The largest tourist destination on Costa Ricaâ€™s Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is located just south the smaller beach town of Cahuita. This small town, or â€˜pueblo,â€™ is famous for its laid-back Caribbean vibe, beautiful beaches and its very diverse mix of people (see history and overview of the Southern Caribbean Coast). Surrounded by picturesque natural beauty, it can somewhat be described as a difficult paradise. The town has always suffered from bad publicity, both founded and unfounded, which definitely has an effect on the tourism. Some say it even works in its favor, even though the towns economy relies heavily on this source of income.
Letâ€™s just say Puerto Viejo is not for everyone. There are no country clubs, tennis courts or big holiday resorts. This town attracts more the bohemian-style travelers such as honeymooners, surfers and backpackers. People come from all around to enjoy a range of activities here, not just nightlife and beaches. Those coming for adventure activities enjoy great opportunities in surfing, kayaking, hiking, diving, snorkeling and rainforest canopy tours. Many are interested in cultural activities, such as visits to local cocoa farms and indigenous communities and some come looking for peace and tranquility. There are many places offering yoga classes, spa treatments, alternative therapies and massage.
Puerto Viejo has an assortment of different restaurants to choose from, from Argentine steak specialists to vegetarian and vegan restaurants. The small sodas are great value for money and give you a real taste of the Caribbean, serving traditional dishes at very pocket-friendly prices. Most popular here by far is the wonderful selection of fresh fish and seafood, caught by the local fishermen nearby. As for accommodation, there is a range of places to stay to suit everybodyâ€™s budget, from dorm rooms to private jungle bungalows. Places to stay are scattered around the town, from the town centre, to the jungle outskirts and the beach.
The weather in Puerto Viejo is unlike the rest of Costa Rica and does not have two distinct wet and dry seasons, rather it changes every two or three months. September and October are by far the driest, and it changes in November to be wet throughout December and January (popular surfing months and the start of high season). In February it changes, with March and April becoming dry again. In May it changes (and low season begins), June and July are wet, and in August it changes again to complete the cycle. These are general guidelines but it is well known for the weather here to be changeable throughout the year. Remember to do a weather check if coming for a particular sport, as surfers for example will be pretty disappointed arriving in October to a clam, flat sea.
Whatever you come to Puerto Viejo for, you will surely enjoy the most popular past-time, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the Caribbean vibe.