Puerto Viejo, a lesser-known destination in Costa Rica, offers an authentic and uncrowded experience for travelers. Located away from other popular tourist attractions, Puerto Viejo allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the local culture and see a different side of the country.
The region boasts beautiful beaches and excellent surfing conditions, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and adventure. In addition to its natural beauty, Puerto Viejo also offers a variety of delicious, authentic cuisine for visitors to enjoy.
If you’re seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path travel experience in Costa Rica, consider adding Puerto Viejo to your itinerary.
What’s in the Gem Known as Puerto Viejo?
Puerto Viejo is a charming fishing village located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Although the weather may not always be perfect, many visitors find that this only adds to the charm of the town.
In addition to its charming atmosphere, Puerto Viejo is also a popular destination for surfers, who are drawn to the perfect conditions and Caribbean vibe of the town.
When the night arrives in this town, the streets of Puerto Viejo come alive with a variety of bars, live concerts, and delicious restaurants that make the cuisine of this town very diverse with all types of foods and drinks that suit every budget, from gourmet seafood to street food bursting with local flavor.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back way to spend your days, you can browse the second-hand shops and old bookstores, or relax in a coffee shop and take in the sights and sounds of the town. Renting a bike is easy, and you can cycle through the practically vehicle-free roads and make your way to one of the nearby beaches for an afternoon of relaxation.
Now that you know what to expect in Puerto Viejo, let’s explore this place by learning about the best places to grab some grub.
The Gems in the Local Foods and Drinks from Puerto Viejos Restaurants:
Here you will find some of the best restaurants that offer incredible gems in the forms of food and drinks for you to enjoy in Puerto Viejo.
- La Nena: The Caribbean corner of Costa Rica is known for its delicious local cuisine, and one dish that you won’t want to miss is the Caribbean-style rice and beans because it’s a simple dish that will most definitely surprise.
The reason is because this hearty and flavorful plate is made with coconut milk-based spices and served with chicken, salad, and plantains. The combination of the perfectly cooked rice and beans with the right amount of coconut sauce and the tender chicken made for one of the most memorable dishes you will enjoy during your trip to Costa Rica
Out of all the restaurants in Costa Rica, La Nena is THE restaurant serving some of the best Caribbean food in the area even though it’s a small and seemingly unassuming spot located by the side of the road just after Cocles beach. If you’re a foodie looking to experience the local flavors of this region, be sure to give this restaurant a try.
- Koki Beach Restaurant Bar Lounge: Located in the center of town, this fine dining establishment is a must-visit for anyone in the area. Although it’s open only for dinner, this restaurant is a very popular choice and reservations to secure a table are strongly recommended, seriously, call in advance.
The restaurant boasts a stunning setting across from Puerto Viejo beach, with tables lit by candles and a decor featuring colorful chairs in various styles.
One of the best dishes that worth giving a try are the octopus and shrimp dishes, both of which are expertly prepared with the right balance of flavors and sauces. The presentation of the dishes is also noteworthy and you’ll probably won’t want to eat your food because of how beautiful it looks.
In addition to the main courses, be sure to try their cocktails and you will likely have a delightful dining experience that will leave you with a great impression when you’re visiting Puerto Viejo.
- Hot Rocks Restaurant: Puerto Viejo is a destination where the party never ends, and at the center of it all is the gem known as the Hot Rocks restaurant which is conveniently located on a busy street corner.
This open-air establishment attracts a lot of attention with its lively music and karaoke nights and the atmosphere is always lively which is the reason why this restaurant tends to get crowded from time to time, making the street outside the primary party hub of the town.
While the food may not be the main draw, Hot Rocks does offer a variety of local and bar-style dishes, as well as a wide selection of drinks. So if you’re looking to experience the nightlife of Puerto Viejo and your schedule is wide open for the next morning, Hot Rocks is the place to be.
However, there are more gems in Puerto Viejo than just restaurants, and now we’re going to see gems that have adventures waiting for you.
The Gems Full of Adventure in Puerto Viejo:
These are the places that have adventures waiting for you in Puerto Viejo.
- Gandoca-Mananillo Wildlife Refuge: This incredible place is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including turtles, caimans, crocodiles, toucans, and parrots.
The refuge protects a vital mangrove swamp and offers visitors the opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitat.
Furthermore, there are options for guided hikes through the refuge with knowledgeable guides, or you can explore on your own and take in the stunning views.
No matter which option you choose, a visit to Gandoca-Mananillo Wildlife Refuge is a unique and exciting way to experience the beauty of nature.
- Rio Pacuare White Water Rafting: This gem full of adventures is located just a short distance from the tropical paradise of Puerto Viejo, is widely regarded as one of the best rivers in the world for white water rafting.
