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Lying along the Caribbean Sea in Costa Rica’s southeast, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a popular backpacker destination with a distinctive Caribbean flair. It’s easily one of the best areas to stay in Costa Rica!
Here, the awesome surf on the kilometer-long beaches and the diverse wildlife in the national parks are not the only main draw; reggaeton beats and Creole cuisine make up a major part of the overall experience. Additionally, Puerto Viejo offers a wide range of activities during your stay including chocolate tours and white water rafting.
These factors alone make the town worthy of a visit, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that accommodations in the area are plentiful. You have budget-friendly one-story B&Bs, posh hotels, and a few high-quality establishments. The coastal road out of town will also take you to more tiny neighborhoods, where you can find additional lodging options.
That said, deciding which of the many Puerto Viejo hotels is right for you can be quite a challenge. But don’t worry! In this guide, I’ll show you the best areas in and around town as well as the top accommodations you can check out to make your visit to Puerto Viejo more enjoyable.
Don’t have time to read the full article? We suggest staying in Puerto Viejo Town to have easy access to the beach and the area’s incredible nightlife. Our top hotel pick is Umami Hotel, an exclusive adults-only hotel with a beautiful pool and spa facilities. You can check availability and book Umami Hotel online here on Booking.com, here on Hotels.com, or here on Expedia.
What are the Best Areas to Stay in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
When picking out where to stay in Puerto Viejo, you have four main areas to choose from.
There’s Puerto Viejo downtown, where all the amenities you need are within walking distance. This area is central to everything and is known for its incredible party scene. So if you’re a party animal, the best hotels in Puerto Viejo for you are tight in the town center.
If you like to stay somewhere quieter, the peaceful towns of Manzanillo or Cahuita will most likely appeal to you. Or head to Playa Cocles, a small surf beach located just a short bike ride from Puerto Viejo. It’s more relaxing here compared to the downtown area, and you’ll get to be close to the famous Jaguar Rescue Center – one of the best wildlife rescue centers in Costa Rica.
Manzanillo, on the other hand, is the southernmost town from Puerto Viejo. No other roads lead further south from here, so you’re sure to get the peace and quiet you want. The downside is that there aren’t many facilities you can find in town.
Finally, you have Cahuita. It’s also a small town with not much to offer in terms of activities and amenities. But what draws people here is the fact that it’s just a quick walk away from the entrance of Cahuita National Park, one of the most popular national parks in all of Costa Rica.
Puerto Viejo Town
The charming fishing village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is the most popular area to stay in when visiting the town, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled between palm-fringed beaches and dense jungle, this town is home to Costa Rica’s true Caribbean essence: Salsa and Reggae music, sunshine, and Creole dishes.
To top it off, Puerto Viejo’s beaches are nothing short of breathtaking. Both locals and visitors typically hang out on the beach or in one of the many cafes and restaurants lining the coast. After the sun goes down, people gather in town to drink and party. Might I just add that as one of the country’s biggest party towns, Puerto Viejo’s nightlife is unlike any other you’ll see in the region.
Naturally, thanks to the influx of people coming here to get a slice of the action, tons of accommodations have been popping up around town so you’ll have plenty of options. Lodging options here range from hotels to vacation home rentals and are available in a variety of structures (e.g., bungalows or low-rise buildings), but most are outfitted with a Caribbean-inspired, tropical design.
Advantages to staying in Puerto Viejo Town:
- Vibrant nightlife
- Tons of cafes and delicious restaurants to try
- Lots of beautiful accommodation
- Easy to walk around
Disadvantages of staying in Puerto Viejo Town:
- Can be loud with lots of people on the streets
- Typically busy even on weekdays
- Beach is not for surfing
- Limited parking
5 BEST Hotels in Puerto Viejo Town
$$$ – Umami Hotel – Adults Only
Offering a fresh blend of exclusivity and luxury, Umami Hotel stole my heart from the get-go, and it’s easy to see why. The moment you step into the property, its refreshing minimalist white theme with coral and wood finishes will be the first to greet you. Add this to the fact that the property is surrounded by towering trees, and you have a tropical haven just five minutes away from the beach.
The best part? Umami Hotel is exclusive to adults, so you won’t be bothered by rowdy kids spoiling your holiday relaxation!
Apart from the hotel’s appealing theme, what I love about this property is its top-notch amenities strategically placed within a few steps from the rooms. There’s an outdoor pool just outside the ground floor suites that comes complete with sunbeds and is surrounded by tropical plants. You’ll find a spa on-site, too, where you can be pampered with the famous coffee treatment. I also love the hotel’s Mar & Sal restaurant. It’s right beside the pool area, so you can dig into a sumptuous feast of international cuisine while taking in the view of the pool and garden.
Umami Hotel makes sure that you don’t only enjoy its amenities but also get to experience what Puerto Viejo has to offer. Just approach the concierge, and they can organize an excursion for you, whether that’s visiting the neighboring Cahuita National Park or getting up close and personal with the local turtles and dolphins.
Back at the hotel, you’ll be treated to more of Umami Hotel’s luxurious touches right in the comforts of your room. There’s air-conditioning available, on top of wireless internet access, cable TV, and a minibar! You’l have a terrace overlooking the pool, too, for a more airy feel.
You can score the rooms with the pool view for as low as $292 USD per night, but I’d recommend staying at the Deluxe Rooms (starting from $337 USD) and Premium Suites (starting from $382 USD) for an elevated luxury experience.
$$ – Black Bamboo B&B
Located just an eight-minute walk from the beach, Black Bamboo B&B really makes it easy for first-time visitors to make the most out of staying in Puerto Viejo. Staying here means you’ll only be 15 minutes away from the downtown area on foot, less than a kilometer away from Playa Cocles, and a quick walk away from many great fishing spots.
But beyond its convenient location, I really like that it’s one of the most budget-friendly Puerto Viejo hotels where you don’t need to sacrifice luxury. Sure, it’s a relatively small B&B, but the rooms are pretty comfy and nice. They’re primarily designed with wood furniture with the white canopy bed as the main piece. The rooms also overlook the pool, so you can enjoy the refreshing view of the garden and pool from your terrace as soon as you wake up.
Other amenities you can find right on the property are a fully-equipped shared kitchen, an open-air dining area near the pool, and BBQ facilities.
Room rates here start at $134 USD per night. You can order a full breakfast each morning for $10 USD per person per day and have it served in your room.
$$ – Coco Loco Lodge
UPDATE: The Coco Loco Lodge is permanently closed.
Coco Loco Lodge is the perfect Puerto Viejo hotel for you if you’re after a more private and secluded staycation. Sitting on a four-acre area just 150 meters from the beach, this property offers Caribbean-style bungalows set amidst the tropical lush greenery.
From the outside, the palm-thatched bungalows look pretty basic. But once you step inside, you’ll be welcomed with a well-appointed room complete with all the modern amenities you can expect in a hotel. You have a mini-fridge, coffee maker, cable TV, private bath with warm water, and air-conditioning (optional). I like that there’s also a small porch with a hammock and seating area overlooking the expansive garden.
If you’re traveling with family, Coco Loco Lodge has a large accommodation that has a full kitchen and can sleep up to four people.
From the bungalows, you can easily walk to the spa room and outdoor pool, where you’re free to spend your entire day relaxing. If you prefer heading to the great outdoors, Coco Loco Lodge can book your tours for you, too.
The rates here start from $61 USD to $99 USD per night, inclusive of a continental breakfast served in the main porch.
$ – Hotel Pura Vida
Want to stay somewhere close to the beach but need to stick to a budget? Hotel Pura Vida is just what you are looking for. The rates here start at $50 USD (rooms with a shared bathroom) and $65 USD (rooms with a private bath). But despite the inexpensive prices, the property offers you all you need and more.
The rooms are pretty breezy and immaculate with polished wood, ceramic-tile floors, and comfy canopy beds. You have a reading light by the bed and fans to keep you cool at night, plus the showers have warm water from the hotel’s solar heater.
You don’t have to wander far for breakfast, too, since Hotel Pura Vida offers a delicious continental or à la carte breakfast on the patio for only $8 USD. Other meals and drinks are served throughout the day.
If you don’t feel like heading out, you can spend your day relaxing in the hammocks and taking in the view of the surrounding garden. In case you’re feeling adventurous, head to the reception, where the staff will be happy to help you plan a personal day trip.
Hotel Pura Vida also has an available family unit that sleeps up to five people for $115 USD per night.
$ – Selina
When it comes to the cheapest accommodation worth staying at in Costa Rica, Selina is always on my list, and Selina Puerto Viejo is no exception. This tropical gem combines the best of the Caribbean vibe into one property.
