Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Known for its laidback attitude and famous for it's surfing, Puerto Viejo beckons visitors to come experience Costa Rica’s eccentric side. The village’s cultural influences are interesting to be sure: a mix of Afro-Caribbean, Bribri Indian, tico and hippyesque counterculture, this small port town is an anthropological study in itself. A mere 11 miles (18 km) from Cahuita, Puerto Viejo is accessible via Highway 36 or by simply walking south, along the beach.
Puerto Viejo has recently become a hit with tourists due to its cultural allure, stunning white-sand beaches, tropical vegetation and its proximity to national parks. Nearby Cahuita National Park and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge offers visitors a chance to observe the region’s stunning wildlife, both of which are a short drive away.
Native American traditions are well established. Indigenous reserves dot Talamanca—as this southern region is referred to by its indigenous population—which serves as a virtual extension of the national parks system. The Asociación Talamanca de Ecoturismo y Conservación (ATEC) offers information and tours to visitors interested in the local indigenous culture. A grassroots organization, ATEC was founded to promote sustainable tourism and cultural expression amongst the mixed population in which it serves. The organization offers tours complete with guides at an extremely fair price.