An idiot’s guide to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo, Limon Providence. Costa Rica.
If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in this glorious pocket of the world, calls the cops stat ‘cause this shit is criminal. GLORIOUS. Ignoring the infestations of shall we say, local wildlife (fucking mosquitos, damn blood suckers) and a sun that could burn Satan himself, this place is everything you need from the tropics.
A sweet seaside town, just short of the border of Panama and most popular among surfers and ocean lovers, Puerto Viejo remains largely untouched by us dirty, evil tourists. The town is host to a great number of local businesses and restaurants, with sweet street-side stalls selling empanadas, fresh smoothies and cakes for a penny.

Bikes are the most popular means of transport here and can be found at most hotels/hostels or in town for rent. Unfortunately my inquiries into air-conditioned bikes have been rather unsuccessful, I give ’em five years to sort their shit. Snorkel, surf and kayak equipment is simple enough to locate and rent for reasonable rates, again most hotels provide information on rentals.

If you’re hunting for a glorious beach I recommend walking a little further South-East down the coast towards Playa Cocles. With some seriously gnarly waves man, Punta Cocles boasts an ocean as blue as the eyes of your future husband on one side, and luscious, dense rainforest on the other. The real surfer’s paradise I say.

If you’re like me and have the swimming capabilities of a wet noodle I recommend sitting your ass down on the sand and watch the professionals work. The ocean here doesn’t have a sense of humour, so swim only where you are capable and watch for the yellow and red flags. The commute is too far for Briskett, Donkey and Jed (or something like that) from Bondi Rescue sadly. For us less than experienced swimmers, try the much gentler waves of Puerto Viejo beach. No limp noodles have been known to drown there.

Puerto Viejo beach.

Places to Stay.
Ayiana Lodge‘. A sweet little haunt off the beaten track but only a 5 minute walk to the action of Puerto Viejo. Humbly priced, this lodging comes equipped with a pool (and a nifty waterslide for you daredevils), wifi in the common areas, private huts with fans, the luxury of a full kitchen (minus the oven), spacious bathrooms and a friendly, roaming kitten. The huts are even colourfully painted for those aesthetically vein individuals, guilty. Recommend for those looking for a quiet stay and for groups looking to cook for themselves. Roughly $60 USD a night.

Rocking J’s‘. An eccentrically decorated hostel with varying accommodation options. For you barrel scrappers, J’s has hammocks available for $7 USD a night, piece of piss but don’t forget to bring your mozzie repellent. Dorms and private rooms are also available for a higher price. They offer surfing lessons and are a 5 minute walk to the town drag for those of you looking to do mainey’s on a Saturday night. Recommended for solo travelers looking to meet fellow, smelly travelers. Ranging from $7 USD and up.

A decent sized salad and fruit salad at a restaurant (I was feelin’ particularly vulnerable after my bikini debut and opted for a light lunch) will set you back around $10 USD, not including the 10% tip suggested. If you are on a limited budget I recommend heading to the supermarket in town or you know, not eating. Food nor groceries are cheap here sadly. Poor little first worlders, my heart just bleeds.
Due to the popularity of Costa Rica as a retirement destination for adventurous, baby-boomer ‘Muricans, the folks in the Rica of Costa will gladly accept both USD and their local currency of Colones. It’s roughly 500 Colones to $1 USD.

Where to Eat.
Tiare Cafeteria. Run by a sweet Italian couple this place specialises in a mixture of Italian and local delights. Plenty of Italian pastries, sweets and pastas with plenty more local tastes. Costa Rican food revolves around staples of the land, rice, beans, fruit and fresh veggies, so vegans and vego’s delight in the large number of options for you on the menu. Again, nowhere is dirt cheap so expect to pay around the $10 USD mark for most meals. This place is worth every cent though.

Soda Caribe. My post swim ladies lunch of a salad and fruit was produced from this gorgeous, beach hut eatery. With a great deal of range on the menu, guacamole, salads, fruits and Caribbean smoothies.

Remember boys, take your sunscreen, pee in the pool and stuff your face with some roadside empanadas.