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Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo is a city with a style that you won’t find anywhere else, with a vibe that uniquely blends the Afro-Caribbean, Latino and Bri Bri indigenous cultures from the cities storied past. Today, Puerto Viejo is a top destination for surf vacations from around the worlds, but also a superb choice to relax and unwind in the Caribbean while soaking up some rays of sun.

Visitors to Puerto Viejo can find vibrant shopping, delicious local eateries, affordable housing, and a lively night life. Much of the population is younger, and visitors might find themselves enjoying the local hippie atmosphere of waking up late to catch the waves.

Some of the best things to do around Puerto Viejo include snorkeling tours, surf camps, shopping at the local markets, and hiking through nearby nature reserves. Whatever your pleasure, you’ll find something to please you at Puerto Viejo!

Puerto Viejo

Costa Rica


Costa Rican Colón

Important dates in Costa Rica

  • January 1st: New Year’s Day
  • March/April: Easter Week
  • April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
  • May 1st: Labor Day
  • July 25: Annexation of Guanacaste Day
  • Aug 2: Patron Saint Day
  • Aug. 15: Mother’s Day
  • Sept. 15: Independence Day
  • Oct 12 (entire weekend): Limon Carnaval
  • Nov. 2: Dia de los Inocentes
  • Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
  • Dec. 25: Christmas Day

Good to know

Puerto Viejo beaches can be dangerous at times, with strong rip currents that are difficult even for expert surfers. Before you go out to swim make sure you ask a local and get some advice. Surfing is only recommended for experts or with an instructor!

Costa Rica has a large number of conservation efforts, and Puerto Viejo is no exception. One especially notable conservation effort headquartered in Puerto Viejo is The Ara Project, an international organization committed to saving this beautiful endangered bird!

Culture and Etiquette in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is an extremely interesting case study of the merger between Afro-Caribbian, Latin, and the indigenous Bri Bri culture that all call this area home. Originally, Puerto Viejo, whose name means Old Harbor in Spanish, was a battleground between the indigenous people and pirates! From here, the seaside city evolved to become the primary port of the Limon Province, and facilitated both national and international trade. Slowly, Puerto Viejo grew from a sleepy fishing village to a hub for trade, and ultimately to the tourist destination it is today. Though each of these periods is somewhat incongruous, Puerto Viejo has kept elements of each period of growth, and you can see distinct elements of each phase in its history.

Of course, Puerto Viejo still shares common Costa Rican culture, whose influence comes from the Caribbean, North and South America. The locals, who are endearingly called Ticos, are very proud of their heritage and enjoy conversing with foreigners about family, politics, education, peace and their homeland. Speaking of interaction between locals, when asked how you are doing, it’s common to state pura vida, which translates to full of life, in this particular instance. This word, used in many contexts, is as fluid as water. Ticos use it to answer ‘how are you?’, to reply to a ‘thanks’, and just to express joy.

You won’t have a hard time making friends with the Ticos, as they are friendly humans who take pride in their piece of paradise. When it comes to punctuality, you can expect lateness, as it is just a slice of the culture. In order to conserve the beautiful nature of ‘chill’ that exists in Costa Rica, the lack of awareness and recognition of time’s importance needs to be peacefully accepted. When traveling by bus, just make sure you are planning for a possible 2-hour delay.

If you plan to venture through the rainforests it’s best to bring bug spray, long pants and a hat. Creepy crawly bugs are not strangers to this area. For those who enjoy soaking up the rays in the beach zone, relaxed attire is very much welcome here.

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Travelers have no problem getting to know Puerto Viejo, a coastal harbor that is bustling with young life, parties, surfers and eccentrics. At this beautiful beach paradise, everyone will find something to do and great people to do it with. From surfing to swimming, tanning to partying, this beach has it all condensed in one beautiful green package with brilliant blue waters just off the shore and a thriving population of tourists and locals that make one feel right at home.

To give you a sense of some of the great things you might find yourself doing in Puerto Viejo, we put together a list of some of the favorite activities that draw people to the area. It is important that in between the surfing and yoga, sightseeing and hiking that one leaves time to relax and stroll the pristine coast that traverses the length of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, because that is where one will get the best taste for local life!

