We left Cahuita by bus (700 Colones – about 1 Euro per person) and reached Puerto Viejo, which is located south of Cahuita, around 30 minutes later Only 20 kilometres divide Puerto Viejo from Cahuita but the flair is completely different. While Cahuita is pretty quiet and perfectly suitable for relaxing at the beach and hiking in the jungle, Puerto Viejo is rather a party village – but with a lot of caribbean flair and Jamaican feeling.
Also in Puerto Viejo the most of the local people speak Spanish – although you can hear quite often a mix of Spanish and English (Spanglish) which sounds quite funny. This influence exists because of the Afro-Caribbean immigrants, many from Jamaica, who arrived earlier and settled in Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva or Manzanillo. Some Puerto Viejo natives today even speak English as their first language.
After we arrived to Puerto Viejo we recognised quite soon that the accommodations were a bit more expensive than in other parts of Costa Rica and many of them were already booked out. For that reason, we had quite a hard time to find a “Cabina” which matched our expectations (clean, simple, cheap)
Luckily after some time we found “Cabinas Mariana” for (12 Dollars per night/person) and were pretty satisfied. The price was not that exaggerated than the other prices here and the accommodation was still clean and comfortable and we had a shared kitchen. A bit outside of the town center but still in walking direction to the bars, restaurants and shops and located at the main road which runs parallel to the beach up to Panama.
The water here is not drinkable and therefore we always had to buy our water in bottles or canister, which is unfortunately not that cheap.
We relaxed a bit in our room, checked out the beach behind the house and then we went to the center in order to look for something to eat. In “Joe´s Snack Bar” we ate a delicious Casado with Batido (Fresh Fruit Juice) for 2500-3000 Colones (about 4 Euros) per person. Afterwards we stroll through the daily market (usually bigger at the weekends) were things like jewellery, accessories, clothes, etc. are offered by locals. There we met coincidentally Riley (a guy from California who we have got to know already at the bus station in Cahuita – he lives now in Costa Rica) and went with him for a beer to a nearby bar. It was a funny evening – a fire show at the beach included!
The next day we wanted to rent bicycles in the early morning and got up at 7.30 a.m. But unfortunately the shops for renting a bicycle open between 8 and 9 in the morning. So we had first breakfast and rented the bikes afterwards – 6000 Colones (9 Euros) for 2 days. The bikes are ok and we drove with them always to the beaches like Cocles, Playa Negra, Playa Grande, Punta Uva or Playa Chiquita. There is only one street parallel to the beach. Just the paths on the left-hand side which lead to the beaches are sometimes hidden and difficult to find.
To the Punta Uva Beach we took around 30 minutes. We always enjoyed the ride along the street through the jungle with all the typical jungle noises a lot. Spiders fixed their huge and visible spider nets next to the street in the trees and power lines but they don´t seem to bother anybody. More harmful are the crazy car and bus drivers on the street.
Already at 8 in the morning it is incredible hot here but at 4 p.m. it gets already a bit cooler.
At the beaches here around you can find all sorts of people – mostly locals but also freaky backpackers, globetrotters and hippies. It´s really funny to get in contact with them or just watch them
The water at Punta Uva is calm and very suitable for snorkelling, whereas it is possible to surf at Playa Cocles. Playa Chiquita is very beautiful and hidden but a bit dangerous because of the currents and rocks in the water. But the atmosphere everywhere here is just relaxing and calm – the people just enjoy their lives and live now and here. They have a completely different way of life and thinking than people in “western countries” and it´s very easy to get influenced by this life philosophy.
When we got up the next day, there was another guest in “Cabinas Mariana” – but he was not living in a Cabina (like usual guests) but in his own tent directly in front of our room. His name is Simon, he is from France and currently on a world tour. We spend the (rainy) day with him talking, riding bicycle through the village, drinking some coffee and juices and eating together. Even a rainy day can be nice if you have good company.
Later the weather became better and we went a bit to the Playa Cocles where we saw some fishermen at work.
Our dinner later at Soda “Riquisimo” was really delicious and I can say the best food so far in Costa Rica! I had some fish with spicy caribbean sauce, vegetables and patacones (fried plantain) and a mango juice for 4400 Colones (around 6 Euros).
In Puerto Viejo ( and generally Costa Rica) we met many travellers who were looking for something new and inspirational in their lives – travellers like Simon from France who is on his world tour or Riley from California who just came here to look for something new. The world is just too big and exciting and life to short to spend it just at one place! We spent a day with Riley in his Bungalow in the middle of the jungle behind the beach – cooking together, drinking something, talking.
One day we went in the morning to the Jaguar Rescue Center. You can only enter the rescue center from Monday to Saturday at 9.30 and 11.30 a.m. By bicycle it´s around 15 minutes from Puerto Viejo. There is a branch-off at the right hand side from the “main road” and also a sign with a sloth which leads the way to the center. It´s rather easy to find. Here they treat injured or sick wild animals and release them back to the wildlife after a successful treatment.
It was very interesting and exciting to see all the wild animals at one place and the people (mostly volunteers) who help to take care of them. I really liked it!
The price for the entrance is 18 US-Dollars, which is ok, because they really need the money for maintaining the facilities. A guy who was working there has shown us around and explained the background about every animal for about 1,5 hours. We saw many birds, among others Tucans and parrots, a anteater, deers, an ocelot, sloths, a crocodile, frogs, a paca, monkeys, etc. Take care of the deer which wants to jump at anybody!
After we have spent almost one great week in Puerto Viejo, we continued our way to Manzanillo, which is located just 11 kilometres southwards of Puerto Viejo.
Thanks for reading!