- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
- HOTELS (BEST VALUE)
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- THINGS TO DO
Info Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a popular tourist destination. It is known in the surfing community for the biggest and most powerful wave in Costa Rica, known as Salsa Brava. It is also home to beautiful beaches, such as Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra, and Punta Uva, which are a few of Costa Rica's most spectacular beaches which can be found between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. Manzanillo is a popular location for kayaking and is 13 km (8 mi) south along the beach. The popular Jaguar Rescue Centre is nearby.
Many tourists stop in Puerto Viejo en route to the Panamanian border at Sixaola. This border crossing is popular with people going to and from Bocas del Toro. Puerto Viejo offers the closest accommodations, restaurants, and services to the border. The small border towns of Sixaola and Guabito, Panama are 49 km (30 mi) south of Puerto Viejo. The border towns have no accommodations or restaurants. The townspeople are made up of ticos (native Costa Ricans), a substantial Jamaican population, as well as a number of Europeans who have emigrated to the area.
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 Jose 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.
Puerto Viejo has a tropical climate. Temperatures remain consistent during the year. Sunrise and sunset change very little during the year (about 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM, respectively). Limón International Airport is 55 km to the north, and has similar average temperatures and precipitation.
Climate data for Limon International Airport, Costa Rica
|Average high °F (°C)||80|
|Average low °F (°C)||71|
|Source: Weather Underground|
Transportation - Get In
The local bus leaves 4-5 times a day direct from San Carlos Station in San José. Last bus leaves at 4PM 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 Jose hotels to Puerto Viejo at 0 6:00AM, 10:30AM and 3:30PM, returning daily at 6:00AM, 10:30AM and 3:30PM. 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.
Transportation - Get Around
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 or about US$1.15. Taxies are frequent but most are not marked, so be wary. Taxies cost approximately $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.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- Totem Surf Shop, . Located at the best surf spot ( the beach break). This center is fully equipped with various models of Banzaii, Premiere, and RRD surfboards, available to rent to surfers of all levels. Private and customisable classes available. Instruction packages include 1 lesson each day and a one-on-one private lesson in the morning between 8-10AM.
- Luluberlu (50 mts. sur Cafe Viejo), . from 9AM to 9PM. Luluberlu sale local designer & exclusive collection of clothing, lamps, mirror, plate, mosaic, furniture, painting, jewellery and souvenir made by local artist
- 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 meters 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., . By Totem Hotel Beach resort-, Located 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, . By Totem 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 WIFI and billiards. US$1-7.
- Veronica's Place, Main Street, 2nd Floor of Color Caribe, across from Terraventura, . , , 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.
- Sel et Sucre, 100m from the bus stop (Puerto Viejo Centro), , e-mail: [email protected]. noon-9:30PM. A unique place for tasty French crepes (savory or sweet), salads, waffles, fruit juices, coffee.
Sights & Landmarks
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; 15km of coast and 5000 ha of plants and hills which maximum height is 115 m.
- Indian's reserve in High talamanca and rite with shaman : To come to the most recondite of the Alta Talamanca,
Things to do
- 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.
- Totem Surf School, Playa Cocles (Just in front of Totem Hotel), .
- Delroy's Tours, Inquire at Veronica's Pl, , e-mail: , , [email protected]. Tours include a visit to the Indian Reserve with a tour of an organic chocolate farm and waterfall visit, as well as a tour to a sloth sanctuary which includes wildlife viewing by canoe. Excellent bilingual guide, highly recommended.
- 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: [email protected]. 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.