Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Emil Backup
This post may have affiliate links, where I receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Are you thinking about visiting Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Puerto Viejo. These lush sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Welcome to Puerto Viejo, a Costa Rican hidden gem nestled between the lush jungles and the azure Caribbean Sea. This charming town is a paradise for those who crave adventure, culture, and relaxation. From the moment you set foot here, a myriad of things to do in Puerto Viejo unfolds. Explore vibrant local markets, hike through lush rainforests, and unwind on pristine beaches. You’ll be greeted by the intoxicating aroma of local cuisine, the rhythmic beats of Calypso music, and the warm smiles of the locals.

Puerto Viejo is not just another beach destination; it’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Costa Rican culture. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, this town offers a plethora of experiences that are as diverse as they are unforgettable.

But what truly sets Puerto Viejo apart is its unique blend of Afro-Caribbean and indigenous Bribri cultures. Here, you can spend your mornings learning about traditional cacao farming methods and your evenings dancing the night away to live reggae music. It’s this fusion of old and new, local and global, that makes Puerto Viejo a must-visit destination for any traveler.

So, if you’re ready to escape the ordinary and dive into a world of unparalleled beauty and endless adventure, keep reading. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Puerto Viejo.

The best things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica right now.
This article on the best things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica contains affiliate links, where I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. 

Best Places to Visit in Puerto Viejo

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Puerto Viejo? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant vacation spot in Costa Rica. So keep reading to discover all these unique Puerto Viejo places to visit.

Are you looking to engage in thrilling surfing sessions and immerse yourself in the laid-back Caribbean culture? Or would you prefer exploring lush rainforests and pristine beaches? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Puerto Viejo can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Puerto Viejo that you should know about.

1. Playa Cocles

Playa Cocles is the epitome of what makes Puerto Viejo so enchanting. Imagine a beach where golden sands meet turquoise waters, all framed by a backdrop of lush tropical forest. It’s not just a feast for the eyes; it’s a playground for the adventurous at heart.

If you’ve ever wondered what to do in Puerto Viejo, catching a wave at Playa Cocles should be at the top of your list. This beach is renowned for its consistent surf breaks, making it a haven for both novice and experienced surfers. Local surf schools offer lessons for those eager to ride their first wave, while seasoned pros can head straight into the action.

But surfing isn’t the only activity that draws people here. Beach volleyball, paddleboarding, and even horseback riding along the shore are among the activities you shouldn’t miss. And let’s not forget the beach bars, where you can sip on a refreshing piña colada as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.

Playa Cocles is a slice of paradise that offers a little bit of everything. It’s a must-see in Puerto Viejo, capturing the essence of the town’s laid-back yet adventurous spirit.

Escape to the breathtaking beauty of Playa Cocles, a tropical haven nestled along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
Escape to the breathtaking beauty of Playa Cocles, a tropical haven nestled along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

2. Jaguar Rescue Center

When it comes to unique places in Puerto Viejo, the Jaguar Rescue Center stands out. This wildlife sanctuary is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a testament to the region’s commitment to animal conservation. 

The center is home to a variety of animals, from howler monkeys to sloths, all rescued and rehabilitated with the aim of returning them to the wild. As you walk through the sanctuary, expert guides share fascinating insights into the lives and behaviors of these incredible creatures. It’s educational, it’s inspiring, it’s a heartwarming experience and it’s one of the coolest things to do in Puerto Viejo.

What sets the Jaguar Rescue Center apart is its hands-on approach. Unlike many other wildlife sanctuaries, here you can actually interact with some of the animals under careful supervision. It’s a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife, making it one of the best places to go in Puerto Viejo.

An animal lover or simply looking for an enriching experience? The Jaguar Rescue Center offers a distinct blend of education and adventure. It’s a Puerto Viejo attraction that captures the essence of what makes this destination so special. Fly to Costa Rica and this is definitely one of the first places you’ll want to see!

Step into a world of compassion and animal conservation at the Jaguar Rescue Center.
Step into a world of compassion and animal conservation at the Jaguar Rescue Center.

