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Puerto Viejo

COSTA RICA,
CARIBBEAN COAST

Costa Ricans will all agree that the Caribbean side of the country has a culture all its own. Besides the dominant Spanish language, the dialect used by many is patois--a.k.a. Patuâ--Creole-flavored English that has a strong Caribbean twist. Reggae music is played all day, and all around, people's energy seems to be in sync with the rhythm of the peaceful waves gently kissing the golden shore.
While most travelers tend to visit the Pacific side of Costa Rica for its larger array of lodging options, the South Caribbean of Costa Rica attracts people who search for a laid-back atmosphere and crowd-free beaches. On the Caribbean Coast the rainforest canopy is free from tall buildings that spoil the view. From the shore all you see is a long stretch of sand bordered by evergreen jungle on one side and clear water on the other, all topped with a brilliant blue sky.
Le Caméléon is located adjacent Playa Cocles, a beautiful sandy beach just 3 km (about 2 miles) away from the delightful coastal town of Puerto Viejo.

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    A coastal town located in Costa Rica’s lower Talamanca Limon Province, Puerto Viejo is known simply as Wolaba to locals. 
    The town was originally called Old Harbor until the Spanish central Costa Rican government institutionalized Spanish as the new local language and changed the names of the towns and landmarks in the area from English to Spanish.
    Puerto Viejo is a popular tourist destination. Surfers flock to the area to ride the biggest and most powerful waves—the Salsa Brava.
    Puerto Viejo boasts the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica--the Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra, and Punta Uva, all of which can be found between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.
    Manzanillo is a popular location for kayaking and is 13 km (8 miles) south along the coast. The popular Jaguar Rescue Centre is nearby.
    The small border towns of Sixaola and Guabito, Panama are 49 km (30 mi) south of Puerto Viejo. 
    Puerto Viejo is inhabited mainly by ticos (native Costa Ricans), many of whom are of Jamaican descent, and a number of European ex-pats who have emigrated to the area.
    The BriBri Indians inhabit the outskirts of town and the nearby mountains.
    The howler monkey is native to the region, and a rescue group operates a sloth sanctuary in Limon province.

 Quick Facts about Costa Rica

A Peaceful Country: In the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica is the only country without an army or military of any kind.

Location: situated in the Central American isthmus, immediately north of Panama, with ports in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and 153 highway miles between them.

Immense Diversity: Due to its geographical location, Costa Rica bridges the northern and southern most points of the two American contents. This makes Costa Rica the meeting point of a variety of cultures. It has a density of plant and animal species said to be unlike any other country in the world.

  • Population: 4.9 million
  • Density: 220 people per square mile
  • Life Expectancy: 76.1 years
  • Literacy Rate: 96.2%
  • Area: 51,000 square kilometers (19,652 sq. miles)
  • Country Capital: San José
  • Major Metropolitan Center: San José
  • Government: Constitutional
  • Languages Spoken: Spanish and English
  • Habitat: Ranges from humid lowland jungles to arid bare mountain peaks.
  • Length of the Pacific Coastline: 640 miles
  • Length of the Caribbean Coastline: 132 miles
  • Highest Point: Mount Chirripó
  • Hundreds of Birds: Costa Rica has approximately 850 bird species, 600 of which are non-migratory. Other birds migrate during the North American winter, stopping over in Costa Rica before continuing on to South America.
  • Plant Species: 9000
  • Insect Species: 34,000
  • Mammalian Species: 205
  • Reptilian Species: 220
  • Amphibian Species: 160

Abundance of Protected Land: Costa Rica is among the countries with the highest amount of protected land in the world; 25% of the national territory is dedicated to the national park system or biological, marine and land reserves, as well as other natural wildlife areas.

Healthy Environs: The best tourist beaches in Costa Rica have been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag , a distinction which ensures hygienic/ sanitary conditions and proper management.

Tourism Watchdog: Costa Rica has a Sustainable Tourism Certification (STC) program; its goal is to classify and certify tourism companies based on how well their operations match a sustainability model.


Puerto viejo

Located in the province of Limón, on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a beach lover's paradise.

