Costa Rica-Caribbean side?

Old Jul 5th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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Costa Rica-Caribbean side?

Trying to get some input from anyone who's been to the Caribbean side? Are the beaches and the water like they are in other parts of the Caribbean (white sand / crystal clear water)? It seems most of the folks on this site go to the Pacific side of the island and they only rate the beaches and water as so-so. Any thougths and/or recommendations on the Caribbean side? Looking for a place to chill in the sun and water for approximately 3-4 days. FYI- We snorkel and scuba
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Old Jul 6th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Anyone?
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Old Jul 6th, 2004, 12:14 PM
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I'll be visiting the Carribean coast later this month, but I've heard it's not quite like the other crystal clear parts of the Carribean that you are probably used to. All the beaches are on the southern Carribean coast, not in the northern "Tortuguero" area. However, I have heard great things about many of those beaches in the south.
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Old Jul 6th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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We spent four days on the Caribbean side
last month three nights in Manzanillo and one night south of Puerto Viejo. The beaches are different,Manzanillo is white beach with reefs one step of the beach and the rainforest bordering it.A few miles up north the beach is black.
Manzanillo is at the end of CR and it is great! Very laid back, not much to do at all,but enjoy peace. It is a small village, but if you want it more lively you can drive up to Puerto Viejo there is plenty to do, lots of surfers, nightlife and it is only about 20 minutes from Manzanillo. Actually if you stay at "La Costa de Papito" which is about half way between the two villages and it is a neat place (budget), you can have both. But there are many other accomodations as well in between the places to pick from. We really enjoyed the place, unfortunately we were unable to snorkle the reef because of heavy winds. Cahuita, which is further north of Puerto Viejo is supposed to have a nice reef as well, so you may want to look into that area. We drove through Cahuita but liked it down south better. Maybe it was the rain If you have any questions let me know. I will post a report soon of our 2 weeks stay.
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 11:18 AM
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Greetings! We just returned yesterday from CR, having spent a month in a few different areas. We spent about ten days on the Caribbean coast. We spent three days in Tortuguero (Casa Marbella with Daryl Loth and his delightful family). We swam in the Rio Tortuguero right off the pier from his house. The ocean is much too rough for swimming in Tortuguero. We walked along the beach drinking pipas but swam only in the river...and yes, there are crocs but we swam in an area were there the boat traffic would serve as a deterrant to the crocs. We actually didn't see any crocs IN tortuguero although we saw a bunch on our way to and from Tortuguero in the small canals.

From Tortuguero, we took a lancha (small boat) to Moin, and from there a bus to Cahuita where we had tentative reservations at Chalet Hibiscus. On the bus (and throughout our trip), several locals discouraged us from going to Cahuita for safety reasons. Nearly EVERYONE STRONGLY encouraged us to stay on the bus and continue farther south to Puerto Viejo and/or Manzanillo. We did. I whipped out my NEW KEY TO COSTA RICA book, chose three possible hoyels in the area and had the bus driver drop us in front of Aguas Claras, my first choice. (La Casita de Papito had been recommended to me also but it's not on the water and doesn't have houses...we were, at that point, six people and wanted a house with kitchen, living room , etc.)

Las Aguas has 5 or 6 cottages, charming as can be. It is about 100-150 meters from the water with a beautiful path cut thru the rainforest to the beach. The rainforest is full of wildlife, especially monkeys, crabs, geckos, birds and at dusk, bats. (No problem really but impressive). We stayed in the yellow cottahe which slept five. (They brought us an additional bed for the first two nights, until one of our companions had to leave.) We loved Puerto Viejo so much, we ended up staying six days. The "adminoistradores"or reident managers, Flory and Mario are delightful as is their little puppy "Perrejil" or "Parsley"

Hotel Playa Cocles (across the street and about two blocksd down has a pool where you can swim for 500 colones ($1.20) or free is you have lunch there. We tended to eat breakfast at the cottage, lunch out and dinner sometimes out/sometimes in. Having a kitchen was great because after a month of travel, we were actually getting a bit tired of eating out. We hit a farmers market, bought lots of fresh produce, bread, tamales, empanadas, cheese. crackers and even chicken thighs. I made Costa Rican shake-n-bake!

From Aguas Claras, Manzanillo is 10-15 minutes, Puerto Viejo proper about 5-10. Almost everyone rides bikes in Puerto Viejo. You can rent great mountain bikes for 1000-1500 colones a day ($2.25-3.50), depending on yor negotition skills.

There are LOT of cheaper cabinas from $7 a night per person, if you want cheaper. There are also more expensive places. The local culture is very pleasant in Puerto Viejo albeit different from the rest of Costa Rica. There are a lot of Germans, Swiss, Belgians and Italians. (It's REALLY fun to listen to their Spanish...)There are allkinds of tours to do also but we were kinda ready to kick back a chill by this point in or trip...we didn't do anything but walk around,EAT EXCELLENT FOOD IN LOCAL SODAS, ESPECIALLY DONA LIDIA'S, swim. I did get on a bus and go to Bribri, a nearby indigenious "village" and from there, walked acros stone bridge into Panama, just so could say I did. There are white beaches and black beaches, both with a couple wild horses that the locals say belong to no one or everyone alternatively. Lots of nightlife, lost of crafts, some very nice, some kinda hokey. A bit rasta but pleasantly so.

The only stain on this leg of our trip was the dogs....Costa Rica hasa real problem with animal control. There is none. In Tortuguero is was pretty bad. In Puerto Viejo, even the dogs are laid back but they are EVERYWHERE.

I hope this helps or at least clarifies...happy travels.
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Old Jul 8th, 2004, 01:56 PM
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Thanks for all the great info! I'll be spending two nights in the Puerto Viejo area later this month on our way to and from Panama. We have a reservation at a little B&B on the way down, but haven't decided where to stay on the way back. What was the nicest place you saw on/near the beach in that area?
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Old Jul 9th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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Hey LA!

We stayed at Aguas Claras, the "most charming accomodations in Puerto Viejo" according to the New Key to Costa Rica travel book. While I didn't traipse in and out of them all, I would tend to agree (unless you want all all-inclusive). How many people in your party? Wanta kitchen? Dining room? Living Room? Each cottage is nestled in separate area of rainforest, barely visible one ot the other, about 100-200 meters from the beach. Someone has painstakingly cut out a path to the water...all kinds of wildlife visible, mostly monkeys, crabs and birds. (Don't worry...even though the crabs are the size of cats, they run from humans.) They give significant discount for cash/travelers checks also. Another traveler I met at Vida Tropical in Alajuela recommended La Casita de Papito which is a bit closer to town, but it is not on the water but rather across the street...no private beach like Aguas Claras. There are probably 30 decent places in the area. We simply got off the bus in front of the one we thought we might like best, made sure they knew we were VERY willing to walk a few blocks down to another place and negotiated a very comfortable rate. We liked it so much we stayed six nights instead of our scheduled three. BTW, they have cottages for 2-6 people, different prices.

In town, which I enjoyed but did not find nearly as pleasant as a bit outside of town, there are loads of cheapie places for $7-12 per person. The Hotel Cocles quoted me a price well over $100 per night but I didn't even try to negogiate with them because I had already committed to the Aguas Claras people for much less and a free sixth night.

Happy travels!
Julie
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Old Jul 9th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Thanks for the info! I think we'll play it by ear when we get there, especially since we'll have a car.
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