There’s a restaurant on site serving the best regional dishes and artisan dark ground coffee, a surf club that will teach you how to perfect your alley-oop, and live music events that will get you into the Caribbean groove.
Selina also has other notable amenities to keep you occupied during the days when you would rather stay inside. Dip in the swimming pool to cool off, stay productive in the modern coworking space, or join the yoga sessions in the studio. You’ll also love the spacious common areas in the hostel, where you can gather with other guests and chit-chat about life.
In terms of the rooms, Selina has a ton of options to suit your needs and budget. There are a variety of private suites and shared dorms, but my personal recommendation is the unique teepee! Bathrooms are shared for the teepees, but you’ll get to immerse yourself better in nature as the “room” is built of hand-made, indigenous materials for an eco-friendly stay.
The private rooms at Selina Puerto Viejo start at $127 USD, the teepees at $85 USD, the rooms with shared bathroom at $97 USD, and a bed in the dorms at $36 USD with the option to stay in a female-only dorm room.
With two kilometers of golden sand, fantastic surfing waves, and azure waters, Playa Cocles is one of the best areas to stay in. It’s easy to reach thanks to its well-paved roads, and it’s near enough to drive or stroll to Puerto Viejo.
But despite the proximity, Cocles is a little quieter as most of the partying is concentrated in the town center. So if you’re deciding where to stay in Puerto Viejo that’s more relaxing and offers more privacy, Cocles is your best bet.
As surfing is the most popular thing to do in Cocles (the current can be too strong for swimming), you will find numerous surf camps and schools by the beach. There is an abundance of hotels here, too, but they are more spread out and located on larger properties.
It’s important to note that weekends and peak season brings a lot of visitors to Cocles. If you want to get away from the crowd, head to the southern end of the beach where only a handful of people go.
Advantages of staying near Playa Cocles:
- Quiet place to stay near the most popular surf beach in the area.
- Close to Jaguar Rescue Center
- Good value for money hotels to choose from
- The location is both close to the beach and Puerto Viejo town
Disadvantages of staying near Playa Cocles:
- Long walk to town for groceries and the best restaurants
- No designated parking space near the beach (only roadside parking)
- Can still get very busy during peak season
3 BEST Hotels in Cocles
$$$ – Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel
If a high-end accommodation is what you want, a high-end accommodation is what you’ll get at Le Cameleon. This boutique hotel is nestled right in front of the beautiful Playa Cocles, just a quick eight-minute drive from downtown Puerto Viejo.
It’s easy to fall in love with this property as it’s one of the best hotels in Puerto Viejo that’s closest to the beach. But what really made me like Le Cameleon is its tropical vibe that gives you the feeling of living in the jungle! You’ll see some sort of palm tree or flowering plant everywhere you’ll look, whether you’re in the pool, the pathways, the outdoor lounge, or your room!
Speaking of rooms, your spacious air-conditioned suite follows a minimalistic design with white-washed walls and colored accent pieces. All of the rooms surround the pool, so you’ll always wake up to the refreshing view of the clear water and the lush garden from your patio or balcony. Other amenities included in your suites are a 32-inch satellite plasma TV, iPod docking station, wireless internet access, and phone.
Once you’re ready to get on with your day, head across the street to the hotel’s NOA Beach Club which comes complete with a bar and restaurant for all your dining needs. Dig into a sumptuous breakfast before running to the beach for a quick swim. If you’re more of a laid-back guest, join the hotel’s daily yoga session in their open-air studio or on the beach to really get into the zone.
After a day of adventure, retreat to the in-house spa in the heart of the hotel’s jungle garden and indulge yourself in the smell of aromatic essential oils.
Rates for the suites start at $162 USD to $2,000 USD per night, inclusive of breakfast.
$$ – La Kukula Lodge
La Kukula Lodge is one of my favorite Puerto Viejo hotels not only because it’s set just 200 meters away from the beach but also because its cozy environmental architecture design really gives off that tropical Pura Vida vibe!
This is one of Costa Rica’s top eco-lodges and it’s primarily made of wooden material with thick vegetation surrounding the property. It’s tucked away in a secluded location off the main road, so don’t be surprised to see plenty of wildlife here, from sloths to all sorts of birds.
As with the entire hotel, the rooms also follow the wooden theme. The space is appointed with wooden furniture and dotted with tropical accent pieces. My favorite feature of the rooms, though, is the terrace, where you’ll get relaxing jungle views all day long. Modern amenities like a fan and safe are also included in all the rooms, but be sure to book the Deluxe Apartment if you’re after a fully equipped kitchen, too.
