Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui
- Summary: Riverside community and eco-tourism hotspot; famed for Class III-IV whitewater rafting and adventure tours.
- Landscape: Rainforest, River
- Attractions: La Selva Biological Station, Rara Avis Private Reserve, Tirimbina Rainforest Center
- Activities: Banana & Pineapple Plantation Tours, Bird & Wildlife Watching, Whitewater Rafting
- Caters to: Couples/Honeymooners, Families, Nature Lovers
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui Snapshot
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is a small riverside community located in the northeastern corner of Costa Rica, less than 20 miles south of the Nicaraguan border. The town lies at the base of the Cordillera Central Mountain Range and is quickly becoming a popular eco-tourism destination for both wildlife enthusiasts and thrill-seekers.read more close
Situated at the junction of the Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo rivers, the village of Puerto Viejo offers sensational Class III-V whitewater rafting as well as tranquil safari floats that allow passengers glimpses of caiman, crocodiles, monkeys and sloths along the river banks.
The budding town is surrounded by virgin forests, banana and pineapple plantations and several key biological reserves including La Selva Biological Station and Tirimbina Rainforest Center where visitors can explore pristine forests and observe a huge variety of wildlife. Sarapiqui is a wonderful place to enjoy Costa Rica’s natural beauty, whether by horseback on backcountry roads or on hikes through tropical rainforest.
Several rafting outfitters provide single and multi-day trips, as the Sarapiqui River produces exhilarating rapids that draw explorers from across the globe. In addition to whitewater excursions and mellow safari floats, visitors can try their luck fishing the river or visiting the region's varied attractions, from butterfly gardens and indigenous culture museums, to chocolate tours and zip-line canopy adventures.
While Puerto Viejo still retains a small-town flavor, it offers a number of affordable hotels and bed and breakfasts in addition to some upscale lodges. The town is easily accessed from San Jose, via the Guapiles Highway that bisects Braulio Carrillo National Park. A more scenic but slightly longer route departs from Alajuela and passes Poas Volcano and Vara Blanca.
Puerto Viejo is warm and humid year-round and has no distinct dry season. Morning or late afternoon showers can be expected throughout the year; however, the rainiest months are June - August and November - January. It rarely rains all day, allowing travelers plenty of opportunities to get out and explore.
Since many attractions are a 15-minute drive from town, most travelers rent a car, either in San Jose or Alajuela, to access local gardens, museums and reserves. Travelers without a car should note that tour operators will include transportation to and from hotels for a small fee.
Taxis are plentiful and are an easy but somewhat expensive way to get around. Official red taxis are equipped with a meter. For long distance trips, it is best to negotiate a price with the driver beforehand, as the meter can add up. There is a taxi stand next to the soccer field, across from the bus terminal in town. Public buses are convenient for local sightseeing as they depart hourly to and from La Virgen de Sarapiqui, where many attractions can be found.