Growing up landlocked (and yet still, somehow landlocked) I always crave the beach. I lust after the smell of the ocean air making its way up my nostrils, the sound of the waves kissing the sand and the way my toes sink into the sand, perfectly encasing me.
I’ve been lucky enough to dig my feet into a numerous amount of beaches: Peru, Colombia, and Laguna Beach in California to name a few. But there is one that always sticks out in my mind as a beach I could retire to: Puerto Viejo.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is located in southeastern Costa Rica. To get to this slice of paradise, hop on a public bus in San Jose — a ticket will cost you around $8 (but make sure the ticket says Puerto Viejo de Talamanca).
Flickr photo via Ben Kucinski
Getting off the bus you’ll be greeted by the hum of Reggae music in the air and the crisp smell of the ocean. You’ll also notice dozens of local shops selling jewelry and other goods. If you get the shopping bug, just be warned, most of the shops only accept cash.
For places to lay your head, the most popular hostel in Puerto Viejo is Rocking J’s. Located near the main strip, Rocking J’s allows travelers to sleep in tents, hammocks, dorm beds or private rooms. Rocking J’s also has a bar area right when you walk in, perfect for meeting other travelers and getting a drink/grub before heading out.
It’s tempting to mill about at Rocking J’s the whole trip, but avoid the temptation! A few other things to do (besides beach bumming, which is highly encouraged) are to check out local restaurants, including Cafe Rico, Bread and Chocolate and Jungle Love Cafe.
After filling your belly, unwind with Cerveza’s, and good music at The Lazy Mon.
Awaking the next morning (after a night of dancing) just as the sun rises, make sure to rent a bike ($6) and head to an off-the-beaten path destination: Manzanillo. Located around 12 km from Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo is home to amazing hikes, kayaking and snorkeling.
It’s a place to relax from all the tourists in Puerto Viejo, and a chance to really appreciate the beauty that surrounds you; not even an iPhone could capture the magnificence of these coastal towns.