Puerto Viejo is the largest tourist destination on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Other nearby communities are Cahuita, Cocles, Punta Uva and Manzanillo. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a coastal city in the province of Limón, in southeastern Costa Rica, known simply as Puerto Viejo.
The town was originally called Old Spanish Harbor until the Spanish government of Costa Rica Central incorporated Spanish as the new local language and changed the names of cities and places of interest in the area from English to Spanish. Fields became Bri Bri. Bluff became Cahuita. The Afro-Caribbean culture of English speaking people was assimilated into the Spanish speaking culture of Costa Rica. There is another town called Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in northeastern Costa Rica, which may confuse visitors. If you are departing San Jose by bus, make sure that you are going to the Puerto Viejo that you intend.
It is known worldwide in the surfing community for the largest and most powerful wave in Costa Rica, known as Salsa Brava. It is also home to beautiful beaches such as Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Playa Negra, which can be found between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. Manzanillo is a popular place for kayaking and is 13 km (8 miles) south along the beach. The popular Jaguar Rescue Center is nearby.
Many tourists stop in Puerto Viejo before crossing the border with Panama in Sixaola. This border crossing is popular with people coming and going from Bocas del Toro. Puerto Viejo offers nearby lodging, restaurants, and services to the border. The small border towns of Sixaola and Guabito are 49 km (30 miles) south of Puerto Viejo. The border cities do not have accommodations or restaurants. Changuinola, Panama offers accommodations, restaurants and services about 10 km (6 miles) away from the border. The people of Puerto Viejo village consists of Ticos and Ticas (Costa Rican natives), a substantial population of Jamaicans, and a number of Europeans who migrated to the area.
The outskirts of the city and mountains are home to the Bribri Indians, howler monkeys native to the region and sloths. There are also many cacao (chocolate) plantations in the area, in addition to the ubiquitous banana plantations.