Our final stop before traveling home to Colorado was Costa Rica. Known for its coffee, bananas, chocolate, and tropical rainforests, this country is a popular vacation destination for US citizens. We knew we had to make this our final country on our trip and see if it lived up to its hype. We'd heard from travelers around the world that Costa Rica is expensive. Due to this warning, and our short time frame (2 weeks), we opted to stay in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast, for the two weeks.
where to stay
Caribe Town Hotel - Imagine this: you spend all afternoon at Cocles beach drinking coconuts and reading your favorite book. After you've soaked up all of the sunshine that your skin can handle, you wander a few meters up the road to your own private jungle bungalow. You spend a few hours napping, playing cards, or taking a dip in the saltwater pool. At night, you either choose to walk a couple of minutes to La Nena to eat dinner or cook dinner in the outdoor kitchen available at Caribe Town. Sound like the perfect escape? We can assure you that it is. Caribe Town is run by a couple, Jessica and Marc, who left their comfortable lives behind in search of something quieter and less stressful. They've created a small slice of paradise in southeast Costa Rica. The couple is incredibly kind and always available to give recommendations. Oh, and they make the best homemade breakfast each morning for their guests!
With only five bungalows hidden in between lush vegetation, our experience at Caribe Town felt like we were on our honeymoon all over again. The hotel offers all of the amenities that a fancy five star resort does, but on a more intimate, personable level. On a couple of occasions, we borrowed two pink bicycles from the hotel and rode up and down the narrow road searching for the best beaches. Along the way, we kept our eyes peeled for sloths hanging in the tall trees. Caribe Town is known for having a resident sloth that loves to come down and visit the guests. If you're looking for a quiet escape in Puerto Viejo, we absolutely recommend Caribe Town. Tell Marc and Jessica that we said hi!
things to do
Rent bicycles - Most hotels have bikes to rent, but if not, there are bike rental places all around town. We spent quite a few days on bikes finding new lunch spots, discovering beaches, and even biking to the market for fresh veggies. We recommend staying on the main road that runs along the beaches and only biking during the day. Puerto Viejo has some petty theft, especially at night, so we avoided that altogether.
Beach hop - As mentioned above, all of these beaches are accessible by bicycle. There are also public buses that run up and down the coast, but their schedule doesn't seem very reliable. We recommend Playa Negra, Playa Cocles (our favorite beach), Punta Uva, and a quiet beach located between Cocles and Chaquita.
Cahuita National Park - We admit that we never made it to this park. We tried for over a week, but we either got caught in tropical rain storms or gave up after waiting for the bus for 45 minutes. We've heard great things though, so we recommend checking it out. Let us know what you thought if you make it!
where to eat
Cho.Co - We spent an afternoon tasting some of the area's finest chocolate, beer, and coffee. We had heard rumors about Costa Rica's chocolate scene, and it is safe to say that the rumors are true! The country has some of the best chocolate we've ever tasted. The owners, Martin and Nelson, were traveling the region some years ago when they saw a perfect business opportunity. They support local farmers by selling their chocolate and offering different pairings with local coffee and beer. The shop itself is beautiful and we recommend everyone stop in here while in Puerto Viejo.
We recommend checking out some of the local "sodas" for unique local flavors. These are usually Costa Rican cuisine fused with Caribbean flavors. We ate coconut rice, plantains, and fish almost daily. Not only are these restaurants delicious, but they're more affordable than the touristic restaurants in the area. Our favorite was called La Nena.
Bread and Chocolate - Doesn't the name alone make you want to eat here? This is a perfect restaurant for brunch. It's probably the most famous restaurant in town, so save this meal for a day when you have time.
Bri Bri Brewery - Try the passionfruit beer!
Before and/or after visiting Puerto Viejo, it's likely that you'll pass through San José. If you need a comfortable place to stay for a night or two before heading to the airport, we recommend Fauna Luxury Hostel. This hostel has all the amenities of a luxury hotel, but in a fun and laid back hostel environment. In the mornings, we ate a delicious breakfast (included in the room rate) and spent a few hours blogging in the comfortable common area. After a bit, we retreated to the yoga terrace for some exercise. By evening, we found ourselves taking a dip in the pool/jacuzzi surrounded by nature. The hostel has a restaurant and bar onsite complete with pool tables, ping pong, and other games. After a full day at the hostel, we realized we hadn't even left because the hostel has everything! The dorm rooms have pods with pull-down shades, rather than traditional bunk beds, so you won't even hear the others in your room.
For the love and adventure,
b & d