3. The Scenic Beaches

Where to visit in Puerto Viejo for a blend of adventure and relaxation? Look no further than the area’s stunning beaches. One of the best ways to explore them? By bike! Rent a bicycle and set off on a journey that takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes you’ll ever see.

Playa Negra is a great starting point, known for its uncommon black sand. From there, you can cycle to Playa Chiquita, a secluded beach perfect for a romantic picnic or some quiet reflection. The route is dotted with local vendors selling fresh coconut water and tropical fruits, making it one of the most enjoyable Puerto Viejo things to do.

The cycling path is mostly flat, making it accessible for riders of all levels. And the best part? You’re free to stop wherever you want, whether it’s to take a quick dip in the ocean or to capture that perfect Instagram shot. 

Cool destinations in Puerto Viejo that offer both adventure and the chance to unwind? Cycling along the scenic beaches is a must-do. It’s an experience that perfectly encapsulates the laid-back yet adventurous spirit of Puerto Viejo.

Discover tranquility at Playa Negra, a hidden gem along the picturesque coast of Costa Rica.
Discover tranquility at Playa Negra, a hidden gem along the picturesque coast of Costa Rica.

4. Puerto Viejo’s Afro-Caribbean Cuisine 

One of the coolest activities in Puerto Viejo is diving into its rich culinary scene, especially the Afro-Caribbean flavors that define the area. Imagine this: You’re sitting at a beachside restaurant, the sound of waves softly crashing in the background, and a plate of “Rice and Beans” cooked in coconut milk is set before you. It’s not just food; it’s a cultural experience.

Soda Tamara is a local favorite, known for its authentic dishes like “Patí,” a spicy meat pie, and “Rondón,” a seafood stew simmered in coconut milk. Another must-visit is Lazlo’s Catch of the Day, where you can enjoy freshly caught fish prepared in a variety of styles.

Puerto Viejo’s culinary landscape distinguishes itself through a fusion of influences, spanning from native Indigenous traditions to Afro-Caribbean and Spanish flavors. It’s a melting pot of flavors that you won’t find anywhere else, making it one of the best places in Puerto Viejo to truly understand the local culture.

Are you a foodie looking for something special that tantalizes the taste buds? Make sure to explore its Afro-Caribbean culinary landscape. It’s a gastronomic journey that will leave you craving for more, long after you’ve left this vibrant town.

Vibrant beachscape at Playa Puerto Viejo, where turquoise waves gently kiss the golden sands under a clear blue sky.
Vibrant beachscape at Playa Puerto Viejo, where turquoise waves gently kiss the golden sands under a clear blue sky.

5. Talamanca Mountains

Craving a bit of adventure away from the beach? The Talamanca Mountains offer an entirely different world to explore. This is one of the Puerto Viejo places to visit when looking to connect with nature on a deeper level. Picture yourself hiking through lush rainforests, the air filled with the calls of exotic birds and the rustle of leaves underfoot.

Sendero Ecológico is a trail that takes you through the heart of this mountain range, offering glimpses of waterfalls, rare orchids, and even elusive wildlife like the jaguarondi. The trail is well-marked, but hiring a local guide can enrich the experience, providing insights into the flora and fauna as well as the indigenous communities that call these mountains home.

A visit to the mountains is among the best things to do in Puerto Viejo because of the sense of tranquility and awe that envelops you as you navigate through the wilderness. It’s a stark contrast to the lively beaches and offers a refreshing perspective on the diverse landscapes that make up this captivating region.

Lace up those hiking boots and prepare for an adventure that will not only challenge you physically but also leave you with a newfound appreciation for the natural wonders that Puerto Viejo has to offer.

Exploring the lush rainforests and pristine beaches of Talamanca, where nature's beauty thrives in harmony with Costa Rica's rich biodiversity.
Exploring the lush rainforests and pristine beaches of Talamanca, where nature’s beauty thrives in harmony with Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity.

6. Vibrant Nightlife of Puerto Viejo

When the sun dips below the horizon, Puerto Viejo comes alive in a whole new way. The nightlife here is a blend of laid-back beach bars, pulsating dance clubs, and live music venues that showcase local talents. Wondering what to do in Puerto Viejo after dark? You’re in for a treat!

