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Area Layout: As you drive south, the first beach you will hit is Playa Cocles ★, which is 2km (1 1/4 miles) from Puerto Viejo. A little farther, you’ll find Playa Chiquita ★, which is 5km (3 miles) from Puerto Viejo, followed by Punta Uva ★★ at 8.4km (5 1/4 miles) away, and Manzanillo ★★, some 13km (8 miles) away.

Fast Facts: Manzanillo is the only thing that resembles a town in this area, but there are small markets mixed in with a string of hotels, restaurants, and private homes that line the main road.

On to Panama: Costa Rica’s southeast coast, particularly Puerto Viejo, is a popular jumping-off point for trips into Panama. The nearest and most popular destination is the island retreat of Bocas del Toro. Most tour agencies and hotel desks can arrange tours to Panama. The most reliable and easiest way to get to Bocas del Toro is to take the daily Caribe Shuttle (www.caribeshuttle.com; tel. 2750-0626), which will take you via land and boat for $33 each way; check the website or call for departure times.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.