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Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

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For other places with the same name, see Puerto Viejo (disambiguation).

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 laid-back 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.

Get in[edit]

By bus from San Jose[edit]

From San José a bus leaves 4-5 times a day from Terminal Atlántico Norte (in Barrio México, near another bus terminal called "7-10"). The name of the bus company is Transportes Mepe. Please note: Many people in San José will tell you the bus leaves from Terminal Caribeños, but this is incorrect, this has been changed in 2012. The first bus leaves at 6am and the last bus leaves at 4pm and all buses are direct with one pit stop outside of Limón. The price (2015) was USD11,-. The ride is approximately 4½ hours, although the voyage can take much longer - especially if you leave during rush hour on a Friday, for example. Make sure you get on the bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, not de Sarapiquí which is a different part of the country.

By bus from Limón[edit]

If the next direct bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo is sold out, or if you are travelling from Turrialba or another part of Costa Rica, you can take a bus to Limón and transfer there to a Puerto Viejo bus. The Caribeños line have hourly direct buses to Limón from their terminal on Calle Central in San Jose. Once in Limón you must walk a couple of blocks to the other side of the baseball stadium to the MEPE terminal. Here you can take a bus to Puerto Viejo or Manzanillo - the Manzanillo bus passes through Puerto Viejo and may be more useful if your accommodation is a little bit south of town - you can ask the driver to stop outside your hotel, saving you on the cost of a taxi. The last bus leaving Limón that will get you directly to Puerto Viejo leaves Limón at 5:30pm. A Sixaola bus will get you to the crossroads 11km outside of town (Hone Creek) from where you can take a taxi, but only take this bus if there is no bus to either Puerto Viejo or Manzanilla.

By car[edit]

Driving here is also popular, but roads can be bad as at certain times of the year, the pot holes can get obnoxious.

From Bocas del Toro[edit]

From Bocas del Toro take a boat to Almirante. From here you can either take a bus to Changuinola (US$1.25), and change to a bus to the border (US$1), or take a shared taxi direct to the border town of Guabito for $7-10 per person (45minutes). After crossing the decommissioned railroad bridge (the border) you will arrive in Sixaola. Be sure to get your exit and entry stamps, then walk down the road a bit and go right, from here you can take a local bus to Puerto Viejo. Tickets can be paid in US$ or Costa Rican colónes. There are also organised shuttle services which will save you a bit of hassle, but cost you more money (about US$25-30).

Get around[edit]

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 $8, as expensive as most western nations. Most lodges have bicycles for rent. Taxis hang out in the center of town and will take you anywhere you want to go up and down the coast. When taking a taxi, make sure to negotiate your price ahead of time. Most of the taxi drivers know the area extremely well and can find their way with just the name of your hotel. Downtown is a short drive (if not a brief walk) to the lodging options in Puerto Viejo, so you can find a taxi for only 4$ to get you back to your destination, depending on the distance.

See[edit][add listing]

