After our crazy, eventful first two days on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, we toned it down a few notches for the rest of our long weekend.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the gorgeous and extremely comfortable Sueño Grande B&B, right in the heart of the cute beach town of Puerto Viejo. It is owned by an American woman named Jody who coincidentally used to live in Portland for a few years. She has set up an amazing hideaway with a beautiful pool complete with pizza and lobster floaties and amazing in-room breakfasts.
What We Did
Fortunately the weather also turned around for us. On Day 3, the clouds parted and sun came out just in time for our snorkel tour around Cahuita National Park. Because of the hard rains the few days before, there wasn’t great visibility but we were still able to see massive schools of fish around the coral reef.
At one point during our first stop, the guide popped his head out of water and excitedly said “Did you see the shark pass by? Don’t worry he was heading away from us toward shore.” The remaining 20 or so minutes for me were spent in a panic, pretty convinced either Brice or I was going to be eaten by a shark at any moment. Once safely back on the boat, the guide mentioned “Oh the shark is just a nurse shark, one of those little harmless guys.” Thanks, you could have shared that with me earlier!
With that knowledge, snorkel stop #2 was less terrifying. We spotted two sting rays sitting on the ocean bed and then another floating nearby. The guide then spotted another nurse shark hiding by a piece of coral, the rest of our group including Brice thought it was a good idea to go pet it. I think I was the smart one in the bunch and opted out.
After the snorkel tour, we got to stroll through the beautiful park scoping out the sloths, monkeys and raccoons.
Where We Ate
The snorkeling and short hike made us all really hungry so off we went to try some local pastries. We stopped at Delrita Patty for pati, the Caribbean empanadas, stuffed with either spiced beef or fruitier options like sweet plantains or pineapple. With flaky, soft dough and flavorful fillings, it is no surprise this is one of the region’s most popular dishes.
Despite all of the praise that the food on the east side of the country was really different, the rest of the food we saw was still just a variation on the standard Costa Rican “casado,” a plate of rice, beans, plantains and chicken or tilapia. There were some slight differences – the rice is made with coconut water to give it some additional flavor (though it wasn’t as intense in the coconut flavor as I was hoping for!). The chicken is often smothered in a slightly spicy, jerk sauce.
One night we ate at one good roadside stand for dinner to of course try out the local casado, made by a sweet older lady.
We also enjoyed the luxury of being in a tourist town which equates to good international restaurants.
- Enjoying handmade pasta by an Italian expat who’s opened up a popup restaurant for the summer
- Lunching at the aptly named Bread & Chocolate where basically everything is made in-house, like their sandwich bread, salad dressings, fudgy brownies and even chocolate truffles
- Digging into some yucca-based gnocchi and fluffy freshly baked focaccia at Diwo Restaurant
If only we had no need to get back to San Jose, I would have loved to continue to explore the vibrant culture, play in the pool, eat at the good restaurants and soak up of the beach vibes in Puerto Viejo.
But alas, I had work to return to so we hopped in the car where of course the 4-hour drive turned into 7+ due to a car accident and one-lane roads back to San Jose. That’s life in Costa Rica for ya!