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Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Level Contributor
682 posts
22 reviews
Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Hi ! We are traveling to Costa Rica end of May. My husband and kids ages 21 18 and 16. We are staying with my inlaws outside of Grecia for 1 night and than 3 nights in LaPaz at Peace Lodge. 4th night with my nephew in Siquirres he is a well known Herpetologist in the area and we will be doing a night tour with him. Cant Wait! Than we move on down to PV for 3 nights at La Costa de Papito Lodge. We do have a guided tour of snorkel and hike at Cahuita and plan on doing a Chocolate tour and visit the Jaguar house. And we have private transfer to all destinations. Do you have any suggestions on restaurants or other things to do? Must see Beaches? Any safety concerns? We are cool with lounging around and taking up all the scenes and animals. I have read its not real safe to go in the jungle without a guide and not a wise idea to walk around at night or let my girls run on deserted beaches in a.m. We are a well traveled family we frequent Mexico a bunch (Isla Mujeres ) mainly. We know all the smart things about keeping valuables away blah blah blah... We are really looking forward to this trip. So what ever advice you can give us would be much appreciated!

Pure Vida!

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
11,081 posts
23 reviews
1. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Sounds like a great trip. Maybe you could take me along? The only thing I would change if you're not fully booked already is the Peace Lodge. You could stay another week in most destinations for what 3 nights at the Peace Lodge will cost. But aside from cost, I thought 1 night at the Peace Lodge was decadent but fun. We were however ready to leave by noon the next day as we'd seen it all. Would have been stir crazy after 2 nights especially since you won't have a car and are effectively stuck there. Others love the place and I think it's fine for a day of but ...

Once you make it down to Puerto Viejo the 2 things missing from your list are surfing lessons at nearby Cocles beach. Easy to arrange right at the beach. And rents bikes for a day and head down to Punta Uva, the prettiest beach in the area and best for playing the in the waves. Be sure & stop at Alice's for incredible ice cream on the way back.

We love eating at Selvin's, La Pecora Nera & El Refugio Grill.

Edited: 20 January 2017, 05:40
Level Contributor
682 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Thank You so much for input we are already booked and paid for but I think we are ok at Peace Lodge we like to Chill and we are leaving immediately after school ends and I know our kids will just want to relax..

What is weather like end of May? and any concerns about crime?

Level Contributor
682 posts
22 reviews
3. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

cpl more questions what is a soda café? any particular must things to pack?

and fun places for night life?


Stevens Point...
Level Contributor
347 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

A soda is a cafe. Definitely rent bikes and head south to Punta Uva. Take the bus down to Manzanillo and check out the large and usually empty beach. Some good snorkeling south of Maxi's restaurant. Hike into the Gandoca Reserve on the south end of town. I would suggest compact binoculars, water shoes, a pocket size tropical bird guide and lots of bug repellent. Cannot comment on the night life in PV as I have only stayed in Manzanillo, and that was a mix of night birds, night insects and howler monkeys. Enjoy your trip!

Guelph, Canada
Level Contributor
111 posts
47 reviews
5. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Another restaurant we like in the PV area is Stashus con fusion. Lazy mon also for the location on the beach.

Puerto Viejo, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Level Contributor
1,682 posts
54 reviews
6. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Your concerns about crime are legitimate and everyone's sensitivity and tolerance to this issue is very different. While traveling in Costa Rica, you need to keep in mind this is a developing country and also it is Central America.

There are standard precautions one must take. I am sure with you and your family traveling in places like Mexico are well versed in those precautions. As for your kids, Puerto Viejo has thousands of backpackers who travel through here. It's a fun place for them. But it might not be a parent's idea of fun as there tends to be a lot of partying and sometimes some drugs involved.

For me personally, how I address this issue, I always ask myself in regards to safety for other people, "Would I feel comfortable with my child (or nieces and nephews) at that age to experience whatever you're concerned about?" That answer for me, has been "yes", but with the usual caveats of "take a taxi at night, don't buy marijuana, don't walk on beach at night, etc etc.

My son was 20 years old when he came to visit me here and stayed for a couple of months. It was one of the best growing up experiences he ever had. He had lived a limited, sheltered life with his mom and this opened up a whole new world to him.

