We love the Caribbean coast and Puerto Viejo is no exception. This town is a backpacker paradise with its rasta vibe, beautiful beaches, and nightlife. Puerto Viejo had a bad reputation of being unsafe in the past, but the town is working on cleaning up its image and I think you’ll feel really safe there as long as you use normal precautions.
Now on to the rest of the Puerto Viejo Costa Rica guide!
GETTING TO PUERTO VIEJO
If coming from San Jose you can take the Mepe bus to Puerto Viejo. 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 buses are surprisingly comfortable. They will stop in Limon (about and a half hours into the drive) so you can buy snacks and use the bathroom. There is no bathroom on the bus.
Another option is to rent a car and drive to Puerto Viejo on your own. 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. 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 absolutely 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.
What do we suggest? If you are only going to Puerto Viejo or are heading down to Panama after, we suggest taking the 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.
We have partnered with our favorite rental car company Adobe to bring our readers a 10% discount. You can find out more about this deal here.
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 an Uber (don’t take a taxi they are almost always double the price of an Uber), or rent a car for a day.
Adobe, our favorite rental car company has an office in Puerto Viejo and they rent cars for as low as $30 a day.
Pro Tip: We have partnered with Adobe to give our readers a 10% discount on your rental car. Find out more here.
THINGS TO DO
Go to Punta Uva: Playa Punta Uva is an easy drive from Puerto Viejo and it is seriously beautiful. The water is super clear and the sand is a perfectly fine white. Just note that there are occasional incidents of petty theft so always keep any valuables near you.
Take a yoga class: Cashew Hill has walk in yoga classes for 6,000 colones (about $12). You can check out their schedule here.
Go snorkeling: We suggest packing your own snorkel mask so you don’t always have to rent one. Playa Punta Uva is the perfect place to snorkel.
Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center: The Jaguar Rescue Center has awesome tours which put you in close contact with amazing wildlife. The tours cost $20 per person for adults. You can find out more on their website.
Check out the nightlife: Puerto Viejo is the perfect party town for some late night bar hopping.
Take a coco tour: Caribeans Chocolate tour is a bit on the pricey side ($28 per person) but it is a super detailed chocolate tour that takes you through the whole process from tree to bar. Plus you get to try chocolate at the end!
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.
Do some 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.
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. For about $35 a night you can get a double room in the jungle with a cool rustic feel.
Apartment El Chilamate: Super nice apartments with a kitchen. For about $45 a night you can get an apartment with a terrace for two people.
Sea Tower Hotel: For about $40 a night you can stay in a double room close to the beach. There is also a shared kitchen on site for guests to use.
Apartment Las Casitas: For about $40 a night you can stay in a nice apartment close to the beach. Every apartment has its own kitchen.
Hostel Kinkaju: For about $35 a night you can get a double room with a shared bathroom. There are two kitchens on site for guests to use as well.
PLACES TO EAT
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.
Tiere Cafeteria: This place is the perfect breakfast or lunch spot. They have a nice modern twist on a lot of typical Costa Rican meals plus some great sandwiches.
De Gustibus Bakery: This spot is perfect for an afternoon coffee and cake or a nice breakfast. Everything they make is amazing!
Alice Ice Cream Bar: After a hot day at the beach, this spot is the perfect place to eat amazing ice cream and just chill out. This is located south of Puerto Viejo near Cocles.
ARTICLES ABOUT PUERTO VIEJO