First Whole Day in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo Travel Blog

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Best breakfast ever

I arrived late into Puerto Viejo late on 10/23 after my whitewater trip down the Pacuare River.  My outfitter, Expladores Outdoors including a transfer to my hotel free of charge in my raft package.  This is a fantastic service and they literally delivered me to the front door of my hotel. 

It was around 5pm - - already well past sunset in this part of the world.  I checked in, got cleaned up and took a taxi into town to have dinner.  Early evening is actually pretty quiet - as a party town - - people don't come out until later and then stay out all night.  Given the rain, the darkness and the fact that I had NO IDEA what I was dealing with, I decided to turn in early and be ready to take on the town in the light of day.

My first ever Puerto Viejo breakfast. The bar is set high!
  This map would have been VERY HELPFUL to have ahead of time.  You can pick them up in town, but this website has it online to make it easier for you to plan your trip in advance.

Woke up at 5am on 10/24 and the sun was already peeking out of the horizon.  Walked into town around 6am with the goal of walking the entire length of it to get a general overview of what I was dealing with.  NOTHING is open at that time - - but luckily I stumbled accross Cafe Kira - - they open at 7am (except on Sundays).  Had one of the best breakfasts of my life at this little cafe - - homemade bread, thick golden butter, scrambled eggs with cheese - - delightful every bite.

Not only do they call this a "road" but they put in a speed bump to make sure you don't go to fast. Priceless!
  Washed it down with a cup of coffee with milk - - pretty sure the milk had been inside a cow that morning.  A bowl of fruit and yogart rounded out my big meal and made me fat and happy within the first two hours of opening my eyes... life is good. 

The lady that runs the place was fantastic - - very personable and spoke great English.  She was very patient with me and gave me a good suggestion:  rent a bike and go south to Punta Uva (about 5 kilometers).  Get out of the "city" and see the country.  And that is what I did.  Got me a bike and headed south. 

I realized 2 things very quickly:  1)  the roads down here are not suitable for leisurly anything.

Tao: A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. Priceless.
  Even walking is a challenge.  2) the Spanish word for "flat tire" starts with a "p".  How do I know this?  Because well-meaning travelers kept shouting it to me as I biked down the road.  And again, I am using the word "biking" liberally here - - what they gave me was a beach cruiser - - what I needed was a mountain bike and some good shoes.  That said, I made the most of my little adventure by taking in the coastline.  Half-way to Punta Uva I stopped at a road-side bakery to have a snack and something to drink.  Much needed and much appreciated after my "bike ride".  After my break I got back on my little bike and kept going.  A little Tao along the way further bolstered my resolve to press onward.

Punta Uva was not what I expected.

I learned the Spanish word for flat tire the hard way.
  I thought I could go snorkeling there and get some lunch.  Maybe buy something from the Punta Uva Dive Center:  simply not the case.  There is no "dive center" - - what there is a little run down shack near the beach where they rent you decrepit equipment and run tours.  Repeat - no matter what you see on the website, Punta Uva Dive Center is an illusion.  I did not take a tour here - - and the girl behind the counter was SUPER FRIENDLY - - but the equipment was sub-par and the reef off their beach was out pretty far from shore.  At this point, my resolve waned and I asked for a taxi back to Puerto Viejo. 

My afternoon turned around dramatically after an amazing lunch at Nima, right on the main strip in Puerto Viejo.  Had the most amazing Red Snapper - - it was baked, head-on with a sweet salsa on top.

Red Snapper - nobody mention that there is a face under all the salsa and everyone gets out alive.
  I am usually against eating food with the face still attached, but I was hungry and it smelled fantastic.  I wasn't disappointed.  I ate EVERY BITE, taking the time to pick the little bits of clinging flesh from the fine bones and licking my fingers afterward.  The view was great and I got up from my meal refreshed in every way.  Time to take on Puerto Viejo. 

I started with shopping.  My bikini had floated away on Day 1; so a replacement was in order.  Once the town got fully awake there were more shopping options that I originally thought.  Little tables with goods appeared, and small sheds became small points of commerce.  I found a place in town with a good selection of bathing suits:  although they were all very tiny.

CariBean - all things good on this earth are found within - enjoy!
  Very tiny.  Itsy bitsy little suits.  I looked at the clerk and asked, "How do these women get their asses in these suits?  I have seen their asses, and they don't fit in these suits. Is there some kind of Costa Rican ass oragami that makes this possible?"  She just looked at me blankly.  I picked the most coverage for my colones and set out in pursuit of some water adventures. 

