What to Do in Puerto Viejo

Doing fun activities always enhances your trip. So, don't just swing in a hammock, get out there and experience some of that Caribbean culture!

Nature & Adventure Activities

Bird & Wildlife Spying

You don’t have to go far to have close encounters with howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths, wild horses (they roam near the town's coastline), toucans, iguanas, butterflies and tons of other fauna. And if you can’t get enough there are always the nearby national parks to wander around:

  • Cahuita National Park:

    Plenty of wildlife and marine life are found in this coastal park. With over 600 acres of living coral reefs your snorkeling experience will be one aquatic one you won't forget. Read more...

  • Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge:

    Over 70% of the southern Caribbean coast, including beaches and rain forests, are protected by this beautiful refuge. It's a great place for wildlife watching, hiking and a lot more. Read more...

Canopy Tours-- Fly through the Trees!

Even in this relaxing town, adventure can be found! Zip through rainforest tree lines alone or with the whole family.

Bike it!

The greatest advantage to Puerto Viejo is that it’s totally flat!  Rent a bike and check out the town and local beach breaks all the way to Manzanillo.  What’s dually great about this activity is that you’re being eco-friendly without even trying. Plus, if you’re traveling with a family the kids burn some of that restless energy while feeling totally independent. Even the little ones, who get a booster seat on the back of a bike, can enjoy the scenery while mom and pop do all the work. And this way you'll get a kick out of the potholed, semi paved roads--a Costa Rican specialty.

Diving & Snorkeling -- What's Under These Waters?

  • Diving

    With over ten dive sites between Punta Uva and Manzanillo you will enjoy open ocean diving especially when the waters are calm and visibility is high, so go have an under-water world experience!

  • Snorkeling

    The best snorkeling, where visibility is good most of the time, is in the waters off of Manzanillo and Cahuita Point. You'll get to see colorful fish and lots of other marine life swimming around the living reef. You can rent equipment in some hotels and local stores or you can go on a snorkeling excursion to Cahuita National Park.

Fishing -- There Really are lots of Fish in the Sea!

Puerto Viejo will expose you to a new kind of fishing, yet it's not new to the local fishermen who have been doing artisan fishing for generations. On these tours you will hop into a small dugout canoe or wooden panga and use a hand-reel and line. Bet you can't do this one at home...

Horseback Riding -- Giddy UP!

What better way to explore than from the high seat of a mounted horse. Let the horses take you on off-the-beaten tracks along beaches and through forested trails. Do something you don’t do everyday!

Kayak the Canals

Explore the canals of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge by renting kayaks from a local tour company and venturing out on your own or take a guided tour and see more wildlife. 

Rafting -- Rolling the Rapids

Rafters of all levels will love a full day rafting trip down the Pacuare River classed III and IV.

Surfs Up!

Some of Costa Rica's top surfers come from this neck of the woods, and it's no wonder why with the super hot surf break Salsa Brava and nearby Playa Cocles.

  • Salsa Brava (aka Hot Sauce):

    Home to the biggest waves on the Caribbean side Costa Rica. Salsa Brava's break is Hawaiian-style but with east coast distance between swells. You need to know what you're doing when taking on this wave or at least have some good instruction from the locals. Take caution, the reef here is dangerous because it's shallow and sharp.

"Lefts need to be taken carefully. When the water drains off the reef and the water level goes below the reef, you know how dangerous it is."

Don't let this stop you, simply beware and rip it up!

"The Salsa Brava is like surfing the backdoor pike in Hawaii—the surf gets the thickness and power here, but with solid 16’ faces and a 5’ thick lip.  It’s un-surf-able if it reaches 25- 30’ because the water is too shallow at the take off zone.  You know how good the waves are when there are 40 local guys in the water and every one of them rocks."  (Quoted from Jason Craig)

  • Playa Cocles:

    Ten minutes from Puerto Viejo, towards Manzanillo, this is a fun surf spot, way mellower than Salsa Brava. However, it's strong under current makes this spot difficult to swim without a board.

  • Punta Uva:

    Ten minutes before arriving to Manzanillo, this spot is known for its calm, clean surf. It's great for newbies, experienced and whoever wants to lap in the surf.

  • Manzanillo:

    20 kilometers south of Puerto Viejo is a super fast beach break and a great place to chill for the day and night!

Culture, Festivals & Events

Shop till you Drop

OK, maybe not till you drop or are dead broke, but definitely splurge a little.
Puerto Viejo is lined with markets and fun shops carrying everything from unusual jewelry to indigenous Indian crafts and Caribbean style art.
And if that doesn't satiate you, don't miss the myriad of street vendors along the beach-side of the road selling more artifacts and unique handmade jewelry.

Festivals: Music to my Ears!

The Caribbean is never short of music. And don't think it's only for teens and twenty something’s. The South Caribbean Music & Arts Festival, held every year for 3 - 4 weekends in April / May ending the weekend before Easter, is for EVERYONE! Featuring Costa Rican musicians and artists who play a variety of music: ska, jazz, reggae, calypso and more. Plus the fest includes poetry readings, dance, theatre presentations and children’s activities. So grab a beer and / or a fruit smoothie and dance to the rhythm.

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