Puerto Viejo has long attracted a crowd of surfers with its famous waves. Salsa Brava, the most powerful wave in Costa Rica, breaks the shallow reef in Puerto Viejo. For beginner and intermediate surfers, check out Cocles Beach vacations for constant waves.
Snorkeling / Diving
When conditions are right, some of the beaches south of Puerto Viejo can be spectacular for snorkeling. At Punta Uva Arrecife (Grape Point Reef), you can snorkel on the beach. Manzanillo further south also has an impressive shallow reef for snorkeling and diving.
The warm Caribbean Sea is the perfect place to launch a line. The boats of small boats leave the quiet cove of Puerto Viejo to explore the reefs and the exits of the rivers to the south. A popular combined tour allows you to fish for sporting fish such as wahoo or tuna, but it also allows you to observe dolphins and snorkel. A more authentic option allows you to accompany a local skiff to help wind up snapper and grouper, species that are commonly sold in local restaurants.
Horseback riding is popular in Puerto Viejo and for good reason. From the top of a horse, you can explore the surrounding jungle and find hidden beaches. A good guide will indicate the wildlife on the way and will teach you about the forest. Tours vary in duration from a short two-hour trip to a full-day adventure.
A visit to Chocolate Tour will surely make your mouth water. Here, you can walk through the cocoa forest and learn how this artisan chocolatier makes chocolate from bar to bar with fair trade cocoa of local origin. Be sure to visit the tasting room before going out to taste the many flavors of the chocolate produced. Tours can be arranged directly through the Chocolate tour.
Jaguar Rescue Center
Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Playa Chiquita doing an incredible job for injured animals. The guides who work directly with the animals will teach you everything about the residents, which may include monkeys, sloths, margay (photo below), parrots, toucans and other creatures of the jungle. On a tour, you will learn how the animals ended up at the Center and their launch plans, while you get up close and personal. Nightly walks from the launch site are also possible.
Visit an Indigenous Community
Delve into the culture of the southern Caribbean with a visit to one of several BriBri indigenous communities. Learn about their local customs, language, traditions and farming methods. Some tours have a chocolate component in which you can taste some of their sacred cocoa drink, while others take you to hidden waterfalls.
Cahuita National Park
The town of Cahuita, about 16 km north of Puerto Viejo, is worth visiting in a day trip. In addition to absorbing the feeling of the small town, the national park in Cahuita is one of our favorites. This impressive 2,711 acres (1,097 hectares) of jungle is located along the sea. On the flat and sandy path, pitbull snakes with eyelashes, sloths, howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis and many types of birds can be observed. The park also houses several beaches and a coral reef protected off the coast, which you can dive with a guide.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
If you have a few extra nights in your itinerary and want to visit another country, we recommend the islands of Panama Bocas del Toro. Los Bocas have a Caribbean feeling even more relaxed than Puerto Viejo. They offer many white sand beaches with clear water that is ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Those looking for a party scene will find it in the city of Bocas. Buses run daily from the Puerto Viejo area.