Where to Stay in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica?
The Caribbean gem of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo Talamanca, with its stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, international vibe, and lower price tag is an appealing place for travelers and those looking to invest and live abroad. With ten miles of pristine jungle-backed beach and five distinct neighborhoods it can be difficult to know where to base yourself.
Beaches become more natural and animals are more plentiful the further you venture outside of town. However, the road runs through dark jungle, which is not walkable at night, and comforts like pharmacies and ATMs are only in town.
Here is a breakdown of the neighborhoods to help you decide which best suits your needs.
Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
The town of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is famous (or infamous) for its seedy authenticity. Colorful fishing boats rock against a coral covered harbor, reggae sounds from nearby bars and restaurants, and sarong, jewelry, and souvenir vendors set up shop on the beach.
In town you will find the only banks and ATMs in the entire area. Bicycle rentals are on every corner and taxis are readily available if you do not have a car to explore other neighborhoods.
Every Saturday morning a large farmer’s market commences with raw cacao, fresh whole chickens, a wide assortment of produce, and fresh breads and pastries. Several grocery stores and various household stores offer most items you might need. Restaurants in town are the most populated and affordable, but the true culinary treasures lie in outer neighborhoods.
Accommodations tend to be less expensive but can be noisy as Puerto Viejo hosts several parties every night of the week.
Playa Cocles (1-3 miles from town)
Expats and vacationers looking for tranquility and proximity to town stay in Cocles. The beaches are sprawling and the waves can get enormous. These beaches are best for sunning and surfing rather than swimming. Beach Break is the most populated beach in the area and the only beach with lifeguards.
The one grocery store, Pirripli, has a good wine selection, special imports, and fresh produce. There are many restaurants to choose from including the famous Italian restaurant La Pecora Nera. The one luxury hotel in Puerto Viejo, El Cameleon, is next door and throws Reggae and Calypso parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Laid-back travelers will enjoy the beach bonfire party every Tuesday night at Tasty Waves in front of Beach Break.
Otherwise this neighborhood tends to be quiet at night.
Playa Chiquita (3-5 miles from town)
The moment you step foot in Playa Chiquita the community vibe becomes apparent. Expats from all over the world carry their children and groceries down the street, sit and sip coffee in darling open air organic cafes, and swim in the natural pools created by the coral reef. There is one grocery store, El Duende Gourmet, with specialty items like local homemade bread, quinoa, and sriracha. A small farmer’s market takes place every Wednesday morning offering local yogurt, bread, cheese, and produce.
Punta Uva (5-7 miles from town)
Beautiful beaches, elegant cabins, and incredible cuisine all grace the quiet jungle neighborhood of Punta Uva. This neighborhood is popular with long-term vacationers and families. Three of the best restaurants in the entire area are in Punta Uva: El Refugio for perfect grilled steaks and seafood, Selvin’s Restaurant with arguably the best Caribbean food in the world, and Pita Bonita with freshly baked pita and homemade falafel. The beaches are calm for swimming and snorkeling and are famed as some of the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica. Playa Chiquita nearby is a necessary stop for markets and cafes.
Manzanillo (7-10 miles from town)
The quiet Caribbean fishing village of Manzanillo rests along a rugged wildlife refuge with stunning wilderness beaches. Accommodations and restaurants are somewhat sparse in this area so having a car is essential. Maxi’s, the most famous Caribbean restaurant in the greater Puerto Viejo area, serves delicious meat and seafood and throws Reggae parties every Friday night. There is one small convenience store, but you will need to venture all the way to Playa Chiquita for a proper market. If you are looking for proximity to animals, peace and quiet, and do not mind the 10 mile trek to town, Manzanillo is right up your alley.
Whatever neighborhood you choose you will be near beautiful beaches and lovely communities. Weigh the pros and cons between proximity to town and peace and solitude for your best fit.