Here amidst the exotic flora and fauna lies a vibrant seaside town with gorgeous, isolated beaches, crystal-clear water, and some of the most amazing waves for surfing. Puerto Viejo is located 34 miles southeast of Limón and 10.2 miles south of Cahuita.

With a relaxed atmosphere and its own unique blend of Latino, Afro-Caribbean and Bribri indigenous cultures, Puerto Viejo is a lovely and charming place to have a unique and relaxing vacation.

Puerto Viejo has a wide variety of small international and local bars and restaurants. With its gold sandy beaches, tropical vibe, and many interesting attractions nearby, such as the Cahuita National Park, Talamanca Indian Reserve and Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, visiting Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a great opportunity to experience the charms of Costa Rica.


MUST-DO ACTIVITIES IN PUERTO VIEJO ,COSTA RICA

WHITE WATER RAFTING

From Puerto Viejo you can enjoy a one-day whitewater rafting tour on the Pacuare River. A true river gorge, the Pacuare is flanked by steep, green walls and spectacular waterfalls. These are views you won’t want to miss! Whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River is a true escape into natural beauty. Connecting with these stunning nature views will invigorate your spirit.

Waterfalls cascade into the river from both sides, while colorful tropical birds fly right over your head. Amazing views of virgin tropical rainforest appear before your eyes as you raft down the clear river. Wildlife is abundant and you can easily see sloths, toucans, parrots, butterflies, and colorful frogs.


SLOTH SANCTUARY

This highly recommended tour features a delightful introduction to the wonderful world of the sloth. One of the world’s most unique mammals, sloths inhabit Costa Rica’s rainforest canopy. Included is a one-hour guided canoe ride through the bayous of the Estrella River Delta. If you watch closely, you may see wild sloths and other rainforest creatures as you paddle through the bayou.

At the Sloth Sanctuary Learning Center, you’ll view a short video about the sloth and meet some of our resident adult sloths. Baby sloths also make their home here, and you’ll get to meet them and hear their stories. No tour to the Sloth Sanctuary would be complete without meeting Buttercup, the Grande Dame of the Sloth Sanctuary.


VERAGUA RAINFOREST

Surround yourself with natural beauty at Veragua Rainforest, located on a private reserve completely surrounded by rainforest. This 1300-hectare (approximately 4000 acre) private reserve is a buffer zone for La Amistad International Park (“Friendship International Park”), which is shared by Costa Rica and Panamá.

The park houses the largest indoor nocturnal frog exhibit in the world, a butterfly garden, reptile vivarium, and a hummingbird garden. Take a fascinating tram ride through the rainforest canopy, or hike on one of the spectacular walking trails through the rainforest and discover a hidden waterfall. Bring your camera to capture majestic panoramic views of La Amistad International Park.


MANZANILLO BEACH

Manzanillo is a fishing village located within Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, just a few miles south of Puerto Viejo. With golden sand beach, tranquil water, stately palm trees, and splendid coral reef, Manzanillo is the perfect spot for snorkeling, swimming, sea kayaking, and scuba diving. Dolphins can often be seen frolicking in the clear waters.


TURTLE NESTING

Turtle nesting season in Costa Rica runs from March – June. Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green and occasionally Loggerhead sea turtles nest and lay their eggs on Gandoca-Manzanillo beaches. Most impressive are the Leatherback sea turtles, resplendent creatures known as one of the largest reptiles in the world. Don’t miss your chance to view these magnificent marine turtles.


KEKOLDI RESERVE

Visitors to the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve are invited to hike the reserve, learn about medicinal herbs and their traditional uses, and tour the Iguana Farm. Since 1990, the Iguana Farm has worked to research the green iguana, encourage reproduction, and protect this fragile species.

Once part of Costa Rica’s indigenous Bribri tribe, the Kekoldi people formed their own, separate group years ago. Today, they live at the base of the Talamanca Mountains. The Kekoldi Reserve is known as a stopover for migrating birds of prey. While visiting the Kekoldi Reserve, learn about the efforts to protect the green iguana, tour the medicinal herb gardens, and appreciate the Kekoldi’s beautiful, handmade crafts.


