jungle, and an array of restaurants and nightlife, it is no surprise that Puerto Viejo is now a popular destination. Below are the essentials for planning your visit to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Main bay in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Orientation

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is located in southeastern Costa Rica, close to the Panama border. The small downtown, where many of the area restaurants, bars, and shops are concentrated, is conveniently located next to the beach. The road out of town paralleling the coast leads to several smaller communities like Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Playa Punta Uva, and Manzanillo. These towns each have their own restaurants, beaches, and other amenities but are more spread out.

Getting There and Around

The drive from the capital city of San José to Puerto Viejo is about four hours. The nicely paved highway passes through mountains covered in thick greenery. Once you reach the port city of Limon, the road follows the coast south, passing many banana plantations. Though the drive is beautiful, it does involve crossing a mountain range on a curvy road that is frequented by tractor trailers. If you’re nervous to drive, consider taking a shuttle or the public bus.

For a quote on a shared or private shuttle from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, please contact us through our Shuttle Booking page. For the public bus, here’s a link to a website with a fairly reliable schedule that you can use to help you plan.

Once you arrive in Puerto Viejo, you have a few options for getting around. One of the most popular is to rent a bicycle. The road that runs between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo is often a bike superhighway, with more bicycles than cars. If you’re staying outside Puerto Viejo, though, a rental car is nice to have. There’s also a public bus that runs regularly between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.

If you rent a car, be sure to check out our rental car discount to save 10% and get free extras.

Downtown Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Downtown Puerto Viejo

Activities and Attractions in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has something for everyone. Wildlife watching, horseback riding, night hikes, waterfalls, fishing, yoga, and Caribbean cooking or dance lessons are just a sample of the many area activities. Below are some of our favorites. See the end of this section for information on how we can help you arrange your activities in Puerto Viejo.

Beaches

The biggest draw in Puerto Viejo is its beautiful beaches. Along the road that runs to Manzanillo are smaller dirt roads that lead to secluded beaches, each with their own distinct feel. Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo is a lovely black sand beach that is usually calm enough for swimming. Playa Cocles to the south is a surfing beach that, while not the best for swimming due to rip currents, is a great place to relax on the sand and people watch. Playa Punta Uva is by far our favorite. Its clean ivory sand, aquamarine water, and tall palms make this cove the perfect place to waste away the day.

Tip: When beach bumming, be careful not to leave your belongings unattended as petty theft does occur. It is also a good idea to leave your valuables (passport, money, cell phone) locked up in your hotel safe.

Playa Punta Uva | Puerto Viejo: Caribbean Cool in Costa Rica
The beautiful Playa Punta Uva

Surfing

Puerto Viejo has long attracted the surfer crowd with its famous swells. Salsa Brava, Costa Rica’s most powerful wave, breaks off the shallow reef in Puerto Viejo. For beginner and intermediate surfers, check out the beach break at Playa Cocles for consistent swells. If you’re interested in a lesson, we’d be happy to help you with the arrangements. Group lessons are around $65 per person. Please see the Booking a Tour section, below, for more information on how to get in touch.

Snorkeling/Diving

When conditions are right, some of the beaches south of Puerto Viejo can be spectacular for snorkeling. At Punta Uva Arrecife (Grape Point Reef), you can snorkel right off the beach. Manzanillo farther south also has an impressive shallow reef for snorkeling and diving. There are a couple of places in town that will rent snorkel equipment, but it’s easiest to bring your own.

Usually snorkel tours with a guide are done out of Cahuita, a small town just 15 minutes north of Puerto Viejo. Cahuita National Park has a large coral reef that you access by boat. 35 different coral species and over 120 types of fish can be seen along the reef. Since it’s part of the marine portion of the national park, you need a guide to visit. Guided tours are around $60 per person for 6 hours and include transportation from Puerto Vjeio. They include about 1.5 hours for hiking in the national park as well. See the Booking a Tour Section, below, for info on how to reserve a snorkel tour.

Fishing

The warm Caribbean Sea is the perfect place to toss a line. Small-boat charters leave from the calm cove in Puerto Viejo to explore reefs and river outlets to the south. A popular combo tour allows you to troll for sport fish like wahoo or tuna but also fits in some dolphin-watching and snorkeling. See below to book a fishing trip. These start at around $400 for a half-day.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding tours are popular in Puerto Viejo. From atop a horse, you can explore the surrounding rainforest and find hidden beaches. A good guide will point out wildlife along the way and teach you about the forest. Tours vary in length from a short two-hour ride to a full day adventure ($50-100+). We work with an excellent operator for these tours who has well-cared for, tame horses. To get more information on the different tour options or to make a booking, please see the Booking a Tour section, below.

Chocolate Tour

A chocolate tour will surely get your mouth watering. Here, you can walk the cacao forest and learn how artisan chocolatiers make bean-to-bar chocolate using locally sourced, fair trade cacao. Tours typically include a tasting component that will let you sample the many different flavors, and are around $30 per person. To arrange a tour through the chocolate company we recommend in Puerto Viejo, see the Booking a Tour section, below.

Caribeans Chocolate Tour
Chocolate tour in Puerto Viejo

Visit an Indigenous Community

Dig deeper into the southern Caribbean’s culture with a visit to one of the several BriBri indigenous communities. Learn about their local customs, language, traditions, and methods of farming. Some tours have a chocolate-making component where you might get to try some of their sacred cacao drink, while others take you to hidden waterfalls. Tours range from $55-85 per person. See the Booking a Tour section, below, to get information on the different cultural tours available.

Jaguar Rescue Center

Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Playa Chiquita doing amazing work for injured animals. Guides who work directly with the animals will teach you all about the residents, which may include monkeys, sloths, margay (pictured below), parrots, toucans, and other jungle creatures. On a tour ($20 per person), you’ll learn how the animals ended up in the Center and their plans for release, while getting up close and personal.

Regular tours of the wildlife center can be arranged directly through the Jaguar Rescue Center’s website.

Night walks of the release site are also possible ($60 per person). These tours will show you different wildlife than you would see on the regular tour of the facility. Glass frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, snakes, spiders, and other interesting insects are often seen, and sometimes animals like owls, kinkajous, sleeping monkeys, and possums. We’d be happy to arrange a night tour for you. See the Booking a Tour section, below, for more information.

