It’s my last stop for this Central America journey that I’ve been on. Puerto Viejo. A little surfing village on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, famous for its hippy vibes, Rastas and beautiful beaches, this place makes relaxing super easy.
1. Sleep. The absolute best place to stay if you’re on a budget but still want some luxury is Casa Caribe, on the southern end in a quieter part of town close to Playa Negra. They have beautiful, spacious private rooms ranging between $20 to $30 per night, complete with bathroom and kitchenette, surrounded by jungle and bird song. The lovely couple who run it Alex and Janira, are super sweet, considerate and will help you in any way they can.
2. Cycle. If you’re staying at Casa Caribe, they have a few bikes to borrow for free, otherwise there’s lots of places to hire bikes for about $5 per day and this part of Costa Rica is so luscious and green, cycling is the best way to explore the jungles and the beaches. It’s such a joy to feel the wind in your hair as you glide past postcard picture scenery of tropical flowers, birds and sandy beaches.
3. Swim. We tried out Cocles Beach which has the best sand though the tides are strong and scary, we cycled the 12 kilometers there and then back again to Manzanilla and played amongst the reef, but my favorite place to swim was at Playa Negra. Called thus, obviously because the sand is black, Playa Negra may not appear to be the most appealing beach a first sight, but it captured my heart. The waves here are big and roll in on a perfect beat making them ideal to jump and swim in, there’s less surfers to get in the way of and the sand feels like silk and sparkles in the sun like OPI black glitter nail polish. Swim here and forever be captivated. They do say that once you go black you can never go back!
4. Eat. Puerto Viejo has most definitely become a tourist town catering for western tastes so I wouldn’t recommend any of the local traditional food here but I did find some favorite cafes.
Om Cafe which is linked to the chocolate and coffee company Caribeans on the far northern part of town near Cocles Beach is divine and delicious. They have yoga upstairs, vegan food and delicious treats to indulge in as well as of course, their own brand of coffee which, for me, was so strong it knocked my socks off and I couldn’t even finish my cup.
Dreadnut have an ocean view, delicious sandwiches and fruit smoothies and a steady stream of men with long dreadlocked hair passing through to gaze at.
Finally, Bread and Chocolate caught my attention just by their name. I wasn’t hungry at the time I passed by but was extremely impressed by their menu, the chocolate-peanut-butter cups on display and the servings that were coming out of the kitchen while I sipped on my ice cold home made ginger-lemon-aid.
But more than anything, while you’re here, enjoy the succulent tropical fruits. Papaya, mango, avocado, banana and pineapples are all in abundance here and taste incredible.
5. Dance. So, I’ve just come from a five day festival so partying is not high on my wish list but there’s a reggae night on somewhere every single night. My favorite place was Lazy Mon because they often have live music acts and are set right on the beach.
6. Chocolate. Costa Rica is a massive grower of chocolate and they know all about raw cacao so this is the prefect place to discover more. There’s a few chocolate tours around, go for a walk and choose the one you love.
7. Catch a wave. The waves in this area are small and gentle, perfect for beginners, so if you’ve ever considered learning to surf this is the place to do it. Otherwise, if you come more from the observing type of species, there are lots of surfing competitions around as well, where you can catch glimpses of sun browned bodies flitting through the waves from under a wide brim.
8. Coconuts. You can go as coco-nutty as you like in Puerto Viejo with the juicy, sweet water from fresh young coconuts which are available almost everywhere for about a $1. I like to ask the coconut seller to machete my nut apart so I can reach the soft, luscious, silky centre and eat it too. Coconuts are crazy, sexy good for you. If you haven’t realized it yet or don’t believe me, just ask Google. He’ll set you straight.
9. Bird-watch. Costa Rica is famous for beautiful tropical birds and one of my dreams and wishes was to see a Tucan. Unfortunately this unique species decided not to make an appearance on the paths that I traversed however many other beautifully colored birds did. It’s impossible not to be awed and amazed by the beauty and colors that the birds in this part of the world display, most of which have inspired me on colors I’d like to add to my wardrobe and wear myself. Fashion designers: come and take notes!
10. Coffee. Whether you’re a coffee drinker or not Costa Rica is the place for this fragrant little bean of caffeine. Puerto Viejo has a couple of coffee farms and roasters in the local area which you can go exploring at and at very least bring some very precious gifts back for loved ones. They will adore you for it forever more!
It’s been a relaxing and gorgeous week and a half in this sweet little town, where I’ve decided to bring my Central America adventures to a close. Puerto Viejo is definitely listed as a favorite in my travels due to its fantastic combination of beaches to swim at, relaxed atmosphere and inspiring nature. I’ve had time to process all the information from the last few weeks and start preparing for a new life in a new place. San Francisco! You’re up, my love!