Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu August 04 2016

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  • A Cruising Couple | August 4, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Puerto Viejo: Pure Paradise In Costa Rica's Caribbean

    Puerto Viejo: Pure Paradise In Costa Rica's Caribbean

    Puerto Viejo might not be the easiest destination to arrive at, but that's in large part what makes this gem on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast so magical.

    Puerto Viejo

    Puerto Viejo is a small, funky beach town that serves as the perfect base from which to experience fantastic beaches, cuisine, and wildlife—along with one of our favorite national parks in the country. This guide will ensure you get the most out of your time in paradise:

    Where To Lay Your Head

    We recommend travelers stay just a few kilometers outside of Puerto Viejo in stunning Playa Cocles. You'll have easy access to restaurants, bars and shops downtown, while also enjoying plenty of upscale accommodation and tranquility.  You can’t go wrong with Caribe Town, a mid-range hotel immersed in the jungle yet just steps from the beach.

    Chow Down

    We find the food on the Caribbean coast to have much more flavor than other typical Costa Rican cuisine. Coconut, curry, and ginger are common ingredients on most local menus. Keep an eye out for sodas, or local restaurants with excellent, inexpensive meals. Additionally, we love these restaurants:

    Bread and Chocolate: A quaint breakfast and lunch venue serving homemade bread and pastries, sandwiches and desserts.

    Selvin’s: Authentic and local Afro-Caribbean dishes, like rondon and jerk chicken.

    La Pecora Nera: Mouthwatering Italian cuisine that will rival anything you'd taste in Italy.

    Puerto Viejo is also one of the best spots in Costa Rica to learn more about chocolate (and sample copious amounts of the decadent treat.) Caribbeans features a fantastic menu of drinks, pastries and sandwiches with a chocolate twist. To learn about the entire chocolate making process, don't miss Caribbeans "Bean to Bar" tour; it includes everything from the cocoa growing process to the science behind their chocolate making 'lab.'


    A Night On The Town

    If you enjoy live music at laid-back beach bars, then you'll love Puerto Viejo. Lazy Mon and Salsa Brava are two of the most popular establishments for late-night cocktails. However, we recommend asking around when you arrive to see where the best music or trivia is happening each night.

    Surf, Sun and Sand

    Of course, one of the best activities in Puerto Viejo is soaking in the sun on the beach. (Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Manzanillo are our favorite sandy spots). However, if you prefer a bit more activity, there are also plenty of adventures that await.

    Playa Cocles is considered one of the best surfing beaches in all of Costa Rica, with waves that will entertain both beginners and advanced surfers. Or opt to stay on dry land with a hike to Manzanillo, a wildlife refuge with striking ocean views.

    Playa Del Cocles Island

    Puerto Viejo is also a hot spot for yoga and wellness retreats, so you'll have no problem finding a scenic studio to drop into downward dog. We recommend OM at Cashew Hill, a yoga studio that consistently works to give back to the local community.

    Om Yoga Studio

    Jaguar Rescue Center

    Tucan_2 Jaguar Rescue Center

    Our all-time favorite thing to do in Puerto Viejo is to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center. While you won't find many Jaguars inside (the name is a testament to how the animal center began), you will have the opportunity to get close-up to some fascinating rescue animals. Learn more about this non-profit in this article.

    Cahuita National Park

    Cahuita National Park_3

    Last but not least, a visit to Puerto Viejo affords the opportunity to visit one of the most spectacular national parks in Costa Rica: Cahuita National Park. An easy hike through the jungle offers fantastic opportunities to spot wildlife; however, what truly sets this park apart from the rest is the pristine, secluded beach that runs alongside the trail. Find a quiet spot and soak in the pura vida!

    Have you visited Puerto Viejo? What would you add to this list?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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