Not Your Everyday Gardens -- One of the nicest ways to spend a day in Puerto Viejo is to visit the Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens ★★ ((tel) 8886-8530), a couple of hundred meters inland from the Black Sand Beach on a side road just north of El Pizote lodge. Peter Kring and his late wife Lindy poured time and love into the creation of this meandering collection of native and imported tropical flora. The trails and experience are a bit rough around the edges, but you’ll see medicinal, commercial, and just plain wild flowering plants, fruits, herbs, trees, and bushes. Visitors get to gorge on whatever is ripe at the moment. A rigorous rainforest loop trail leaves from the grounds. The gardens are generally open Friday through Monday from 10am to 4pm, but visits at other times can sometimes be arranged in advance. Entrance to the garden is $5 per person for a self-guided tour of the trails (you can buy their trail map for an extra $1), or $10 for a 2 1/2-hour guided tour (minimum of three people).
Cacao Trails ★ (www.cacaotrails.com; (tel) 2756-8186) is a one-stop attraction featuring botanical gardens, an open-air museum demonstrating cacao cultivation and processing, and a series of trails, a large open-air restaurant, and a swimming pool. You can take canoe rides on the bordering Carbon River, and even watch leatherback sea turtles lay their eggs during the nesting season. Admission is $25, including a guided tour. A full-day tour, including lunch and a canoe trip, as well as the guided tour, costs $50. During turtle nesting season, they do night tours to watch sea turtles lay their eggs.
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.