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 main road between the villages is now paved, and almost perfectly flat - perfect for cycling. 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, 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 snorkelling 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. Look out for monkeys and sloths in the trees alongside the road as you cycle or walk.
  • There is also the Iguana Conservation Tour at Iguana Verde Foundation, you can check the tour features at [22]
  • Refugio de Gandoca de Manzanillo: the beauty of this refuge is incredible - it contains forest, lagoons, coral reefs and white sand beaches and is the one of the most exotic places on the entire South Caribbean coast. This refuge protects 4500 ha. of sea, 15km of coast, and 5000 ha. of plants.
  • Playa Negra (Black Sand Beach) is just north of town.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Rent a bike. Expect to pay USD5 per day. Ride it the full 24km 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.  edit
  • Surfing (TOTEM SURF SCHOOL), Playa Cocles (Beach Break), 00506 86217572, [1]. 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.  edit
  • 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.
  • CR Local Guide ([email protected]), Manzanillo (Just before you enter Manzanillo, the last house you come to on the right.). 4. A tour of the jungle/forest. Two tours are on offer and cost $35 per person (4 hours, but ours lasted 5.5 hours). Run by a guy who is the brother of the owner of Cabinas Manzanillo. He is qualified and authorised to do tours and is very knowledgeable. We saw, heard, felt and tasted all sorts of things including: tucans, snakes, howler monkeys, frogs, toads, palm (ate heart of palm), plants, ants, spiders, coconuts, ..... He also told us how to treat various ailments people could succombe to in the jungle. $35 per person.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Totem Surf Shop, +506 2750 0758, [2]. 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.  edit
  • 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  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Todo Es Posible, (Main Street, 1km outside Puerto Viejo, direction Cockles Beach, next door Rocking J's). Very good food, guaranteed. Italian and Caribbean dishes, pizza and more. Homemade pasta, fettuccine, ravioli, spaghetti. Homemade bread. Open from Monday till Saturday. Special night with live music on Friday. Good price and good vibes.  edit
  • Chili Rojo, (Located on the top floor of the shopping center on the main street, across from A.T.E.C.). British-run Thai fusion cuisine. Sushi night every Monday: all you can eat sushi for only 6,000 colones. Great views from the balcony bar.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Pizza Boruca. Tasty pizza by the slice. They also sell delicious Argentinian empanadas.  edit
  • See food Mediterraneo, pure Italian food - By Totem Hotel Beach resort, (Located in Playa Cocles), +506 2750 0758. 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.  edit
  • Soda Lydia. Casados with Caribbean Sauce. Good value.  edit
  • Peace and Love Bread and Coffe, By Totem Hotel, (Located in Playa Cocles), +506 2750 0758, [3]. Everthing is homemade here, including 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.  edit
  • 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 billiards. USD$ 1-7.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  •, Calle 217, 50 meters north of Hotel Puerto Viejo (on street 217, between the Pizzaria esquina Borruca and the Bio Mercado), +506-6363-4274, [4]. is going above and beyond the chocolat and wine pairing. Try their chocolat pairings with local beer, local rum, and local coffee. is representing all the local chocolat makers of the region of Talamanca. You can take chocolat home with you, enjoy their beautiful boutique and terrace with their speciality pairings, or simply for a chilled glass of wine, a cold beer on tap, the unknown rum from Costa Rica and top quality coffee.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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, [5]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. For a variety of Vacation House Rentals, please consider visiting Green Management.  edit
  • 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, [6]. $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.  edit
  • Hotel Banana Azul, Playa Negra (1 mile North of Town on Beach), 2750-2035, [7]. 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 $79.  edit
  • Kaya's Place (Luke's Taproom), 200 meters before the bridge to Puerto Viejo (cross the bridge to Playa Negra), 506-2750-0690 (). checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. Kaya's Place is a 26 room lodge on the stunning Black Beach in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Built in the Afro-Caribbean "Rustico" style, the hotel is artistic and unique. Private bathrooms, shared bathrooms and apartments with kitchens available. WIFI and cleaning service provided, other amenties based on room selected. Luke's Taproom s located at the hotel and has Italian and Costa Rica cusine plus locally-brewed craft beer. moderate.  edit
