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’re missing out on! We have traveled to Puerto Viejo three times and we know that we’ll be back again. If you are thinking about traveling to Costa Rica, stop thinking and just book your trip.
Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
In this best beaches of Puerto Viejo guide, 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.
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 action 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.
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Recommended Puerto Viejo Restaurants
- Bread & Chocolate for tasty breakfast & desserts right in town | TripAdvisor Reviews
- KOKi Beach Restaurant & Bar across the street from the beach with a hip vibe | TripAdvisor Reviews
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
- Hotel Blue Conga Check Online Specials Orbitz | Hotels.com | Booking.com
- Hotel Boutique Indalo Check Online Specials Expedia| Hotels.com | Booking.com
- Cashew Hill Lodge Check Online Specials | Booking.com
There are great options on Airbnb as well, on our last one week Costa Rica trip we stayed in all Airbnb’s. Not only is it usually cheaper but you get a larger place with more amenities. Click here for $40 off Airbnb.
However, I would recommend staying in a hotel outside of Puerto Viejo and renting a bike 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.
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Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo
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, hence the name black beach.
Recommended Playa Negra Hotels
- Banana Azul Adults Only Hotel Check Online Specials | Expedia | Hotels.com | Orbitz
- VIP Hotel Playa Negra Check Online Specials Orbitz | Expedia | Hotels.com |
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
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
- Cariblue Beach and Jungle Resort Check Online Specials Orbitz | Hotels.com | Expedia
- Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel Check Online Specials Hotels.com | Orbitz | Expedia
- Hotel La Costa de Papito Check Online Specials Expedia | Orbitz | Hotels.com
Recommended Playa Cocles Restaurants
- La Pecora Nera Popular for their pasta & pizza | TripAdvisor Reviews
- Que Rico Papito Restaurant Great place for fresh seafood dinner| TripAdvisor Reviews
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 quiet, relatively unpopulated beach. The rockiness of the shoreline add to its character and keep the waves to a minimum.
Recommended Playa Chiquita Hotels
- Shawandha Lodge Check Online Specials| Booking.com | TripAdvisor
- Tierra de Sueños Lodge & Wellness Center Check Online Specials| Booking.com | TripAdvisor
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
Located about 10km outside of the town center just down the road, makes the beach is 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 are 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. If you’re planning a Costa Rica honeymoon, this would be our top pick.
Recommended Playa Uva Hotels
- Tree House Lodge Check Online Specials | Booking.com | TripAdvisor
- Pachamama Jungle River Lodge Check Online Specials| Booking.com | TripAdvisor
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
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. There is a park area set up 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 itself is nice looking, but the lack of much else around keeps it pretty empty.
Recommended Playa Grande Hotels
- Almonds and Corals Hotel Check Online Specials | Booking.com | TripAdvisor
- Congo Bongo Boutique Guest House Check Online Specials | Booking.com | TripAdvisor
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
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 that makes it tough (I say dangerous) to ride after dark. You may want to consider that when choosing where to stay.