La Kukula Lodge also has an outdoor pool on the property. If you’d rather spend your time exploring the area, they can arrange a tour for you, as well.
You can score a room here for double occupancy for as low as $133 USD per night.
$ – Bambutel Cocles
There is nothing like a quiet retreat to get your energy up for the day of adventure, and that is exactly what Bambutel offers its guests. Sitting just a six-minute walk from the beach, this cozy property treats you not only to family-friendly accommodations but also to a sneak peek of Costa Rica’s exotic wildlife.
As soon as you wake up, the first thing you’ll hear is the sounds of birds chirping and monkeys swinging in the towering trees. Head to your terrace to breathe in the fresh morning air and enjoy the view of the hotel’s tropical garden before grabbing your breakfast at the buffet.
Afterward, you’re ready to start your day! Bambutel has bikes and cars for rent, so you can easily explore the area at your own pace. Visit Puerto Viejo center, which is only 4 km away, or drive further north for a day trip in Cahuita National Park.
If you feel like staying in Bambutel for a more relaxed day, you can always just chill in the swimming pool that comes complete with a jacuzzi! There’s an open-air chill zone beside the pool, too, where you can soak in the serene surroundings and just laze around.
Speaking of lazing around, your air-conditioned room is also equipped with some entertainment amenities to keep you from getting bored. You’ll have a flat-screen TV for catching up on your favorite shows and an en-suite hot tub for washing the stress away.
When it’s time for dinner, you can always just make your own meal in the shared outdoor kitchen and BBQ area while enjoying the stars.
At Bambutel, you can pick from four different room types: an apartment for a maximum of 8 people, quad for four to six people, deluxe double for a maximum of three, and double for two people. Rates range from $101 USD to $226 USD per night.
When deciding where to stay in Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo should be one of your top picks. This tiny fishing town lies right next to Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, about 22 minutes by car from Puerto Viejo. It’s really peaceful here, thanks to its remote location and lack of roads leading farther south.
But despite being a bit isolated, you will find just enough town amenities here. There are a handful of small restaurants serving local cuisine and a few accommodations that are very budget-friendly.
You also won’t run out of things to do here, especially when it comes to nature trips. An ideal spot for ecotourism, Manzanillo will immerse you in some of the unspoiled and cleanest mangroves in the country. Prepare to see a slew of monkeys, sloths, and lizards of various sorts. You might get a chance to encounter the leatherback turtle, as well, which typically hangs out on the beaches of Manzanillo to lay her eggs.
Unfortunately, while the town is really nice and quiet during the weekdays, expect things to get out of hand during the weekends when tourists flock to the town for day trips.
Advantages to staying in Manzanillo:
- Very quiet in the evenings and mornings
- Nice beach area
- Easy to get up close and personal with the wildlife
Disadvantages of staying in Manzanillo:
- Very few shops and restaurants around
- Quite far from Puerto Viejo
- Only a few hotels
3 BEST Hotels in Manzanillo
$$$ – Almonds and Corals Lodge
Immersing yourself in the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica is easier than ever, thanks to Almonds and Corals Lodge. This quaint property is tucked away among the lush jungles of Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge between Manzanillo and Punta Uva, but this doesn’t mean you’re far from the beach! In reality, you’re only a quick jog away from the golden sands of Playa Grande.
Other than its convenient location, what will make you return to Almonds and Corals Lodge every time you visit Puerto Viejo is its open-plan style that really gets you up close and personal to the local wildlife. Expect to see Blue Morpho butterflies and howling monkeys in every corner of the property, whether you’re chilling in your room or dining in the on-site restaurant.
Speaking of the lodge’s restaurant, the food here is absolutely divine! You have flavorful menu options from both local and international cuisine. As you dig into your dish of choice, you’ll get to delight in the view of the tropical rainforest.
I love that the lodge’s interior has a unique blend of Caribbean and safari vibe, too! You’ll immediately notice the Caribbean colors standing out in the wooden safari decor.
When it comes to your bungalow, don’t expect it to look like your average hotel room. Instead, imagine a house sitting on a platform with a thatch roof to keep you snug and ceiling to mid-height window panels to keep the fresh rainforest air flowing inside. You also have your modern conveniences at hand like a mini-fridge, hot tub, soft indoor lighting, and fans.