Puerto Viejo de...
Level Contributor
4 posts
29 reviews
7. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

best beach in Puerto is Punta Uva. the chocolate here is famous. Try "Caribenos.". Join https:/…

Level Contributor
87 posts
55 reviews
8. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

just got back from Punta Uva area, and agree the beach at Punta Uva is best swimming /communal beach. For animal watching, keep in mind that you can see plenty of animals just by walking or biking down the main road, especially starting at Punta Uva and points further south. You will actually see less "in the jungle" since the jungle is so dense. There were three different monkey species and two toucan species in a tree next to the river at Pachamama Jungle Lodge while I was there. Pedestrians stood on the bridge and witnessed the spectacle on their way to the beach. The tree was fruiting in early January, so that won't happen all the time, but there are almost always sloths (Arrecife Road had them every day), monkeys and toucans along the road once you get into sparsely developed part of the road. Also, recommend the Rara Avis project south of Punta Uva, where they are working to grow the population of Great Green Macaws. Awesome tour for $20

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9,982 posts
70 reviews
9. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

For experiencing a popular soda in Puerto Viejo, try Guetto Girl- https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review… . We went there by accident, when noticed it passing by and were hungry, but I had been recommmended this place by another TA member, and we enjoyed it. Without his recommendation, we might have not gone. Delicious and inexpensive meal. No menus, just tell the ladies what you would like cooked, if they have it. You have to be ok with a funny thin tall cat that stretches so high that its front paws reach the edge of the table. We do not normally eat with cats by the tables, but there it was ok, if it makes sense.

Check out http://www.natureobservatorio.com

Hire a local guide if decide to hike in Manzanillo's Gandoca Reserve, but for Cahuita park, the guide might not be needed. It is an easy hiking trail, 8.5 km long. See my review of Cahuita NP, if interested - https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g… .

Note that if you want a private tour of the Jaguar Rescue Centre, you need to prebook it, times vary. Public tours go 2 times a day at 9:30, 11:30, you do not need to prebook tickets, nor can you come in and just wander around, only with a tour. Public tours cost $20 pp, so I hope you are not paying a lot more for your organized tour of the Jaguar "house", if this is what you mean, since your admission gives you a tour guide anyway, in either English, Spanish or French, I believe, - in a group, of course.

After the Jaguar Centre, you can come out to the main Rd and walk right, you will get to Punta Uva beach pretty soon. There is Sloth Point, where you can rent river kayaks and ask the young ppl renting them out to point some sloths for you - there were some sleeping on a tree across the river.

We also walked from the Jaguar Centre to Manzanillo, which is about 7 km away. Obviously before dark. Most of that way is isolated, a bit along the beach, mostly along the road, surrounded by vegetation, no houses, and while we saw quite a bit of wildlife on the way, which was very cool, it is better not to carry valuables, walk in a group, and maybe not even have a daybag with you (we usually walked around with water bottles in our hands, folded thin rain ponchos in the pockets,a small waterproof camera in another pocket, and this was pretty much it.). Or, as mentioned in other replies, take a bus (not that frequent toward Manzanillo end) or rent bikes with locks.

Great site for PV and area- https://www.puertoviejosatellite.com . Its Transportation section gives you a Mepe Bus Schedule. Pay in CRC or about $1.00, smth like that.

Bend, Oregon
Level Contributor
70 posts
24 reviews
10. Re: Advice on PV newbie to Costa Rica

Nice to hear this place has not changed too much in the 19 years since I was there and we are excited to be coming back with our kids in November. Great advice and perspective from Colinsito! My wife was about 24 when we did this trip and she is thin and attractive, and likes to run. She went out one night w/o me and I never made that mistake again. All went ok, but men treat women differently when their husbands etc are not around, so be mindful. A young girl from the states was found chopped up and left to burn in a car right after we left there. There were a lot of drugs around, you could see the culture, and some really intimidating rastas around that were very aggressive pan handlers (and a white dude from NY!). It is not (or at least was not) like Isla at all, so if that is your 3rd world experience, expect much less here, and play it much safer. Curious what you read about the jungle hikes that lead you to believe you need a guide? Cahuita is a well maintained path that follows the coast line and is just amazing (again unless it has changed much), and Manzanillo was more off the beaten path, but still very manageable. We hiked in over 2 hours there and it was just amazing. Did not see one single person, but that was 1998 lol.

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