If you’ve done any sort of research on must-see destinations in Costa Rica, you’ll notice the same names continue to pop up. Jaco, Arenal, Monteverde and Tamarindo are all popular places among tourists and locals alike. And yet, nestled up next to Panama on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica lies Puerto Viejo – a hidden gem and quite arguably the best kept secret in Costa Rica.

A Travelers Paradise

sumo puerto viejo

Puerto Viejo is comprised of people from all over the world. Whether you’re swinging by for a quick visit or you’re planning something a little more long-term,  this sleepy little oceanside village will steal your heart in a matter of days. With miles of beach (both black sand and white) bordered by lush, vibrant rainforest, Puerto Viejo maintains an imperishable connection to Mother Nature and beyond.

Let’s Talk About Food

Despite being small in stature, Puerto Viejo boasts some deliciously robust food. Our list of favorite restaurants is long and mouthwatering, but are favorites are The Lazy Mon, The Point, Stashu’s, Koki Beach Restaurant, Bread and Chocolate, Madre Tierra, Café Rico, and Lidia’s Place – to name a few. Whether you’d like traditional dishes or fresh-caught seafood, you’ll have your pick of some of the most incredible cuisine in Costa Rica. Pro trip: don’t miss out on the fresh cacao at the farmer’s market Saturday morning.

Build Your Own Adventure

Surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, ziplining, hiking and yoga can all be enjoyed in a single day in Puerto Viejo. Hire a guide to take you to BriBri to visit Costa Rica’s indigenous community, or make a short trip to the nearby waterfalls to soak up Costa Rica’s most valuable asset: natural beauty. When you’ve had enough excitement for the day, you can always head back to town to soak up a picturesque sunset.

It might seem hard to believe, but sometimes the best adventure is to spend your time interacting with locals and listening to the stories that they have to tell. Those who have lived in Puerto for many years have watched the town transform around them, while newcomers often have great recommendations for new places to explore.

Things You Won’t Find

There are a lot of things you won’t find in Puerto Viejo. First, say goodbye to air conditioning. Many rental properties forego the AC and embrace the beauty of the Caribbean heat, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant or a bar that doesn’t have open air seating. But never fear: if you think you’re going to need a little help cooling down on the evenings there are plenty of nearby hotels with in-room air conditioning systems.

costa rica pura vida

Ladies, throw away your blow drier and hair straightener. You can safely toss your makeup and your high heels, too. This pura vida lifestyle will quickly have you embracing au natural! When you’re spending your days on the beach and your evenings dancing underneath the moon, there’s no need to be anyone other than yourself. Soon, you’ll also be enchanted by the best kept secret in Costa Rica.