Big cat at Jaguar Rescue Center
Margay at the Jaguar Rescue Center

Cahuita National Park

The village of Cahuita, about 10 miles (16 km) north of Puerto Viejo, is worth visiting on a day trip. In addition to soaking up the small town feel, the national park in Cahuita is one of our favorites. This stunning 2,711 acres (1,097 hectares) of jungle is set along the sea. On the flat, sandy trail, you can spot eyelash pit viper snakes, sloths, howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, and many types of birds. The park also hosts several all-but-deserted beaches.

Cahuita National Park can be visited on your own, but a knowledgeable guide can add a lot of value and point out birds and animals that you may have missed. We work with some excellent naturalist guides in the Puerto Viejo area. Guided tours are around $50 per person for 4 hours and include transportation from Puerto Viejo. See the section on Booking a Tour, below, for more information on how to arrange a guided tour.

Ara Manzanillo

Ara Manzanillo is a small organization in Costa Rica working to help reestablish the population of Great Green Macaw parrots.  These birds were once in abundance in the southern Caribbean, but due to habitat loss and a lack of food, they have nearly become extinct. On a tour of their rustic facility, you will be able to get close to these amazing birds. Tours help to support this important organization and can be arranged by contacting Ara Manzanillo through their website.

Green Macaw at Ara Manzanillo
A gorgeous Great Green Macaw showing off at the Ara Project

Bocas del Toro, Panama

If you have an extra few nights in your itinerary and want to see another country, we recommend Panama’s Bocas del Toro islands. The Bocas have an even more laid back Caribbean feel than Puerto Viejo. They offer many white sand beaches with clear water that is great for snorkeling and swimming. Those looking for a party scene will find it in Bocas Town. Shuttles run daily from the Puerto Viejo area.

Booking a Tour

We work with many reputable tour operators in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and would be happy to help you with your reservations and answer any questions. Please contact us through our Tour Booking Service page or send us an email to bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com with information about your group and the tours you would like to do. Booking through us costs the same and helps support our website!

Restaurants in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo has a huge restaurant scene with almost 100 establishments to choose from. Because people come to live here from all around the world, you will find a range of international cuisine.

La Pecora Nera

One of our best meals in Puerto Viejo ever was at La Pecora Nera. This candlelit Italian restaurant outside town is the perfect spot for a nice dinner out. The dinner menu offers classics like homemade ravioli and spaghetti carbonara as well as innovative dishes like starfruit and shrimp carpaccio. We love the linguine with chipirones (baby squid) and bruschetta with prosciutto.

Proscuitto Appetizer at La Pecora Nera
Bruschetta with prosciutto at La Pecora Nera

Stashu’s Con Fusion

Stashu’s Con Fusion is one of Puerto Viejo’s best known restaurants. As the name implies, they offer fusion cuisine. Dishes come with delicious sauces (a lot of curries but they have other things too). This is a particularly good place for vegetarians and vegans, though meat and seafood choices are also plentiful.

La Nena

No visit to Puerto Viejo is complete without some authentic Caribbean cuisine. La Nena is a simple restaurant on the main road in Playa Cocles that serves up Costa Rican classics with Caribbean flare. Passion fruit salad dressing, rice and beans with coconut milk, and spicy tomato sauces make for an authentic taste.

Authentic Caribbean food at La Nena
The fresh catch topped with a spicy Caribbean sauce

Restaurante Amimodo

If you find yourself craving pizza, we highly recommend Restaurante Amimodo. This staple in Puerto Viejo has been around since 1994. We were attracted by its location right on the beach, but the food was solid as well. We loved our thin crust pizza, but they also have many other dishes with pasta, organic chicken, and local fish. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to grab one of the tables out back on the sand.

KOKi Beach Restaurant

This hip restaurant and lounge is in a great location, directly across from the beach in Puerto Viejo. KOKi Beach is usually one of the busiest places in town. The artsy décor and cool vibe draw a diverse crowd looking for a fun spot to kick back. Grab a cocktail in one of the comfy rocking chairs, or enjoy a full meal in the dining room. The menu here is big, with steaks, burgers, pastas, fish dishes, and more.

Inside KOKI Beach Restaurant
KOKi Beach by night

Tasty Waves Cantina

If you’re checking out Playa Cocles, Tasty Waves is a fun spot to grab a beer and casual food. This chill bar is run by a group of guys from the US and tends to draw a younger crowd. They do happy hour specials daily and have events like trivia night, karaoke night, and movie night. Tuesdays are big with 2-for-1 tacos, and they often have live music.

Bread and Chocolate

Bread and Chocolate is a well-known café with awesome breakfasts and lunches. They do breakfast all day or you can get one of their delicious sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread. The roast beef and jerk chicken BBQ sandwiches were memorable. Be sure to save room for dessert. The locals running this place make their own chocolate truffles and cakes with locally grown cacao.

Chocolates at Bread and Chocolate in Puerto Viejo
The amazing chocolates at Bread and Chocolate

Hotels in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

With more and more hotels opening in Puerto Viejo, it can be difficult to decide where to stay. Here is some guidance and recommendations.

Hotels in Puerto Viejo tend to be smaller, many with four rooms or less. There are no chains and most accommodations are tucked neatly away in the jungle. Many options are typical Caribbean-style bungalows made of wood. These often have window shutters and are open air (no A/C). Those prone to insect bites should make sure that their room is sealed or has mosquito nets over the beds. If you want to be close to amenities, stay in Puerto Viejo center, where everything is within walking distance. If you like a quieter setting, you will probably prefer the peaceful jungle of Cocles, Chiquita, Punta Uva, or Manzanillo.

Security Tip: While open-air accommodations are a great way to enjoy the tropics, they are not always secure. Be sure that your hotel room or vacation rental can be locked up and has a safe to protect your belongings for when you leave. Break-ins do sometimes happen in the Puerto Viejo area, unfortunately. For more information on how to stay safe, read our post Safety Tips for Your Next Trip to Costa Rica.

