The two coastlines of Costa Rica – Caribbean and Pacific – are about as opposite as you can get in landscape and lifestyle – kind of like New York and California.
Most tourists to Costa Rica head west to the Pacific Coast beaches. It is the adventurer looking for the unique Costa Rica who chooses to explore the Costa Rica Caribbean Coast.
Here are 10 things not to expect when you visit the Costa Rica southern Caribbean Coast:
1. The same weather. Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast experiences nearly complete opposite weather patterns. When the Pacific Coast is baking under a blazing sun, the Caribbean Coast is getting greener from tropical rain showers; and when the rest of the country is drenched in “Rainy Season,” it is Costa Rica Caribbean Summer thanks to a unique microclimate.
2. Dust and desert-like landscapes. It’s not called the Costa Rica dry season for nothing. The Pacific Coast gets drier and browner as time marches from January to May with little to no rain. That terrible dust problem you find elsewhere in the country – you won’t find it in the Caribbean. Regular showers all year keep the Caribbean green and lush … and cooler!
3. Huge mega resorts and hotel chains. When you’re on the beach at Puerto Viejo or Playa Cocles on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica all you see are sea, sky, sand and jungle. Hotels in Puerto Viejo are set back from the beach, are at the most two-stories high, and retain harmony with nature.
4. Resort prices. You can go to a hotel chain on the Pacific Coast if you want to pay $26 for a basic fresh fish sandwich.
5. Fast food chains. You won’t find McDonald’s here, or KFC or Pizza Hut. Only lots of real, authentic Caribbean cuisine and food from all over the world, thanks to Puerto Viejo’s cosmopolitan population.
6. Destruction of nature. On the Costa Rica southern Caribbean Coast, the jungle stretches right to the sea – thick, lush and full of wildlife. It hasn’t been bulldozed for those mega resorts or clear-cut for cattle.
7. Super highways. There is one main two-lane road from Limon to Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, and the locals like it that way. The main mode of transportation around Puerto Viejo is beach cruiser bicycle. Time to relax and slow down.
8. Rush hour traffic. Other than maybe a group of people on bicycles heading to the beach or a party, you won’t see traffic over here.
9. Stressed out, pushy, rude people. Unless you bring them – or are one yourself. You’ll find most people on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast are easygoing, friendly and happy.
10. Concrete jungle. It’s only the real deal jungle here, with not much concrete in sight.
Where to stay in the Southern Caribbean of Costa Rica
When you visit Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, you want to stay at Hotel Le Caméléon. Just past Puerto Viejo, on Playa Cocles – one of the prettiest beaches on the Costa Rica southern Caribbean Coast – the upscale Costa Rica boutique hotel features ultra-chic rooms, beautiful tropical architecture and the fantastic beach club La Sula Sea Lounge.
Coming up on Saturday, April 4, La Sula Sea Lounge at Hotel Le Caméléon will host a fun Caribbean Calypso party. The festivities begin at 8:00 p.m. with drink specials, delicious Caribbean cuisine, live music by The Calypsonians and dancing till you drop.
New daily 30-minute flights on Nature Air or Sansa Airlines between San Jose and Limon make it easy to get to the Southern Caribbean of Costa Rica. From Limon, it is a short drive less than an hour to Puerto Viejo and Playa Cocles.
Article by Shannon Farley