TROPICAL BIRD WATCHING

Why do so many bird watchers tour Costa Rica? Simply put: Costa Rica is a bird watcher’s dream come true with over 850 species of birds. Here on the Caribbean Coast bird watchers can find over half of Costa Rica’s native bird species. Grab your binoculars and field notebook; you won’t want to miss all the tropical bird watching near Puerto Viejo. 


HORSEBACK RIDING

Imagine galloping along a palm tree lined beach, venturing through jungle trails, exploring abandoned cocoa plantations…all while on horseback. If you have a desire to get back in the saddle, then you’ll love horseback riding tours in Costa Rica. There are many horseback riding tours to choose from. You can ride on regular trails, through the jungle, on the beach, through a cocoa plantation or a combination of any of these.

Horseback riding in Costa Rica utilizes a saddle familiar to western riders; however, the Costa Rican saddle is a bit more streamlined. Grab your hat and pull on your boots and giddy-up for an amazing horseback riding adventure in Costa Rica!


SURFING

The Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is known for world-class surfing. The famous “Salsa Brava” waves start just beyond the coral reef.

Around the area of Puerto Viejo and Playa Cocles are waves for all levels. If you are a beginner or intermediate surfer, both Black Beach and Playa Cocles offer nice waves on safe, sandy bottom beaches.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, Costa Rica is the place to do it, especially on the Caribbean Coast, where you can learn from many expert surfers who call Costa Rica home.


SEA KAYAKING

Embark on a magical kayaking journey paralleling Costa Rica’s coastal topography abundant with cliffs, caves, and rainforest.

You will also have time for a nice break at the beach to relax, swim, and enjoy.


SNORKELING

The best places for snorkeling in Costa Rica are the pristine waters of Cahuita National Park and the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge.

Both of these sites have access to the Caribbean Coast’s live coral reef, one of the most important bio-diverse locations in Costa Rica. The colors and variety of sea creatures here will amaze avid snorkelers.


SCUBA DIVING

Costa Rica’s barrier reef stretches from the town of Puerto Viejo down to the Panamanian border and offers scuba divers more than 25 fixed dive locations. You can scuba dive the shallow coral gardens, or go on a scuba diving adventure to deep, fringing reefs with vertical walls that drop to over 140 feet.

Angelfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, sharks and different species of jack and snapper are among the 475 species of fish you may encounter on your scuba dive. Brown and black coral, sheet coral, and lettuce coral are a few of the 31 types of coral that can also be seen. In Costa Rica, the best time of the year for top diving conditions--good visibility (20-30 meters or 60-90 feet) and no current--are from mid January through May and August through November.


PUNTA UVA

Located between Playa Cocles and Manzanillo, Punta Uva is situated within the natural reserve of Gandoca-Manzanillo. The scenery here is postcard-like with gorgeous beach views that stretch on for miles. The water is crystal clear and generally calm, providing excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions.


CHOCOLATE TOUR

If you love the sweet stuff, then let us arrange a chocolate tour near Puerto Viejo. Doña Petronila and her hospitable family, descendants of the Bribri Tribe, will take you on an amazing chocolate tour. They will explain the history of cacao and how it is processed using an ancient artisanal method invented by the indigenous tribes of Costa Rica.

Learn how these tribes used this precious product, enjoy a sample or two, and then buy some homemade chocolate to savor later.


GANDOCA-MANZANILLO WILDLIFE REFUGE

The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge stands out for the beauty of its sandy beaches, gentle waves, coral reefs, and vibrant tropical forests. The wildlife refuge’s extraordinary biodiversity is comprised of many significant ecosystems.

The refuge protects several species of animals in danger of extinction such as the manatee, crocodile, tapir, caiman, and paca. Monkeys, birds, and sloths also make their home here. A tour of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is a must-do activity in Costa Rica. Both nature lovers and underwater enthusiasts will enjoy a day in this remarkable location.


CANOPY TOUR

If you want to experience the vista of rainforest canopy the way monkeys do, then you will want to book the Crazy Monkey Canopy Ride in Cocles. This is pure adrenaline excitement as you soar along the rainforest canopy, eventually arriving at the golden beach endpoint where the jungle meets the ocean.

