Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

When you return to the coast from the Indian reservation, you feel as if you are entering another world. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, similarly to Puerto Lim6n, was also founded as a Caribbean harbor. Since the completion of the road, Carretera 36 (the town is now six kilometers off the beaten track), fewer visitors stop at the village. Tourists have just recently started returning to this idyllic old harbor, surrounded by rain forest and influenced by a fascinating mixture of black and Indian cultures.

Today the residents earn their living largely through agriculture, planting cacao, citrus fruit and coconut palms, or by seasonal fishing for lobsters. But ever more families are discovering that extra money is to be made from renting rooms to tourists.

The clock seems to tick slower in Puerto Viejo. Every activity appears to take place in slow motion. The popular greeting on the streets is a casual, “What’s happening?” In its shortened pidgin English form it sounds like, “Wa’apin, man?”

The nearly white, palm fringed sand beach of Pirikiki is used by visitors as well as residents for swimming and relaxing. Apparently inexhaustible surfers ride the waves between December and March. They come in large numbers during these months in search of “killer waves,” such as the legendary six-meterhigh wave referred to as La Salsa Brava by the locals.

At night everyone – surfers, Rastafarians, Indians and package tourists-meet in discos with exciting names like Old Harbor’s, Standard’s and Johnny’s Place. Music video clips show another world, and cold beer flows down dry throats. For many young local men the evening has only one logical end – amor, amor!

Playa Codes, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva

Playa Cocles, two kilometers east of Puerto Viejo, is perfect for surfing. Two hotels cater especially to surfers, and a lively bar with the name of Kapalapa supplies them with all their basic needs. At night the daring wave-riders move to the beat of a different drummer on the Kapalapa dance floor, and watch short videos in lieu of seeing movies.

Playa Chiquita adjoins Puerto Viejo four kilometers to the east. The beach is just as beautiful and exciting as Playa Codes. The Villas del Caribe hotel complex, which primarily attracts young travelers, is built along the beach. The owner is Maurice Strong, a well-known Canadian environmental activist who organized the International Environmental Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Punta Uva, three kilometers further to the east, is not really a village, but rather a collection of wooden huts along a dirt road. From here you can start guided hikes through the forest, for example, along the Quebrada Ernesto trail. Horseback riding is also possible.

Naturales, a restaurant located on a hill with an excellent view of the turquoise blue water, serves typical Costa Rican dishes and sells traditional handicrafts in its little shop. From Punta Uva, a magnificent black sand beach stretches for five kilometers to the village of Manzanillo, and to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Game Preserve.

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