Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat July 18 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | July 18, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: Go for the Party or the Tranquility

    Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica: Go for the Party or the Tranquility

    The view from Rocking J’s restaurant, where everything is a mosaic and before you leave to the beach, you remember the life here is Pura Vida!

    My best friend Alena is sitting beside me staring out the window, smiling, listening to Vance Joy, and I’m powering through the book #GIRLBOSS. We’re completely relaxed and halfway to Puerto Viejo. The bus suddenly shakes and we hear a bang — everyone gasps in shock. A semi-truck clipped us, took the right-hand mirror completely off, and then sped away — so much for our planned 6-hour journey.

    By the time we made it to Rocking J’s, our hostel, it was dark and happy hour was starting. We dumped our things into our tent and headed down at 8 p.m. for our hour of free drinks called “jungle juice” that went down as easily as we got them.

    Two words come to mind when I think about that night: “rookie mistake” and “never again.” I won’t go into detail as to what happened that night but let’s just say we woke up in the morning and crawled out of the tent feeling we got hit by that semi-truck all over again.

    But we soon realized that our tent was not actually ours.

    Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we had accidently mistaken someone else’s tent for ours and within seconds were cloudily scattering out and into ours before anyone noticed. Needless to say we made an oath to never drink jungle juice again and spent the remainder of the time on the beach, drinking organic coffee.

    On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica sits the town of Puerto Viejo — infamous for its never ending parties and stunning beaches. But this locale can be equally as tranquil if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Best time to go: Although it rains all year long, “Dry” Season is from February-May and August-October.

    If you go for the party:

    Best Party Hostel: Rocking J’s ($7 hammocks, $8-$10 tents and dorms)


    • Comfortable hammocks with a sheet and large locker
    • Bar/restaurant with overpriced food and drinks
    • Walking distance to beaches
    • Plenty of showers and seating
    • A tienda is across the street where you can find cheaper drinks

    Best Clubs:

    Salsa Brava — Doesn’t get busy until late, but by far the best dance club in town. Relaxed atmosphere, Saturday nights are 90s throwbacks while the rest of the time is dedicated to reggae.

    Lazy Mon — Most people flock here to party all nights of the week, but especially on the weekends where you can party on the beach listening to live music and watch fire dancing shows. Ladies night is on Thursday with free drinks and reggae.

    Alena and I wandered through the jungle and onto one of the many beaches in Puerto Viejo in awe

    If you go for the tranquility:

    Best Hostel: Om Puerto Viejo ($12 dorms)


    • Price includes unlimited purified water, free bicycles and discounts on yoga classes
    • Incredible yoga classes offered at least twice daily in a wide range of styles and overlooking the jungle and ocean
    • Comfortable dorm rooms/lockers
    • Wonderful ambiance/chilled out vibe
    • Café with healthy, organic snacks and drinks
    • Across the street from the beach

    Must Do’s:

    • Rent a bike for $5 and do a day trip to the other beaches including: Playa Cocles?, Playa Chiquita?, Punta Uva and Manzanillo

    • Hike through the many trails along the ocean through the jungle and try to find sloths hidden in the trees or head to Cahuita National Park an hour away.

    • Partake in a yoga class!

    • Go to Finca La Isla and sample some natural juices and homemade chocolate at their ecologically-friendly farm and garden

    • Learn to surf! Puerto Viejo is the most famous spot to hang ten on the Caribbean coast

    Although no information is given on OM Puerto Viejo’s website, I have acquired their pricelist of their many fantastic classes.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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