Lazy Mon is a popular beachfront bar where you can sip on a tropical cocktail while listening to live reggae music. The atmosphere is relaxed, making it a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring. On the other hand, Tasty Waves Cantina offers a more energetic vibe, complete with themed nights and a dance floor that stays busy until the wee hours.

For a rare experience, check out Koki Beach, a bar made entirely of reclaimed materials. The design is as eclectic as the crowd it attracts, and the cocktails are nothing short of artisanal.

Puerto Viejo attractions aren’t just about daytime adventures; the nightlife here adds another layer to your travel experience. Whether you’re a party animal or prefer a quiet evening by the sea, the town’s nocturnal offerings cater to all tastes and moods.

Get ready to dance the night away or simply enjoy a serene evening under the stars—either way, Puerto Viejo’s nightlife is not to be missed.

Relaxing under the swaying palms at Lazy Mon, a popular beachfront bar in Puerto Viejo.
Relaxing under the swaying palms at Lazy Mon, a popular beachfront bar in Puerto Viejo.

7. Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

For unique things to do in Puerto Viejo, turn your attention to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. This sanctuary, a treasure trove of biodiversity, presents a fusion of wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs. A haven for nature enthusiasts and adventurers, it encapsulates the essence of paradise.

Kayaking through the mangroves is an experience you won’t soon forget. The calm waters make it easy for even beginners to navigate, and the dense foliage above provides a natural canopy, shielding you from the sun. As you paddle, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this refuge home. From howler monkeys to rare birds, the area is teeming with life.

If exploring underwater is preferred, snorkeling in the coral reefs is a must. The underwater world here is vibrant and colorful, with a variety of fish species, sea turtles, and even dolphins making an appearance.

The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is not just a place; it’s an experience that encapsulates the essence of Puerto Viejo. From kayaking through serene waterways to snorkeling in bustling coral reefs, this refuge offers a special blend of adventure and tranquility.

Exploring the untamed beauty of Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on the Caribbean coast. Among the best things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.
Exploring the untamed beauty of Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on the Caribbean coast. Among the best things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

8. Pacuare River

Must-see in Puerto Viejo? White water rafting on the Pacuare River is a heart-pounding adventure you won’t want to miss. The river, one of the top rafting destinations in the world, offers a mix of calm waters and exhilarating rapids, making it perfect for both novices and seasoned rafters.

The Pacuare River winds through lush rainforests and past towering waterfalls, offering a scenic backdrop to your adventure. As you navigate the rapids, you’ll feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins, making every twist and turn an unforgettable experience.

Multi-day trips are available if you want to extend your trip. These often include camping on the riverbanks, where you can unwind by the campfire and soak in the natural beauty around you. Imagine waking up to the sound of the river and the calls of exotic birds—it’s a nature lover’s dream come true.

White water rafting on the Pacuare River is not just an activity; it’s an experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Navigating the thrilling rapids of the Pacuare River, an adrenaline-packed adventure in Costa Rica's stunning rainforest.
Navigating the thrilling rapids of the Pacuare River, an adrenaline-packed adventure in Costa Rica’s stunning rainforest.

9. The Artisan Markets of Puerto Viejo

Wondering where to go in Puerto Viejo to find souvenirs for your trip? Explore the vibrant colors and eclectic vibes of Puerto Viejo’s artisan markets! They’re not just a feast for the eyes; they’re a haven for anyone who loves unparalleled, handcrafted items. From intricately woven textiles to one-of-a-kind jewelry, the markets are a treasure trove of Costa Rican craftsmanship.

Puerto Viejo’s Artisan Markets are the perfect place to find souvenirs that capture the essence of this enchanting coastal town. You’ll find everything from handmade soaps infused with local herbs to wooden sculptures that tell a story of the region’s rich cultural heritage.

What makes these markets among the coolest things to do in Puerto Viejo is the opportunity to meet the artisans themselves. Engage in conversations, learn about their craft, and maybe even get a custom piece made just for you. It’s a shopping experience that goes beyond the transactional, offering a glimpse into the heart and soul of Puerto Viejo.

