This beach town is renowned for its killer surf, attracting a lot of tourist and ex-pats alike, but if you aren’t hitting the waves then there isn’t much else to do here, especially in the dead season. We also read warnings about the problems with theft in Puerto Viejo, we obviously didn’t take enough precautions, and it wasn’t the first time or place it happened. Sorry Costa Rica, but I just don’t get it.
When we first arrived we spent a while checking out most hostels for the best price, which is what you should always do if you have the time. Our final choice was Cabinas Lika. We checked in, paid and started to unpack our things when the owner stormed back into our room and kicked us out for looking at other hotels. He was very rude and threatening and I would not recommend staying here.
We eventually ended up staying at the deserted but gorgeous La Casa de Rolando. The whole building is dark bamboo, with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies with hammocks. The only downside to this place is they don’t lock the front gate, so anything (even skanky old shoes) we left outside was stolen, and my friend next door had her bag stolen from in her room. Not cool Puerto Viejo, not cool.
The town itself is two main streets full of trendy bars and restaurants, there’s a great place called Flip Flop that has a huge menu. Everything is expensive here; accommodation, food, drink, shops, even the laundry cost $14. The beach is narrow and lined with palm trees, but we didn’t spend much time on it.
I think this town would be great in high season, but in the rainy season when you have no money left and you get kicked out of a hotel and have stuff stolen it’s kind of a sucky place. Sorry Costa Rica, but you are overrated.
Costa Rica to Panama
The border crossing from Costa Rica to Panama was the absolute worst. We caught a 2-hour bus from Puerto Viejo to the border town of Sixaula for 1690C ($3.25) and once we arrived we had nothing but trouble.
People tried to scam us over the $8 exit fee, the immigration guard ate my snacks, we didn’t have the right details for the stamp so had to pay for wifi to find them, and we almost got conned into another tourist shuttle by a driver who then got very aggressive when we said no.
We eventually caught a local bus to Changuinola for $1 and a bus to Almirante for $1.45, it took an hour altogether and saved us $8. From there we caught the boat to Bocas Del Toro, back to island life for a while.
You can view the full album here.