Last Updated: Mar 12, 2012
Puerto Viejo Snapshot
Summary: Vibrant Caribbean culture; white and black sand beaches; many nature and cultural activities available.
Landscape: Beaches, Rainforest
Attractions: Caribbean Culture, Indigenous Communities, Secluded Beaches
Activities: Chocolate Tours, Indigenous Cultural Tours, Scuba Diving, Surfing
Caters to: Budget Travelers, Couples/Honeymooners, Families, Independent Travelers, Surfers
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 seaside town is framed by jungle, turquoise seas, banana plantations and scenic rivers.
Location: 130 miles from San Jose; 9 miles south of Cahuita
Average Temperature: 72-94°F
Altitude: Sea level
Formerly a small fishing village, Puerto Viejo 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 boasts 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. 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.
Black and white sand beaches extend for miles, offering deserted 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.
Just south of Puerto Viejo, visitors will discover the sublime beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva. The dirt road connecting the villages is often in poor shape and full of potholes, though road repair vehicles labor daily to improve conditions. 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.
Puerto Viejo’s climate is unpredictable, though common wisdom says that when the rest of Costa Rica is rainy, the southern Caribbean is dry (or, at least, drier). Typically, the best times to visit Puerto Viejo are during February, March and April, or September and October.
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. Many Puerto Viejo residents speak Limonese Creole ( a Jamaican Patois with English roots) as their first language.
Until the late 1970’s, 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’s current economy is almost entirely based on tourism: hotels, upscale restaurants and tour companies dot every street, and vendors sell their wares on almost every corner.
Puerto Viejo is known as a party town. The town has seen a climb in local petty crime over the last few years. Be smart and lock up your valuables whenever you go out, choose well-known and recommended nightspots and carry as little cash as possible.
Puerto Viejo Travel Guide
Puerto Viejo Travel Guide
- Places to Stay
- Restaurants & Nightlife
- Services & Facilities
- Getting Around
- Getting There
Puerto Viejo Weather
|Wind||0 mph CLM|
|04:25 a.m.||-0.07 ft. (-0.02 m.)|
|08:31 a.m.||0.07 ft. (0.02 m.)|
|01:19 p.m.||-0.16 ft. (-0.05 m.)|
|09:15 p.m.||1.35 ft. (0.41 m.)|