Here’s part 2 of my travel guide to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca…
Choosing a place to stay here may well be a hard decision. Hotels run all along the coastal road from Playa Negra to Manazillo. We decided on a good location by choosing a hotel we liked (as expected right?). And being outside of the main village – Puerto Viejo – would be okay. We could cycle from our hotel to the village as our hotel had free bikes on site…
However, this accommodation was actually the one we least liked on our trip. The location was a bit shit (to be blunt). It felt like we were the only ones in the hotel, which was located just before Playa Chiquita. Plus side was it was very close to the beach. Just a quick speed walk through the jungle, and then onto the most beautiful deserted beach I have ever seen. The hotel was being ‘looked after’ by friends of the hotel owners. The friends knew nothing about the hotel or about customer service. The free bikes were no longer free, in fact they had sold the bikes, leaving us a little bit stranded.
Playa Chiquita is not far from Puerto Viejo, but you need to get a taxi back if you are out at night. In hind sight we would have stayed in Puerto Viejo as this was where all the bars and restaurants were. Although the better beaches are further down the coast.
For breakfast I would recommend Cafe Rico, located down Avenida 69 in Puerto Viejo, a quirky cafe, serving more Western type food. As well as the opportunity to read or swap books.
Another good breakfast stop is Bread & Chocolate cafe on Calle 215 just up the road from Cafe Rico. Here you can indulge in vegan friendly meals, everything from pancakes to cakes. You will notice a lot of food in Puerto Viejo and the surrounding villages is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and a lot of cafes will not serve branded products.
A few other places which we visited for lunch or dinner in Puerto Viejo were: Como en mi Casa Art Cafe, Flip Flop, The Lazy Mon, which also turns into a popular night time drinking place. We also ate at Como en Casa which was just along the road from our hotel. A beautiful large house, lit up with fairy lights everywhere, the menu was not huge but was very tasty.
If you are looking for somewhere to have a cocktail then Koki Beach in Puerto Viejo is the place you need to visit. It is a very popular place to eat and drink, located just behind the beach with a stunning view out to sea. Cocktails are pricey here but you can save a few colones to splash out for a decent cocktail here.
I could write a separate article on all the things you could do in Puerto Viejo! We had originally planned to do a couple of pricey excursions to do. By researching prior we found the best company to go with for the best price. First up I really wanted to do a turtle watching tour in the Manazillo Refuge one evening to spot leatherback turtles nesting. However, when we arrived in Puerto Viejo we were told that we would be lucky to see one turtle!! So we decided not to spend 40 dollars on having only a tiny chance of seeing a turtle.
Next up was horse riding along the beach – cliche I know but where else to do this than on a Caribbean beach. Again we were unlucky as the tour company we had chosen was closed until a few weeks later. We didn’t fancy paying double the price with another company. Therefore we were left with few choices. Luckily one choice was very attractive, laying on a Caribbean beach with no one else around.
We had decided to hire bikes on our second day as we wanted to visit all the little villages along the coast. We hired them from a little supermarket in Playa Chiquita which worked out very cheap for two days. Once we had our bikes we were off exploring. Stopping along the way to enjoy the beaches. The bikes were a tad strange at first as they appeared to have no brakes, but we soon discovered you needed to back peddle to break. I would not recommend peddling too fast on these bikes, I unfortunately caught my foot on the road as I was trying to slow down.
Jaguar Rescue Centre is a must!
This animal rescue centre is a must, if there is one thing you take from this travel guide Puerto Viejo then it is to visit here! The centre is run by volunteers and located just before Playa Chiquita. The entrance price isn’t bad at all as this money goes towards the upkeep of the centre. You will get split up into language groups and taken around the centre by one of the volunteers. You will get talked through every animal you see, where they came from, how long they have been at the centre. Some animals have free run of the centre which is why you need a guide.
You will get to see baby monkeys if you are lucky being looked after in their baby creche. The most exciting animal for me was seeing the sloths. They had two sloths in their enclosure, but there was only a knee high fence so you can get really close to them. I had seen a few sloths on our trip in various places, but they were always so high up in the trees that it is impossible to actually clearly see them. This gives you the opportunity to take a good look at them and their smiling ‘Pura Vida’ faces. This place is a must visit if you are visiting the area.
Transport back to San Jose:
By now you have probably got to head back to San Jose for your flight out of this beautiful country. You may well be low on dollars but you can catch a local bus. From Puerto Viejo to San Jose all for the measly price of USD10.00pp. However this will come at a cost, of a 5 hours transfer and feeling like you are literally a sardine being cooked alive. Don’t let this put you off though!
There are a few times that you can catch the bus from Puerto Viejo centre: 07:30, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00 and 16:00. The bus station is located in town along the beach road. Further towards the beginning of town (towards Playa Negra). Bus tickets can be purchased in advance but only at the bus station. A tiny house like building which will have bus schedules pinned up on the walls outside. The journey is long and painful to say the least, but it’s all part of the experience!
Hasta pronto Costa Rica!
Accommodation: USD240.00 for two people for 4 nights.
Transport to Puerto Viejo: Bus USD60-62.00 per person
Bike Rental: USD10.00 per person for 2 days.
Bus to San Jose: USD10.00per person
Jaguar Rescue Centre: USD20.00 per person