Budget to Mid-range Hotels

Kalunai Hostel

One of the best hostels in town is Kalunai. Located in downtown Puerto Viejo, it offers a few affordable private rooms and some dorms. The spaces are clean and have comfortable beds. There’s also an outdoor kitchen and hammocks. Travelers love its friendly owner. Private rooms, around $30/night (double occupancy). Dorm rooms, around $15/night per person. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Hotel Boutique Indalo

Hotel Boutique Indalo is located right in the downtown, but far enough out so that noise isn’t a problem. This hotel is a good value for the area, especially if you prefer air conditioning. It has modern, comfortable rooms. $60-100/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Villa Finca Chica

The cute wooden cabins at Finca Chica will give you a taste of Caribbean living. The villas are nicely spread out around the rainforest-covered property. Although they are located outside town in Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo is only a quick taxi or bike ride away. Each has its own kitchen for cooking in. $75-160/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Finca Chica - Hotel Guide to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Outdoor living at Villa Finca Chica. Photo Credit: Villa Finca Chica

Mid-range to High-end Hotels

Caribe Town

We loved our stay at Caribe Town in Playa Cocles. This small hotel has a handful of charming palm-thatched bungalows surrounded by gardens as well as a few larger houses nearby. The hosts were very friendly and served one of the best breakfasts we have ever had. Options varied daily and included pancakes with house-made syrup, omelets with fresh sausage, and even homemade cinnamon rolls. $100-120/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Caribe Town Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Our bungalow at Caribe Town

La Kukula Lodge

La Kukula Lodge is a small eco-lodge set in the rainforest in quiet Playa Chiquita. It offers modern, industrial-style rooms as well as a whole house for larger groups. Because the property is situated off the main road and is thickly vegetated, wildlife is often seen. $90-260/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Hotel Banana Azul

Banana Azul is one of the nicer hotels in Puerto Viejo, but it stays true to the area with a laid back feel. Accommodations vary widely, from wooden ocean-view rooms above the restaurant to separate bungalows and newer villas with plunge pools. Most rooms don’t have A/C, but the ocean breeze is enough for most people. Banana Azul is located north of town and is adults only. $65-260/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel

The only high-end option in the area is Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel. This 23 room hotel in Playa Cocles offers spacious rooms with minimalist décor. The white-washed rooms surround a gorgeous pool with tall palm trees. A major draw is the beach club across the street, where you can have food and drinks delivered to your chair. $175-500/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel
Pool area at Le Cameleon Hotel

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is unlike any other destination in Costa Rica. It combines beauty and culture in a way that no other place has for us. From the pristine beaches, lush rainforest, and plentiful wildlife, to the vibrant, laid back culture, Puerto Viejo always leaves us wanting more.

Last Updated: September 25, 2019

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you book a hotel using one of the links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

Have a question about visiting Puerto Viejo de Talamanca? Ask us in the comments below.

Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts.

Tortuguero, Costa Rica Off the Resort – This remote village on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast is famous for its nesting sea turtles and abundant wildlife. Pair a visit here with your time in Puerto Viejo.

Cahuita: Culture and Calm on the Caribbean – If you’d prefer a smaller town on the southern Caribbean, check out Cahuita. Cahuita has a quieter feel but still has vibrant culture and plenty of restaurants and things to do.

La Fortuna: What to Expect from Costa Rica’s Most Popular Destination – La Fortuna will show you one of Costa Rica’s most famous volcanoes and let you experience thermal hot springs and a myriad of adventure tours.

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Cahuita: Culture and Calm on the Caribbean
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88 Comments

  1. I visited P.V. 2x during my semester abroad in CR and really enjoyed it since as you stated, it is such a different experience from anything on the Pacific. I’d love to get back, especially to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center. I am positively obsessed with sloths!

    1. Julie, you’ll have to come back for a longer stay for sure! The Jaguar Rescue Center was a really great tour–they take really good care of the animals and the volunteers know a ton so you learn a lot. Since it’s a rescue center, the animals they have change, but when we went they had a margay cat, all 4 kinds of monkeys that live in CR, and baby sloths too.

  2. Thanks for the helpful info. During your stay in Puerto Viejo area, did you visit Playa Chiquita too? If so, how did it compare to Playa Punta Uva. Also, if you were a family with 2 kids under 10 years old, would you stay in Punta Uva or would that feel really isolated? Thanks! Karen

    1. Hi Karen, we did visit Playa Chiquita. It’s one of the quieter areas like Punta Uva and also has a beautiful, secluded beach (all the beaches down there are basically beautiful though!). Chiquita is a little closer to the main area of town in Puerto Viejo but if you have a car, Punta Uva isn’t too isolated at all. There are restaurants spread out all along the main road from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo (the farthest town to the south) and it’s still just a short drive to town. Hope that helps!

  3. We really enjoyed the Caribbean side of CR, though our visit wasn’t very long. We spent most of our time in and around Cahuita. The national park was wonderful. Next time hopefully we’ll have more time to explore!

    1. Hey Tamara, Cahuita was where we went the first time we visited the Caribbean side. We loved it too, especially the park. Hope you can get back to CR soon to check out Puerto Viejo. It’s a really cool place- one of those places people go to and love so much that they don’t go home.

  4. Hi there,
    I’m spending some time in CR in the north and west and am then looking to move from SJ to Turrialba then on to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and back to SJ over the period of a week. Wondering if you can help me with a few question.

    Would a 4×4 be necessary for these areas? I want to have some freedom to travel around but if I can get away with a car I’d do that.
    Any recommendation for splitting the time up or other location on the route you’d recommend?
    Is it easy enough to cross into Panama for a day or two?

    Thanks,
    Tom

    1. Hi Tom, you should have no problem visiting Turrialba and Puerto Viejo in a week from San Jose. The main roads are pretty good so you would probably be fine with a 2-wheel drive as long as you don’t stray too far off when exploring. Just make sure to ask the hotel your staying at in Turrialba if you need 4×4 to reach them, some of the places are up on the mountain. It might be worth going to Turrialba on your way to Puerto Viejo and then coming back the other way (via Route 32) just to see a different area. Braulio Carrillo National Park is right along that route and makes for a nice overnight, not far from San Jose. Visiting Panama is definitely an option from Puerto Viejo too but you won’t be able to bring your rental car due to their policies. There are daily buses and shuttles though if you wanted to keep it parked for a day or two. Have a great trip!

  5. Any comment on safety? I’m going with a group in February and one of us is pretty nervous about safety since she read about machete wielding thieves on another blog, and has seen lots of caution notices about not leaving valuables in hotel rooms unless in safes. I’m assuming it’s like any other place – keep your wits about you and avoid walking alone at night and you’ll be fine – but I want to reassure her from the perspective of someone who knows the area.