  • Totem Hotel Beach Resort, (In front of Playa Cocles,1,5 Km south of Puerto Viejo), +506 2750 0758 (), [8]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12,00. Small resort with 20 rooms 50 steps from a sandy beach, has a pool,free wireless and on site restaurant and bar. Rooms have private bathrooms with hot water, telephone, ceiling fan, larger rooms (suites) has a separate living room as well as bamboo chairs, "loveseat", glass coffee table, TV cable, coffee maker and mini refrigerator. from$ 70.  edit
  • Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages, Puerto Viejo Central (100 meters west of the soccer field), 2750-0001, [9]. 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 site varies.  edit
  • La Finca Chica (Fincachica), Cocles. Miss Winny Town (2 miles south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca), + 506 2 750 19 19, [10]. 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 basis 45-135 USD.  edit
  • Pura Vida, (in front of the soccer field), +506 2750-0002, [11]. Friendly, very clean, hammocks and use of a shared stove included. No shared rooms. USD$ 12-30.  edit
  • Congo-Bongo, Gandoca Manzanillo (in the Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife refuge), [12]. Congo Bongo has a private walkway to the beach.  edit
  • Casa Verde. Reasonable prices. Very clean and a large pool.  edit
  • Crocodile Surf Camp (Former Cutback camping), (On the road to playa cocles), [13]. Seaside cabanas and camping spaces on sand. The only noises you´ll hear are the waves. have changed the place probably, cause it is not on the way to playa cocles (may 2015) Camping : 4 USD / Cabanas : 7USD.  edit
  • Rocking J´s, (On the road to Playa Cocles, about 1km south of the bus stop.). Camping spaces and hammocks in a parking lot like structure on the beach, full bar and restaurant, wifi, VERY basic kitchen. It is a bit noisy with the music from bar till 11.00 p.m. Camping : US$6 BYO tent per person, US$8 use theirs / Hammocks US$7, dorms for US$11 and more expensive privates..  edit
  • Tree House Lodge, (Punta Uva), [14]. Unique houses in front of the beach.  edit
  • Hotel Los Sueños, (next to National Bank, around the corner from Bank Costa Rica), (506) 2750-0369, [15]. 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.  edit
  • 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, [16]. 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.  edit
  • 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.  edit
  • Geckoes Lodge, Margarita Road (Cocles (Puerto Viejo), a few minutes' drive from beaches), +50627500908, [17]. Geckoes Lodge has two spacious and fully equipped holiday rental houses with private plunge pools. Magnificent secluded rainforest setting.  edit
  • Be My Guest Cabinas (, (1 mile north of town), +50627568376, [18]. 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: pool, cable tv, hot water, air conditioning (2 studios only), and wi-fi internet. $50.00 a night $350.00 a week(internet Special).  edit
  • Hotel Shawandha Lodge, Playa Chiquita, (506)2750-0018, [19]. checkin: 2:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers peaceful and relaxing eco-friendly accommodations. With 14 jungle bungalows, a swimming-pool with waterfalls, beautifully set in a lush tropical garden and beach environment, Hotel Shawandha Lodge has a "neo-primitive" concept with an artistic combination of woods, bamboo and palm. 100.  edit
  • Perla Negra Beach Resort, Playa Negra Puerto Viejo Talamanca (1 km north of Puerto Viejo), 506 2750 0111, [20]. checkin: 1pm; checkout: 11am. Hotel has 24 Beach facing rooms made out of local hardwoods. Playa Negra is right across the road. Included is Tennis , Pool, Billiards, FreeWifi, Beach Chairs and umbrellas. All taxes & breakfast are included. Property is located 1 km from town. Tour & Transformation assistance is offered as well. 70.  edit
  • Hotel Coco Loco Lodge, Puerto Viejo Calle211/Av67 (first road to the after village bridge right pass BN), 27500281, [21]. checkin: 2.p.m; checkout: 11.a,m. Austria to Costa Rica all bungalows and rooms are equipped with private bath/warm water, porch with hammock, mosquito net for your restfull sleep, fan, safety box, refrigerator, cable TV , coffeemaker and hairdryer 2 rooms are perfect for 2 individual couples 2 rooms are perfect for 2 individual couples A/C posible One bungalow with kitchen for up to 4 persons.houses and rooms with kitchen up to 6 pers. 60$.  edit
  • Cabinas Kaniki ([email protected]), +506 2754-1071. Nice cabins and food, great location in Gandoca right by the beach, in front of the restauant Pura Vida. Perfect to go and see the Leatherback turtles. The owners, Roberto and Rita, will make you feel at home.  edit

Get out[edit]

The small road goes further south to Manzanilla, passing through villages like Cocles and Punta Uva, both with small houses for rent as well as hotels, hostels and restaurants.

To get to Bocas del Toro take a bus to Sixaola (about 1.5hours), stamp out, walk across the old railway bridge, stamp in, take a bus to Changuinola (US$1), change to a bus to Almirante (US$1.50), then catch the ferry across (US$6). There are also shared taxis available from the Panamanian side of the border that will take you directly to Almirante for about US$7-10, and organised shuttle services from Puerto Viejo itself (about US$25-30).

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!