Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

A popular backpacker town with a relaxed feel

The Puerto Viejo Vibe

First off, there are two places named Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. There is a very small town in the middle of the woods called Puerto Viejo, which is not really a tourist destination and then there is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca located on the Caribbean coast near the Panama border. 

The second is the Puerto Viejo you probably are interested in visiting and what this guide is about. 

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, Puerto Viejo is a backpacker paradise with its Caribbean vibe, beautiful beaches, and nightlife.

Now on to the rest of the Puerto Viejo (de Talamanca) Costa Rica guide!

Map Of Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica near the Panama border. 

Puerto Viejo at a Glance

Nearest International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose

Popular Things to Do

surfing, cacao tours, relax on beaches, enjoy the nightlife scne

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, walking in the downtown area, biking

Best Time of Year to Visit

The best weather is from late July to October

 

Getting to Puerto Viejo

Flights to Costa Rica

The easiest way of getting to Puerto Viejo is by flying into the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose.

 

 


Rental Car to Puerto Viejo

The drive is not too bad for first time Costa Rica drivers. In the beginning, you will have to do a little driving through San Jose though which can be a bit daunting and stressful.

After making it through San Jose you will drive through Braulio Carillo national park which is really pretty. The roads are well maintained here but there are a lot of curves in spots. However, there has been a lot of road work here recently (they are widening the road so I doubt it will be over anytime soon) and there have been a lot of major backups.

From there you follow a straight road to Limon and then drive down the coast.

I absolutely love the drive along the coast. The roads are in good condition and it’s beautiful.

You do not need a 4×4 for this route, but you might want something with a bit of power while driving through the national park.

We suggest renting your car with Adobe Rent-a-Car. They are a local company which we know we can always rely on to provide exceptional service. 

If you are interested in renting a car, check out our Adobe guide for a 10% discount plus other great perks

Private Shuttle to Puerto Viejo

Adobe now has a private shuttle service. It is a great way to get from point A to point B without having to deal with the stress of driving in a foreign country. 

Check out our private shuttle guide to find out more info and to get a price quote for your trip. 

Public Bus to Puerto Viejo

If coming from San Jose you can take the Mepe bus to Puerto Viejo Costa Rica. You can see a complete time schedule here.

The ride will take you about four and a half hours and will cost about $12 per person for one way.

The bus stops in Limon (about two and a half hours into the drive) so you can buy snacks and use the bathroom. There is no bathroom on the bus.

What Do We Suggest?

If you are only going to Puerto Viejo or are heading down to Panama after, we suggest taking a private shuttle or public bus. 

If you would like to take lots of day trips or check out other areas in Costa Rica after visiting Puerto Viejo we suggest renting a car. 

Getting Around in Puerto Viejo

Downtown Puerto Viejo is a small area and easy to explore by foot. If you would like to explore other places nearby (which we definitely recommend) you can rent a bike, take a taxi, or rent a car for a day.

Adobe, our favorite rental car company has an office in Puerto Viejo if you opt to rent a car for some day trips.

Pro Tip: We have partnered with Adobe to give our readers a 10% discount on your rental car. Find out more here

Book Your Transportation

Puerto Viejo Weather

In Puerto Viejo, the rainy season runs from mid-December until end of July. I know, that sounds like a whole lot of rainy time, but let me explain.

Although it can be rainy, you just never really know. We have visited in January and had amazing weather. We have also visited in January and had total washout days.

One thing we have noticed though is that usually when it rains, it at least rains at night. Daytime rainstorms don’t happen that often. Also, the temperature stays fairly warm even when raining.

Another weird thing is that usually, July is the rainiest month to visit Costa Rica, but come August, it almost completely dries up.

You just never know in this country!

During the dry months the weather is amazing and warm!

Grab a free copy of our Costa Rica guide

(with great Puerto Viejo tips)

Puerto Viejo Hotels

High-End Hotels

Umami Hotel – An adult-only hotel located 600 meters from the beach. There is a nice pool and a great restaurant on-site. We like this place because it is not too large, the staff is excellent, and it just has all-around good vibes.

Relax Natural Village – Another adult-only hotel. This place is unique because it has a high-end rustic feel to it. All rooms are their own private bungalows. 

Mid-Range Hotels

La Tica y la GataSimple but modern rooms located just south of downtown Puerto Viejo. There is a pool on-site. 

Sueno Grande B&B– Cute hotel with outdoor pool located in downtown Puerto Viejo. Breakfast is included. 

Budget Hotels

Lodge Casa Moabi- This place is located a bit south of Puerto Viejo. It is great for if you want to be away from the action of the town, but still close to a beach.

Vista VerdeSimple hotel with private rooms, located just 150 meters from the ocean. There is a shared kitchen for guests to use. 

Puerto Viejo Villa Rentals

If you are traveling with a large group, renting a villa can be a great way to enjoy your vacation in Puerto Viejo.

Also, note that we tried to only include places with good cancellation policies. 

Definitely pay close attention to the cancellation policy before you book anything. 

