Beware of Cahuita

Cahuita Travel Blog

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Originally, the plan was to finish up the trip on the Caribbean side in Cahuita. We had read in our guidebooks that Puerto Viejo was pretty touristy, and Cahuita was only 30 minutes away and less touristed. The guidebook warned that it had a reputation for crime and general shady-ness, but we weren't too concerned at that point.

Once we exited the bus, however, the vibe was definitely not great. People were staring at us from the moment we stepped off the bus with all of our gear, and not out of friendly curiosity. We walked around a bit looking for a hostel and walked up to a place called "Cabinas Atlantic Sur", which our lonely planet described as having a "cool, chill vibe". We couldn't find the owner so Dave wandered around the side to the back. As he walked through a narrow path through the bushes a huge dog jumped out and started attacking him! Fortunately, the dog was on a chain, so Dave was able to escape its reach by jumping into a mud pit, where he lost one of his shoes. The dog ripped two holes in his shorts and left Dave with a nice scratch, but didn't break any skin. We looked for another hostel.

Next place we checked into was called "Lisa's Secret Garden." The rooms looked semi-decent so we decided to check into one for $20/night. After checking-in, we threw our stuff down and went to go check out the surf. As we were exiting the room, we couldn't figure out how to work the lock, which seemed extremely unreliable. A shady looking guy living across the street saw our struggles and shouted at us advice for how to most effectively work the lock. We were more than a little bit worried that some random stranger knew how to work our room locks better than we did. Guess we were keeping our valuables on us at all times.

We checked out the surf and there was nothing. We walked around the town and there was nothing. It was hot, the vibe was bad, and we wanted to get out. No surf, no nightlife, vicious dogs, and shady characters were a prediction for bad times ahead, and after less than 1 hour here we were ready to take the next bus to Puerto Viejo. We jogged (literally, because we were in such a hurry to leave) back to the room and grabbed our stuff.

We told the owner that there was no surf and that we were going to check out Puerto Viejo instead, and he got quite upset. Even though we only used the room for less than one hour (and all we did was set our stuff down briefly) and every other room in the place was empty, he charged us half price. Furthermore, he was so distrustworthy at this point that, since I didn't have the money on-hand, he told a thuggish looking guy to personally escort me to the room to acquire the money. Not like we were going to run very fast or far carrying two bags and 3 surfboards...

Got on the next bus out of here and couldn't have been happier!
Eric says:
I'm glad you guys had a good time there, maybe we were just there at the wrong time, or met the wrong people (or dogs)

We weren't expecting the worst, and in fact were quite looking forward to visiting before our multiple string of bad experiences there. but I guess that just goes to show that experiences can vary while traveling...
Posted on: Jul 05, 2010
AmandaFaye says:
Calm down mister paranoid melodramatic. You were looking for bad vibes and that's exactly what you interpreted out of the situation. The whole time I've been in Cahuita the people have been extraordinarily helpful and I'm actually staying in Cabinas Atlantic Surf and Xavier and Wendy are the sweetest hostel owners we've met yet! We've stayed at their place for 4 days now because they're such good people. I just wanted to clear this up for anybody reading--Cahuita isn't all sketchyness, you were just expecting the worst and that's what you got out of it. Another girl and I hopped on a bus here for only the day but liked it so much we stayed and got a ride back to Puerto Viejo from nice people --from Cahuita-- just to get our things we had left and we've been here for 4 days. It's a nice, relaxed town where everybody knows everybody and if you're friendly and respectful to them, they'll be friendly and respectful in return.
Posted on: Jul 04, 2010
curious1028 says:
No friggin way man!!!! Bummer! we have been in Cahuita for days now and its so lovely! the people are amazing nd we are staying at Atlantic Surf (under new management) and it is beautiful and tropical and no wild dogs attacking for sure. The jungle is amazing..sloths, monkeys, snakes, lizards, crabs...we saw it all. And stepped out onto the pristine white sand beach directly from within the jungle to bath in clear, green waters. Try again man, try again!
Posted on: Jul 04, 2010
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Cahuita
photo by: Stigen