Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

I can’t describe the Costa Rican town of Puerto Viejo without resorting to cliches— white sand beaches, jungle-lined roads made for biking, fresh Caribbean food and plenty of sunshine—it’s got them all, and in the best possible way. In the way that makes you forget that life could be anything but a sun-dappled ride from morning yoga to the beach, followed by home-made peanut butter ice cream. It’s too much, gloriously so! 

So here is an itinerary of things to indulge in:

Stay: There are plenty of options. We found Apartamentos Agapi perfectly comfortable. $50 will get you  a double room with breakfast in low season. Pool and bike rentals on site are a bonus. Just don’t pet the dog, he’s had a hard life.

Lunch: Our first taste of Puerto Viejo was a meal at Madre Tierra where the cheerful owner squeezed fresh fruit juice while singing and his mother whipped up the Sunday special—Caribbean chicken and rice, tender and rich.

Dinner: Despite it’s oddball name, Stashu’s Con Fusion deservedly has the reputation as one of the best restaurants in town. Fresh fish, meat and plenty of veggie dishes are prepared in an array of sauces—Thai, Mexican, Indian… And food-drunk you might easily find yourself being seduced by a tarot reading behind one of its mysterious veiled walls.

Yoga: Start your day with a morning class at Om on the wooden deck which lets you zen out to the sound of the ocean in the distance. Dogs, cats and lizards may be in attendance too. Grab some breakfast, or better yet locally made chocolate on the way out.

Dessert: Alice Ice Cream Bar is a delicious, shady refuge in nearby Playa Chiquita, a pleasant ride from PV. Owned by ex-pat New Yorkers, this beautifully understated cafe serves only ice cream. Flavours change daily, think coconut rum, peanut butter chunk & coffee.

There’s no shortage of nightlife options either (live music at Lazy Mon, people watching at Koki), but be warned, the town has a bit of a seedy underbelly once the sun sets. The idyl would probably get boring otherwise.

dawn, puerto viejo beach

Waking up at dawn has its perks

Mango pipa preparation at Madre Tierra restaurant

Mango pipa in the works at Madre Tierra

Madre Tierra restaurant

The Sunday special

Agapi Apartments

Poolside at Agapi

Puerto Viejo

Candy-coloured neighbours

Puerto Viejo, biking

All day long…

Puerto Viejo, horses grazing

A roadside attraction

Puerto Viejo, island

Next time I will swim there

Alice's ice cream bar

Understated chic at Alice’s

Alice's ice cream bar

Totally worth the 40 minute bike ride to Playa Chiquita

Alice's ice cream bar

A toothy grin post-ice cream

"My mother painted this beauty" —Jackson, the owners' son, while giving me a tour of the cafe

“My mother painted this beauty” —Jackson, the owners’ son, while giving me a tour of the cafe

Puerto Viejo

Green mandala

Gratuitous bff selfie. The end.

Gratuitous bff selfie. The end.

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UnaPuerto Viejo, Costa Rica


  1. Michelle

    I had the time of my life in Puerto Viejo exactly 20 years ago – just before CR tourism boomed. It has saddened me a bit to think how it must have transformed, and from your post I see it has, but I’m heart warmed to see it’s still as magical as ever. Thanks for taking me back!

  2. unaart

    Michelle, I can’t even imagine what Costa Rica was like pre-tourism boom, though parts of Panama had a kind of untouched quality, as if you were still able to ‘discover’ things on your own. Do you have any photos of Puerto Viejo from back in the day?

What do you think?