Kicking back on a hammock in Puerto Viejo
Kicking back on a hammock in Puerto Viejo

Nested along the crystal waters of the Caribbean, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Limon is notably a large tourist destination in Costa Rica. It's not surprising either. The laid-back, tropical lifestyle and diverse residents of this area make any trip one to remember. Even as a frog, I enjoy watching humans frolic along the shorelines - everyone just seems to let their worries fly away here! A lot of people seem to enjoy lying on the beach all afternoon, but when I visit I'm usually up in the trees or near small ponds where I see humans enjoying the plethora of flora and fauna of the area. Just like most areas in Costa Rica, there is almost too much to do, with local activities including horseback riding, jungle adventures, canyoning or zip lining, but most people come here just to kick back and let loose.

Puerto Viejo used to be just a small fishing village, but once word got around about how neat this place is, more and more travelers put it on their "what to do in Costa Rica" list. Plus, avid surfers flocked to the famous Salsa Brava waves.

Gentel waves at Puerto Viejo
Gentel waves at Puerto Viejo

Getting here and around

Like much of Costa Rica, the roads to Puerto Viejo aren't in great shape - although they are great for frogs because pot holes fill with water and I get to splash around on my journey. But since Limon is a port city, they are in better shape than much of the rest of the country. The best thing about the journey here is the amazing scenery you'll see along the way. You'll drive through the mountains that seem to pierce the sky, then you'll weave through banana and pineapple plantations so beautiful you can almost taste the sweetness in your mouth! The last leg of the adventure is my favorite, because it is along the Caribbean coastline. If you can't believe your eyes on your trip here, you will surely enjoy Puerto Viejo itself.

In other countries, humans usually travel in vehicles, but that's not the case in Puerto Viejo. There are only a few vehicles here, but most people get around by walking and biking along the coastal roads. I think this is the best way to get around because you get to enjoy every ounce of the community. If you're in a car, you might miss a monkey swinging through the trees or a toucan in flight.

Banana Plantation just outside Limon
Banana Plantation just outside Limon

Carefree attitude

I've heard rumors that Puerto Viejo is dangerous, and this comment always makes my bright red eyes pop out of my head! People that live in this area are very dedicated to their community, and the laid-back lifestyle is always apparent. I sometimes just like to people watch here because of their warm and inviting vibe. Instead, Puerto Viejo exudes an eccentric culture because it is a melting pot of Afro-Caribbean, Bribri Indian, tico and a counterculture I've heard called "treehuggers" - which as I tree frog, I love! Grab your best pair of sandals, a pair of shorts and some sunglasses, and you'll be able to roam about the town without worry.

Because the weather in Costa Rica is stunning year round, no matter what time of the year you are traveling here, you will be able to enjoy the white and black sand beaches. Because it tends to get rainy here, if you are seeking endless sunshine, you might want to visit during the dry season in February, March and April, or September and October.

Spots to visit

Puerto Viejo is home to some unbelievable gardens. I've hopped through the Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens and Cacao Trails a few times because of the brightly hued flora and abundance of leatherback sea turtles. Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens may seem like a place that can be skipped, but this is not like your traditional garden. After you've spent the first half of your day at the Black Sand Beach, just head a little bit inland to this spot it's just north of El Pizote Lodge. Here you'll see a wide collection of native and imported tropical flora, including flowering plants, fruits, herbs, medicinal plants, trees and bushes. Depending on what time of the year you come here, you'll be able to indulge in whatever is ripe!

The Cacao Trails are a sight to see as well. You'll get to wander through the botanical gardens, enjoy a meal at the open-air restaurant, visit the Chocolate Museum and Factory, view wildlife, go swimming or walk through the organic farm - you've never tasted chocolate as decadent as it is here! If you come here during turtle nesting season, you may be able to watch as these majestic creatures as they lay their eggs in the nearby sands.