    1. Hi Lauren, Puerto Viejo does have more crime than other areas of Costa Rica but that has never stopped us from going ourselves or recommending it to others. Most crimes occur very late at night in and around bars or are opportunistic petty theft crimes (like stealing bags from the beach). Basically like you said, it’s like anywhere in world, just be aware of your surroundings and take some precautions. If you go out to a bar very late, take a cab home instead of walking. Don’t take any valuables to the beach unless someone will be watching the bags at all times. You’ll notice beach paths in the area too- it’s best not to bring expensive cameras, etc. on those. It’s always a good idea to use the safe in your hotel to leave your passport and other valuables when you go out. Hope that makes your friend feel a little better. It really is a wonderful place!

    2. Hi Jennifer and Matt, we (2 families with children) are planning to go to CR in August. The last few days we like to stay at the beach. We are doubting between Samara and Cahuita. I recently read that a teacher got killed in the Puerto Viejo area. Is it safe to go to Cahuita? As far as weather is concerned, which destination is better? Thanks, John

      1. Hi John, We heard about the teacher in Puerto Viejo too, it is a real tragedy. The community there is very upset about it. The news is that the government will be building a new police station in town and has already doubled the number of officers patrolling the area. About Cahuita, it’s a lot quieter than Puerto Viejo and doesn’t have as much crime, possibly in part because it sees fewer visitors. We have always felt very safe there. We are actually going back to this area of the country in a few weeks and will be coming out with new articles afterwards so subscribe to our site (go to our homepage) if you would like to receive them.

        As for weather, August is rainy season on the Pacific slope (Samara), but it usually isn’t too bad until September. On the Caribbean side, the rain starts to taper in August, and September is one of the driest months. You can read our Weather post for more info and data.

  6. Hi there guys! Thanks so much for that helpful post. My friend and I are planning our trip to CR at the moment. And I think I really want to go to Puerto Viejo. Could you recommend any hostels or hotels? We are budget travelers so maybe cheaper options would be cool 🙂
    thanks so much!
    cheers,
    mara

    1. Hi Mara, Here are some ideas:
      Vista Verde– Good option for an inexpensive hostel. Simple but comfortable rooms. Very close to town and the beach. $30-40, rooms have shared bath.
      Hotel Boutique Indalo– New hotel in the downtown where most restaurants, bars, shops are located but off the main road so not as loud. Rooms $65.
      Villa Finca Chica– A little more expensive (around $80/cabina) but nice because you have your own separate cabin. Cabins are cute, Caribbean style and have a kitchen so maybe you could save some money that way. Good location in Playa Cocles so outside of the main area of town where it’s louder but a short bike/taxi ride away.
      Physis Caribbean Bed & Breakfast– Another good option in the $100 price range. Also in Playa Cocles. Owners are super friendly and helpful.

      1. we just spent a very pleasant week at hotel boutique indalo. i definitely recommend it. can be a little difficult to find as it’s a couple blocks behind the main street, but that little bit of isolation is a nice break from the ruckus nearby. just don’t get your directions from google like we did.

  7. Thanks for all this info, you guys! It’s been so helpful to have a go-to resource site! We’re (read: me+hubby+8 & 6 yr old kids) looking forward to coming for 8-10 days the first week-ish of May. We’re not really a Disney/pre-packaged kind of fam – more like low-cost homeschooling hikers completely fascinated by all of creation. But Costa Rica has soooo much that I’m still having an absolutely impossible time narrowing down which amazing options to include! I don’t want to spend our entire time riding a bus all over the island trying to cram it all in. We’ll just have to come back to CR, right? 😉 At this point, I’m really thinking Southern Carribean area so we can do a night &/or day tour at the Jaguar Rescue, snorkel, hike, and definitely learn more about chocolate! But if we were to station ourselves in Puerto Viejo for 1/2 the trip, and then settle in another spot for the last few days, do you have a recommendation?

    1. Hi Jen, It sounds like your family would enjoy the S. Caribbean since it’s really chill and has a lot to do but doesn’t feel super touristy, especially if you stay farther out of town. The Caribbean is a little far from the Pacific Coast, so you might think about spending some time inland for the rest of your trip so that you experience a different area of the country. Take a look at Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui–authentic feeling area in the Caribbean lowlands with amazing birds, hanging bridges (Tirimbina Lodge), pineapple tour, etc. You might also like the Poas Volcano area. The volcano itself is touristy but there are some lodges around it on the way to Sarapiqui that are more off the beaten path. You can also do a coffee tour from these places or visit an awesome waterfall called Catarata del Toro.

  8. It was nice to find your “two weeks in costa rica/puerto viejo” article. We are considering a possible move over there and are planning to vista Costa Rica for two weeks in Feb 2017. We are planning to stay at an airbnb in puerto viejo (not booked yet) and wondered if we should break out trip up staying in some other areas. I noticed some of the comments where people have gone to several areas. I would like to be sure we get a good feel for the country but wasn’t sure if there would be enough time while there (without feeling exhausted) to see the beaches, central valley and rain forests to include puerto viejo. Also, reading that it can be expensive living there, we want to look in areas that are more cost friendly. We’re not big city people, I like the beach, small town feel is better. Are their any hidden jewels along those lines you would recommend as a must see/stay.

    1. Hi Donna, If you have two weeks, you could definitely see more than just the Puerto Viejo area without being too rushed. Maybe spend a couple of nights in the Central Valley since that is where most of the population lives. Grecia and Atenas have large expat communities. If you’re most interested in a small beach town, you could spend some time checking out the Central Pacific Coast, which isn’t too far of a drive from San Jose. Playa Herradura or Playa Esterillos might be a good fit based on what you’ve said re small town feel and cost. Also be sure to read our article on planning your research trip for moving to CR. Here’s the link.

  9. Hi! We were wondering if the water temps on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica are warm enough to swim/snorkel in the first week of October?

    1. Hi Erin, Water temps stay fairly consistent year-round and are nice and tropical for swimming. October is one of the drier months on the Caribbean coast too so it should be plenty sunny with days with clear water for snorkeling. Enjoy!

  10. Hello! My husband and I are headed to Samasati (near Puerto-Viejo) in a couple days!! I’m excited to do some of these activities on this site. My biggest question is: what can we do on our own, without a tour guide? We’d love to hike at Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, visit the Indigenous Community, etc, but I’m having a hard time finding out how without a complete tour. Any suggestion? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Lara, You can do a lot of the activities we include in this post without a guide, but the ones you mention, you’ll want a guide for. Gandoca Manzanillo is more remote and unfortunately there has been some crime in the refuge, including recent robberies of some people hiking alone. Definitely better to go with a local guide. Another great option for hiking where you don’t need a guide is Cahuita National Park, in the next town over. Totally safe place and a really nice park with a lot of wildlife including sloths.

      You also need a guide to visit the local indigenous communities. There’s an organization in Puerto Viejo called ATEC that does a lot of cultural tours who can help you. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.ateccr.org. Hope you have a great trip.

  11. Hi!, my husband,16 year old daughter and myself will be staying 3 nights in November at the Mother Dear Cabins. A couple of questions; is there more than one chocolate tour in the area? You mentioned Caribeans, and I saw something on trip advisor about ChocoRart neaR Chiquita We will be renting a car. ALso we wanted to go to Bocas Panama. We saw a day tour listed through Geko Trail tours where we would be picked up at our hotel at 7:00am taken to the boarder, ride a boat to dolphin bay then to Cayo Coral to snorkel , then taken past mangroves to Red Frog beach before heading back to our hotel at 5:45. Would you recommend this? What are your thoughts? We also want to rent Eazy bikes and go beach hopping.

    1. Hi Terrie, The Puerto Viejo area has quite a few cacao farms so, yes, there is more than one chocolate tour. We have done the one at CariBeans and enjoyed it but the one through Chicorart looks great too.

      We would not recommend visiting the Bocas on a day trip. While it is a beautiful area that we love, it would be too crazy of a day to try to visit from Puerto Viejo. The drive takes some time and then you have to do the border crossing and travel some more to get to the islands. Better to go for at least two nights or just stay in Puerto Viejo, which has a ton of things to do.

  12. hi Jenn and Matt,

    We’re considering three options for a two-week trip. We’re a homeschooling family, our kid is 7 years old and wildlife and beach are probably our main draws. We are wanting to move very little, just to keep the transitions less disruptive.

    For the three options below, if we are looking for calm swimming beaches (snorkeling would be terrific), wildlife and ease of travel *without a car*, what would you recommend? We would also need to be in areas that are gay friendly, as we’re a family with two moms.

    (1) Liberia to La Fortuna/Arenal, then onto Playa Hermosa, then back to Liberia
    (2) San Jose to Puerto Viejo, base ourselves out of Puerto Viejo (maybe daytrip to Cahuita)
    (3) San Jose to La Fortuna/Arenal, then onto Manuel Antonio, then back to San Jose

    We were originally considering basing ourselves out of Puerto Jimenez as well so perhaps that is option 4. We just weren’t sure if that’s too remote for our first family trip to Costa Rica/

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Fionna, Option 2 is the best for not having a car and calm ocean waters/snorkeling. Puerto Viejo is great for not having a car because you can stay close to town and the beach, and rent bikes to get around or take a cab if something is more than walking distance away. There is also a lot of wildlife and things to do to fill up two weeks. The other options are doable without a car too but you are more limited with where you could stay in town to have things close by. Puerto Jiménez is a great spot, the bay is really calm and good for swimming, but two weeks is a lot of time to spend there.

      All of Costa Rica is relatively gay friendly (most of the locals are really nice and tolerant) so you shouldn’t have any problems there. Hope that helps narrow it down!

  13. Puerto Viejo is amazing. This place definitely has its vibe. I stayed there little over a month, and absolutely enjoyed my time in there. Even though the town is small, there’s quite a bit to do. My really enjoyed my bike rides to Manzanillo and back. What a wonderful place. 🙂

  14. Hi Jenn and Matt, My husband and I are coming to CR for our honeymoon towards the end of January for 2 weeks. We are starting out in San Jose then heading to Punta Uva for about 5 days then thinking over to Manuel Antonio for the rest of the trip. Any local places we don’t want to miss? What will the weather be like? What do you recommend to see in San Jose? Can we rent a car and use our insurance from the states? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Nancy, This post is the best resource on our site for things you don’t want to miss un Puerto Viejo. For Manuel Antonio, read our Manuel Antonio Trip Planning post, which we recently updated, and our Off the Beaten Path Things to Do Near MA. Our Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries book also covers these destinations.

      It will be dry season on the Pacific slope so expect dry sunny weather with rain once in a while in the afternoon or at night. The Caribbean side has different weather and it can really rain at any time there but it usually isn’t too bad end of January. It will be very humid in both areas so clothes that dry quickly are a good idea. Check out our Packing post for more info on that.

      Most US insurance companies don’t cover international rentals but your credit card might provide some coverage so you could ask them. Costa Rica has a mandatory basic liability insurance but you might want more than that. Read our Rental Car Discount page for more details about renting a car here. Hope you have a wonderful honeymoon!

  15. Hi! My husband and I are traveling to San Jose to Turrialba to Puerto Viejo, and then returning back to San Jose. How difficult would it be to travel by a regular bus (not shuttle) from Turrialba to Puerto Viejo and then from Puerto Viejo to San Jose. We fear that we may end up stranded somewhere because we didn’t catch a bus in time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Diane, Most of those trips aren’t bad by bus and some even have direct bus options, which are much faster because they stop less. The one exception is Turrialba to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – there are a few different bus options so be sure to plan your trip in advance so you don’t have a lot of connections. You can use this website to plan everything out.

  16. Hi Jenn and Matt!

    I’ve just stumbled across your website and have found it incredibly informative – thank you for all that you are willing to share!

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for accommodation in or around the Puerto Viejo area. My husband and I, and our 8 year old daughter, are renting a car and looking for nice/safe/fun/and affordable place to stay. Any suggestions would be incredibly helpful 🙂

    Thanks!

    Sara

    1. Hi Sara, That’s great that your family is going to Puerto Viejo. We are actually making another visit there with our son in a few weeks and are going to update this post with accommodation recommendations. In the meantime, you can scroll up to the hotel recommendations we gave to a commenter named Mara on January 12, 2016 and here are a couple more options:
      (1) Carib Town: Has some Caribbean-style bungalows set in the jungle. The staff there is great.
      (2) La Kukula Lodge: Small hotel with more modern rooms. There’s tons of wildlife around the property.

  17. Hi! So I am travelling a trip to Puerto Viejo with my GF. Unfortunately, our trip is restricted to 8 days with 3-4 intended for our stay in Puerto Viejo. I have read somewhere that many businesses close down during the rainy seasons. Would you know more about that? Would it still be worth going during this time or are we better off switching our plans to the more touristy Manual Antonio beach area?

    1. Hi Raj, Puerto Viejo is pretty bustling these days so you shouldn’t have too many problems with businesses being closed. Some places do close for renovations or to take vacation, but the timing is a little different on the Caribbean coast since its rainy season doesn’t follow the rest of the country. So while some businesses on the Pacific coast might close for parts of September and October when tourism is the slowest, we don’t think it’s the same on the Caribbean side because this region has its best weather during these months. There are a ton of restaurants and hotels in Puerto Viejo anyway so you should always have a decent selection.

  18. Hi Jenn and Matt: thanks for all the good info on both books and website. We are planning on a 10 day trip to Costa Rica in October but are a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. Our goal is to visit both the pacific and atlantic coasts arriving to San Jose and driving the next day to Ojochal. Making our way back, what would you recommend as an itinerary? Also we hear different views on the drive from San Jose to Ojochal, what are your thoughts?

    Thanks,

    JM

    1. Hi Jose, With 10 days, you should limit yourself to three destinations max, especially since drive times between those areas are long. The fastest route from SJO to Ojochal is Route 27 to 34. This way is mostly flat and is a much easier drive than going through Cartago and over the mountain on Highway 1. From Ojochal, you’ll take Route 34 back toward San José. It’s a long, all day drive so your third destination could be somewhere on the way to the Caribbean side like Atenas or the Poas Volcano area. Hope that helps!

  19. I’ve made a recent decision to spend three months in Puerto Viejo. I’ve visited CR the last two years. The first year strictly Puerto Viejo and last year spent a few days in Arenal and then another three days in Puerto Viejo. So far my visits have been with my best friend and he and I fell in love with Puerto Viejo. This trip however I will be solo. I’m looking for some time to just get away from the noise and just sit quiet with myself the ocean and the jungle creatures. I’ve found some great cabinas through air bnb and the prices for an entire place to myself are very reasonable. My mom and best friend seem concerned I’ll be alone there for three months but I’m looking forward to the solitude. Do you have any suggestions or advice for a longer stay?

    1. Hi Kim, Lots of women live solo in Puerto Viejo, but there are some things to be aware of. Safety is probably the biggest (read our general safety tips here). Be sure to find a place to stay that locks up securely and avoid walking around by yourself at night or in isolated areas. Best to take a cab home after dark. Other than that (and you probably know this from your visit), but amenities are harder to come by or more expensive so be thoughtful when you do your packing. Our Packing for Expats post might be useful to you. Make sure your new place has good internet too if that’s something you care about. Have an great time- Puerto Viejo is an amazing place!

  20. Heading to Puerto Viejo for 32 days in July/August with wife and three kids. We are creating a checklist for items we might want to bring with us (vs. but locally); anything you’d recommend we absolutely bring with us from the states?

    1. Hi Ben, Take a look at our Packing for Expats post. Some of the stuff won’t apply, but a lot of it will since you’ll be here for an extended stay. Off the top of my head, make sure to bring enough sunscreen, insect repellent, and any specialty food items you want. All of these things will be more expensive and/or difficult to find.

  21. Hi jen and matt,
    We hope to travel during the end of September. We were hoping to go to either Doninical or to papagayo. We live in Florida so we can live with afternoon rain. But is the rain all day long? We do want to be able to go to a hot spring and if we choose the Caribbean side it does not seem there are any close by for a day trip. Am I wrong? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Jodi, September is one of the rainiest months on the Pacific side but it usually doesn’t rain all day. The Caribbean side is a safer option for that time of year because it has different weather patterns and September is actually one of its driest months. There aren’t any hot springs nearby, though, like you said.

  22. I was planning to visit the Jaguar sanctuary, but this is the first I am hearing about the sloth sanctuary – can you tell me where to get more info?

  23. Hey Jenn & Matt!

    Your website is super awesome I am a student studying abroad in Heredia until December and I am looking forward to visiting the places you have suggested. My boyfriend is visiting from the states September 14th until the 19th and we have been trying to plan a trip that is not too expensive. We are definitely leaning more toward the Caribbean side because weather will be nicer and I think we will really enjoy this vibe. Should we stay in Puerto Viejo or Cahuita I know they are fairly close but we will not have a car so just wondering which beach town is better and has more things to do. Looking forward to hearing back from you (:

    1. Hi Bella, It will be low season so we would recommend Puerto Viejo because it is a bigger town. Cahuita will probably not have much, if anything, going on. If you won’t have a car, it is probably best to stay in or near downtown Puerto Viejo. Not sure of your budget, but there are lots of hostels to choose from and for something more private, Hotel Boutique Indalo is a great option. There’s a lot to do in Puerto Viejo- you can rent bikes to get around, there’s a local bus, and taxis aren’t too expensive. Hope you and your boyfriend have a great visit!

  24. Hi Jen and Matt. Our family (2 adults, 10 & 8 year old) are looking to do just over 2 weeks in CR. Thinking about 5 nights in San Jose, 4 nights in Nosara, 2 nights in Monteverde and heading to Puerto Viejo for 4 nights before heading back to San Jose. Is that too much/ambitious, do you think?

    1. Hi Wade, That itinerary is doable but you could take some time away from San José to give more time elsewhere, unless there is a specific reason you want to have 5 nights there. San José is worth a couple of nights and does have some attractions nearby but it isn’t as close to activities as many people think. So just be aware of that. Also, the drive from Monteverde to Puerto Viejo will be very long (7 hrs or so), so you will probably want to break it up with an overnight somewhere.

  25. You mention a shuttle from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro. Can you tell me more about the shuttle…where it leaves from, where it drops off in Bocas del Toro, the cost, whether we need our Passport, whether there are issues with coming or going to Panama (we heard there are, but maybe not with the shuttle option)?

    1. Hi Melinda, The shuttle picks you up at your hotel in Puerto Viejo, drives you to the Panama border where the driver will help you go through the immigration process, and drives you to the dock where you will grab the ferry to the main island, Bocas Town (from Bocas Town, you can take boat taxis to other islands, if needed). The ferry ticket is included in the price. You do need your passport to enter Panama and will need to meet Panama’s entry requirements (proof of exiting within 180 days; plane ticket back to home country; proof of funds). If you have all the documents you need, usually there are no problems with the border crossing. We have done it several times without incident. The cost for the shuttle is around $35 per person and the trip is 4 hours total. Email us at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com with your date and number of people if you would like help with the booking.

      1. This is great info…thank you for it. How far in advance of wanting to take the shuttle to Bocas del Toro do we need to book the trip with you?

          1. OK…we’ll figure out soon what day and be back in contact to book the trip. Since ypu’ve been there several times, what do you recommend we do while there?

  26. Hi! I’m traveling with 3 other women to Costa Rica in February. We have 10 days to visit, so our plan is to rent a car in San Jose and drive to Puerto Viejo for 4 nights and then spend 5 nights in Bocas del Toro, then drive back to San Jose for our return home. We’ve read that we won’t be able to cross the border into Panama with a rental car. Would you have a recommendation for how best to get to Panama and what to do with our rental car while we’re there? We do want to make the most of our time and thought having our own car would be most efficient.

    1. Hi Kelsey, It’s true that you will not be able to take the rental car across the border. Your best option is probably to do one-way rentals from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and drop off the car before you leave for the Bocas, then pick it up again when you get back. The company that we work with, Adobe Rent a Car, has an office in Puerto Viejo. They will charge you a small fee for picking up and dropping off at a different location but it will be cheaper than having the car sit for 5 days. Here’s the link to our rental car page.

      For traveling to the Bocas, you can take a shuttle very inexpensively. They will pick you up right from your hotel in PV, drive you to the border and help with the crossing process, then drop you off at the dock where you catch the boat to Bocas Town. We work with a very reputable company in PV that does this trip. If you would like help with the booking, just reply to this thread and we will send you more information through email. Booking through us costs the same as if you booked directly. The public bus, which leaves from the center of town, is another option but it takes more time and you have to take another bus once you get to Panama.

    1. Hi RoLab, Yes, Puerto Viejo is generally safe. As long as you follow the normal precautions (read our Safety Tips here), you shouldn’t have any problems. It’s a great destination for solo female travelers in particular- you will likely find lots of women traveling alone there. The main concern is walking back to your hotel late at night. If you plan to go out, we highly recommend taking a taxi back and not walking alone.

  27. Thank you for all the great information on your website, it has been very helpful and clear! My girlfiend and I will be spending 6 full days in CR next month. We were planning on going to Arenal, raft to Puerto Viejo, and finally Tortoguero. Is this a doable itinerary for the 6 days we have in your opinion or are we better off eliminating Arenal?
    We enjoy moving around but do not want to be overwhelmed.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jack, Doing the Savegre rafting connection is a good way to save time but it is still probably too fast paced. That only gives you two days in each destination or one full day with travel time. We’d say to skip Arenal this time unless you can add a couple of days to the trip. It would be fine with three days each in Arenal and PV and two in Tortuguero.

  28. Hello- I am looking to go to CR with my husband and 2 children (5 & 8 yrs old).
    What areas would you recommend that keep travel time from the airport low while also offering a variety of activities for younger children (horse back riding, surf lessons, zip lines, etc)?

    I had planned on going to Tamarindo but really wanted to stay for a couple days in a tree house option. Looks like one of the best tree house options I see is The Tree House Lodge closer to Puerto Viejo.

    Just trying to balance all of these ‘wants’ having never traveled to CR before.

    Any suggestions/advice you have would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Monica, We have some ideas for the best places to visit and things to do with a younger children in the Family chapter of our book, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries. That itinerary goes to La Fortuna, Nosara, and Manuel Antonio. Puerto Viejo would also be a good choice, since it’s fairly close to the airport and offers a lot of what you’re interested in. La Fortuna/Arenal has a treehouse lodge that is popular so have a look at that as well.

  29. My husband and I are traveling to Puerto Viejo this saturday, 4/28 and will be there two months. Which agencies have you worked with there that you would recommend? We are very excited it will be our first trip there, and we have some family who are going to visit for a couple weeks while we are there. We are not sure how much cash to bring, any suggestions? We have credit cards that don’t have transaction fees so will use those whenever possible, but aren’t sure if there are places we will need cash for.

    1. Hi Linda, We work with several different companies in Puerto Viejo, so it depends on what kinds of activities you’re interested in. We can recommend a great horseback tour, guided tours to Cahuita National Park, some interesting cultural tours, etc. Send us an email at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com and we’d be happy to help you set some things up.

      For information on how much cash to bring, you can check out our Money Matters post to get an idea for how much things costs. Using your credit card will be the easiest and is what we do whenever we can too.

  30. Hi! Puerto Viejo seems to have high rainfall. Do you know more information on this? For example, we’re thinking of coming in April for about 10 days. Would we expect it to rain all day, every day? Would we expect a rain shower for a couple of hours each day? Appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you!

    1. Hi Chrissy, The Caribbean coast has different weather patterns so it rains almost year-round, which is different from the Pacific coast with distinct dry and rainy seasons. April is usually one of the drier months, though. Mostly it rains in the afternoon or at night, and often in big downpours, so most days should be nice. Hope that helps!

