Download GPX file for this article
9.6583333333333-82.752777777778Map mag.png

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

From Wikivoyage
Jump to: navigation, search
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.

Puerto Viejo used to be a small fishing village, but 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.

Understand[edit]

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 1970s, Puerto Viejo was relatively isolated from the rest of Costa Rica. In 1979, a new road connected the small village to San José 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]

The local bus leaves 4-5 times a day direct from San Carlos Station in San José. Last bus leaves at 16:00 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 José hotels to Puerto Viejo at 06:00, 10:30 and 15:30, returning daily at 06:00, 10:30 and 15:30. The rate is US$45 one way per person. Add $10 from or to SJO Airport. 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.

Get around[edit]

The bus system is very limited. Busing between the beaches takes some planning, with a reliable bus running between Limòn and Manzanillo every two hours. Busses run on schedule and are approximately US$0.50/town, two towns over is ₡620. Taxis are frequent but most are not marked, so be wary. Taxies cost approximately UaS$4/town so going two towns over is $8. Most lodges have bicycles for rent and there are many other bike rental locations. They are usually $5/day but haggling or extended rental times can get you a lower price. Bikes are everywhere and work well for getting around, especially if you make sure to get one with a front basket for groceries, breach gear, or a kid. Gears aren't necessary. 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.

See[edit]

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 road connecting the villages has been paved, but has many potholes and bumps, causing bikes and cars to swerve unexpectedly. The road is shared by cars, pedestrians, bikes, buses, dogs and motorcycles, creating a dangerous yet social experience in every trip. 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; 15 km of coast and 5000 ha of plants and hills which maximum height is 115 m.
  • Indian reserve in High talamanca and rite with shaman.

Do[edit]

  • Rent a bike. Expect to pay US$5 per day. Ride it the full 26 km 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 at Playa Cocles. The Caribbean coast is known for having a rasta-mentality, but it also has a strong native culture. 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 times of the year the sea is extremely flat.
  • Cocles beach (Playa Cocles) lies 1.5 km 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.
  • Rainforest tour, e-mail: . A hike on trails through the rainforest near Manzanillo led by an expert local guide. See a variety of jungle animals and plants, including sloths, lizards, frogs, spiders, and "walking trees". Bring a raincoat/poncho and good shoes.

Buy[edit]

  • Luluberlu (50 m from Cafe Viejo), +506 2750-0394. 09:00-21:00. Luluberlu sell local designer & exclusive collection of clothing, lamps, mirror, plate, mosaic, furniture, painting, jewellery and souvenir made by local artist

Eat[edit]

  • Chili Rojo, British-run Thai fusion cuisine. Sushi night every Monday: all you can eat sushi for only ₡6,000. 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, 20 m from the beach. Excellent tacos and daily seafood specials. They are well known for their baked goods.
  • 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., +506 2750-0758. By Cariblue Hotel Beach resort 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. The menu offers salads, or different kind of pasta as spaghetti, ravioli, tagliatelle...seasoned with the seafood. Managed by chef Nicolo' Bareti.
  • Soda Lydia, Casados with Caribbean Sauce. Good value.
  • Peace and Love Bread and Coffee, +506 2750-0758. By Cariblue Hotel. Located in Playa Cocles. Everything 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.
  • Tasty Waves Cantina. Great surfer bar, run by two Americans. Great tacos with homemade tortillas and wings. Tuesday nights are known as "Tasty Tuesdays". Free Wi-Fi and billiards. US$1-7.
  • Veronica's Place, Main Street, 2nd Floor of Color Caribe, across from Terraventura, +506 2750-0263, +506 8810-1369, +506 8918-3238. Very good vegetarian, vegan and raw food (breakfast, lunch & dinner). (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.
  • 1 Sel et Sucre, 100m from the bus stop (Puerto Viejo Centro), +506 2750-0636, e-mail: . 12:00-21:30. A unique place for tasty French crepes (savory or sweet), salads, waffles, fruit juices, coffee.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

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.

Camping[edit]

  • Rocking J´s (On the road to playa cocles). Camping spaces and hammocks in a parking lot like structure on the seaside. Also has a bar and restaurant. Very much an alternative, backpacker crowd. Camping: US$4; hammocks $7.

Budget[edit]

  • Pura Vida (in front of the soccer field), +506 2750-0002. Friendly, very clean, hammocks and use of a shared stove included. US$12-30.
  • 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, +506 8810-1369, +506 8918-3238. US$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 Los Sueños (next to National Bank, around the corner from Bank Costa Rica), +506 2750-0369. Check-in: Anytime before 21:00, check-out: 11:00. In a quiet neighbourhood, one block south of the bus station, near the stores and 50 m 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 US$9.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Hotel Banana Azul, Playa Negra (1 mile North of Town on Beach), +506 2750-2035. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:09. Your hosts Colin (from Vancouver, Canada) and Roberto (from San José, 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 accommodate adventurous travelers looking for a comfortable, tranquil place to stay while visiting the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica $79.
  • Cariblue Beach & Jungle Resort, Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Caribe Sur (In front of Playa Cocles, 1.5 km south of Puerto Viejo), +506 2750-0518, +506 8314-1965 (mobile), e-mail: . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Pleasant accomodations in 45 different rooms. Two swimming pools, two jacuzzis, the rancho-restaurant SoleLuna, the Totem Beach Bar, a swimming pool bar, the Aqua Spa, the crafts and arts shop El Coral, a surf school, a bike rental, several chillout-openspaces. Direct access to the beach. 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 US$90, breakfast included.
  • Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages, Puerto Viejo Central (100 meters west of the soccer field), +506 2750-0001. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. 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.
  • La Finca Chica (Fincachica), Cocles. Miss Winny Town (2 miles south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca), +506 2750-1919. Check-in: 14:30, check-out: 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, orthopedic mattresses, gas stove with oven. Maid service is also available on a daily basis. US$45-135.
  • 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.
  • [dead link]Cabinas El Tesoro, 1.6 Km's sur del Restaurante Stanford - Mano derecha (from the Stanford Restaurant 1,600 m at Playa Cocles (600 m south of Rocking J's, right in front of the island at Playa Cocles)), +506 2750-0128. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 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 US$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 m from the beach. Try the Mexican Restaurant's fresh squeezed margaritas and handmade gourmet specials, like the Lizard King Burrito.
  • Be My Guest Cabinas (bemyguestcabinas.com) (1 mile north of town), +506 2756-8376. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. 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. US$50 a night; $250 a week (internet special).

Splurge[edit]

  • Hotel Shawandha Lodge, Playa Chiquita, +506 2750-0018. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 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. US$100.
  • Geckoes Lodge, Margarita Rd (Cocles (Puerto Viejo), a few minutes' drive from beaches), +506 2750-0908. Geckoes Lodge has two spacious and fully equipped holiday rental houses with private plunge pools. Magnificent secluded rainforest setting.

Go next[edit]

The small road goes further south through villages like Cocles and Punta Uva, both with small houses for rent.

This city travel guide to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.