After a four and a half hour ride from San Jose, Costa Rica, we made Puerto Viejo and could hear the waves lapping against the black sand beach of Playa Negra.
Paula and I jumped off the bus to see a few buildings which were mostly bars, restaurants and the office that was set up by the bus company. Having no real agenda in mind we started walking through the town, and looking around for a place to stay. There was plenty on the table in terms of places to park it for the night. There was the Apartotel Puerto Viejo, Las Casitas de Playa Negra and Hotel Boutique Indalo.
We opted for a bed and breakfast a little ways outside of town called Blue Conga. The town is known for its party scene, and as much as that can be great, we were looking for something different. What we found was a relaxed paradise where it took some doing for us to part. The Blue Conga B&B is between Playa Cocles, a blue flag rated beach, and Puerto Viejo.
Paula loved the rustic feel of the little B&B with its vaulted ceiling and entresol windows. The beds were surrounded by mosquito netting, and the rooms were well ventilated. On the property there was also a pool with an aquamarine iridescence, and breakfast was served in a grand garden. We could have stayed there the whole time, but the sea and forest beckoned to us for exploration.
“Where do we begin?” questioned Paula after we had finished breakfast.
“I hear there’s a pretty nice surf beach right up the road,” was my reply, “How about there?”
Both agreed, we set down the exotic jungle meets beach meets jungle again road on foot, and soon came to the aforementioned Playa Cocles. The beach spanned three quarters of a mile at least, and was lined with surf and boogie board rental spots. We walked up to the first one we saw where a friendly Rastafarian helped us.
“What’cha wan’ my friends? Surf? You ever rid’ one before?” he asked of us with giant smile plastered across his mug. His name was Joshua, and he spent the morning teaching us how to paddle out, and then how to jump up on the board. We started on the beach, but soon were in the sea falling and generally making fools of ourselves. After a little while, and some kind instruction from Joshua, we started to get the hang of it.
We rode waves for a fair part of the morning, and then Paula turned to me and said, “I am so hungry, I think I might eat this board!” To save her getting splinters, we parked the boards back at their station, which happened to be a four foot high post with boards all across it, and made are way back to town. We could have eaten hamburgers and pizza, but we chose to try the local cuisine instead. It is a good thing that we did, too.
The local restaurants are called Sodas and they serve lots of different dishes including what they call casados (Or meals of the day). When a local restaurant owner explained what casado meant, he said, “It’s like a marriage. You have to have all these ingredients on the plate, or it just won’t work.” I had a chicken casado and Paula had a fish casado, and with it we both poured on a sauce called salsa caribeño. It was riquísimo (super delicious).
“Where should we go now?” asked Paula of our host.
“You could get a bike and take a ride to Punta Uva. It’s a little past Cocles,” he said in near perfect English.
“Where do we get bikes?” I asked.
He pointed us in the direction of a rental shop, and we headed over to pick out a few cruisers. Bikes rented, we made our way to the Point of Uva. It was a gorgeous day, a little bit windy, but not bad. In total, it took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Punta Uva. There were some little shops along the way, and we stopped at one to pick up snacks and I found a scuba set. The beach was a convex breadth on the sea where we basked in the sun’s rays and took a swim every now and again.
Paula decided to take an extended nap with waves coming in, so I set off on a little snorkeling jaunt. The waters were pretty fantastic in terms of visibility, and I saw a number of schools of fish, some small coral formations and some larger patches of kelp. The ambient swishing of waves as I bobbed along the current had a lolling effect, and I joined my dear one to cap off the end of her nap when I made it back to shore.
“I’m hungry,” said Paula as we were waking from our little slumber.
“I think I saw a restaurant while we were hiking in,” was my reply.
“Let’s do it,” responded Paula enthusiastically.
Continuing a relaxing week in much the same fashion of wake up and head out on some new adventure we had morning yoga sessions, took a chocolate making tour, visited a wildlife refuge wear a few sloths were hanging out, lazed about in hammocks, ate at fabulous Caribbean influenced restaurants and in general regenerated our taxed spirits and minds. If you head into the south Caribbean, go to Arrecife near Punta Uva or Maxi’s in Manzanillo and order the patacones (deep fried plantains shaped into bowls and filled beans, sauce and other goodies), take a bike ride along the beach road from Puerto Viejo to Punta Uva and Manzanillo, go to the lookout point at Manzanillo and in general relax and have a great time. We did, and can’t wait to go back, but next time we plan on heading north to Cahuita National Park. Until next time…