Top 5 Things To Do in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
Wondering What To Do In Puerto Viejo? Here Are The Real Deal Team Picks For 2017
Probably one of my favorite off the beaten path destinations, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, is nestled along the pristine shore line of the Caribbean Sea. Lined with coconut palms and bordered by plush coastal rain-forest, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is also home to Cahuita National Park, one of the most diverse parks in Costa Rica. Simply known as Puerto Viejo locally, this laid back Afro-Caribbean town should most definitely be on your list of destinations to explore while in Costa Rica.
If you plan to visit this remote destination in Costa Rica, there are many exciting things to do in Puerto Viejo. We hope you take advantage of any or all of the Puerto Viejo tours listed below. We know you will return home with that once-in-a-lifetime experience you have always dreamed of. Our favorite Puerto Viejo experiences are centered on giving you a vibrant, educational yet unforgettable experience in Costa Rica. Below is our team's pick of the top 5 things to do in Puerto Viejo and southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica.
Tortuguero National Park - Costa Rica Sea Turtle Haven
Number one on the list of amazing experiences unique to Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is a remote overnight expedition to Tortuguero National Park. Only accessed by boat, Tortuguero National Park is home to virtually untouched rain-forest and an incredible abundance of wildlife. Otherwise known as “Place of the Turtles”, there is no better place to observe sea turtle nesting in Costa Rica than Tortuguero.
The all-inclusive Tortuguero overnight expedition sets off on a boat ride through the canals, so already an adventure. Just sit back, enjoy the ride and breathe in lush scenery and exotic animals in their natural habitat. Be sure to look out for resident sloths and monkeys chilling in the trees! Once you arrive, Tortuguero offers rustic yet surprisingly awesome bungalows including a pool and of course the requisite restaurant and bar on site.
Tortuguero is not just about sea turtles. The Tortuguero canals consist of eleven different habitats that include lagoons, hidden canals, swamps, beaches and mangrove forests. You can explore the smaller canals by kayak, take a breathtaking nature hike off the beaten path, or visit the quaint Tortuguero Village. For more info about Tortuguero, take a look at our Tortuguero FAQs.
Travel tip- If you really want to catch the sea turtles nesting in Costa Rica, plan accordingly. Leather-back Turtles nest between February-June. Green Turtles nest July-October. You can catch a glimpse of this magnificent act of nature on an optional night-time guided tour!
White Water Rafting Rio Pacuare - Essential Costa Rica Experience
Our second most popular adventure in Puerto Viejo, White Water Rafting the Pacuare River is an absolute must-do! Rated number one on many trusted travel sites, the Pacuare River is thrilling, packed with fun and great for any skill level. The 18 mile river runs through 52 class III & IV white water rapids and even directly through my favorite waterfall in Costa Rica. Aside from the white water rafting adventure, the Pacuare River is surrounded by luscious jungle, beautiful river gorges and an abundance of wild life including colorful frogs, toucans, morpho butterflies, parrots and sloths.
If this is your first time rafting, this operation is top notch for safety instruction. They also have the most number of safety kayakers scouting the rapids and supporting the rafters. The first hour of rapids are for you to hone in on your skills and get comfortable with your rafting team. This is the time to and enjoy all the scenery and wildlife to the fullest before you start the super wild rapids! We promise you will love the experience of the class IV water rapids as you swoop down the Pacuare River Gorge. All that paddling is worth the reward, a natural shower below the 150 foot high Huacas Waterfall. Halfway down you can take a break for a fresh local lunch to recharge for the next adventure, more rapids!
The one thing that separates this white water rafting company from the rest is their exceptional service, organization and attention to details. Most of all, the Exploration Center is located at the heart of Costa Rica, making it a convenient from 3 different tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Coming from San Jose, the drive from takes you through the scenic Braulio Carillo National park which is incredible in itself. The drive from Arenal takes you through lush green mountains and the Sarapiqui Valley. From here in Puerto Viejo, the drive through banana plantations and the Caribbean coast is also uniquely beautiful.
The best part? You can depart from one destination, but the next destination is up to you. So basically you are doing an awesome rafting tour and some sightseeing with free shuttle thrown in. Um...can you think of a better way to travel? They offer the same service for the Tortuguero tour mentioned above as well. Best deal in Costa Rica if you ask us. Actually, ask anyone who is traveling through Costa Rica and I am sure they will agree, white water rafting the Pacuare River is top of their list of things to do in Puerto Viejo.
Travel tip- Bring extra money for the photos!! Seriously, trust us on this one. Aside from the thrilling action shots and facial expressions you probably never knew you were capable of...what awesome cover photos for your FaceBook page!
