You know how I said Bocas del Toro is where my wallet went to die? I lied, Puerto Vieo holds that prize issuing the killing blow to an already sad and struggling budget. Though I cringed every time I had to go to the grocery store or every time we looked at a menu I loved every minute of my time in Puerto Viejo. With its beautiful beaches, caribe vibes, and heaps of wildlife Puerto Viejo is the perfect place if your looking for a Caribbean paradise with the small town feel but a lot to do.
Arriving tired but happy that we ended up in the right place this time Eli and I began our search for a place to stay, most of the hostels in Puerto Viejo don’t take reservations. Once we were settled we took a stroll through town taking in the brightly colored houses, the smells of the sea air, the sounds of people chatting and bikes whizzing by. We sat on a log by the sea watching the the sunset and were finally chased back into our hostel by mosquitos, who having missed us while in Boquete, decided to take it upon themselves to give us extra attention.
The next morning we awoke from our coma induced by the humidity, no air conditioning, lazily made breakfast, packed a lunch and headed in the direction of the beaches. Puerto Viejo has a beach but it’s not very nice for lounging in the sun and swimming. The four main beaches along this stretch of sea are: Cocles, La Chiquita, Punta Uva, and Manzanillo. Most people rent bikes and ride between the beaches but trying to give our weeping wallets a break we decided to walk. It’s a lovely walk along a country road lined by jungle and beach, through little towns and over rivers. We saw howler monkeys hopping through the trees and spiders that looked like the monsters from Starship Troopers in giant webs hanging from the telephone wires. We debated how much someone would have to pay us to run through the rows of webs. Eli assured me, and I think a little bit himself, that he could do it for $150. I’m still undecided and think he is crazy, just looking at the spiders makes me shiver. We arrived at Cocles laid out our towels in the soft sand and spent the day playing in the waves, listening to the reaggetone blasting from the surf shack speakers, and watching people surf. When our skin could not longer take being fried by the sun we walked back to Puerto Viejo and sat in the shade by the sea waiting for the sun to set.
We spent our second day in Puerto Viejo walking barefoot along the sandy trails of Cahuita National Park. We squished through mud, hopped between stumps, and waded through rivers. We watched the biggest Igauna I have ever seen go darting across our path, heard crazy sounds that we assumed were birds, and saw Howler and Capuchin monkeys hanging out in the trees.
We had a picnic with the sea at our feet and the jungle at our backs. By the time we adventured through the whole park we had walked four miles and still had not seen a single sloth! I’m determined to see one before we leave. While walking down the access road our backpacks feeling a little bit heavier and our feet dragging a Costa Rican couple took pity on us and gave us a ride back to Puerto Viejo. The air conditioning was simply heavenly. We ended our day once again watching the sunset over the Caribbean sea.
We had heard the Punta Uva is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and so that was our destination for our final day. We packed a lunch, slathered on the sunscreen (not trying to make the same sunburn mistake), and started the 8 km trek thumbs out in the hopes to hitch a ride. We got picked up by a lovely divorcee from Texas who fell in love with Cocles and never left. Good thing she picked us up because we would never have thought that a random gravel side street led to the beach. She dropped us at the beach, wished us well on our travels and then was off. Punta Uva was stunning. Sadly I didn’t bring my camera not wanting to risk it while we swam. This beach was absolutely perfect for sunning, shading, and swimming. The waves were very calm, the water lukewarm, and got deep rather quickly. After hours of splashing in the sea we started our trek back not sure if we would be lucky enough to get a ride, we weren’t. The walk was just as pleasant as before. Along the way we saw more howler monkeys and stopped at a little artisan ice cream shop called Alice’s that was owned by a couple from New York. We got the banana chocolate and it was so delicious, probably the best I’ve ever had, that we had to stop ourselves from licking the bowl. After our refreshing ice cream break we continued on and about two hours later we collapsed with numb feet in our disgustingly hot room and were out for the night.
And so concluding our leisurely days in Puerto Viejo.