F a cultural experience and a shopping spree experience, look no further. The artisan markets are a must-visit, blending the best of both worlds in a setting that’s as vibrant as the community it represents.

The vibrant artisan markets of Puerto Viejo, where local crafts, colorful textiles, and handmade treasures await.
The vibrant artisan markets of Puerto Viejo, where local crafts, colorful textiles, and handmade treasures await. Photo credits: puertoviejosatellite.com

10. Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then this is one of the best things to do in Puerto Viejo you won’t want to miss. Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate offers an immersive experience that takes you from bean to bar. The tour starts with a walk through the cacao forest, where you’ll learn about the fascinating process of cacao cultivation.

Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate isn’t just a place to satisfy your cravings; it’s an educational journey. You’ll get to see how cacao is harvested, fermented, and finally turned into the delicious chocolate bars we all love. The best part? Sampling the goods, of course! From dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt to milk chocolate infused with local spices, your taste buds are in for a treat.

What sets this tour apart is its commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. Caribeans works closely with local farmers, ensuring fair trade and organic ingredients. It’s a win-win situation: you get to indulge in mouth-watering chocolate while supporting the local community.

When making a list of Puerto Viejo attractions that offer both fun and a touch of education, make sure to pencil in a visit to Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate. It’s a deliciously rewarding experience you won’t forget.

Savoring the exquisite flavors of Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate, a paradise for coffee and chocolate enthusiast.
Savoring the exquisite flavors of Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate, a paradise for coffee and chocolate enthusiast.

11. Punta Uva

Punta Uva is one of those cool destinations in Puerto Viejo that you’ll want to keep a secret, but it’s too good not to share. Nestled between the jungle and the Caribbean Sea, this secluded beach is a paradise if you seek tranquility and natural beauty. The golden sands are soft underfoot, and the turquoise waters are calm enough for a leisurely swim.

Punta Uva isn’t just a beach; it’s an experience. Take a kayak out to the reef to snorkel among vibrant coral and exotic fish. Or, if you’re more of a landlubber, the nearby forest trails offer a chance to spot sloths, monkeys, and a variety of bird species.

This is the spot where you can truly disconnect. There are no bustling markets, no loud music—just the soothing sounds of nature. It’s the perfect place to bring a book, a picnic, and a sense of adventure.

Basking in the natural beauty of Punta Uva, where crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical forests meet in perfect harmony.
Basking in the natural beauty of Punta Uva, where crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical forests meet in perfect harmony.

12. Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Viejo especially for anyone who loves the great outdoors. This sprawling natural reserve is a treasure trove of biodiversity, offering a distinctive blend of beach, forest, and coral reef ecosystems. The park is a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife, including howler monkeys, sea turtles, and countless species of birds.

The hiking trails here are well-marked and offer varying levels of difficulty, making it a perfect destination for both novice hikers and seasoned adventurers. As you traverse the lush pathways, you’ll be enveloped by the intoxicating aroma of tropical flowers and the symphony of jungle sounds.

But the park isn’t just a haven for land-based exploration. The coral reefs are among the most vibrant in Costa Rica, making snorkeling and diving popular activities. The underwater world is teeming with life, from colorful fish to intricate coral formations.

Do you wish to combine relaxation with a bit of adventure? The park’s pristine beaches are the perfect spot to unwind. Lay down your towel, take out that novel you’ve been meaning to read, and let the waves lull you into a state of bliss.

Immersing in the wonders of Cahuita National Park, lush rainforests and vibrant coral reefs come together.
Immersing in the wonders of Cahuita National Park, lush rainforests and vibrant coral reefs come together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Puerto Viejo? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Puerto Viejo:

What’s the best time to visit Puerto Viejo?

The best time to visit Puerto Viejo is during the dry season, from December to April. This period offers sunny weather, ideal for beach activities and outdoor exploration. However, consider the shoulder months of November and May for fewer crowds and more budget-friendly options.

Is Puerto Viejo safe for tourists?

