Last updated on January 16th, 2021 at 09:37 pm EST
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Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) photos
Note: The Playa Puerto Viejo referred to in this article is the Playa Puerto Viejo that is located along Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, immediately west of Brasilito and Playa Conchal. We cite the beach name as Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) to distinguish it from Playa Puerto Viejo (Caribbean), a similarly named beach located along Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast.
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) fast facts
- English name: Puerto Viejo Beach
- Distance from San Jose: 275km (approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes)
- Closest Town: Brasilito (small town), Tamarindo (large town)
- Beach Status: Public beach
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) beach details
Sand, shade, scenery, and unique features
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) is blessed with soft, shimmery, pink-hued, light-brown sand that ripples in shallow water. It is supple enough for you to dig your toes into. Bright-blue water sparkles offshore between vegetation-covered headlands that appear bright green and lush for much of the year (typically between May and December). Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches.
Crowds and noise
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. It receives only a handful of visitors each day (if any) because only a few locals reside in the area and the region’s international visitors tend to gravitate toward nearby Playa Conchal. Noise is kept to a minimum.
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 (Guanacaste) did not participate in the Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica and therefore did not receive a star rating.
Development at Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste)
Hotels, restaurants, tours, bathrooms, etc.
There is no commercial development at Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste), apart from a small snack bar at the back of the beach which is only open on occasion. Horseback riding tours run in the region sometimes visit this beach.
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) safety
Swimming and water safety
Swimming is allowed at Playa Puerto Viejo and is calm in the shallow water. 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. If possible, visit the beach as part of a group to avoid being at this remote-feeling beach alone.
Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) location and road conditions
Access to Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) and 4×4 requirement
Playa Puerto Viejo is located on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It sits southwest of the community of Brasilito and occupies the westernmost end of Playa Conchal.
Playa Puerto Viejo is an approximate 14-kilometer, 25-minute drive south, west, then north from Brasilito via the hamlets of Huacas and Matapalo. The drive between Matapalo and the beach is unpaved and quite bumpy. A 4×4 vehicle is recommended to reach Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste).
Map of Playa Puerto Viejo Costa Rica
Parking at Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste)
There is no official parking at Playa Puerto Viejo, though there is a makeshift lot at the end of the road that leads to the beach (the unnamed road that departs from Matapalo to the north). There is room for several vehicles. Locals stationed at the lot offer to keep watch over parked cars for tips. Once you park in the lot, you’ll need to follow a short path over a small hill to reach the beach.
Best reason(s) to visit Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste)
Offering solitude and some of the prettiest sand along the northern Pacific coast, Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) is worth visiting purely to experience the beach. One of our favorite Costa Rican vacation homes, Villas La Paz, is located within walking distance of Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) but even if you don’t plan to stay at that property, the beach can easily be enjoyed during a day trip from whichever destination you plan to station yourself at along the northern Pacific coast.
Beach hopping from Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) (or alternative beach options in the region)
Recommended day trips from Playa Puerto Viejo (Guanacaste) include visits to Playa Conchal, Playa Brasilito, Playa Flamingo, Playa Real, Playa Grande, or Playa Tamarindo.
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