Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small coastal town in Caribbean Costa Rica in the province of Limón. It is popular with surfers and backpackers. This is an area where foreigners are buying and building. There are two gorgeous National Parks nearby - Cahuita and Manzanillo, and it rains more than on the Pacific side, which is why it is so lush and green with the rainforest coming down to the sea.
Clear water, coconut palms, great surf and a laidback Caribbean atmosphere make Puerto Viejo a favorite among travelers. Located on the Caribbean Coast, about an hour south of Limon, Puerto Viejo is the center of activity between the smaller villages of Cahuita and Manzanillo. The relaxed, seaside town is framed by jungle, turquoise seas, banana plantations and scenic rivers.
Formerly a small fishing village, Puerto Viejo has grown rapidly in recent years. Avid surfers, drawn to the famous Salsa Brava waves, have made Puerto Viejo a hotspot on the surfing circuit. The center of town now has many souvenir and surf shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and tour companies. True to its beach location and Caribbean ambiance, bikes and pedestrians dominate road traffic along the coastal roads.
With its blend of Afro-Caribbean descendants, expat Europeans and indigenous Costa Ricans, Puerto Viejo charms visitors with a unique mix of people and cultures. Rastafari culture has a firm foothold in the town, and many Rastas sell handmade jewelry and other wares along the town’s vibrant roadside.
Before the Spanish arrival, the Bribri, Kekoldi and Cabecar indigenous peoples were the primary inhabitants of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean. Later, Afro-Caribbean immigrants arrived, many from Jamaica, and settled in the coastal towns of Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva, Manzanillo and Monkey Point. Because of their influence, many Puerto Viejo natives today speak English as their first language.
Until the late 1970’s, Puerto Viejo was relatively isolated from the rest of Costa Rica. In 1979, a new road connected the small village to San Jose and the Central Valley. In 1986, electricity arrived, supplying light and other important conveniences to the town. Private phone lines became available in 1996, and high-speed internet was offered in 2006. Today, Puerto Viejo is as modern as any beach town, though it still retains its original charm.
The local bus leaves 4-5 times a day direct from Caribe Station in San José. Last bus leaves at 4PM and all buses are direct with one pit stop outside of Limon. The ride is approx 4 hours. Make sure you get on the bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, not de Sarapiquí which is a different part of the country.
If you want to save a few colones, you can take local bus from Caribe station to Limón and transfer to Puerto Viejo bus. This is what many locals do.
There are also tourist buses that will pick you up at your hotel and drop you off where you want. The most popular one is Easy Ride Shuttle Services they run daily from San Jose hotels to Puerto Viejo at 10.00 am returning daily at 3.30 pm rate is $40 one way per person. There is also Grayline.
Driving here is also popular, but roads can be bad as at certain times of the year, the pot holes can get obnoxious. However, you really don't need a car when you are here. Most people rent bicycles and scooters. The roads may not be all paved, but they are flat as they all follow beach line.
The bus system is very limited. Busing between the beaches can be very hard with one every 4 hours sometimes. Even a 15 minute taxi ride can be $8, as expensive as most western nations. Most lodges have bicycles for rent. Taxis hang out in the center of town and will take you anywhere you want to go up and down the coast. When taking a taxi, make sure to negotiate your price ahead of time. Most of the taxi drivers know the area extremely well and can find their way with just the name of your hotel.
Tropical forest surrounds the village and palm trees line the beach, adding to Puerto Viejo’s natural beauty. Travelers can glimpse spectacular wildlife in Cahuita National Park or the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, which border the town to its north and south, respectively.
Just south of Puerto Viejo, visitors will discover the sublime beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva. The dirt road connecting the villages is often in poor shape and full of potholes, though road repair vehicles labor daily to improve conditions. Beachfront cabins, restaurants and shops line the street, almost all the way to Manzanillo. There is no shortage of accommodations in the area; numerous budget hostels cater to surfers and young backpackers that frequent the area, while posh resorts offer comfort and luxury along with impressive ocean views.
Black and white sand beaches extend for miles; they are wide and often deserted, offering stretches ideal for walking and sunbathing. Snorkeling is excellent when the water is calm, and nearby Cahuita and Manzanillo are home to beautiful, living coral reefs that provide some of the best snorkeling in Costa Rica.
The beaches are gorgeous, but like everywhere in Central America, watch those riptides.
There are beautiful birds, butterflies and animals to be seen.
