200km (124 miles) E of San José; 55km (34 miles) S of Limón

Puerto Viejo is the Caribbean coast’s top destination. Even though Puerto Viejo is farther down the road from Cahuita, it’s much, much more popular, with a distinctly livelier vibe and many more hotels and restaurants to choose from. Much of this is due to the scores of surfers who come to ride the town’s famous and fearsome Salsa Brava wave, and only slightly mellower Playa Cocles beach break. Nonsurfers can enjoy other excellent swimming beaches, plenty of active adventure options, nearby rainforest trails, and a collection of great local and international restaurants.

This area gets plenty of rain, just like the rest of the coast (Feb–Mar and Sept–Oct are your best bets for sun, although it’s not guaranteed).

Closures along the Caribbean Coast


Costa Rica’s maritime land law has only sporadically been enforced along the Caribbean coast. In early 2012, the government issued eviction notices for several coastal businesses in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, with threats to demolish any constructions. Several of the businesses are longstanding operations and listed in this book, including Sobre Las Olas, Koki Beach, and the Lazy Mon. While the possibility of the government following through is real, I personally expect things to get tied up in the courts for years.