Puerto Viejo is generally safe for tourists, but common travel precautions apply. Secure your belongings, avoid isolated areas at night, and use reliable transportation. Be mindful of ocean currents when swimming. Respect local customs and the environment. Staying informed and cautious ensures a pleasant stay.

How many days do you need in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica?

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, often simply referred to as Puerto Viejo, is a laid-back beach town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Known for its Afro-Caribbean culture, beautiful beaches, and nearby national parks and wildlife reserves, it’s a popular destination for travelers. The number of days you’d want to spend in Puerto Viejo depends on your interests and how deeply you want to explore the area. Here’s my suggestion on how to spend your time here:

  1. Short Visit (2-3 days):
    • Explore the town of Puerto Viejo and its immediate surroundings.
    • Spend a day at the beach, perhaps Cocles or Punta Uva.
    • Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center or another local wildlife sanctuary.
    • Try local cuisine and enjoy the nightlife.
  2. Medium Visit (4-6 days):
    • Delve deeper into the beaches, exploring more secluded spots or trying out activities like surfing or snorkeling.
    • Take a day trip to Cahuita National Park for hiking and wildlife spotting.
    • Visit the indigenous BriBri community and learn about their traditions and way of life.
    • Explore nearby areas like Manzanillo or Gandoca.
    • Rent a bike and explore the coastal road and its many attractions.
  3. Extended Visit (7 days or more):
    • Engage in more extended activities, such as taking a multi-day Spanish course or yoga retreat.
    • Explore the Talamanca mountains and inland areas.
    • Dedicate more time to relaxation, immersing yourself in the laid-back Caribbean vibe of the region.
    • Take more extended trips to nearby areas, perhaps venturing as far as Bocas del Toro in Panama.

How do I get around Puerto Viejo?

Navigating Puerto Viejo is convenient with various options. Renting a bicycle offers a relaxed way to explore the town and nearby areas. Taxis and ride-sharing apps are available for short distances. Public buses connect neighboring towns. Walking is enjoyable for central locations, allowing you to soak in the laid-back atmosphere.

Exploring the captivating charm of Puerto Viejo.
Exploring the captivating charm of Puerto Viejo.

What’s the local cuisine like?

Puerto Viejo’s local cuisine is a delectable fusion of influences. Expect Afro-Caribbean flavors, fresh seafood, and tropical fruits. Savor dishes like rice and beans, spicy jerk chicken, and coconut-infused stews. Explore local markets for vibrant produce, and don’t miss sampling Caribbean-style street food, capturing the region’s vibrant culture.

Are there any must-see in Puerto Viejo?

Must-see attractions in Puerto Viejo include Cahuita National Park for its stunning coastline and wildlife, Jaguar Rescue Center for animal rehabilitation, and Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge for diverse ecosystems. Embrace the vibrant culture by exploring local markets, enjoying reggae rhythms, and indulging in Afro-Caribbean cuisine.

Is Puerto Viejo Costa Rica worth visiting?

Absolutely, Puerto Viejo is a must-visit destination in. It offers a distinctive fusion of Afro-Caribbean heritage, stunning beaches, and lush rainforests. Whether you’re into surfing, wildlife spotting, or simply relaxing by the sea, Puerto Viejo has something for everyone. It’s a tropical paradise that captivates every traveler.

What is Puerto Viejo Costa Rica known for?

Puerto Viejo is renowned for its vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture, world-class surfing spots, and biodiverse wildlife. The town is a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique blend of culinary delights and musical rhythms. With its stunning beaches and nearby national parks, it’s a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Concluding Thoughts on Visiting Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is more than a destination; it’s an experience that captivates your senses and leaves you yearning for more. An adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or someone who just wants to unwind? Puerto Viejo has something to offer. From the coolest activities in Puerto Viejo to the hidden gems waiting to be discovered, this tropical paradise is a world of its own, teeming with adventures that are just waiting for you. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, and let Puerto Viejo show you the time of your life!

I hope this wraps up the article nicely, capturing the essence of Puerto Viejo while adhering to your guidelines. Would you like to review or add anything else?

Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica for all types of travelers.
Enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica? Pin it! 

You may also like

Leave a Comment