Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small village with a laid back Caribbean atmosphere on the east coast of Costa Rica. Reggae regularly comes out of the speakers at the many restaurants and you’ll see many rastas and surfers walking around. I visited this village on my backpacking in Costa Rica. This was my first real trip outside of Europe.
I only stayed in Puerto Viejo for a few days, but I would’ve liked to stay a little longer if it was possible.
It’s quite warm in Puerto Viejo. The humidity here is very high, which (in my opinion) creates an unpleasant heat. The sun has a lot of power and there’re also a lot of mosquitoes, so be sure to apply sunscreen and mosquito repellents such as DEET.
Especially in the evening there’re a lot of crabs in this village. At our hostel they had their burrows so we saw a lot of them. These animals are gigantic!
Top things to do in Puerto Viejo
1. Playa Negra
Opposite of the guesthouse where we stayed is the black beach or Playa Negra. From the center you walk along the road or on the beach to the west. It is definitely worth visiting this beach, especially because it looks so special. It’s very relaxing to spend en afternoon on this beach.
2. Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park is only half an hour away by bus from Puerto Viejo. White sandy beaches, turquoise water, dense jungle and lots of wildlife. You can find it all in the Cahuita National Park.
In the park you can entertain yourself for a whole day. It opens from 6am to 5pm. Visit the national park as early as possible for the best chance of spotting wildlife. The park rangers recommend leaving the trails around 4:00 PM as it starts to get dark at 5:30 PM. Don’t skip this beautiful national park during your visit to Puerto Viejo!
Want to read more about this amazing national park? Check out the article about my visit to Cahuita National Park.
3. Renting bicycles in Puerto Viejo
Renting bicycles is also highly recommended if you visit Puerto Viejo. We cycled all the way to Punta Uva, a route of about 9 km. The bikes costed us 3300 Colon per person for 12 hours. On the way we passed beautiful beaches where we could relax under the palm trees. That was quite relaxed, because it was very hot on the bike!
The route is not hilly, unless you decide to continue cycling to Manzanillo. Those hills are terrible so we decided halfway to turn around again. We heard from other people that this village is not super special and that it’s better to take the bus if you want to go there.
In Costa Rica, many people take their bikes and you regularly see them cycling on very busy and unsafe roads. However, this route was safe enough. Cars are set up to encounter cyclists and therefore keep their distance. Attach your bike to something of two bikes to each other if you take a break on the beach along the way. Before you know it, it has been stolen.
4. Playa Cocles
The first beach we passed by bike after 15 minutes was Playa Cocles. A super beautiful beach where the sand is so hot, it literally burns your feet!
On this beach you can rent a surfboard for 10,000 Colon for a whole day. You also have the opportunity to take surf lessons for $ 50. The waves are very suitable for beginners. Ask in advance if there’re any dangerous currents at the moment. They will ask you to leave your ID/passport here as a deposit, but I always recommend not doing so. Your passport is the most valuable document when traveling. Suggest to give a deposit or a copy of your passport.
5. Punta Uva
After about 15 minutes by bike from Playa Cocles, we reached the beach Punta Uva. You can snorkel and sunbathe on this beautiful beach. Fortunately, the beach also offers a lot of shade thanks to the many palm trees.
The road to Punta Uva is easy to miss and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. It’s a dirt road on the left before a right turn. You ride this road for about 100 meters until you reach the beach. Download the area on maps in advance and turn on the GPS to find it or use maps.me for an offline map. If you look closely there’s a lost wooden signpost. If you miss the road, you will cycle towards Manzanillo, a fairly hilly, tough road. Don’t forget you have to cycle all the way back again!
After a few days, we left Puerto Viejo behind and continued to Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, a town on the west coast of Costa Rica. Quepos is a perfect base for visiting the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park.
How to get to Puerto Viejo?
Puerto Viejo is accessible by bus from the capital San José. The ride takes about 5 hours and costs 5525 Colon (€ 9). Buses depart from Atlantico Norte Station.
On the way the bus stops 20 minutes in Limón and then has a stopover in Cahuita. In Limón, however, is the only option to buy food / drinks and to go to the toilet during the bus trip. Limón isn’t t a very nice city (from what we’ve heard) and is therefore often avoided by tourists.
Note: there are two places called Puerto Viejo; Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is the best known and is the place where we’ve traveled. Please indicate this clearly when buying your bus ticket.