The Best Things To Do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
November 12, 2019
For the first prolonged stay of my trip I had chosen Puerto Viejo, a small coastal village on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. I’d booked a very rustic Airbnb for two weeks, which was more than enough time to explore the area. Although, I must admit that I probably spent most of it laying on beaches and playing in the waves. However, I did get up to other stuff ocassionally, so here are my suggestions on the best things to do in Puerto Viejo!
7 Fun Things To Do In Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica!
1. TAKE A STROLL THROUGH THE TOWN CENTER
Let’s start with the most obvious one: the town itself. It’s definitely something you have to see. On the Internet I saw a lot of descriptions along the lines of ‘cute backpackers village with laidback surfing vibes’. Although true, ‘cute’ wasn’t exactly the word that came to mind when I was walking the streets of Puerto Viejo. In fact, I would argue that the town is still pretty rough around the edges and exudes more of a piraty vibe, especially along the coast line, where you’ll see a shipwreck that makes for quite a dramatic view.
2. CHECK OUT THE ORGANIC MARKET
Every saturday there’s an organic market right in the centre, where they sell fruits, vegetables and all kinds of handmade objects. You can buy a tiny wooden turtle souvenir (who doesn’t want that??) or a crystal stone bracelet. OR you can just hang around for a while and soak in the vibrant, local atmosphere. Either way, you won’t know where to look first.
3. GO BIKING
I’m not much of a biking fanatic but biking in Puerto Viejo is AWESOME. I don’t know if it’s the road with the yellow stripes in the middle, the jungle that’s all around you at all times, the locals that yell ‘Hola’ when they pass you by or simply the rainy Caribbean air, but I loved going on bike rides almost as much as swimming in the ocean. You can rent bikes pretty much everywhere, as it’s the most convenient way to explore the area.
4. VISIT THE JAGUAR RESCUE CENTER
I was in doubt about this one because it’s $20/ticket, but I’m SO glad I did it anyway. This center is absolutely amazing; it’s ran almost completely by volunteers and everyone is super passionate about what they do. We had the best guide who provided us with a wealth of information on all of the local fauna (think snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, birds and, of course, sloths) and what they do to rescue them and eventually (hopefully) release them back into the jungle.
Did you know that some people capture wild animals and raise them as pets to get money from tourists? When they’re finally rescued, they usually can no longer function in the wild, so they have to spend the rest of their life in a cage. It’s pretty awful.
On a lighter note: did you know that the howl of the howler monkeys is the loudest of all animals except for whales? AND… did you know their howl is used in movies for the sound effect of the dinosaurs in Jurrasic Park and for Khaleesi’s DRAGONS in Game of Thrones!? It does make sense though, the noise they make sounds nothing like what you would imagine. When I first heard a howler monkey at night I thought there was a wild bear roaring outside of my window.
5. TRY THE LOCAL CUISINE IN ONE OF THE SODAS
A soda is a small, cozy restaurant where you can indulge in traditional Costa Rican food. When it comes to dining, this is definitely the most authentic option. It’s where the locals eat, it’s usually also run by locals (sometimes it’s like you’re having lunch in a Costa Rican family’s living room) and you can’t find anything cheaper.
6. GET LOST IN MANZANILLO NATIONAL PARK
This national park isn’t in Puerto Viejo, but you can definitely bike or drive there. Although if you decide to be sporty like us and go by bike, prepare for some steep slopes (yes, I had to get off). We were actually just going to check out the village of Manzanillo and its beach, but it wasn’t all that interesting. I wasn’t ready to give up and leave disappointed though, so stubbornly (and to my companion’s annoyance) I decided to join the stream of tourists and cars that were determined to follow a small path into the woods. I’m sure you can guess it by now: that’s how we found the park! Lucky for me, it was absolutely stunning. Very instagram worthy views, which I obviously look for every minute of every day.
7. EXPLORE ONE OF THE MANY BEACHES
To me, the best part of Puerto Viejo and the Caribbean are the beaches. There are so many that I’ve made a seperate blog post about this, but I can already tell you that my personal favourite is Playa Cocles, an amazingly long beach with the softest sand and the best waves. If you’re into surfing, this would for sure be one of the best places to go. Or try some beach yoga like I’m attempting in the picture below!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide of the best activities in Puerto Viejo! Let me know if you’ve been there or if you have any tips for me, don’t hesitate to share. I’m still in Costa Rica for 5 months so I can use all of the suggestions 🙂