Terra Aventuras Canopy Tour is located 30 minutes away from Puerto Viejo, and they offer nine aerial platforms, 14 aerieal ones, and 8,398 feet of cable. Your Canopy Tour Adventure awaits!


FISHING

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast has waters filled with abundant marine wildlife, especially fish. A standard fishing tour takes approximately three hours, but the duration of the voyage is negotiable. Fully equipped boats are available. Let us book a boat for you today so you can fish for Barracuda, Tarpon, Tuna, Kingfish, Snook, Jack…and more!


CAHUITA NATIONAL PARK

Situated on the Caribbean coastline in one of the most beautiful and scenic regions in Costa Rica, Cahuita National Park is located near the town of Cahuita, about 43 kilometers (27 miles) south of Limón.

Cahuita’s main attractions are its white sand beaches fringed with endless coconut trees, a calm sea of transparent waters, and the shimmering coral reefs just offshore. The most attractive feature for divers is the underwater garden of marine life, including brain and elkhorn coral. Cahuita’s National Park is very bio-diverse and is home to raccoons, crabs (land and water), howler monkeys, kingfishers, night herons, white-nosed coatis, frogs, toads and snakes.


DOLPHIN WATCHING

Visit the dolphins of Gandoca on a dolphin watching excursion in Costa Rica’s warm waters. As you cruise the palm-fringed beaches between Puerto Viejo and Gandoca, you are likely to encounter the three species of dolphins in the area: the bottle nose, the common and the spinner dolphin.


BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA

The Bocas del Toro Islands are located right across the Costa Rican border in the Caribbean area of Panama, about three hours south of the town of Puerto Viejo.

Bocas del Toro is known for its impressive biodiversity, due in part to the great expanse of coral reef that surrounds the islands. Snorkeling here is a fantastic experience. As you sail through the islands, many different species of coastal birds may be seen.


HOW TO GET HERE?

Puerto Viejo is approximately 250 km from San José's Juan Santamaría International Airport. If you have decided to drive to the hotel via rental car or taxi, the trip should take about four hours. If you take public transportation, the drive will take roughly five hours.

Limon International Airport is approximately 59 km from Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel. You can reach this Airport only from San Jose flying with Sansa. It costs approximately $90 U.S.D.

Below is a list of your options with approximate schedules and prices. Please note that Le Caméléon has no control over schedules or prices, which are set by companies independent from us.

Please contact our Concierge Service if you would like us to assist you in reserving on-land transportation.

    1. Car Rental.- Rental cars can be arranged upon arrival at the airport or in advance through major car rental companies.
  •  Prices can range between $40 and $95 U.S.D. a day, depending on factors such as the type of car, the duration of the rental, and the insurance you choose. Although the road to Puerto Viejo is smooth but we recommend hiring a 4x4 for any secondary road adventures you might take while you're here.
    1. Taxi or Private Transfer .- A private transfer or taxi will cost around $275 U.S. dollars, one-way.
    1. Shuttle service.- Several companies offer shuttle services between San José and Puerto Viejo at fixed times and prices.
  •  These have the advantage of being faster than public transportation (no stops) and more comfortable, with air conditioning and fewer people on board.
  •  Prices vary depending on the company, but can range between $70 and $80 U.S.D., one-way, per person.
    1. Public bus.- The bus to Puerto Viejo leaves from the MEPE Bus Terminal. From the airport it will cost approximately $30 U.S. dollars for a taxi to the MEPE Bus Terminal. The bus fare to Puerto Viejo costs around $10 U.S. dollars per person. Buses depart at 7:00 am.; 9:00 am; 12:00 pm; and 3:30 pm.

Driving directions from San José to Le Caméléon in Playa Cocles:

Take Highway 32 and follow it north towards Limón, through Braulio Carrillo National Park, Guápiles, Siquirres and Matina. Just before getting to downtown Limón you will see a sign on your right towards Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. Take that road to the right and follow it south all the way to Puerto Viejo, bordering the coastline. Once you've arrived in Puerto Viejo, all you have to do is continue south on the coastal road for 3 km (approximately 1.86 miles) towards Manzanillo. You will find the hotel on the right hand side, 150 m after the Cocles Football Soccer field.

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