Why Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
On the South Caribbean side of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo feels like a country onto itself. Rich with AfroCaribbean influence, local and international visitors alike come for the food, music, and free-spirited energy.
Think Calypso music. Spicy coconut-infused flavors. The rhythmic sound of Patois alongside Spanish and English.
This is where you’ll find a completely unique side of Costa Rica. Authentic and under-the-radar.
Curious why other globe-trotting travelers love Puerto Viejo? Read on.
AfroCaribbean Music, Food — and Flair
Do you know Puerto Viejo's
It’s one that begins in the mid 1800s. English speaking Afro-Caribbean people, mainly from Jamaica, were brought to the Talamanca coast for the construction of the railway. Today, their influence is celebrated and expressed through so many dimensions. Through language, you’ll hear Patois, English and Spanish spoken widely in the streets of Puerto Viejo.
AfroCaribbean cuisine is also rich and peculiar in comparison to what you’ll find in other parts of Costa Rica. There are many dishes cooked in coconut milk, such as rice and beans. Or sauces with curry and other spices that accompany fish and seafood. We also use energetic spices like hot chili peppers — such as the “Panamanian chili” — which are an important part of home-cooked dishes such as “Pati” (a deep fried Empanada).
The rhythm of the Caribbean is the “Calypso” —a lively musical genre that you’ll find ever present in the streets. Calypso is considered the main expression of the cultural identity of Limón. Considered music of the working class, the lyrics of Calypso is full of humour and punctuated by its lively social criticism. Often you’ll hear the familiar sounds of Calypso music in restaurants and cafes. Not to mention steel pan drums and their energetic rhythm as you explore Puerto Viejo town.
Go Where the Locals Go
Head to the Undiscovered South-Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.
Ask any well-traveled Costa Rican where they’d go for a long weekend, and 9 out of 10 will say the Caribbean Coast and the funky beach town of Puerto Viejo.
That’s because this side of Costa Rica has a particularly relaxed atmosphere. It feels totally undiscovered in comparison to elsewhere in the country.
The crowds are few and the wildlife is much more abundant and exuberant than say, Northern Guanacaste. There are no “big” real estate projects here. No gated communities or golf courses. No branded hotels or all-inclusive hotels. It still maintains that rough-around-the-edges charm. It’s always green and lush.
And the beaches are what people dream about —it’s a side of Costa Rica that not many people know about.
That’s why you’ll more likely meet local bohemian Ticos vacationing here, young backpackers, and more adventurous European travelers.
Many visitors come for the surfing and the AfroCaribbean vibe, and end up staying for the untouched atmosphere and free-spirited energy.
Case in point —it’s still a place to ride bikes to the beach. Since the roads in and around Puerto Viejo are completely flat, it’s simply fun to ride around town and explore local life.
Puerto Viejo’s main drag is dotted with funky little cafés. Caribbean comfort food. Vegan restaurants. Healthy food cafes serving up fresh fruit smoothies. Not to mention local artisan shops and surf shops. Reggae music. Steel pan drum bands casually playing in the street. And don’t forget the town’s legendary nightlife.
Grab one of our bicycles and peddle to the bakery for brunch. Go people-watching. Soak in local life in Puerto Viejo. Ask us for recommendations and find out what’s on. From music gatherings and art fairs to fashion shows and fire dancing spectacles. There’s always something happening!
Your Costa Rican
Adventure Made Complete
Puerto Viejo is easily combined with other popular destinations in Costa Rica.
Puerto Viejo is within easy reach of San José, the Panama Border, and the famous leatherback sea turtle nesting grounds of Tortuguero. This makes it an excellent first stop on any Costa Rica itinerary. Alternatively, a popular option for many travelers is to include the Osa Peninsula, then travel through central Costa Rica, and finish their trip on the Caribbean Coast.
Our top recommendation? Stay 3-4 nights in Puerto Viejo for the Afro-Caribbean culture, unspoiled beaches, and a good dose of relaxation. That way you’ll be able to experience a completely unique side of Costa Rica before making your way to the Pacific coast.
The Paradisiacal Beach Town of Puerto Viejo
“…there’s a certain tranquility that arrives while soaking in one of the coral-surrounded aquatic enclaves, or bicycling along the road sandwiched by the dense tropical flora and the ocean…”
– Vogue, as described in An Artists’ Guide to the Paradisiacal Beach Town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica