The laid back atmosphere, the rice and beans and the reggae music; pristine beaches and bright blue sea along lush tropical vegetation... Because of its infamous reputation, the province of Limon has escaped the major developments that have changed the face of the Pacific coast over these last decade.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is irresistably Caribbean, tropical and flamboyant, romantic and mysterious. The beaches of Puerto Viejo look like they just come from some exotic holiday brochure. Go beach hopping to bar hopping and vice versa, a little Ceviche here, some tasty Rice and Beans in Coconut or a delicious and spicy jerked chicken there.
The first beach you fall upon is Playa Negra; as its name suggests, it is a black sand beach, pitch black against the blue sea and the green flora. As you keep going south, you reach the pueblo of Puerto Viejo; not long ago, this was just a sleepy little fishing village, and one can still see the small boats pulled up on the sand. It has not developed as rapidly as some beach towns have on the Pacific, however it does offer an interesting variety of cafes, restaurants and hotels to choose from.
Puerto Viejo is where you will find the famous Salsa Brava, a break that attract many avid surfers. Unless you need a break or are ready for a drink you should carry on further south and your next stop will be Punta Cocles, a white beach, more typical of the area; watch out for the strong currents if you swim, however you should know that the best thing to do in Punta Cocles is to relax in the rock pools; there you will spend endless hours snorkeling in the coral channels, or just relax in the refreshing water. This is an great place for young children to play safely.
The next beach is Punta Uva, a typical Caribbean beach that looks like it just came out of a traveling brochure; the colors are out of this world, how can so much beauty be real? The contrasts are intense, and it gets better all the time. The sea is divine for swimming, calm and quiet without too many waves or currents.
Finally you arrive in Manzanillo, and you have reached the end of the road; if you kept going you’d find yourself in the middle of the jungle. Should you survive the crocs, the jaguars, and the snakes you would end up in Panama!
The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife refuge is without a doubt one of Costa Rica’s most precious region. This mangrove swamp is the only one that is still untouched on the Atlantic coast and the lowland rainforest is also mesmerizing. This unique lowland rainforest, the wetland and the mangrove swamp are home to an extraordinary wildlife. This refuge is also protecting an awesome coral reef that is equally outstanding; it hides the only natural mangrove oyster beds found along the whole coast. Also living in the lovely coral reef are many brightly colored fish and marine life including sea anemones, angel fish, urchins and of course the blue parrot fish.
The sea absolutely bustle with dolphins, turtles, manatees and tarpons. Woodpeckers, frigate birds, eagles, parakeet, toucans, pelicans, and motmots are plentiful. Caymans and crocodiles are not infrequent in the rivers and in the swamps, undisturbed. In Manzanillo it is as if nothing has changed for a long, long time!
Puerto Viejo is a world by itself. With its European colony, it makes the perfect location for a different and exotic holiday, very far away from civilization, yet with all the necessary amenities at hand.