There is also the Iguana Conservation Tour at Iguana Verde Foundation, you can check the tour futures at 
Refugio de gandoca de Manzanillo:the beauty of this refuge is incredible because of its forest, lagoons, coral, reefs and white sand beaches and is the most exotic place of the entire South Caribbean coast. This refuge protects 4500 ha.of sea; 15km of coast and 5000 ha of plants and hills which maximum height is 115 mt.
Indian's reserve in High talamanca and rite with shaman : To come to the most recondite of the Alta Talamanca,
Rent a bike. Expect to pay USD5 per day. Ride it the full 26km round trip to Manzanillo and back. Make it a day trip. Each time you see a side road leading to the ocean, follow it for a hundred meters or so and you will usually find a beautiful secluded beach. It's a long but easy, flat ride on a mostly paved road. If you'd like to cut the ride short you could make your destination Punta Uva.
Surfing (TOTEM SURF SCHOOL), Playa Cocles (Beach Break), ☎ 00506 86217572, . The Caribbean coast is known for having a rasta-mentality, but it also has a strong native culture. Come in Puerto Viejo and learn to surf with us! TOTEM SURF SCHOOL is located in Playa Cocles, Just in front of Totem Hotel. The town's most famous spot is Salsa Brava just in front of town and there are good waves on Playa Cocles too. The swell comes during the dry season, roughly from December to April. Other time of the year the sea is extremally flat.
Delroy's Tours, Inquire at Veronica's Place, ☎ (506) 2750 0263 or (506) 8810 1369 or (506) 8918 3238 (email@example.com), . Tours include a visit to the indian reserve with a tour of an organic chocolate farm and waterfall visit, as well as a tour to a sloth sanctuary which includes wildlife viewing by canoe. Excellent bilingual guide, highly recommended.
Cocles beach (Playa Cocles) lies just 1,5km from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a small village known for its mixture of indios Brì Brì, Caribbean black culture, and sheltered by Gandoca-Manzanillo natural reserve on the brink of the Panamanian border.All the wonders of primordial tropical paradise can be found here: palm trees swinging on tranquil beaches, the tones of purple, orange and red merging into the sea at sunset, accompanied by a soundtrack of reggae, calypso music and exotic birdsong.The region extends from Limon to the border with Panama. Fine beaches will receive you with its white sand, yellow, grey and black.
Totem Surf Shop, ☎ +506 2750 0758, . Located at the best surf spot ( the beach break). This center is fully equipped with various models of Banzaii, Premiere, and RRD surfboards, available to rent to surfers of all levels. Private and customisable classes available. Instruction packages include 1 lesson each day and a one-on-one private lesson in the morning between 8-10AM.
Luluberlu, (50 mts. sur Cafe Viejo), ☎ (506)2750 0394. from 9am to 9pm. Luluberlu sale local designer & exclusive collection of clothing, lamps, mirror, plate, mosaic, furniture, painting, jewellery and souvenir made by local artist
Beach Hut, Run by Elias Hernandez, an eccentric Venezuelan chef, trained in France. Delicious gourmet food at reasonable prices. Pig roast every Saturday. Located across the street from the Diamante liquor store on the way to Cocles beach.
Chili Rojo, British run Thai fusion cuisine. Sushi night every Monday: all you can eat sushi for only 6,000 colones. Located on the top floor of the shopping center on the main street, across from A.T.E.C. Great views from the balcony bar.
De Paso, Argentinian-run restaurant on the wooded path to Cocles, just 20 meters from the beach. Excellent tacos and daily seafood specials. They are well known for their baked goods.
Oshii's Caribbean Lounge Café, right next to Baba Yaga, ☎ (506) 2756-8159. Very cute beach themed restaurant with reasonably priced food. Breakfast is served Friday to Monday and with an amazing prix fix menu. At night it turns into a lounge with a DJ and on Tuesdays they have a ladies night special.
Pan Pay, Right on the beach front. Good Bakery. breakfast, excellent coffee, decent prices. Run by two guys from Spain. A very popular spot in the morning.
Pizza Boruca, Tasty pizza by the slice. They also sell delicious Argentinian empanadas.
See food Mediterraneo, pure Italian food..By Totem Hotel Beach resort-Tel +506 2750 0758, Located in Playa Cocles.This two-story Restaurant Mediterraneo has a spectacular terrace overlooking the sea, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything is homemade here, including bread, pasta, Romagnola piadina ( flat bread typical of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region ),and desserts. You will find a very friendly atmosphere where tropical elements combined all together create a nice environment for your dinner. Choose from menu among the several salads, or different kind of pasta as spaghetti, ravioli, tagliatelle…seasoned with the seafood.Managed by chef Nicolo' Bareti, the high quality dishes will transport your palate to far off lands.
Soda Lydia, Casados with Caribbean Sauce. Good value.
Peace and Love Bread and Coffe, By Totem Hotel Tel +506 2750 0758, Located in Playa Cocles. Everthing is homemade here, inluding bread, pasta, Romagnola piadina (flat bread typical of Italy´s Emilia Romagna region) and desserts. Peace and Love specializes in Italian cuisine with Latin American flavor. You will find a very friendly atmosphere where tropical elements combined all together create a nice environment for your lunch. Choose from the menu among the several salads. or different kind of pasta as spaghetti, ravioli, tagliatelle seasoned with seafood that the Caribbean Ocean offers: shrimps, crabs, lobster, combined with fresh vegetables.
Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate, (between Sunset Bar & The Mission, 50 m from bus stop), ☎ 2750=0850, . 7AM-9PM. Fresh roasted coffee, gourmet chocolate, and homemade ice cream. Beach front location perfect for viewing the sunset. Free wi-fi and great vegetarian eats.$1-10.
Tasty Waves Cantina. Great surfer bar, run by two Awesome Americans. Great tacos with homemade tortillas and awesome wings. Tuesday nights are known as "Tasty Tuesdays" and are the wildest night in Puerto Viejo. Free WIFI and billards. USD$ 1-7.
Veronica's Place, Main Street, 2nd Floor of Color Caribe, across from Terraventura, ☎ (506) 2750 0263 or (506) 8810 1369 or (506) 8918 3238, . Very good Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Food (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner), offering great quality dishes with many options to choose from. (Organic fruits and vegetables are grown on their local family farm.) Choose from different kinds of meat-substitutes (you won't taste a difference) as well as speciality home-made juices. Veronica is a very nice person and she will definitively find something for you, taking into consideration food allergies and special requests. Veronica also offers classes in vegetarian, vegan and raw cooking with a Caribbean flair.
Instead of huge hotels, there are lots of ecolodges from basic to luxury, and lots of places to eat and party. Many hotels are located along the coastal road going to Manzanillo.
Green Management Vacation Home Rentals (Green Rentals), Playa Chiquita (next to the Waldorf School), ☎ 506 2750 0437, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. For a variety of Vacation House Rentals, please consider visiting Green Management.
Veronica´s Place Hotel and Home Stay, Main Street, 2nd Floor of Color Caribe (Inquire at the restaurant, across from Terraventura and one block from the bus stop.), ☎ (506) 2750 0263 or (506) 8810 1369 or (506) 8918 3238, . $15/night or $20/night with breakfast, per person or $350/month, with kitchen access, private bathroom and free laundry service. (Two bedroom home in Cocles also available for $300/month.) Veronica also offers a work exchange, including lodging and three homecooked meals for $10/night. This is a good way to get experience working on a local organic farm or helping in the restaurant while learning to cook vegetarian, vegan and raw foods.
Hotel Banana Azul, Playa Negra (1 mile North of Town on Beach), ☎ 2750-2035, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: Noon. Your hosts Colin (from Vancouver, Canada) and Roberto (from San Jose, Costa Rica) have built a hotel out of 100% local hardwoods that has 12 beautiful rooms, all with private bath and free wireless internet to acommodate adventurous travelers looking for a comfortable, tranquil place to stay while visiting the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica $79.
Totem Hotel Beach Resort, http://www.totemhotelresort.com (In front of Playa Cocles,1,5 Km south of Puerto Viejo), ☎ +506 2750 0758 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12,00. Small resort with 20 rooms 50 steps from a sandy beach, has a pool,free wireless and on site restaurant and bar. Rooms have private bathrooms with hot water, telephone, ceiling fan, larger rooms (suites) has a separate living room as well as bamboo chairs, "loveseat", glass coffee table, TV cable, coffee maker and mini refrigerator.from$ 70.
Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages, Puerto Viejo Central (100 meters west of the soccer field), ☎ 2750-0001, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Seven fully-equipped one, two and three bedroom vacation rentals in a secure compound. Maid service, wi-fi, pool, walking distance to town (5 minutes), beaches, restaurants, shops. Fantastic tropical gardens, wildlife, ocean views, eco lodge, vegan/vegetarian friendly, living, dinning, verandas, hammocks, owners on sitevaries.
