In the Southern Caribbean, we recommend lazing your way up the Caribbean Coast, hitting any or all of the ﬁve distinct beaches that are inﬁnitely more accessible with a Hyundai Creta.
Begin by driving yourself down to Punta Uva, 8 kilometers south of Puerto Viejo. This soft-sanded shore and its turquoise water is the Southern Caribbean’s most picturesque spot and is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking a nearby coastal trail up a promontory to a breathtaking viewpoint.
Across the street from the entrance there’s the “Pulperia Punta Uva”, where snacks can be procured, and a beachfront restaurant that serves excellent fruit smoothies and fresh ceviche.
Kayaks can be rented to paddle around the point to an arch, through which the surf rushes in and out.
Grab a hammock strung between two coconut palms and read your favorite novel, or take a mid-morning nap.
The next seashore to the north is Playa Chiquita, which is our personal favorite. This is the toughest one to ﬁnd, but use your navigation device to direct yourself to “Restaurante Equilibrio”, where you can grab an empanada or a beverage right at the long, narrow entrance to the beach.
This beach is our favorite for its secluded vibe and graham-cracker-colored sand. The stretch of palmcovered and winding coastline allows visitors to feel they’ve discovered a natural paradise. An oﬀshore reef makes swimming and snorkeling advisable at Playa Chiquita.
If you’re still undaunted on the ﬁve-beaches challenge, jump back in the car and head for “Caribeans”, a fantastic little café and chocolate shop where you can park and grab refreshments (or sign up for the area’s best chocolate farm tour, which leaves at 9am and 2pm daily).
The long, sunbaked shore of Playa Cocles is directly across the street, and actually our favorite time to visit this beach is when the sun begins to set. If you are celebrating a special occasion on your trip, here’s what we’d do: pack some champagne, chocolate and cheese and take it on a hike through the palms, parallel to Playa Chiquita.
When the path leads up a cliﬀ, follow it, and you’ll come to rocky outcropping with panoramic views of the crashing sea and its occasional bioluminescence. It’s ideal for a toast.
Continue the party at Puerto Viejo’s “Salsa Brava“, a beachside bar named for the Caribbean’s ﬁercest wave (which is within view). This gnarly reef break is also known as “the cheese grater” for its tendency to rough up all but the experts.
In a town where the nightlife often seems unreﬁned and sketchy, happy hour and reggae night at this bar are relatively chill. During the day, it’s an ideal spot to grab ﬁsh tacos and watch wipeouts.
Playa Negra, the northernmost beach in this fabulous ﬁve, is right outside your front door. The a long and mostly deserted stretch is ideal for a sunset cocktail from Hotel Banana Azul‘s beach bar or a relaxing day of reading in a lounge chair beneath a thatched palapa. Book the best massage in town at Banana Azul’s front desk, and receive it in an open-air, beachfront hut.