For an elevated glamping experience, check out the Master Suite, where you can enjoy a hammock and a two-person jacuzzi right in the comforts of your bungalow!
You can book the Signature Suites at Almonds and Corals Lodge for $185 USD to $215 USD per night and the Master Suite for $235 USD per night, inclusive of breakfast.
$$$ – Congo Bongo EcoVillage Costa Rica
Don’t feel like staying in stuffy Puerto Viejo hotels? Want the ultimate privacy and comfort? Then Congo-Bongo EcoVillage is just what you need.
Sitting in a 15.6-acre lot in a private nature park, this family-run property offers you the vacation of your life. Not only will you be just a quick walk away from the beach, but you’ll also get to stay in your very own private vacation house!
This means you’ll have as much as 915 square feet of living area, complete with all the amenities you can find in your own home. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and outdoor BBQ area for the days when you feel like making homemade meals, a private bathroom with a hot-water shower, comfy beds covered with mosquito nets, and free wireless internet access.
My favorite part of the house, though, is the terrace, where you can sink into the hammock or rocking chair and take in the refreshing view of the tropical garden.
From your doorstep, you will find a pathway leading to a nice, remote stretch of the gorgeous Playa Manzanillo beach. Sunbathe here to your heart’s content and go swimming with the vibrant marine life. If you’re feeling adventurous, simply approach Congo-Bongo’s reception, and they’ll happily book you the day tour of your choice.
There are a total of eight ecolodges in this property, offering ample space for a party of two to seven. Rates start at $231 USD to $261 USD per night, inclusive of a complimentary bottle of red wine and daily laundry service.
$ – Se Ua
Se Ua Manzanillo sits in a special place that puts you in the midst of the rainforest but is still only a ten-minute walk away from the beach. This means you’ll get to enjoy the best of both worlds: an awesome diversity of wildlife on one side and the refreshing energy of the Caribbean Sea on the other.
Apart from its accessible location, what made me fall in love with Se Ua is its architecture that really blends with its surroundings. It has a rustic, thatched-roof-style structure with most furniture made from wood. You can also enjoy its tropical garden, where you can encounter different kinds of monkeys, butterflies, and sloths lurking around.
There’s a cafeteria on the property serving breakfast, so you won’t have to venture far to get your energy up in the morning. But you can also pick some ingredients in the small supermarket about 200 m away or head to the town center, which is only ten minutes by car. If you’re thinking about exploring the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge (which is definitely a must-do), Se Ua can arrange this for you, along with other outdoor activities of your choice.
Following the property’s rustic style, your room is decorated with more tropical-style furniture and wooden décor. You have basic amenities like a private bathroom, seating area, free Wi-Fi, and a comfy terrace. For added convenience, the rooms are appointed with a kitchenette with a stove and refrigerator for days when you don’t feel like eating out.
The large Double Room at Se Ua costs upwards of $42 USD, while the Studio costs upwards of $55 USD per night.
About a twenty-minute drive north of Puerto Viejo, you will find the little town of Cahuita. There isn’t much to see or do here, but that’s also why people are drawn to it. It has a very laidback and quiet ambiance with secluded beaches and quaint accommodations nestled within a jungle-like setting.
As the doorstep to Cahuita National Park, Cahuita is teeming with wildlife, making it an ideal base for nature enthusiasts. But even with the national park, there are still fewer visitors here than at Puerto Viejo. Most of the people coming to town are only day-trippers from the surrounding area including Puerto Limon. This makes Cahuita an ideal place to stay if you wish to escape the chaos of Puerto Viejo.
Even though this sleepy small town is pretty compact, you will still have access to a handful of amenities here. Its grid-shaped center is packed with local flavor with a decent mix of restaurants, pubs, small stores, and neighborhood houses.
Advantages to staying in Cahuita:
- Close to Cahuita Natioonal Park entrance
- Quiet town with beautiful beaches
- Lots of wildlife in the area
Disadvantages of staying in Cahuita:
- Away from the best restaurants in Puerto Viejo
- Not a ton of hotel options
- Not for party travelers
3 Best Hotels in Cahuita
$$ – Cahuita Inn
Sitting only a 21-minute drive away from Puerto Viejo and a four-minute walk from the beach, Cahuita Inn treats you to the best view of the Caribbean without draining your wallet too much. This cozy and airy property sits on a shady lot with lots of towering trees. To complete the experience, there are even hammocks in between the trees, where you can sit back and take in the beauty of the beach nearby.
You can also enjoy the beach view from your room’s furnished terrace. While it isn’t as private as you might want (you can easily see the next-door terrace through the wooden divider), the view here is just as stunning. The best part? The hotel’s small pool sits on the deck just a few steps from your room!
If you don’t feel like heading to the beach, you can always catch up on your favorite TV shows in your room or dig into a slice of pizza in the next-door Pizzeria Cahuita restaurant.
Rates here start at $138 USD per night, with breakfast included!
$$ – Ocean View Lodge
Just as its name suggests, Ocean View Lodge treats you to a stunning view of the Caribbean Sea right from your room’s terrace. This is thanks to the hotel’s strategic location set only an eight-minute walk from the beach.
Your room at Ocean View Lodge is modestly furnished with standard en-suite amenities like a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, desk, and private bathroom. Sure, it looks pretty basic, but you won’t really spend all day camping inside! One look at the property’s backyard will most certainly make you go out and stay out.
A few steps from your room is the glistening pool that features a waterfall, perfect for cooling down in the summer. If that isn’t enough to ward off the heat, grab a martini from the pool bar and have a quick chit-chat with the mixologists.
At sunset, the backyard is lit with string lights, making for a gorgeous backdrop for your photos. Sink into one of the hammocks here and gaze at the panoramic view of the stars while you wait for your BBQ to cook. Did I also mention that there are sloths in the backyard?
Accommodations here start at $84 USD for double occupancy, inclusive of a continental or à la carte breakfast.
$ – Cabinas Nirvana Ecolodge
While Cabinas Nirvana Ecolodge isn’t as luxurious as the other accommodations in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, this is exactly where you want to be if you’re traveling on a budget and still want to be a short walk away from the beach and the town center.
This cozy little property is set on a tropical garden, where you can waste your day away. Take a refreshing dip in the outdoor swimming pool or immerse yourself in the sounds of nature on the sun terrace. There’s even a shared lounge right on the premises for chit-chatting with other guests.
Outside of the property are plenty of other activities you can tick off your bucket list. Head to the beach for some snorkeling action or go horseback riding if you want a more laid-back kind of day. When you return to Cabinas Nirvana Ecolodge, feel free to spend the rest of your afternoon snacking in the picnic area or watching TV from the comforts of your spacious room. You also have your own terrace or balcony in your cabin, where you can curl up with a good book.
The rooms at Cabinas Nirvana Ecolodge start at $50 USD per night.
Must-do Activities While You’re in Puerto Viejo
If you’re planning to do a few fun activities in Puerto Viejo, check out our shortlist of the top 4 in town!
Cahuita National Park Hike and Waterfall: Cahuita National Park is a must-visit and on this tour, you’ll get an expert guide to help you spot wildlife in the park. The tour also takes you to a hidden waterfall without the park and includes transport to and from the park.
White Water Rafting Pacuare River: The Pacuare River is well known as one of the best white water rafting rivers in Costa Rica. Not only is the river a thrilling ride with class IV rapids but the views are breathtaking. This specific tour includes everything including breakfast and lunch!
Chocolate Experience by Bribri Indigenous Culture: Chocolate tours are a must in Costa Rica. Not only will you try delicious chocolate but you’ll learn the historical importance of Cacao to the local people. The tour also teaches you about the Bribri Indigenous Culture, which is really interesting.
Bike Tour from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo: Join this guided tour and ride along the coastline all the way to Manzanillo. It’s a relaxing tour to explore the coastline that includes your bike rental and an expert guide named Allan!
Getting Around Costa Rica
How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level.
Renting a Car
Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.
One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.
Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.
Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.
You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.
If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.
Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)
To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway!
You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.
Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!
The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!
It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Paying out of pocket for trip interruptions or medical treatment will add to what might already be a stressful situation. We always travel with SafetyWing travel medical insurance.
The best part is that it costs only a fraction of what most insurance policies charge, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, long-term travelers (like us), and budget travelers. It only costs $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country. We usually purchase it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada from Colombia before the border closed!
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca combines natural beauty and culture in an eclectic Caribbean kind of way that you can’t find anywhere else in Costa Rica. From magnificent beaches and thriving wildlife to delectable cuisine and laid-back people, this town never fails to impress.
With this guide, I hope it was easier to narrow down the best hotels in Puerto Viejo to make your stay more memorable.
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