That is when I found Reef Runners Divers.  These fantastic people saved the day.  Gave me some GREAT equipement and then the girl running the show got on the phone to round up a guide for me so I could go on a snorkeling tour of Punta Uva the following day.  Right in front of the dive center was a beach and I was able to snorkel about 5 feet off the shore in gorgeous clear reefs with zero fear and complete comfort.

This makes me happy. Really happy. Toes all the way up.

After my snorkel, some sweets were in order and a place called CariBeans was calling my name.  Right around the corner from the dive shop, this place is a little slice of all things good in the world.  Homemade chocolate and ice cream - - does it get any better than that?  And does it get any better than that when you are tired, and wet, and hot and happy?  I think not.  I ran into a local legend at CariBeans, Kurt who runs Hotel Puerto Viejo.  (This is a great hotel if you are a surfer, on a budget and there to be in the water as much as possible and surrounded by other surfers during your trip.  It is about 50 feet off the main strip right in the center of town.)  We got to talking and he recommended the chocolate shake:  a good man.

This might be the single best moment of the vacation. Is that sad?

If it is possible for a shake to change your life, this one did.  Frothy and creamy, sweet and light, with little bits of their signature chocolate like little chunks of heaven swimming in a sea of perfection.  I am actually getting tears in my eyes thinking about this, because I will never know its equal.  Amazing.   Truly amazing. 

Fat and happy, yet again, I headed back to my hotel to get cleaned up and ready for dinner.  I had spotted a place in town that looked interesting for dinner and I had packed a dress for just such an occasion.  You can read my review on Koki Beach to find out more about it - - but another great Puerto Viejo meal topped off by the best mojito I have ever tasted.  It doesn't get much better than this.

As I said, the night life gets going late in Puerto Viejo, so I missed it again my second night in town.  Not that I minded, I had big plans for the next day and wanted to be rested and ready for my next adventure. 


livelovelaugh87 says:
Sounds amazing, I can't wait to go now! And Red Snapper in the Caribbean is amazing :)
Posted on: Nov 19, 2011
takecua says:
Hi I imagen the experience is very personal. And affect us depending how we are. Off course if you you want a five star hotel and luxury accomodations, please dont come to Puerto Viejo. This is a real place with real feelings and very bad managed by the council. First of you need to know a bit of history from the place you are visiting to know why is like that. Just imaging the electricity came to the place 20 years ago only, what you expect??????
And about the dive centers in PTA. Uva i think you are totally wrong. Im a profesional Padi divemaster and i had hundreds of dive around this coast and the reef in Pta. Uva is great and the dive shop very helpful and very good placed. So i just think you had a bad day.
But anyway thanks to share your bad experiences with us.

Posted on: Jun 15, 2010
tinarsaurus says:
Great review on Puerto Viejo.. however, I don´t really agree with your review on the Punta Uva Dive Center. I did my open water certification there and it was great. The staff is super friendly and they even provide free housing for people who dive there. The center is definitely existent -- it´s not an illusion!!! They rent some nice gear and are very helpful with information. Punta Uva Dive Center is a bit out of town and more ´natural´, which is great if you like to hang out with sloths and monkeys!!
Posted on: Jun 10, 2010
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Best breakfast ever
Best breakfast ever
My first ever Puerto Viejo breakfa…
My first ever Puerto Viejo breakf…
Not only do they call this a road…
Not only do they call this a "roa…
Tao:  A good traveler has no fixed…
Tao: A good traveler has no fixe…
I learned the Spanish word for fla…
I learned the Spanish word for fl…
Red Snapper - nobody mention that …
Red Snapper - nobody mention that…
CariBean - all things good on this…
CariBean - all things good on thi…
This makes me happy.  Really happy…
This makes me happy. Really happ…
This might be the single best mome…
This might be the single best mom…
Puerto Viejo Sights & Attractions review
The best dive shop on the earth - guarenteed!
This dive outfit is the most professional, friendly group you will ever come accross. I made the mistake of going down to Punta Uva to the "dive cent… read entire review
Puerto Viejo Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
The most amazing sweets, homemade chocolate and ice cream
After my snorkel, some sweets were in order and a place called Caribeans was calling my name. Right around the corner from the dive shop, this place … read entire review
Puerto Viejo Hotels & Accommodations review
Great place, friendly staff - consider the location
Kaya's place is great. Beautiful, comfortable and very, very clean. The staff was WONDERFUL, start to finish and the fact that the owner speaks Engl… read entire review
Puerto Viejo Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Koki Beach Restaurant
The food in Puerto Viejo, in general, was a big surprise. I was resigned to live on rice and beans the 4 days I was there - - but nothing could have … read entire review