Here is the beach that stretches through the center of town. It’s a bit dirty, but it is a fun place to people-watch as many boats launch from here. Late at night people hang out and drink here, but I wouldn’t recommend being here alone if nobody else is around. You never know what might happen. The beaches are noted to be dangerous at night because of drug activity. Or something more unexpected might happen like getting bitten by a dog….more on that later.
Here are some locals hanging out at dusk; the girl in the photo does some excellent braids and dreads if you are ever so inclined to get some done. I did not do so, but I know many people who got something done. PV is apparently the place to get them done as it is cheap and they know what they are doing. Search around for the best price if you really want to get your hair done. And ladies, believe me, the locals will be all gaga googly-eyed for you if you get hair done like them. I saw this effect happen to some fellow travelers; as soon as they got dreads or braids the locals would be pulled towards them like magnets. Extra-heavy-duty magnets. The ones that you can NEVER pull off.
This is probably some ordinary sea creature, but when I saw this I was immediately struck that it looks like some ancient fossil. I know it’s not, but let’s just pretend that it is. It’ll be more exciting and entertaining that way.
I took a late afternoon walk along the rocky shore a few kilometers south of the center of Puerto Viejo. Just north of town is a black sand beach. Within town are many white sand beaches. Once you hit where I am, however, the beaches turn into rock. Jagged rock for that matter. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes if walking along here. I was wearing flip-flops and cut the bottoms of my feet a few times from slipping out of them. Along this coast there are beautiful rock formations that emerge from short distances offshore. Local fisherman throw out their lines from shore and bask in the sun, awaiting dinner to bite. Stop and chat with them; they’re exceptionally friendly.
There’s nothing like fresh crab for dinner. Well, what about dead crab? This poor thing was caught ashore at low tide and it died. If I were a scavenging animal, perhaps I would have feasted on it, however I know a thing or two about health and know that I shouldn’t be eating dead things off the beach no matter how much I am obsessed with crab.
Walking along the beach at low tide is quite possibly the worst idea ever. Not only is the reef exposed to cut yourself on, but the sand flies are fierce and will feast on your blood. Sand flies have got to be my idea of the worst creature known to man. If any of you have been attacked by some of these, you’ll know exactly what you mean. Insect repellent does no good. The only semi-effective way to keep them away is to slather yourself in some kind of oil, such as coconut oil, and that is not particularly comfortable especially when you are trying to sleep at night.
I find it kind of amusing; almost every single person I met later on back in San José that happened to have sand fly bites was on the Caribbean Coast in the same towns I went to. Most everyone else who went to other parts of the country was spared the misery that entails. The bites are itchy and release some kind of nasty pus. You might wake up one morning and see about 500 bites all over one arm or leg. That’s the way they like to bite you. You’ll have battle scars to show for it afterwards, looking a little bit like chicken pox but not quite so bad.
The beaches were clean & we never saw any broken glass anywhere & very little,if any garbage. The swimming was fine & the water warm! In & around town all the beaches seemed good for swimming with the Playa Negra(black sand) being the least crowded.We didn't see any life guards so we usually swam where ever the locals were swimming.Salsa Brava (East end of P.V.) is rougher & mainly used by surfers. There are several really nice secluded beaches just as you leave town in the direction of Manzanillo.
Allthough we didn't go, there was "Movie Night" in the open-air makeshift theater downtown every night. They always had 2 movies listed & all appeared to be new releases. Most were in english & others had spanish sub-titles. The place was always fairly full so it is a good idea to get there early for the best seats.
We were there during Semana Santa & on the evening before Good Friday the town's population easily tripled in size! Locals from all over head to the beaches to camp & celebrate the holiday,it was packed!The vehicles were bumper to bumper,each with their own beat booming from their speakers.No alcohol is sold from (I think) the Wed. evening to the Sat. evening during the long weekend but everyone stocks up.Take extra care if your riding a bike.The streets were full of excitement,children rockin' to the reggae rythym,lots of campfires-fun!Lots to watch!
Check out the insects,lizards,frogs & other critters around P.V. Early a.m. is good for frog spotting & in the evenings take a flashlight with you. We saw several sloths at night & a few in the daylight too. Shine your light up if you hear rustling, it's probably a sloth! They kind of "peep" at night & you can hear them all over. The "electric" Blue Morph is only one of the gorgeous butterflies.Lots of colourful land crabs,massive spiders,dinnerplate sized turtles in the canals & we even came across an injured Lesser Anteater.They have extremely long,sharp claws,are nocturnal & are generally only seen as roadkill.
Birdwatching is incredible! We saw over 60 spectacular species in the 6 days we were here! Seeing the "Fruitloop cereal bird" (Keel-billed Toucan) flying around in the wild was just that.....wild! The same pair were 30 feet from our balcony amusing us with their antics every morning! So many species & so many colours!!! I was in heaven!
Don't just stick to the mainstreets. Try the side streets & unmarked roads, it doesn't matter where they go your sure to see something interesting along the way! We walked or rode a different route every time we were out & about.
Manzanillo is about 12km from Puerto Viejo. You can take the bus or just hitchhike.
The last bus back is at 17:15.
It's the best place in the area for snorkling or diving.
The national park is great for hiking. Just follow the shore south to find the entrance.
There is beach space just off the main road leading into Puerto Viejo. You will run into all sorts of interesting people and things. Random (and very skinny!) horses are standing around. The flowers and plants are really cool.
We attended the funeral of a friend here. What an incredibly upbeat ceremony! So much singing, clapping, amens etc. I found myself tapping my toes much of the time.
Similar to Cahuita only more rugged, more mud, more jungle-ee, less monkey, more dramatic views. You get to walk on coconuts and see countless litte crabs.