Costa Rica is renowned for it’s beaches, surf, dense forests and wildlife…. and more importantly sloths (or pelisoso’s).
The last of our four stops in Costa Rica was Puerto Viejo, which is on the Caribbean side. It was by far our favourite place so I’ll start with this one first.
As soon as we got to Puerto Viejo we knew we’d love it, unfortunately we only booked 3 nights and wish we could have stayed a couple more. We stayed in the centre of town in an awesome apartment called ‘Caribbean comfort’ and the host Monika was great. She knew the whole area so well and told us where the best beaches and restaurants were, it’s always good to get recommendations from the locals. Our apartment was walking distance to shops, restaurants and bars so it was easy and safe to walk around at night. We went to a restaurant called Bikini on the first night and ate a typical Costa Rican dish called Casado which is just rice, beans and chicken (or fish). In Puerto Viejo they add a Caribbean touch by cooking the chicken in coconut milk. Delicious!
Puerto Viejo has the most beautiful beaches I’d seen in Central America. There was no shortage either! We hired bikes and rode about 10/15 minutes to Cocles beach which had the clearest water, white sand and amazing palm trees right on the waters edge. Slightly closer to town is Punta Uva beach which was just as nice however, in the high season, they have parties and loud music playing so it would be a lot less peaceful.
I couldn’t fault any of these beaches. As we travelled in the low season all of the beaches were fairly quiet, despite the odd local coming up and offering us fresh ceviche or smoothies.
We went to a really funky bar one night called Koki, it’s only open from 5pm onwards which is a shame because it would have been a nice lunch spot too. It’s a little more expensive but happy hour is two for one cocktails and they make a mean mojito.
A huge highlight for us was the Jaguar Rescue Centre. We booked a tour mainly to see the sloths and get up close to them, they’re hard to spot in the wild because they’re very lazy and barely move and sit very high up in trees. We did a group tour but wish we did a private tour so we could spend more time looking at the sloths and less time looking at snakes and crocodiles but the whole experience was very cool. You can’t touch any of the animals but we got very close to them. A few of the sloths were active so they were slowly climbing the tree branches. The baby sloths were the biggest highlight though, they’re so tiny and they sleep in a basket with blankets (despite it being so hot and humid) because they can’t control their body temperature. Most were sleeping but one was very active, learning to climb the trees and eat the fresh leaves. It was so cute to watch!
We started our Costa Rican adventure in Tamarindo which is very touristy and quite Americanised. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and in the high season it’s renowned for its nightlife and party scene. October is the low season so it was fairly quiet when we were there. We stayed in Tamarindo for 4 nights which was possibly a night too long. It was a good place to learn to surf, they have plenty of surf schools and boards to hire. A lot of tour companies offer day trips to waterfalls, volcanoes and adventure parks (zip lining, tubing etc.).
We did a day trip to Ricon de la Vieja Volcano national park. We went on a two hour hike with a guide and then to the hot springs. It was a wet and cooler day so the hot springs were perfect but I imagine they’d be far too hot in summer. It was like sitting in a big jacuzzi with the rain falling down, magic!
Next stop was Santa Teresa which unfortunately I don’t have much to say about because we were caught in a massive storm and barely got to leave our room. When we did it was straight to a delicious and cosy cafe/restaurant called The Bakery which, as its name suggests, serves yummy pastries, cakes and coffee as well as substantial meals.
Santa Teresa looked like a great place, we wish the weather was better so we could have enjoyed it. It had cute boutiques, a few nice restaurants and the locals were really friendly. We hired an ATV and scooted around (in the rain) to get from place to place which was necessary.
We rode our ATV to Montezuma and the jungle path to get there is really picturesque. We had to cross a couple of deep streams (because it was just after two days of non stop rain) and some of the path was deep mud, but we made it in one piece. The ride took about half an hour, we spotted a couple of monkeys, lizards and were surrounded by a lot of greenery. Montezuma is pretty small, the main attraction is the waterfall. It also has a few cafes and shops but Santa Teresa is definitely more exciting.
After Santa Teresa we headed to Manuel Antonio. The storm had only just ended and a lot of Costa Rica was still under repair so unfortunately we didn’t get to visit the national park (which is the main tourist attraction there) as it was closed. We did, however, see a lot of monkeys and a couple of sloths in the wild. Manuel Antonio is another surfy town with a similar feel to Santa Teresa. We stayed at Selina Hostel which was amazing! Id definitely stay again. It’s a funky hostel, really well decorated and has a retro vibe. They have them all over Central America and are easy to spot, usually the entrance has a colourful combi van at the front.
This particular Selina hostel had two pools and really nice jungle paths so we spent a bit of time just relaxing at the property.