Cahuita National Park - Snorkeling & Hiking in Costa Rica's Natural Paradise
The third most popular day tour Puerto Viejo is Snorkeling & Hiking in Cahuita National Park. When you explore Cahuita National Park by both land and sea, you get the best of both worlds and maximize your potential for wildlife viewing. Just a short scenic drive from Puerto Viejo, this half day tour to Cahuita is packed with fun, yet gets you back in time to enjoy an afternoon surf session.
The snorkeling takes place in two different reefs in Cahuita National Park. Bring a waterproof camera if you have one! You can capture a ton of sea life including 44 species of crustaceans, 140 shellfish, 35 different coral species and over a hundred species of fish. Sea turtles frequent the area, and I have even seen a nurse shark resting on the sandy bottom!
Once the snorkeling is completed there is a short break to re-hydrate, rest and enjoy some of Costa Rica's famously delicious tropical fruit on the beach. Hiking Cahuita National Park I found to be nearly as abundant in wildlife as Manuel Antonio. Cahuita hiking trails are perfectly flat, dense with natural habitats, and much less crowded than many of Costa Rica's National Parks. During the hike it’s common to see a ton of wildlife like monkeys, sloths, frogs and tropical birds with the help of the keen eyes of expert guides. Keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready!
Travel tip- Since this is only a half day excursion, Cahuita National Park & Snorkel is perfect for Cruise ship passengers too, Pura Vida!
Punta Uva Kayak & Hike - Experience Puerto Viejo's Beaches Like a Local
One of my personal favorites and even many of the locals’ favorite things to do in Puerto Viejo is the Punta Uva Kayak and Hike. This eco-adventure includes river kayaking on the Punta Uva River, sea kayaking on the Caribbean and a nature hike through a lush tropical rain-forest. A trifecta of eco tours in just a few hours so you again, you can still get in that afternoon surf session. In fact the sea kayaking starts from one of my favorite surf beaches just past Punta Uva. That is probably why this is such a popular weekend activity for even the locals.
The morning starts out with a scenic drive to the southern tip of the bay where the kayaking begins on the Caribbean Sea. This is a hot spot for sea turtles who love to make an appearance. After a short kayak around Punta Uva, you then kayak into mouth of the Punta Uva River. This is where the wildlife gets intense. Be on the lookout for the ever present howler monkeys and families of sloth in the tree canopy above. Don't be surprised to encounter small crocodiles swimming beside you and fresh water turtles sunning on logs as you navigate your kayak up the narrow river.
After the kayaking, take a break to enjoy delicious fresh fruit, rehydrate with water or take a dip in the Caribbean before setting off on the hike. The hiking trails traverse the ridge surrounding Punta Uva and lead to a breath-taking view of the bay. The trails are considered easy to moderate. There are a bit of hills involved, but nothing too strenuous to worry about. Howler monkeys and other wildlife can be seen (and heard) in the canopy as you make your way back down to Punta Uva beach. This half-day tour is perfect if you are short on time and can't decide on spending time on the land or sea. With the Punta Uva Kayak & Hike, you get both!
Travel tip- Remember to bring your camera and a waterproof case if you have one! There are SO many beautiful sites to see and curious wildlife to snap a photo of.
Veragua Rainforest Aerial Tram & Nature Park - Natural Wonderland Accessible For Everyone
Last but definitely not least on the list of our favorite things to do in Puerto Viejo is the Veragua Rainforest! Close to Puerto Limon, Veragua Rainforest Aerial Tram & Nature Park tour is by far the most popular cruise ship excursion in Puerto Viejo too.
At Veragua Rainforest Park, you can explore the rainforest canopy at eye level via aerial tram. However, the panoramic views from the Aerial Tram is only half the experience! There is also a frog habitat, butterfly garden, insect museum, hiking trails and even a zip line tour.
The biologist guides will give you some insider information on the biodiversity, history, wildlife, and educational programs they promote at Veragua. You'll travel through 3400 acres of wild flora and fauna while observing monkeys, birds and sloths high in the the trees. The easy hikes consists of rivers, waterfalls and tropical wildlife that resides in the protected jungle. Best of all, many of the trails are handicap accessible. This makes the Veragua Rain Forest Park one of our favorite things to do in Puerto Viejo for the whole family!
Travel tip- Veragua Rainforest does so much for the preservation of the biodiversity of the rainforest of Central America. If you are at all environmentally conscious about the activities you choose, this is really an activity you can feel proud to participate in.
So there you have it, our top picks for our favorite things to do in Puerto Viejo that we wanted to share with you. Whether you prefer to snorkel, hike, kayak, swim or ride the rapids, these top five tours will give you the experience you are looking for while in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Endless adventure and fun for the whole family.
We love your feedback! If there are other experiences in Puerto Viejo that you have enjoyed, please let us know in the comments. We always love to hear about new and different activities to add to our catalog....and any excuse to try new things of course.