Beaches of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

What better time to escape to the tropics than when California is getting her first real winter in four years? When I’m in any warm clime I cant help but seek out a perfect place by the sea to soak it all in. There is no shortage of beaches to choose from in and around Puerto Viejo.  As a group we needed a bit of everything. The swimmers wanted waves, the waders wanted serenity, and we were equally divided on sun seekers and shade lovers. Believe it or not, we were mostly satisfied with every beach!

Punta Uva (Arrecifa Side)

Beach on the south side of Punta Uva.

Our first beach experience was on the recommendation of Andrew at Cashew Hill Jungle Lodge. He said that if we wanted a classic postcard beach with white sand and the palm trees arching toward the sea we wouldn’t be disappointed with Punta Uva. He was right. Punta Uva is south of Puerto Viejo by about 20 minutes. There are beaches on both sides of Punta Uva and the beach he recommended is on the southern side of the point . To get there we turned left and followed the sign to Restaurant Arrecife. The restaurant satisfied our bellies and allowed us easy parking.  We were far from disappointed! I think the only drawback was that there were a couple rocks in the beach which proved to be a menace to those inclined to bodysurf.

View from beyond the breakers…

VIP Playa Negra Beach

I’m not really sure what this beach is called technically but it is located just a smidge north of Puerto Viejo. We were seeking out the black sand of Playa Negra and missed it in favor of some shade and a parking spot without a passed-out guy in it. So we settled for gray sand. I call it VIP Beach because there was a sign with the letters VIP and an arrow pointing us down the road to this beach. Our favorite thing about this beach was the lack of rocks. Unfortunately we got there a bit late in the day so the sunshine was lacking but the water felt great!

Playa Negra adjacent!

Cahuita Beach

The beach at Parque Nacional Cahuita.

Going to this beach was on my bucket list for this trip. Just south of the town of Cahuita is one entrance to Parque Nacional Cahuita. There is a trail that follows along the beach in the jungle to the other side of the point to a place called Puerto Vargas. I really wanted to hike the trail from Puerto Vargas to Cahuita. To achieve this the family split up. We left the non-hikers at the beach and the rest of us drove to Puerto Vargas where we paid $5 US each to enter the park (it is donation only on the Cahuita side) and hike back to the beach. This was only a good plan because my husband and my brother wanted to run the trail so when we got to the beach they turned around and ran back and got the van. The trail was mostly shaded but there were enough open segments that I was grateful for the sunglasses and sunscreen I was wearing.

Dappled shade on the trail through Parque Nacional Cahuita.

We saw capuchin monkeys, a sloth, hermit crabs, and some really beautiful birds along the trail. One especially mischievous capuchin actually stole a plastic bag out of my sister in law’s bag. Once the monkey realized it was empty he dropped it out of the tree and she was able to retrieve it.

Capuchin monkey. Super cute. Big teeth.
Punta Cahuita.

We really liked the mellow waters of this beach. Everyone was able to swim with confidence that they wouldn’t end up tumbling in the white water. After our swim we ate at a restaurant called Coco’s in town. I really liked my ceviche and the patacones were delicious. Beyond that I’m pretty sure we would choose a different restaurant if we could time travel.

Playa Negra

We did make it to Playa Negra just on the north edge of  town for a  quick swim one afternoon. The sand was super fine and really dark. That is the best part of this beach. I would skip it actually. There was way too much vegetative detritus in the water for my taste. Seaweed, sticks, and random unidentifiable hard things bumping my legs are not on my list of favorite beach attributes.

Sand of Playa Negra sticking to our wintery feet.


Punta Uva Proper

We didn’t want to repeat any beaches in this short trip so when our final day was upon us we decided to check out the other side of Punta Uva because that was our favorite beach of the trip so far. As far as straight beauty goes I still think it was the winner but Punta Uva proper was really fun! I’m pretty food oriented in general so it didn’t hurt that this beach was complete with a nice lady selling empanadas! There was a place to rent Stand Up Paddleboards  and you could explore the river that entered the water at the beach.

Look Ma! No hands!

I guess this might be a good time to mention that I broke my wrist five weeks before this trip. Since I had zero success convincing the doctor to remove my cast a week early I had to come up with something because I was NOT going to miss out  on lolling about in the Caribbean Sea! Luckily there is a thing called the DryPro Cast Cover. I cannot say enough great things about this product. I had to first wrap my cast in plastic wrap (specifically Press n Seal) followed by one of my husband’s athletic socks then the cast cover. It has a squeezy ball that sucks all of the air out and creates a super tight seal against the water. Getting it onto my arm was definitely a two woman operation (Thanks Mom!).

Punta Uva beach.

I think the real winner for us was Punta Uva. Both sides treated us well. Overall you really can’t go too wrong with any beach around Puerto Viejo. They were all surprisingly clean and not crowded by any means.


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