Surf the World Renowned Salsa Brava

Puerto Viejo is home to some of the best surfing waves in the world, and it would be a grave injustice to write about the seaside village and not mention and recommend taking a surf lesson here. There are many reputable surf companies offering instruction and guides for inexperienced and expert surfers alike. If you’re new to the sport, we definitely recommend taking a lesson since the waves can get serious, and even experienced surfers might benefit from being shown the best spots for killer waves. We really think that everyone should get some experience with Puerto Viejo’s surfer culture.

Learn to Dive in the Caribbean

Puerto Viejo is a hidden gem in terms of diving and snorkeling opportunities, because this activity is so often overshadowed by the amazing surfing and lounging one can do. This is a pity, because the area features some amazing underwater wildlife and ecosystems. The tropical waters of the Caribbean near Puerto Viejo are an amazing breeding ground for a myriad of fish and plant species. Whether you are an experienced diver or a dive novice, the dive companies in Puerto Viejo have a package perfect for you!

Foundation Jaguar Rescue Center

One of the most unique experiences you can have in Puerto Viejo is that of visiting the nearby Jaguar rescue center. This is one of only a few such centers in the world concerned solely with rehabilitating and saving jaguars in nature. You can even extend your experience by volunteering with the center! Find more information at the Foundation Jaguar Rescue Center website.

Get a Taste of Authentic Costa Rican Coffee on a Coffee Tasting Tour

With fresh, local coffee good enough for even the most sophisticated palates, there’s no better place to go on a coffee tasting than in the country most famous for its amazing coffee beans. Take advantage of the location to tour one of the many coffee roasters in Porto Viejo. Visitors to the coffee roasters got to sample from many different single origin beans, learn about the delicate and precise growing process, and can even take some local coffee beans home! This is a great way to break up your trips to the beach with a bit of elegance and class. Even kids can enjoy the experience because most tours offer tastes of locally made chocolate as well!

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Surfing and good food go together like Batman and Robin, and the food at Puerto Viejo is no exception. This beach town has everything you could wish for to recover and recharge after a long day spent out on the waves or hiking in the nearby rain forest. The area is especially known for the local sodas, which are traditional local restaurants serving local dishes called casados. This is the epitome of beach eating–steaming rice, juice meats, and the freshest veggies all for a low low price! If you’re not feeling the Costa Rican cuisine, however, there are a variety of international options to satisfy even the pickiest eater.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, we think you’ll find something yummy in Puerto Viejo, but there’s a few great options to start with that we’ve listed below.

Find Healthy Food and Good Vibes at Port Vell

Port Vell is a relaxed, low-budget eatery featuring a variety of mouthwatering snacks and meals to give you all the energy you need to explore Puerto Viejo. They are especially known for their pancakes, Mexican Omelet, and healthy all-fruit smoothies. The dining experience is casual, but the restaurant prides itself on great customer service and super vibes. Come hungry and leave with new friends should be the motto of this awesome chain!

Get some more information on their Facebook.

La Nena, Caribbean Food Done Right

La Nena is known to locals and tourists alike for its fair prices and delicious, Caribbean style dishes. You can find a beautiful variety of ceviche, seafood, and Costa Rican classics here, all freshly made and cooked to perfection. If you are looking for a real treat, their fresh caught lobster is definitely the highlight of the menu, so bring your appetite!

You can call to make a reservation at La Nena here: +506 2537 9791.

Get a Tasty Snack at Bread & Chocolate

We all need a chocolate break sometimes, and no place is better in Puerto Viejo for this than Bread & Chocolate. This wonderful snack bar features delicious brunch, breakfast, and sweet treats. Locals recommend you try the homemade biscuits with the locally roasted Costa Rican coffee. The restaurant also has numerous vegetarian and pescatarian options available, so you can’t go wrong there! This is a restaurant with a laid back atmosphere, so don’t eat here if you’re in a rush!

Get some more info about the menu of Bread & Chocolate at their website.

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