La Finca Chica (Fincachica), Cocles. Miss Winny Town (2 miles south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca), ☎ + 506 2 750 19 19, . checkin: 14:30; checkout: 12:00. Fincachica has 4 fully equipped, exquisitely designed, wooden houses located in a 2.5 acres, safe and quiet, landscaped property. Houses are equipped with amenities such as phone, sat TV, WiFi internet access, city drinking water, orthopaedic matresses, gas stove with oven...Maid service is also available on a daily basis45-135 USD.
Pura Vida, (in front of the soccer field), ☎ +506 2750-0002, . Friendly, very clean, hammocks and use of a shared stove included. USD$ 12-30.
Congo-Bongo, Gandoca Manzanillo (in the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge), . Congo Bongo has a private walkway to the beach.
Casa Verde. Reasonable prices. Very clean and a large pool.
Crocodile Surf Camp (Former Cutback camping), (On the road to playa cocles), . Seaside cabanas and camping spaces on sand. The only noises you´ll hear are the waves.Camping : 4 USD / Cabanas : 7USD.
Rocking J´s, (On the road to playa cocles). Camping spaces and hammocks in a parking lot like structure on the seaside.Camping : 4 USD / Hammocks 7 USD.
Tree House Lodge, (Punta Uva), . Unique houses in front of the beach.
Hotel Los Sueños, (next to National Bank, around the corner from Bank Costa Rica), ☎ (506) 2750-0369, . checkin: Anytime before 9pm; checkout: 11am. In a quiet neighbourhood, one block south of the bus station, near the stores and 50 meters from the beach (Playa Negra). It´s a small hostel in a wooden house with 2 floors and an indoor terrace. The rooms are brightly coloured, clean and safe. They comfortably sleep one to three people and have ceiling fans and mosquito-nets. All the beds have orthopaedic mattresses. The bathrooms have hot showers. Use of kitchen and free WIFI available.from USD$9.00.
Cabinas El Tesoro, 1.6 Km's sur del Restaurante Stanford - Mano derecha (from the Stanford Restaurant 1,600 meters at Playa Cocles (600 meters south of Rocking J's, right in front of the island at Playa Cocles)), ☎ +506-2750-0128, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Family rooms, executive rooms with air-conditioning and satellite TV, budget rooms with private bath and dormitory beds. All rooms are equipped with fans, screened windows, tile floors, hot showers, and porch areas to enjoy and relax. Free WI-FI, coffeee, communal kitchen, safety deposit box.Generally $9-12 per person 2 or 3 person min - room rates.
Lizard King Resort (Lizard King Mexican Restaurant), Calle Principal (50 meters south of Salsa Brava), ☎ 506-2750-0614. Lizard King Resort is a beautiful, comfortable, and cozy place, with private rooms surrounding an inviting swimming pool. "The King" offers delicious breakfast, wi-fi, air-conditioning, and is 50 meters from the beach. Try the Mexican Restaurant's fresh squeezed margaritas and handmade gourmet specials, like the Lizard King Burrito.
Geckoes Lodge, Margarita Road (Cocles (Puerto Viejo), a few minutes' drive from beaches), ☎ +50627500908, . Geckoes Lodge has two spacious and fully equipped holiday rental houses with private plunge pools. Magnificent secluded rainforest setting.
Be My Guest Cabinas (bemyguestcabinas.com), (1 mile north of town), ☎ +50627568376, . checkin: 1:00pm; checkout: 12:00pm. Be My Guest cabinas offers four studio apartments that come with 1 or 2 queen size bed, full bath, and a mini kitchen. The kitchen has a hot plate, toaster oven, coffee maker, refrigerator, and all the basic cooking utensils. Also provided: cable tv, hot water, air conditioning (2 studios only), and wi-fi internet.$50.00 a night $250.00 a week(internet Special).
Hotel Shawandha Lodge, Playa Chiquita, ☎ (506)2750-0018, . checkin: 2:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers peaceful and relaxing eco-friendly accommodations. With 14 jungle bungalows, a swimming-pool with waterfalls, beautifully set in a lush tropical garden and beach environment, Hotel Shawandha Lodge has a "neo-primitive" concept with an artistic combination of woods, bamboo and palm.100.
The small road goes further south through villages like Cocles and Punta Uva, both with small houses for rent.
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