Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

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I can’t describe the Costa Rican town of Puerto Viejo without resorting to cliches— white sand beaches, jungle-lined roads made for biking, fresh Caribbean food and plenty of sunshine—it’s got them all, and in the best possible way. In the way that makes you forget that life could be anything but a sun-dappled ride from morning yoga to the beach, followed by home-made peanut butter ice cream. It's too much, gloriously so!  So here is an itinerary of things to indulge in:

Stay: There are plenty of options. We found Apartamentos Agapi perfectly comfortable. $50 will get you  a double room with breakfast in low season. Pool and bike rentals on site are a bonus. Just don’t pet the dog, he’s had a hard life.

Lunch: Our first taste of Puerto Viejo was a meal at Madre Tierra where the cheerful owner squeezed fresh fruit juice while singing and his mother whipped up the Sunday special—Caribbean chicken and rice, tender and rich.

Dinner: Despite it’s oddball name, Stashu’s Con Fusion deservedly has the reputation as one of the best restaurants in town. Fresh fish, meat and plenty of veggie dishes are prepared in an array of sauces—Thai, Mexican, Indian... And food-drunk you might easily find yourself being seduced by a tarot reading behind one of its mysterious veiled walls.

Yoga: Start your day with a morning class at Om on the wooden deck which lets you zen out to the sound of the ocean in the distance. Dogs, cats and lizards may be in attendance too. Grab some breakfast, or better yet locally made chocolate on the way out.

Dessert:Alice Ice Cream Bar is a delicious, shady refuge in nearby Playa Chiquita, a pleasant ride from PV. Owned by ex-pat New Yorkers, this beautifully understated cafe serves only ice cream. Flavours change daily, think coconut rum, peanut butter chunk & coffee.

There’s no shortage of nightlife options either (live music at Lazy Mon, people watching at Koki), but be warned, the town has a bit of a seedy underbelly once the sun sets. The idyl would probably get boring otherwise.

Puerto Viejo beach at dawn

Puerto Viejo beach at dawn

Mango pipa preparation at Madre Tierra restaurant
Mango pipa preparation at Madre Tierra restaurant
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Agapi Apartments
Agapi Apartments
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Roadside attractions

Roadside attractions

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Alice's ice cream bar
Alice's ice cream bar
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"My mother painted this beauty" —Jackson, the owners' son, while giving me a tour of the cafe
"My mother painted this beauty" —Jackson, the owners' son, while giving me a tour of the cafe
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Gratuitous selfie. The end.

Gratuitous selfie. The end.

Alajuela, Costa Rica

Alajuela, Costa Rica

Panamá/Costa Rica Border

Panamá/Costa Rica Border