  31. Hi Jenn and Matt!
    Thanks so much for all the great information you provide. My husband and I have visited Costa Rica several times and we’re planning to return again next year. We have never been to the Caribbean side, so I’ve just started my reading and research. We’re looking at the last two weeks in February. Hoping it won’t be too rainy. The two things we both love are wildlife and beaches, and it looks like this coast will fit the bill!
    Just trying to decide where to stay. We want to be close to Puerto Viejo, but not necessarily stay there. Maybe Cocles or Chiquita area. Definitely want to visit the beach in Punta Uva and the wildlife rehab in Manzanillo. Are we best off with a rental car if this is the plan? I think we might fly from San Jose to Limon and we can get a car there and then return it there and fly back to San Jose. I know the car rentals are expensive there, so if we can get by without one, that would be best I think.
    Thanks!
    Lori

    1. Hi Lori, Puerto Viejo sounds like it will be a good fit for and your husband – it has amazing beaches and a lot of wildlife. You could stay anywhere between Playa Cocles and Punta Uva, really, for a similar experience of staying outside the main area of Puerto Viejo. It gets quieter the farther south you go towards Manzanillo, but everything is close by anyway. We do recommend a rental car if you’re outside town unless you are okay with biking to get around and relying on taxis for at night, etc. Staying in Cocles would be best for this. If you decide to rent a car, we would suggest getting it in San Jose to save the cost on the flights to and from Limon. It’s not that far to drive and will save you several hundred dollars. If you go with a car, be sure to check out our rental car discount to save ten percent and get free extras. If booked in advance, rentals can be affordable. Just watch the pricing because it does fluctuate so there are times when the price goes down. Hope that helps. Good luck with the rest of your planning!

  32. Hi guys,

    Thanks so much for all of your amazing information! I absolutely love Latin dancing, but am having a hard time finding out about the scene in Costa Rica. Are there places to social dance (salsa, merengue, bachata, chacha, etc) in the evenings? I‘ve read about live music, but have seen nothing about what kind of music it is nor about dancing and I‘m getting discouraged. Am trying to scope out possible places to turn into “home”, and knowing what places definitely have the live music and dance I need in life really helps narrow down the places to concentrate on visiting the most. Thanks again for your incredible insight, what a great website you’ve got running!

    1. Hi Nicola, We talked to a local about this who loves dancing and she said that you can find salsa and merengue, but not too much bachata. She lives near San Isidro de El General and goes out there, but other towns should have spots with Latin dancing too. San Jose has the most options by far, but the beach towns should have some too. I would think Puerto Viejo would be a good option for a beach town. You could join some of the local Facebook groups for expats in the towns you’re interested in and ask there for specifics.

  33. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Thank you so much for this amazing website, it has been so helpful! I’m planning a trip to Costa Rica in early December and am wondering if you think Puerto Viejo will be too rainy then? We loved reading about Puerto Viejo and hope to lounge/snorkle/yoga/hike during our stay. Would you still recommend Puerto Viejo in early December or is there another place (on the Pacific side) that might be better at that time of year?

    Thanks!
    Olivia

    1. Hi Olivia, We lived in Puerto Viejo in early December a few years back and the weather was fine. Some rain but lots of sun too. We were able to get some snorkeling in so hopefully the seas will cooperate for you as well. Have a great visit!

  34. We’ll be on the Caribbean coast with three small children ages 1,3, and 5 this mid September. We’ll have a rental car and am trying to decide between staying in Puerto Viejo and Puerto Uva. Will it be too remote in Puerto Uva? We like the idea of gentler beaches closer to where we’re staying, but it’s only for 3 nights and I’m wondering if it’d be better in the larger town of Puerto Viejo for restaurants, markets, etc. Is there any difference safety wise? What do you think?

    1. Hi Scott, Since you’ll have a rental car, staying in Punta Uva would be fine if that sounds more appealing because of the beach. You’ll still be close to restaurants, since they are several spread out along the main road that runs from Puerto Viejo south. From a safety perspective, it’s more about the specific property you’re staying at and making sure the building is secure (it closes up completely) and you have a safe to use, etc. Getting to the main area of town still won’t take that long – this area is all pretty concentrated. Hope that helps!

  35. Hi guys!
    I’m thinking of heading to CR for the second time from October 20-27. I explored San Jose, La Fortuna, Monteverde , Manuel Antonio and Drake Bay 2 summers ago in August with my Mom.

    I read that the weather would probably be the best during this time period on the carribean coast. My mom and I don’t want to get stuck in any hurricanes…

    What are your thoughts for these dates weather-wise? Any other suggestions?

    My mom is 65 and I’m hoping to sort of stay put (fly in from SJ) and perhaps do a day trip or 2. Would Banana Azul be a good option for accommodations? Could we walk / easily take taxis to get to a town center/ where there is more action at night?

    I think my mom was looking for more of an all-inclusive experience, but I don’t think that is possible on the Carribean side.

    Anyhow, thanks for any insight!

    1. Hi Enrico, September to early October is actually the best time for weather on the Caribbean side, but late October should be okay as well. That is a gorgeous area that is nice even if it there is some rain. It is probably your best bet for where to visit that time of year, since it will be rainy season on the Pacific slope.

      Banana Azul would be a great choice for you both since it’s quieter and a little outside town. It’s probably too far to walk to town but you could easily take taxis for the 5-10 minute ride. All inclusives are hard to find on the Caribbean side. You could take a look at Le Cameleon. It’s not exactly an all-inclusive but does have a beach resort part where they will serve you meals on the sand.

  36. Hello Jen & Matt
    Thanks for your blog and website info! 🙂
    Planning trip from UK over Christmas and New Year and thinking 1 x week in Nosara area on Pacific coast and then driving to Puerto Viejo on Carribean Coast. Two q’s:
    1) Is this drive ‘do-able’ in a day without a stop over?
    2) Which of the two locations would be best for spending Christmas Day and NYE at? EG are there fireworks etc. or more of a party vibe at one location over the other?
    Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Gillian, That’s about a 9 hour drive depending on traffic so not doable in one day. You could stay outside San Jose somewhere like Atenas to break it up. We’d recommend Puerto Viejo for New Years. Big party vibe there. It’s also a nice spot for Christmas since it’s more spread out and doesn’t feel too congested.

  37. 1. For hotels, I highly recommend Banana Azul, one of the only ones literally on the beach and one of the most beautiful beaches that is safe most of the time for children.
    2. For nature lovers, in addition to the Ara Project & Jaguar Rescue Center I consider the Sloth Sanctuary at Cahuita equal or better and it includes a river canoe ride for spotting wild sloths and many birds.
    3. For restaurants I suggest you add the restaurant in Banana Azul. As a retiree living in Costa Rica I spend a week there every September (best month for Caribbean) and find I’m better off eating all meals at the hotel.
    4. I respect your “no links” request in comments, but for those considering retirement in Costa Rica, I do a blog titled “Retired in Costa Rica” at my name website.
    5. Thanks for the good job you do with “Two Weeks in Costa Rica!”

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