Looking to visit Puerto Viejo Beaches on your Costa Rica trip?
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, often simply referred to as Puerto Viejo, is a coastal town located in the southeastern part of Costa Rica, in the Limón Province. Known for its Afro-Caribbean influence, reggae vibes, and laid-back atmosphere, it’s a top destination for surfers, backpackers, and nature lovers alike.
One of the primary attractions here is, of course, the beautiful beaches. Each with its unique charm and character, Puerto Viejo’s beaches offer something for everyone.
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Getting There – Getting to Puerto Viejo (Puerto Viejo Beaches)
Puerto Viejo is approximately a 4 to 5-hour drive from Costa Rica’s capital, San José. Travelers can opt for:
- By Bus: Direct buses run from San José to Puerto Viejo several times a day.
- By Car: Rent a car for a scenic road trip through Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes.
- By Shuttle: Many companies offer shuttle services, which might be a bit pricier but offer comfort and convenience.
Best Beaches in Puerto Viejo (Puerto Viejo Beaches)
1. Playa Negra – Puerto Viejo Beaches
Location: Just a short drive north of Puerto Viejo town, Playa Negra is easily accessible and is one of the first beaches you’ll encounter when arriving from the direction of Limón.
Literally translating to “Black Beach,” Playa Negra is renowned for its unique black volcanic sand. The sand’s coloration is due to volcanic deposits over time. The beach stretches far and wide, offering plenty of space for visitors.
Things to Do at Playa Negra
- Swimming: The gentle waves and vast expanse make it ideal for leisurely swims.
- Sunset Viewing: With its unobstructed view, Playa Negra is a prime spot for watching breathtaking Caribbean sunsets.
- Beach Volleyball: The wide, flat expanse of the beach is perfect for a game of beach volleyball.
- Photography: The contrast of the black sand against the azure waters and the lush green backdrop is a dream for photography enthusiasts.
- Beachside Dining: There are several local eateries and beach bars nearby where you can savor Caribbean delicacies.
- Bike Riding: The path leading to Playa Negra is popular among those who prefer to bike their way through Puerto Viejo’s scenic beauty.
Whether you’re looking to engage in water sports, relish the local cuisine, or simply laze around listening to the waves, Playa Negra promises a fulfilling beach experience.
2. Playa Cocles – Puerto Viejo Beaches
Location: Situated just south of Puerto Viejo town, Playa Cocles is one of the most accessible beaches, especially for those staying in the central area of Puerto Viejo.
Recognized as Puerto Viejo’s premier surfing beach, Playa Cocles boasts powerful waves and a prominent beach break, drawing surfers from all over the world. Lifeguards, a rarity on many Costa Rican beaches, keep watch due to the currents, ensuring added safety.
Things to Do at Playa Cocles
- Surfing: Renowned for its waves, it’s a haven for surfers. Numerous surf schools and rental places are also around for beginners.
- Beach Volleyball: There are often nets set up, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
- Beachside Relaxation: For those less inclined to tackle the waves, the broad sandy expanses provide ample space for sunbathing.
- Beach Bars: Unwind with a tropical drink at one of the many nearby beach bars.
- Local Shopping: Close proximity to Puerto Viejo means easy access to local artisans and markets.
3. Playa Chiquita – Puerto Viejo Beaches
Location: A little further south of Playa Cocles, this beach provides a more secluded experience.
Hidden amidst lush trees and foliage, Playa Chiquita is a hidden treasure. The beach stands out for its natural tide pools created by coral formations, offering serene bathing options away from the waves.
Things to Do at Playa Chiquita
- Tide Pool Exploration: Discover the marine life in the sheltered tide pools.
- Romantic Escapes: Its secluded nature makes it perfect for couples seeking quiet moments.
- Snorkeling: On calm days, the clear waters can be great for snorkeling, especially near the rocks and corals.
- Picnics: With fewer crowds, it’s a prime spot to have a beach picnic.
- Nature Walks: The surrounding forested area is rich in flora and fauna, making it great for short nature walks.
4. Punta Uva
Location: Located to the southeast of Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva is easily accessible by road and offers ample parking spaces.
Punta Uva is a postcard-perfect representation of Caribbean beauty, marked by its calm turquoise waters, white sands, and surrounding greenery. Its offshore coral formations make it a favorite among snorkelers.
Things to Do at Punta Uva
- Snorkeling: The vibrant coral reefs close to the shore are teeming with colorful marine life.
- Kayaking: Explore the coastline and nearby river mouth with a kayak rental.
- Paddleboarding: The calm waters are ideal for stand-up paddleboarding, especially in the morning.
- Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for sloths and monkeys in the trees lining the beach.
- Beachside Eateries: Enjoy Caribbean delicacies at the local beachfront restaurants.
5. Playa Manzanillo – Puerto Viejo Beaches
Location: Situated at the southernmost tip of the region, it lies within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
Encased within a wildlife refuge, Playa Manzanillo is the embodiment of untouched beauty. The golden sands, accompanied by the calm turquoise waters, offer an idyllic setting. The nearby mangroves and coral reefs further add to its allure.
Things to Do at Playa Manzanillo
- Snorkeling: Dive into the waters to explore the thriving marine ecosystem in the nearby coral reefs.
- Jungle Treks: Given its location, trekking opportunities through the rainforest are abundant, offering chances to spot unique wildlife.
- Beach Picnics: The serene ambiance makes it perfect for a relaxing beach picnic.
- Kayaking: The coastal waters are perfect for kayaking, especially around the mangrove areas.
- Bird Watching: Being a part of a wildlife refuge, it’s a hotspot for bird enthusiasts.
6. Playa Arrecife – Puerto Viejo Beaches
Location: This beach is a few kilometers south of Punta Uva, offering a serene escape away from the more touristy spots.
Playa Arrecife is a haven for those seeking peace and tranquility. With warm waters shielded by the coral reef, families with children will find it particularly inviting due to the calm swimming conditions.
Things to Do at Playa Arrecife
- Swimming: The protected waters make it a safe and enjoyable swimming spot.
- Beachside Yoga: Its peaceful ambiance attracts many who want to practice yoga amidst nature.
- Sunrise and Sunset Watching: Its unspoiled charm provides beautiful sunrise and sunset views.
- Shelling: Collect unique shells that wash up on its shores.
- Photography: Capture the natural beauty and occasional wildlife sightings in the backdrop.
7. Playa Blanca
Location: Located within the Cahuita National Park, it’s a bit to the north of Puerto Viejo, providing a blend of natural beauty and rich biodiversity.
Playa Blanca, true to its name, boasts pristine white sands contrasted against clear azure waters. The marine life below the surface is vibrant thanks to the protected coral reef system.
Things to Do at Playa Blanca
- Snorkeling and Diving: Dive into the waters to marvel at the flourishing marine life in the coral reefs.
- Park Exploration: Venture into Cahuita National Park for hiking and wildlife observation.
- Picnics: Designated picnic spots make it a favored location for family outings.
- Swimming: Calm and clear waters offer excellent swimming opportunities.
- Nature Guided Tours: Avail tours offered by local guides to better understand the region’s ecology.
8. Playa Gandoca
Location: Found within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, it’s at the southernmost end of the coastline.
Description: Playa Gandoca’s wild, rugged beauty makes it an intriguing spot for nature lovers. Being a nesting ground for various sea turtles, it offers a unique spectacle at certain times of the year.
Things to Do at Playa Gandoca
- Turtle Watching: Witness sea turtles, particularly leatherbacks, during their nesting season.
- Kayaking: The nearby mangrove swamps are ideal for kayaking adventures.
- Bird Watching: The region is home to numerous bird species, making it a haven for bird enthusiasts.
- Beach Camping: With proper permissions, overnight camping offers a raw nature experience.
- Nature Walks: Explore the wild trails around the beach area.
9. Salsa Brava:
Location: Right at the heart of Puerto Viejo, this beach is easily accessible to those staying in town.
Known as one of Costa Rica’s top surf spots, Salsa Brava draws surf enthusiasts with its challenging waves and breaks.
Things to Do at Salsa Brava:
- Surfing: Experience some of Costa Rica’s most intense waves, suitable for advanced surfers.
- Surf Watching: For non-surfers, it’s a delight to watch surfers navigate the challenging waves.
- Local Cuisine: Numerous restaurants around offer local and international delicacies.
- Nightlife: Being in Puerto Viejo, it’s close to several bars and clubs for those seeking nightlife.
- Local Art Shops: Explore the nearby art shops for unique souvenirs and crafts.
10. Playa Grande:
Location: North of Puerto Viejo and adjacent to Playa Negra, it’s a serene alternative to the busier beaches.
Playa Grande, as its name suggests, offers a vast expanse of sandy shorelines. Its relatively calm environment makes it perfect for leisurely activities and relaxation.
Things to Do at Playa Grande:
- Beach Walks: The expansive shoreline is perfect for long, rejuvenating walks.
- Sunbathing: The ample space ensures you can find a quiet spot to soak up the sun.
- Horseback Riding: Explore the beach on horseback, a popular activity in the area.
- Swimming: While usually calm, always be cautious of potential currents.
- Picnics: Its serene environment makes it ideal for beach picnics.
11. Playa Calala
Location: Off the primary tourist trail, this beach is south of Punta Uva and offers a more isolated experience.
Playa Calala, surrounded by lush vegetation, provides a pristine, quiet ambiance. It’s an exemplary location for those wanting to connect deeply with nature.
Things to Do at Playa Calala
- Meditation and Yoga: Its tranquility makes it a favorite for meditation and yoga enthusiasts.
- Nature Photography: Capture the untouched beauty of the beach and its surroundings.
- Reading: Bring a good book and lose yourself in its stories amidst the sound of waves.
- Shoreline Exploration: Discover hidden coves and unique rock formations along the coast.
- Star Gazing: With minimal light pollution, it’s a great spot to observe the night sky.
Other Things to Do Around Puerto Viejo
- Jaguar Rescue Center: An opportunity to get close to wildlife, this center rescues injured animals, aiming to release them back into the wild.
- BriBri Indigenous Village: Learn about the indigenous cultures of Costa Rica, their traditions, and ways of life.
- Chocolate Tours: Dive deep into the world of chocolate-making in one of the many cacao farms in the area.
- Nightlife: The town comes alive in the night with reggae beats, salsa dancing, and beach parties.
Final Thoughts on Puerto Viejo Beaches
For the best Puerto Viejo Beaches to visit, go to the Black beach (Playa Negra), Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Manzanillo and more.
Puerto Viejo isn’t just a beach town; it’s a vibrant, culturally rich destination where the rainforest meets the Caribbean Sea. Whether you’re here for the surf, nature, or simply to relax, the beaches of Puerto Viejo promise an unforgettable experience. So pack your sunscreen, grab a surfboard or a hammock, and get ready to experience the Pura Vida lifestyle in one of Costa Rica’s most enchanting coastal paradises.