This place is packed with thrilling Class 3 and 4 (and occasionally even 4+) rapids, this stunning river winds its way through lush jungles and majestic canyons, offering rafters a truly unforgettable experience.
Furthermore, rafting companies offering convenient pick-up and drop-off services in both Puerto Viejo and nearby San Jose or La Fortuna, it’s never been easier to experience the thrill of the Pacuare for yourself.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rafting novice, the Pacuare river is sure to provide an exhilarating adventure that you’ll never forget.
- Snorkeling at Cahuita National Park: This gem is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and it is home to some of the most vibrant and diverse coral reefs in the country.
This protected area is a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts, who come from all over the world to explore the underwater world and witness the stunning array of marine life that call these waters home.
The best time to visit the park for scuba diving is during the months of September and October, when the weather is generally sunny and clear with little wind.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Caribbean can be unpredictable, and conditions can change quickly, and that’s why it’s always a good idea to check the forecast and make sure the water is safe for diving before heading out.
On a good day, you can expect to see a wide variety of tropical fish, sea turtles, and other marine animals as you dive through the crystal-clear waters of the park.
This is all well and good, but if you don’t know where to stay, then these gems will be far from your reach. Don’t worry because we will show you the gems of accommodation in Puerto Viejo.
The Gems Where You Can Stay in Puerto Viejo:
- Umami Hotel: This gem in Puerto Viejo is an exclusive and luxurious property that offers guests a refreshing and tropical vacation experience given that it is located just five minutes from the beach and surrounded by towering trees, the hotel’s minimalist white theme with coral and wood finishes creates a welcoming atmosphere.
Although this incredible gem is only available to adults, guests can relax and unwind without the disruption of children. The hotel’s top-notch amenities, which include an outdoor pool with sunbeds, spa, and Mar & Sal restaurant, and a concierge that is available to assist guests in organizing excursions to nearby attractions such as the Cahuita National Park or the opportunity to see local turtles and dolphins.
In-room amenities, including air-conditioning, wireless internet access, cable TV, and a minibar, add to the luxurious atmosphere. Each room also features a terrace overlooking the pool.
- Hotel Pura Vida: This gem is an affordable, yet comfortable and convenient place to stay for those looking to be close to the beach. Rooms start at $35 per night for shared bathroom options, and $48 for private bathroom options.
This beautiful place boasts immaculate rooms with polished wood, ceramic-tile floors, canopy beds, reading lights, and fans for comfort. To top it all off, the hotel provides solar-heated showers for their guests.
Hotel Pura Vida also offers a tasty and reasonably priced continental or à la carte breakfast served on the patio with a variety of meals and drinks available throughout the day.
In addition to being able to relax in hammocks and enjoy the garden view, guests can also plan personal day trips with the help of the friendly reception staff. For larger groups or families, the hotel has a unit that can accommodate up to five people for $105 per night.
- Selina Puerto Viejo: This gem is a popular accommodation option in Costa Rica for those seeking a combination of affordability and amenities because the property boasts a restaurant, surf club, and live music events, as well as a swimming pool, coworking and a yoga studio.
Accommodation options include private suites, shared dorms, and unique teepees made of hand-made, indigenous materials for an eco-friendly stay.
Prices for private rooms start at $59, teepees at $22, shared bathroom rooms at $19, and beds in dorm rooms start at $13 with the option for female-only dorms, so this place is bound to be the most budget-friendly gem you will find in Puerto Viejo.
Now we have time for a hidden gem that can be considered and honorable mention.
The Gems of Puerto Viejo That Are Worth Mentioning:
- Playa Cocles: This gem is a beautiful stretch of beach located just a short distance south of Puerto Viejo Town. It’s a popular destination for locals, visitors, and surfers alike, and features a well-developed area with lifeguard supervision, making it a safe place to swim.
In addition to the gorgeous beach, Playa Cocles also boasts a variety of restaurants and hotels, providing plenty of options for dining and accommodation.
The northern end of the beach is especially popular among surfers due to the more exciting waves found there. Overall, Playa Cocles is a great place to relax, have fun, and enjoy all that the region has to offer.
- Playa Negra: This gem, which translates to “black beach,” is a stunning stretch of coastline located just one mile north of Puerto Viejo Town. Its name is fitting, as the sand along the shore is dark and rich in color. The conditions near Puerto Viejo Town are particularly suitable for surfing, making Playa Negra a great destination for beach-goers and water sports enthusiasts alike.
In conclusion, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica is a true gem in the country, offering a range of attractions that are highly sought after by travelers. Its restaurants are known for their delicious and authentic cuisine, using fresh ingredients to create memorable dishes. The hotels in the area are also highly regarded, offering comfortable and luxurious accommodations to suit a variety of budgets. But perhaps the greatest draw for visitors is the stunning beaches, which are considered some of the best in the country.
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