A Guide to the Best Beaches of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

A Guide to the Best Beaches of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Last Updated:

Did you know that some of the best beaches in Costa Rica are on the Caribbean side? Many tourists overlook Puerto Viejo Costa Rica and instead head to the resort town of Jaco or the Nicoya Penisula. Big mistake, some of the best beaches in Costa Rica are in Puerto Viejo.

Let me show you what you are missing out on! We have traveled to Puerto Viejo twice and know that we’ll be back again. If you are thinking about traveling to Costa Rica, stop thinking and just book your trip.

GS Suitcase Divider

Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

In this best beaches of Puerto Viejo were going to go over all the beaches in the area. They are going to be listed in order of their distance to Puerto Viejo town.

costa rica caribbean beach guide

The main town on the Caribbean is Puerto Viejo, home to many stores, restaurants, shopping, several places to stay, and the least attractive beach in the area. The beach right in the town of Puerto Viejo may not be the best, but this is where the actions is during the day and night. If you want to stay close to shops and bars then you should stay in a hotel in Puerto Viejo.

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - puerto viejo-3

Recommended Puerto Viejo Restaurants

Recommended Puerto Viejo Bars & Nightlife

  • Tasty Waves chill vibe with cheap beer & eats right in town | TripAdvisor Reviews
  • Bri Bri Springs Brewery tasty beer made with fresh spring water, rotating beers available, located just on the edge of town | TripAdvisor Reviews

Recommended Puerto Viejo Hotels

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - puerto viejo

However, I would recommend staying in a hotel outside of Puerto Viejo and renting a bike to ride into to ride into town and to explore the best beaches in Puerto Viejo. For a quieter hotel with prettier beaches head to: Punta Uva, Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, or Manzanillo beach. Taxis are also available and hotels can arrange them.

Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - puerto viejo-2

Playa Negra is located just under a mile up the road from Puerto Viejo. This is as pretty as the Playa Negra gets, it’s not dirty or anything, it’s just not that pretty. It’s not the white sandy beach you would have in Half Moon Cay Bahamas. The sand is dark and fitting to its name Playa Negra. Playa in English is beach and Negra is black, black beach.

Recommended Playa Negra Hotels

Recommended Playa Negra Restaurants & Bars

  • The Points Sports Bar & Grill Sports bar with 7 TV’s, Happy Hour 2 for 1, free wifi good burgers | TripAdvisor Reviews
  • Marco’s Pizzeria Known for their wood fired pizzas | TripAdvisor Reviews 

Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa cocles

Playa Cocles is just 3 kms/2 miles from Puerto Viejo Town and our favorite place to stay. You can easily walk into town or ride a bike. If you are looking for a social and active beach then head to Playa Cocles, here is where you will find the highest density of beach bums on any given day. If the season is right the surfers will be here as well.

Across the street, you can find a few good bars and restaurants, along with street food during lunch and dinner hours. The sand is nice, the water is colorful when the surf isn’t high, and its the place to be during the day. I would rate this as my 2nd favorite beach in the area. Our hotel Cariblue was only 0.50 mile from the beach, which gave us great access.

Recommended Playa Cocles Hotels

Recommended Playa Cocles Restaurants

Playa Chiquita

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa chiquita-2

Located 3.5 miles from Puerto Viejo is Playa Chiquita, the first time we visited Puerto Viejo this is where stayed. Playa Chiquita is a more peaceful peace of sand, the only access is via this jungle path, and if you don’t know where to find it, you might just walk right by. Once on the beach you have a quite, relatively unpopulated beach. The rockiness of the shoreline add to its character and keep the waves to a minimum.

Recommended Playa Chiquita Hotels

Recommended Playa Chiquita Restaurants

  • Pura Gala Popular for their cheap drinks beer $2.50  and all meals under $20 | TripAdvisor Reviews
  • Diwo Restaurant Use to be called Jungle Love, which was our personal favorite restaurant in Puerto Viejo can’t wait to try the new owners | TripAdvisor Reviews

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa chiquita

Punta Uva

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - punta uva-2

Located about 10km outside of the town center just down the road, makes the beach somewhat remote. This was my favorite beach because it was the best-looking sand and water but also because we had it nearly to ourselves! There are some resorts just behind the sand, along with a bar or two, but all very quiet. As you can see this is the prettiest beach, but we found it surprisingly empty.

Punta Uva has several restaurants, hotels, and little convenience stores that you really wouldn’t have to travel into town. Base yourself in Punta Uva and explore the nearby beaches by bike.

Recommended Playa Uva Hotels

Recommended Punta Uva Restaurants

  • Bamboocha Has a local Costa Rican soda feel with fresh seafood & Italian dishes | TripAdvisor
  • El Refugio Grill Good steaks and fresh seafood| TripAdvisor

Playa Grande

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa grande-2

Located in the small village of Manzanillo, Playa Grande as the name suggests is the largest stretch of sand around Puerto Viejo. Playa grande is just over 7 miles down the road from Puerto Viejo, you can’t get lost there is only one main road that runs along the Caribbean. A park area setup along the length of the beach with benches between the palms, that goes largely unused in this tiny village. There are a few places to stay, with only one restaurant, and a convenience store at your disposal. The beach its self is nicely looking, but the lack of much else around keeps it pretty empty.

Recommended Playa Grande Hotels

Recommended Playa Grande Restaurants

  • Cool & Calm Cafe Authentic Costa Rican food and fish tacos | TripAdvisor
  • Maxi’s Right on Playa Grande enjoy some fresh seafood | TripAdvisor

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa grande

If I were to choose where to stay, I would stay around Cocles. Still close enough to town to walk in, or you have one of the better beaches right there. Unless you have a car or don’t mind a long bike ride, then for a quieter stay try the area near Punta Uva. There is also a high concentration of restaurants near Playa Chiquita, which makes it a decent option. It’s worth noting if your only mode of transport is a bike you may want to stay near town. There are long stretches of road without street lights, along with the narrow road makes it tough (I say dangerous) to ride after dark, you may want to consider that when choosing where to stay.

GS Suitcase Divider

Have you been to Puerto Viejo? What was your favorite beach? Leave a coment below we’d love to hear from you. 

8 Comments
  • Christina
    Posted at 11:28h, 30 September Reply

    I love Puerto Viejo! My favorite part of CR (most tico’s favorite too). I hope it doesn’t get too spoiled by tourism in the future, but I know they really need the money for their economy…let’s hope they can find a nice balance!

    Great pics 🙂

    • Hannah
      Posted at 14:03h, 06 October Reply

      We loved Puerto Viejo in 2010, but it has become very touristy since our last visit. Prices just seem to have gone crazy, compared to their neighboring countries. When were you in Puerto Viejo?

  • Wendy Greene
    Posted at 18:00h, 03 July Reply

    Love your photos! Very pretty.
    I was to the Caribbean side about 20 years ago for only one day.. Cruise ship excursion. I was just recently in Samara on the Pacific side but would love to go back to the Caribbean side. I have great memories even from that one day I was there.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 07:52h, 08 July Reply

      The Caribbean side is way different than the Pacific side, in my opinion. We also visited Samara this year and it wasn’t for us. I think you will love the Caribbean side, when you make it there!

  • Sarah Miduski
    Posted at 21:05h, 18 March Reply

    I love these pictures. We loved the beaches there when we visited a few years ago. I also loved the variety of food in the town. An underrated foodie destination

    • Hannah
      Posted at 04:53h, 21 March Reply

      We first visited in 2010 and went back in 2013 and things have really changed, and for the worst….the word is paved!

  • Alyssa
    Posted at 01:04h, 23 November Reply

    So beautiful! Makes me want to go back now! I love Punta Uva! Such beautiful beaches on this side of Costa Rica. Great list!

  • John
    Posted at 12:49h, 30 December Reply

    Good post. I learn something totally new and
    challenging on blogs I stumble upon every day. It’s always interesting to read through content from other authors and
    use something from other websites.

Post A Comment