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.

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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.

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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

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

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 usually cheaper but you get a larger place with more amenities. Click here for $40 off Airbnb.

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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.

Related Article: 10 Waterfalls In Costa Rica Worth Chasing

Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo

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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

Recommended Playa Negra Restaurants & Bars

Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo

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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

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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

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Punta Uva

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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. If you’re planning a Costa Rica honeymoon this would be our top pick.

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

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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 its self is nice 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.

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

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11 thoughts on “A Guide to the Best Beaches of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

  1. 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!

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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!

  4. 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 🙂

    • 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?

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