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

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.

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 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.

Related Article: Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - puerto viejo-3

Recommended Puerto Viejo Restaurants

  • Bread & Chocolate for tasty breakfast & desserts right in town
  • KOKi Beach Restaurant & Bar across the street from the beach with a hip vibe

Recommended Puerto Viejo Bars & Nightlife

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

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 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.

Related Article: 10 Waterfalls In Costa Rica Worth Chasing

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, hence the name black beach.

Recommended Playa Negra Hotels

  • Banana Azul Adults Only Hotel Check Online Specials Expedia

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
  • Marco’s Pizzeria Known for their wood-fired pizzas

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

  • Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel Check Online Specials Expedia

Recommended Playa Cocles Restaurants

  • La Pecora Nera Popular for their pasta & pizza
  • Que Rico Papito Restaurant  Great place for fresh seafood dinner

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 quiet, relatively unpopulated beach. The rockiness of the shoreline adds to its character and keeps the waves to a minimum.

Recommended Playa Chiquita Hotels

  • Shawandha Lodge Check Online Specials|
  • Tierra de Sueños Lodge & Wellness Center Check Online Specials|

Recommended Playa Chiquita Restaurants

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

Costa Rica Caribbean Beaches - playa chiquita

Punta Uva

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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 |
  • Pachamama Jungle River Lodge Check Online Specials|

Recommended Punta Uva Restaurants

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

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. 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 |
  • Congo Bongo Boutique Guest House Check Online Specials |

Recommended Playa Grande Restaurants

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

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 that makes it tough (I say dangerous) to ride after dark. You may want to consider that when choosing where to stay.

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


Saturday 17th of November 2018

Hi there, we are going to CR from 19/01/2019 to 19/02/2019. We will visiti both Pacific and Caribbean coast. Any suggestion for calm and beautiful beaches in the Carib Side? Tnx from Sardinia ( Italy) :-)

Tarvo Alvet

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

Playa Chiquita, punta uva marvellous, the best. Manzanillo good, easy to swim when waves are big in other locations. Carribean is different in good way, extra special vibe here!!

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

We love the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Our favorite place to stay is Caribblue in Playa Cocles. Will you have a rental car?

L Stevens

Saturday 10th of February 2018

We're in Manzanillo now and it is ugly, dirty, and rains every day. The beaches are gross and nothing like the beautiful Nicoya Peninsula. Skip the Caribbean side and stick to the Pacific! Not worth it here!


Tuesday 13th of March 2018

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but the beaches are not dirty we've been here on 4 different trips and have never seen any real trash on the beaches. If you want to hang out in the crowded beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula go for it, but they are all the same - nice enough but nothing spectacular. People come to Puerto Viejo for something different. Different beaches and a different vibe. Each one of the beaches are very different, even a black sand beach. On our last trip, we happened upon sea turtles hatching on Playa Cocles. Not everyone wants the standard Costa Rica experience.


Friday 30th of December 2016

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.


Monday 23rd of November 2015

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

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Tuesday 21st of November 2017

Punta Uva is the best. We just returned from a Costa Rica and it's still our favorite beach in Puerto Viejo.

Sarah Miduski

Wednesday 18th of March 2015

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


Saturday 21st of March 2015

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