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Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) photos
Note: The Playa Puerto Viejo referred to in this article is the Playa Puerto Viejo that is located along Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, between Cahuita and Manzanillo. We cite the beach name as Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) to distinguish it from Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste), a similarly named beach located along Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.
To learn more about the beach town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) is located, don’t miss our related blog post:
Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) fast facts
- English name: Puerto Viejo Beach / Old Port Beach
- Distance from San Jose: 217km (approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes)
- Closest Town: Cahuita (small town), Limon (large town)
- Beach Status: Public beach
Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) beach details
Sand, shade, scenery, and unique features
Playa Puerto Viejo is a series of several sandy spots that edge the southern Caribbean coast in front of the beach town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca; it is not one long, continuous beach. The scene at Playa Puerto Viejo depends on which sandy spot you visit; some areas (mainly the stretch in front of Avenida 75) are long, deep, and offer plenty of room for sunbathing alongside locals. Other areas are tucked behind bars and restaurants, are razor-thin, or are occupied with rows of fishing boats. In most areas, the sand is compact and light brown; tall palm trees tower overhead; and the water is a mix of turquoise and teal.
Crowds and noise
Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) regularly entertains several visitors, mainly because it’s the principal beach that fronts the town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Due to the town’s popularity, crowds and noise can be an issue. Fortunately, the beach edges the entire town, so it isn’t difficult to find a small spot where you can enjoy the water away from others. The longest, prettiest stretch, which also tends to be the busiest section of the beach, is found along Avenida 75 on the northwest side of town.
Cleanliness and Ecological Blue Flag rating
Costa Rica’s Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica (Ecological Blue Flag Program) promotes sustainability and public health (to learn more about the program, see our related blog post: Costa Rica’s Ecological Blue Flag Program: Safe and Sustainable Beaches). Every year, several beaches in Costa Rica compete for top honors, which are bestowed annually according to strict criteria that span the topics of water quality, beach sanitation and garbage disposal, the treatment of industrial waste, beach security, and environmental education. Beaches that participate in the program and meet 90-100% of the eligibility criteria achieve a 1-star rating. Additional efforts invite beaches to achieve 2-star, 3-star, 4-star, or 5-star ratings (5 stars is the highest rating).
In 2019, Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) did not participate in the Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica and therefore did not receive a star rating.
Development at Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean)
Hotels, restaurants, tours, bathrooms, etc.
The town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca provides an assortment of establishments, including hotels, restaurants, tour offices, and shops, virtually everything you might want to have at a Costa Rican destination. Most establishments are within walking distance of the beach, if not positioned directly on the beach.
Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) safety
Swimming and water safety
Swimming is allowed at Playa Puerto Viejo, but beware of rough waves rolling in from the Caribbean Sea, especially offshore around the Salsa Brava Rasta Bar, where you’ll find the area’s gnarly surf break: Salsa Brava. As always, exercise caution in and around the water, especially if you plan to visit with children or inexperienced swimmers.
Never bring items of value with you to the beach and always keep an eye on your belongings. Remember to lock your rental car if you have one. Do not visit the beach before sunrise or after sunset.
Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) location and road conditions
Access to Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean) and 4×4 requirement
Playa Puerto Viejo is located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. It sits east of Cahuita and west of Manzanillo.
Road 256 passes through the heart of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The black-sand beach you’ll see on your left as you enter the town (from the west via Cahuita) is Playa Negra; the brown-sand beach you’ll see on your left as you travel through town is Playa Puerto Viejo. A 4×4 vehicle is not required to reach Playa Puerto Viejo.
Map of Playa Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
Parking at Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean)
There is no official parking at Playa Puerto Viejo, though there are several places to park in town that are within walking distance of the beach. One option is the makeshift lot on the north side of Avenida 73, near the bus station. There is room for several vehicles. Another option is to park along the side of Road 256 in town or down one of the side streets that jut off Road 256 to the southeast.
Best reason(s) to visit Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean)
Playa Puerto Viejo isn’t worth traveling to purely to experience the beach. The best reason to visit Playa Puerto Viejo is to enjoy the beach in addition to the many other offerings that the southern Caribbean coast has to offer. If Puerto Viejo de Talamanca’s laid-back vibe, delicious Caribbean food, and activities draw you in, consider Playa Puerto Viejo a bonus experience.
Beach hopping from Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean (or alternative beach options in the region)
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean)? What did you think?
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Not sure which Costa Rica beaches are the best to visit? Let the beaches in this article inspire you: