Things to Do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

By Camila Perez on Jan 08, 2020

After arriving in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica you’ll feel your worries melt away with every step towards the ocean. The bohemian-inspired Caribbean surf town is so different and full of life that you’ll want to drop your bags at the curb and dig into the local culture immediately. I know I did!

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. About Puerto Viejo De Talamanca, Costa Rica
  • 2. Things To Do In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
  • 3. Where To Stay In The Centre Of It All - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
  • 4. Frequently Asked Questions

Once I checked into my accommodations, the first thing I wanted to do was walk towards the sound of reggae music I could hear gently drifting in through my bedroom window. It wasn’t long before I found myself strolling towards the beach at sunset catching sight of a friendly group of travelers sparking up a bonfire, laughing and dancing, while the ocean rolled on in the background. As I continued along the shore and their laughter begin to fade into the “beachier” sounds that surrounded me, I found myself enchanted by the coastal winds and invigorating blend of the young and vibrant culture here.

Selina Puerto Viejo

Enjoy the ultimate remote living experience and find your home-away-from-home at Selina Puerto Viejo!

Over the next few days, I learned more about the history of the town and tried out a variety of local attractions with some of the friends I met along the way. As relaxing as Puerto Viejo can be, I am far too curious to spend the majority of my stay (anywhere) lying down. With this mentality, I set out to explore it all!… and it was totally worth it.

About Puerto Viejo De Talamanca, Costa Rica

If you’re wondering where Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica is on the map, here’s the answer:

This coastal Afro-Caribbean town dominated by lush-green rainforest, gorgeous beaches, cultural souvenirs, and plenty of wildlife, is situated in Southeast Costa Rica. It offers everything you need to escape the stressful city life, sit back, and relax. From here, many of the popular attractions are only a thirty minute drive away, which is relatively short compared to other regions in Costa Rica that require you to drive for 3 to 4 hours to find something to do. Depending on where you stay, the concierge at your Puerto Viejo Costa Rican hotel will also help you to find the best sights and experiences around you. I can only provide you with my experiences after all, and new activities pop-up all the time!

Things To Do In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Here, the beautiful coastal terrain allows tourists to do a lot – from relaxing or surfing on the beach, to exploring the unique wildlife, and visiting the local markets. Check out my things-to-do highlights reel below.

(But first – here are a few tips I scored from the locals…)

Where To Party In Puerto Viejo? / What Is Nightlife Like In Puerto Viejo?

Follow the music, and you’ll find your way to a party. DJs and bands takeover at The Lazy Mon on the weekends – or you could visit Tex Mex, Salsa Brava, or Root Reggae for good party time.

What To Eat In Puerto Viejo?

The towns here are home to people from all around the world, that’s why you’ll be able to find a variety of cuisine being served in Puerto Viejo restaurants. For a more local feel, try their unique Caribbean cuisine at La NENA.

Ride The Tide At Puerto Viejo’s Beautiful Beaches

There are plenty of white sand beaches in Puerto Viejo, and that’s where most visitors go – but if you are looking for something that’s off the beaten path and a little different, head on towards the black sand beach called Playa Negra.

Playa Negra is known for its surf-able waves, and it’s about 1.5 km away from the main town of Puerto Viejo. Even if you don’t enjoy surfing, the beach is a show-stopper because of its unique appearance and the fact that there are barely any visitors here. It was nice to have more waves to myself than I would in more typical tourist spots.

But if white sand beaches are your thing, Puerto Viejo has many of them as well – the most famous amongst them are:

  • Playa Chiquita – a tropical beach that allows you to swim in its warm, still waters.
  • Playa Cocles beach–a surfing spot with consistent swells and a wide sandy beach, very popular with surf fanatics. Check out the hotels in Playa Cocles, Costa Rica if you like the idea of being close to catch those early waves like I do. They have budget-friendly accommodations so you can stay closer to the beach and save on renting bikes or catching cabs for every session.
  • Salsa Brava – a spot that features Costa Rica’s most powerful wave break. It has attracted thousands of surfers from all around the world and still serves as one of the main attractions in Costa Rica. I was a little too intimidated to try this one, but if you’re confident on the surf, I’m told it’s a must-see.

If you’re interested in discovering some of these locations and want to stay right on the beach, Puerto Viejo beach hotels offer some of the best spaces to feel warm sparkling white sand beneath the soles of your feet without going far. Selina is one of them and offers surf lessons to help you get better acquainted with the ocean, and perhaps ignite a new passion.

And Then… It Was Time To Snorkel!

Peeling myself away from one beach and traveling to the next, I found myself in the small town of Cahuita, just 15 minutes away to the north of Puerto Viejo. Speaking to a few people I had met at the hotel the night before I was told that it was the ultimate destination for snorkeling within 100 miles.

Selina Puerto Viejo

Enjoy the ultimate remote living experience and find your home-away-from-home at Selina Puerto Viejo!

They informed me that Cahuita National Park was home to over 120 types of fish and 35 unique coral species. When we got there, the locals handed me a Cahuita National Park map to guide the way through the gigantic area.

Here I discovered that there actually are Hotels in Cahuita National Park that grant you easy access to loads of other activities within the park itself. I personally chose not to do this as I didn’t want to restrict myself to this place exclusively and preferred to be at a hotel in the town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica where it’s less remote and I could get a more immersive experience.


HorseBack Riding Through The Rainforest

Two days later, back in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, I decided to investigate tours that take you horseback riding through the rainforest. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty illuminating experience. On the trek, our guides taught us about the history and significance of all the plant and animal species that call it their home. My advice for you if you are taking this trek would be to make sure you dress appropriately and bring some water. The weather was super hot, and – well, rainforesty…. and there were moments when it got to be a lot. I would still recommend the experience though as it gave an informative cross-section of the local ecosystem.


The Famous Puerto Viejo Chocolate Tour

As a self-professed chocoholic, there was absolutely no WAY I was missing this tour. Featuring the famous cacao forest, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has its very own chocolate factory tour where you get to learn how local chocolatiers make chocolate bars from locally sourced cacao. They will even let you taste all of the decadent flavors they create! This makes it a paradise for chocolate lovers like me, and has long attracted people from all over the world. It’s also not a bad place to get souvenirs if you are heading home after your stay here, or stock up on some treats to enjoy at your next destination.

Jaguar Rescue Center

After some rest and a couple of beach days back at my hotel I was ready for my next adventure and I decided after my sciency horseback riding trek, I was ready for a little cuteness. A rehabilitation center for injured and endangered animal species, the Jaguar Rescue Centre in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, has recently opened its sanctuary to margays, parrots, sloths and many other animals. The tour was everything I had hoped, and let me get close to the animals. Cuter still – our guide told us stories about how each animal was rescued and their plans for re-releasing them into the wild.

Tortuguero National Park

This exotic destination is one I didn’t quite make it to as it is accessible only by plane or boat, and if you choose the boat, the trip to the park will take you right through the heart of the jungle. You can also choose to stay at the Tortuguero National Park hotels for a day or two so you can take the Tortuguero National Park day tours and experience its unique geography. It remains on my bucket list for next time!

Where To Stay In The Centre Of It All – Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica real estate offers many newly built modern hotels alongside ones with a more antique and cultural touch to them. The rooms here range from about US$10 to US$60 – so you can find a hotel for your budget and your needs quickly.

Amongst other hotels in Puerto Viejo and its neighboring areas, Selina Puerto Viejo Costa Rican hotels provide different accommodation options that cater to individuals, couples, and travel groups in a variety of ways. We offer 2-bedroom apartments, suites, studio apartments, community bedrooms, and many more options to our guests.

If you’re a nature enthusiast and prefer a more eco-friendly stay, have a look at our famous teepees that allow you to stay outdoors and in touch with nature while also providing a warm space for two people.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most common inquiries we get related to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica.

Where To Surf In Puerto Viejo?

This town offers many beautiful beaches with different types of swells – making them the perfect destination for surfers. Surfing Playa Cocles and Playa Negra are two main tourist activities that thousands of people take part in all year round.

Is Puerto Viejo Safe?

If you’re not leaving your belongings unattended at the beach, you’re pretty much good to go.

How To Get From Puerto Viejo To San Jose Airport?

Since many tourists come from San Jose, there are plenty of ways to travel to-and-fro from Puerto Viejo from there. You can either drive, catch a bus or shuttle service, or book a private transfer as well.

What To Do In Puerto Viejo When It Rains?

Puerto Viejo Costa Rican weather is pretty consistent, but if it rains fear not – the rainy weather is the perfect time to get a chocolate facial or visit to the local art galleries. Better yet, laze around in your room if you feel like it, looking out to the roaring clouds and enjoy a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee.

How To Get To Tortuguero?

There are only two ways: either by an airplane from San Jose or by road and a boat ride combined. We recommend the road trip that will take you 20 miles towards Tortuguero. Then, you’ll embark on a magnificent boat ride through the jungle to get to the stunning Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica.

What Does Tortuguero Mean In English?

Tortuguero can be translated into English as ‘Land of Turtles.’

Selina Puerto Viejo

Our accommodations offer enriched experiences that blend Puerto Viejo’s culture and modern comforts. Our mission to inspire connections between different communities in the world drives us to provide our guests with safe, convenient, and reliable lodging so they can focus on having the experience of a lifetime. Whether you want to laze around in your beautifully decorated room or an eco-friendly tepee, go on adventures or explore the wildlife, all can be quickly arranged with Selina Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

Selina Puerto Viejo

Enjoy the ultimate remote living experience and find your home-away-from-home at Selina Puerto Viejo!

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