Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

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Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo has always been known for its Jamaican/Caribbean VIBE and now not only attracts the surfers but has become one of the hottest destinations on the budget-travel circuit as well. The easiest way to explain who goes to Puerto Viejo, well let's just say if Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead ever were to put on a concert in heaven... I would say Puerto Viejo is the Caribbean equivalent of Malpais located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, where surfing and partying also seem to go hand in hand.

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Jaguar Rescue Center

We'd been wanting to go to the rescue center for the LONGest. I'm serious, it's one of the BEST things we've done in Costa Rica, well at least in the TOP 20. The rescue center conducts 2 tours a day and has many animals under their care: sloths, howler monkeys, exotic birds, snakes, margays etc. and it's VERY informative and when it comes to the howler monkey's- HANDS-ON.... way cool. *Check out this video to understand why we're able to handle the monkeys.

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Punta Uva, Costa Rica

Punta Uva is probably the most pristine of the beaches south of Puerto Viejo and although Cocles, Chiquita and Manzanillo are definitely worth a visit, you don't want to miss going to Punta Uva if you're in the Puerto Viejo area. The water is calm in Punta Uva and great for swimming and snorkeling or a great place to just hang on the beach and sip a frosty beverage. The contrasting colors of the water and greenery are picturesque to say the least and one could spend considerable time just snapping pictures. There are hotels and restaurants nearby so if you're not interested in the reggae vibe of Puerto Viejo town, Punta Uva has 'tranquilo' written all over it.

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Manzanillo, Costa Rica

The road south from Puerto Viejo passes Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and ends at the entrance to the village of Manzanillo. Matter of fact, if you're not paying attention you could drive your car right through the entrance of Maxi's Restaurant (Check out our video REVIEW of Maxi's) which is smack dab in the center of this small village. Manzanillo is a fairly big beach and although locals come from Limon on the weekends to enjoy the sun and surf, you're apt to have the place mostly to yourself on the weekdays. If you're going to take the time to visit Puerto Viejo, you definitely want to take an afternoon and enjoy the beaches south, and Manzanillo is one of those beaches.

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Hotels in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Hotel Banana Azul

Hotel Banana Azul is located on Playa Negra just a few minutes north (by car) from Puerto Viejo. Banana Azul is just what the doctor ordered. Pretty much on the beach, jungle-y, lushed-out landscaping and the rooms have that COOL 'bungalow on the beach' vibe... and the bonus- the food is really good there. So, needless to say Banana Azul is the perfect place to veg-out and do whatever. The atmosphere is really CHILL at Banana Azul, so you may find yourself just hanging around, taking turns chillin on the beach or by the pool or at the bar or the balcony of your bungalow or laying in a hammock watching the coy swim buy. Hotel Banana Azul is also a gay friendly destination.

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Villas del Caribe

Villas del Caribe is a hotel on Playa Chiquita just a little south of Puerto Viejo. I think many folks think there's not a whole lot of hotel options outside of Puerto Viejo. So if you're looking for something a little more low key and away from the reggae. party atmosphere, Villas del Caribe is a good example of a nice place just outside of town. The rooms are nice here and they do have some air-conditioning options for those of you who just can't sleep without air. As mentioned, Villas del Caribe sits on Playa Chiquita which is a great place to take long walks and enjoy the sun and the surf. There's many hotel options south of Puerto Viejo and Villas del Caribe is a good one.

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Coconut Grove Hotel

Puerto Viejo Costa Rica has many hotels and hostels to choose from and Coconut Grove is one of them Coconut Grove in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is a 4 room hostel. Actually, STRIKE that, more of a budget hotel. There was 4 of us and we took the apartment- full kitchen w/ a big refrigerator, 2 rooms, 4 beds, ceiling fans, supposedly hot water that we never got to work, small porch w/ hammock- not bad for $45.00. *There is additional charges for additional people but the owner will barter somewhat... depending on the season and occupancy rate. Coconut Grove may have seen it's BEST days but it's apparent it could see them again. Not a place you'd really want to hang-out, but if you're looking for a decent room at a good rate, you may want to check out Coconut Grove.

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Restaurants around Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Koki Beach

Koki Beach Restaurant is pretty much located in the center of Puerto Viejo on the main road, with the ocean only a stone's throw away. So when your strolling around the town, you WILL pass Koki Beach and you'll probably mutter to yourself, "We need to check that place out later." Koki Beach is trendy and COOL, a place to go to have drinks and conversation...and people watch. And if you don't get lost in conversation and forget to order- the food's pretty damn tasty too. This place is not your typical Puerto Viejo restaurant, the owners added their own flair and it's as if Bob Marley and Madonna decided to collaborate. Oh, and they don't play reggae, not because they don't like it but because everyone else in Puerto Viejo does.

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Loco Natural

We made a lot of friends in Puerto Viejo who actually live there full time. These guys own hotels, manage restaurants and bars and operate tour companies, so who better to ask where they eat in the Puerto Viejo area when they want the 'good' food. They all said Loco Natural, seriously, all of them. It didn't take long to understand why. Although the inside is low-key and a bit funky. really it's nothing special. But the atmosphere IS chill and relaxing- couples chatting, friends toasting to 'whatever', a guy playing the guitar and singing reggae tunes and waiters doing their thing trying not to be to noticeable .... and then there's the food. But you'll need to taste it for yourself. So, if you're in the Puerto Viejo area and you don't go to Loco Natural, then you just might be loco.

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Jammin Restaurant is located by the beach just off the main road close to the center of Puerto Viejo. I gotta admit the first thing that drew us to Jammin was the building itself. We just thought it looked COOL. Eclectic knick knacks all about with some CHILLaxin reggae beats floatin' inside out. Now this is what Puerto Viejo is all about. We promised ourselves before we left that we would check out Jammin. We did. We randomly selected a few items from the menu and didn't have the foggiest idea as to what to expect. In the meantime we had some drinks and this is when we realized our good looking waitress was a real bitch. Luckily she was later replaced with a really nice and efficient girl... and the food, it was Jammin.

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Restaurant Maxi's is located at the end of the road originating in Puerto Viejo and traveling south past Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and finally into the small 'end of the road' village of Manzanillo and if you kept driving, you run your car right through the entrance of Maxi's since it's located smack dab in the center of Manzanillo. Restaurant Maxi's is in most guide books and is known for it's seafood and lobster. A colorfully painted 2-story building that sits right off the beach, Maxi's is a great place to eat, drink or just party with the locals at night and listen to reggae and talk futbol. At Maxi's, you get what you pay for, the prices are not backpacker prices, so if you're looking for bargain eats, Maxi's is not it. But you'd be remiss if you didn't at least stop in for an ice cold beer.

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