Secluded Villa with Pool – A beautiful three-bedroom home with a pool and beach access. We like this place because the owners went above and beyond to make this space look amazing. You don’t often get this level of attention to detail here in Costa Rica.

Caribbean Beach House – A four-bedroom house that can sleep up to 13 guests. There is a pool here, but the real gem is the easy beach access at the back of the property. 

Luxury Balinese Style Villa – A relaxed beach house with three bedrooms. This house is only 100 meters from the beach. 

Things to Do in Puerto Viejo

puerto viejo

Do Some Beach Hopping

We suggest heading south from Puerto Viejo and stopping at all the beautiful beaches along the way.

Our favorites are; Playa Cocles, Playa Punta Uva, and Playa Manzanillo.

Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center

The Jaguar Rescue Center is a rehabilitation center for abandoned and injured animals. tours which put you in close contact with amazing wildlife such as sloths, monkeys, wild cats, and more.

 

 

Check Out the Nightlife

Puerto Viejo is the perfect party town for some late-night bar hopping.

A few of our favorite places to party are; Salsa Brava, the Lazy Mon, Johnny’s Place, and Koki Beach.

Take a Cacao Tour

Have you ever wondered where your favorite sweet treat comes from?

With a cacao tour you will have the chance to learn the entire chocolate production process from planting the bean to consumption.

And trust me, you will have plenty of chances to eat a lot of chocolate!

 

 

Go Surfing

There are plenty of surf schools in Puerto Viejo or if you are more experienced you can just rent a board.

We have not personally surfed in Puerto Viejo so I can not recommend a place to you.

I suggest asking at your hotel. Sometimes the local hotels partner with local companies and they may be able to get you a discount.

Hike at Manzanillo

Manzanillo is a small coastal village located just before the Panama border. It is also home to a large area of protected land that you can hike in. This area is beautiful and has some great coastal views. It is possible to visit on your own (check out our visitor’s guide for more info) but you can also visit with a small tour. This is a great way to see a lot of wildlife.

 

 

Take a Day Trip to Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is one of our favorite national parks in the country. It is located just north of Puerto Viejo and can be easily accessed by the Puerto Vargas entrance. Check out our full national park guide here.

 

 

Do Some Souvenir Shopping

Along the beach in Puerto Viejo, you can find some amazing local artists selling handmade products such as jewelry. Usually, they are out there in the evenings.

Take a Dance Class

Does anybody else absolutely love to always try to find unique cultural experiences while in different countries? Learn some traditional salsa and bachata dance moves with a fun class!

 

 

Puerto Viejo Restaurants

Cafe Rico – The vibe here is my fave. This place is sooo cute and I love all the books they have around this place. If you need a good breakfast spot, this is it!

KOKI Beach Restaurant – This place is a bit on the pricey side, but I like the atmosphere here a lot. If you don’t want to eat here because of the prices at least go here for an early evening drink.

La Nena – This is not located in Puerto Viejo itself, but rather nearby in Cocles. It’s the perfect spot for an affordable meal of typical food which tastes great.

De Gustibus Bakery –  This spot is perfect for an afternoon coffee and cake or a nice breakfast. Everything they make is amazing!

Remote Working in Puerto Viejo

If you plan on working while in Puerto Viejo there are a few things you should know.

– In general, the internet is usually decent, but it’s always a good idea to ask about the internet speed before booking a place.

– If you need a co-working space check out Puerto&CO co-working space in downtown Puerto Viejo. 

Packing for Puerto Viejo

Bug Spray – The second the sun goes down the mosquitos come out in full force. Don’t forget, aerosol cans are not allowed in luggage, so bring spray in a normal spray bottle. 

Sun Protection – Costa Rica is not too far from the equator. The UV index here is high! We suggest bringing a wide brimmed hat, UV protecting shirts, and of course high SPF sunscreen.

A Rain Jacket – If traveling during rainy season you might have some rainy afternoons. We like to bring a lightweight jacket because even when it rains it stays hot!

…for more packing tips check out our complete packing list for women and our packing list for men.

puerto viejo
puerto viejo

Puerto Viejo Travel Tips

– We get asked a lot if people should visit Cahuita or Puerto Viejo. If you are interested in nightlife and surfing, head to Puerto Viejo. If you want a more relaxed vibe, head to Cahuita.

– If you are planning to head down to Panama after visiting Puerto Viejo, we have a full guide to the border crossing here.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Sarah (and Thomas)! I will be traveling for about a week in CR in about two weeks. What would be your biggest recommendation of where to be for a Saturday? My friend and I will be staying in PV all week, but can’t decide if we head back to SJ for an extra day that Saturday, or remain in PV instead and head back Sunday before our flight home. We were also trying to decide if a adventure connection (water rafting) from PV to SJ would be worth the money – it seems like a lot of fun and takes one less bus ride away!

    1. Hi Chelsea! I really like those rafting connection trips. I definitely suggest doing that. Also, San Jose is ok to see, but Puerto Viejo is far more fun to be on a Saturday. Let me know if you have more questions!

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