Puerto Viejo is located on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and is one of our favorite parts of the country. It’s a vibrant beach town with colorful Caribbean vibes. The beaches around Puerto Viejo are some of the most tropical and beautiful of Costa Rica. There is a lot to explore around Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, and in this blog post, we share the 10 Best things to do, our favorite places to eat, where to stay, and how to get around.
Best time to visit Puerto Viejo
The Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica has the wettest climate and, for that reason, is more rainy and humid all year round than the rest of the country, which also makes the vegetation one of the most beautiful and tropical.
However, the best and driest months to visit Puerto Viejo are February and March or September and October. But you always have to expect a bit of rain even during these months. But that’s not bad at all. Tropical rain is beautiful and usually doesn’t last long.
How to get to Puerto Viejo
The easiest way to get to Puerto Viejo is by car. The road from San Jose to Puerto Viejo is paved and easy to drive.
If you don’t drive yourself, you can either take a shared ride in a van shuttle for about 50 USD per person or take the public bus, which is the cheapest option for about 10 USD from San Jose.
The closest airport is Limon, about an hour drive from Puerto Viejo.
10 Best things to do in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo Costa Rica offers a lot of things to do and especially a lot of different beaches to explore.
Explore the colorful town of Puerto Viejo
When you get to Puerto Viejo, you are ultimately in a totally different vibe than in the rest of Costa Rica. The Caribbean vibes are colorful and laid-back. When you stroll around town, you will find a lot of cute little boutiques and treasures.
Enjoy Tropical Vibes at Punta Uva
Our favorite place in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is the area of Playa Punta Uva. It’s a 15 min drive with the car from town. There is a large beach at Punta Uva, which is very beautiful, but the most tropical and paradise beach is at Punta Uva Arrecife. Probably the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica with lots of palm trees and turquoise water. It’s a great place to swim and chill all day. There is a restaurant at the beach but we recommend bringing some snacks.
Explore the wild beaches of Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
At the End of the road from Puerto Viejo along the beaches, you will find Refugio Manzanillo, a protected area full of tropical beaches. You can enter for free (if you want, you can give a small donation to the people who take care of the park), and then you can walk along a beautiful jungly trail and discover the different beaches. You can spot monkeys in the trees along your walk and go for a refreshing swim in the ocean. If the tide is low and the water is calm, it’s very clear and turquoise. Bring enough water and snacks.
Watch the Monkey’s play at Cahuita Nationalpark
A 20 min drive north from Puerto Viejo Costas Rica, you find Cahuita, another smaller hippie beach town. Cahuita is located next to Cahuita Nationalpark. The entrance fee is 5 USD per person (residents pay 1’000 Colones). The Nationalpark offers white sand beaches, turquoise water, a reef that is great for snorkeling and watching for sea life. Besides, you can spot many animals on land like monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and coatis. The opening hours are from 8 am to 4 pm and the walking trail takes about 1 hour and 30 min.
Snorkel in the turquoise water of the Caribbean
The best places to snorkel around Puerto Viejo Costa Rica are at Cahuita Nationalpark or in Manzanillo and Playa Chiquita. The best season to snorkel is when the water is very calm and clear, which usually occurs in October. You can see healthy corals and colorful fishes along the reef in Cauhita Nationalpark.
Go surfing at Playa Cocles
If you are into surfing or want to take a surfing class in the Caribbean, the place for you is Playa Cocles. It’s a long stretch with great waves for beginners and intermediate surfers not far from Puerto Viejo town.
Visit the local Farmers Market
If you are in Puerto Viejo on a Saturday, you can’t miss the local farmer’s market in town. You can buy local organic fruits and vegetables but also many handcrafts. Sellers are offering handmade jewelry, and our favorite is the chocolate wrapped in palm leaves from the BriBri, the indigenous people of this part of Costa Rica. Besides, a little stall sells empanadas with vegan options.
Take a walk on a black beach at Playa Negra
Ever walked on a black beach? Well, that’s your chance. Costa Rica has black beaches in different parts of the country, and Playa Negra, directly north of Puerto Viejo town, is one of them. There are some restaurants along the beach and some palm trees for shade if you want to make a picnic.
Chill at Playa Chiquita
Another beautiful beach to explore in the area is Playa Chiquita. It’s a great place to chill for a while and go for a swim. Along the road at Playa Chiquita are some of our favorite cafes for breakfast and lunch that can be combined with a beach day here. So no need to bring food when you come to Playa Chiquita to spend your day.
Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center
A popular thing to do in Puerto Viejo is to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center. Even though the rescue’s name is Jaguar, it does not necessarily mean they currently have a Jaguar. But they take care of all kinds of wildlife that are found injured or babies that are abandoned. We haven’t visited the Rescue Center yet but we heard good things about it and consider going next time when we are in the area. We are always very careful when visiting Rescues because the name often gets abused by animal tourism. In general, be aware that a rescue that lets people touch or feed wildlife usually does not have the best intentions. Anyway, we always recommend doing your research before visiting and supporting a place.
Where to eat in Puerto Viejo
One of our favorite parts about Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is the fantastic food options. From healthy beachfront breakfast to an entirely plant-based Caribbean dinner. Some of our favorite restaurants in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica.
Jammin Comunidad Vegana
You can’t miss Jammin when you are in Puerto Viejo. This restaurant is one of our favorites all over Costa Rica. Temps, the owner, is a warm and welcoming soul who cooks with passion and love. The menu offers creative dishes like Jackfruit burgers, Caufliflowers buffalo wings, and our favorite, the seaweed wrap. The Caribbean food is 100% vegan and super delicious.
Grow Puerto Viejo
We love Grow for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. This beautiful beachfront restaurant in Puerto Viejo town has such a vibe. The menu is fully vegetarian and all cooked from local and organic ingredients. They offer delicious wraps, bowls, and crepes. It’s our favorite place to come for sunset drinks and snacks.
Gypsea is a lovely garden restaurant located in Playa Chiquita and offers delicious breakfast and lunch. They have great vegan and vegetarian options of delicious smoothie bowls, buddha bowls, juices, and great coffee.
Tostas is located at Playa Chiquita and is our favorite breakfast place. All their food is organic and vegan and made with love. We had delicious veggie sandwiches and avo toasts. They offer great juices as well and have cute outdoor seating.
Como en mi Casa
Como en mi Casa (Eat at my home) is a breakfast and lunch restaurant located in Puerto Viejo town. It has indoor seating and a balcony to sit outside and watch the town’s streets. They offer vegan and vegetarian options. We had vegan pancakes and a typical Costa Rican breakfast plate, and it was very delicious. They also have great coffee and good wifi.
Puerto & Co
The place to go for all digital nomads in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica. Puerto & Co is a vegan cafe & Co-working space located in Puerto Viejo town. They offer delicious breakfasts like scrambled tofu and smoothie bowls. Great coffee and wifi.
Best places to stay in Puerto Viejo
We recommend staying along the beach and not directly in Puerto Viejo town. It’s easy to get around, and the accommodations options are plentiful. For those traveling on a budget and also for solo travelers, Selina Puerto Viejo is an excellent option.
How to get around in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
The easiest way to get around Puerto Viejo to explore all the beaches is by car. If you don’t have a rental car, a very popular thing in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, is to rent a bike. Some accommodations even offer bikes. Since the main road from Puerto Viejo to all the area’s beaches is mainly flat, it’s enjoyable to bike around even with the hot temperatures.
Here is a rough overview of what Budget you should calculate for visiting Puerto Viejo Costa Rica.
- Accommodation: 50 – 150 USD per night
- Food: 10-25 USD per meal for two people
- Bike Rental: 10 USD per day (45 USD per week)
- Bus Fee to get there (one way): 10 USD per person (Private Shuttle 50 USD)
Of all places we visited in Costa Rica, the Caribbean Coast had the worst internet connection. It’s slow and unstable and can make working online a struggle. On the weekends, it’s the worst because Puerto Viejo gets very busy. We mention this because if you come to Costa Rica and work online, this might be an essential factor for you. Puerto Viejo is a paradise and must be enjoyed. It’s a place to get in the laid-back Caribbean Pura Vida vibe, and it’s best to stay offline.
But to get the best connection as possible we recommend getting a local SIM card. The most convenient option for travelers is the eSim Card (digital SIM card) from Airalo. You can download and install a digital data pack and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land, so there is no need to waste time looking for a local plastic SIM card.
Puerto Viejo is a part of Costa Rica we keep going back to. When we get there, it instantly feels like we are on holiday. We love the laid-back Caribbean vibes, the tropical beaches, and the fantastic food. We camped with our bus at the beach for weeks and lived the tropical life. So if you are a beach bum like us, you can’t miss this part when visiting Costa Rica.