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A Puerto Viejo Christmas is not your traditional Christmas! If Christmas to you is a roaring log fire, snowy landscapes and mainly indoor activities then Puerto Viejo Christmas is going to feel very different — but in a good way!

Palm Christmas Tree

Palm Christmas Tree

Puerto Viejo Christmas is of course tropical and so your Christmas tree may be a decorated palm tree, your Christmas dinner may be Lobster or Caribbean Costa Rican specialities and festivities take place in open restaurants or bars or on the beach.

Christmas Sun at Playa Grande

Christmas Sun at Playa Grande

So how would you celebrate a Puerto Viejo Christmas? People love this coast at Christmas for its warm seas, great restaurants and holiday atmosphere.  You can celebrate Christmas here with a luxury picnic on the beach, or indulge in any number of special menus offered by numerous restaurants, some with live music and dancing.

Fresh Lobster for Christmas lunch with a good bottle of wine: Just the job!

Fresh Lobster for Christmas lunch with a good bottle of wine: Just the job!

Why not begin your Christmas with a dip in the warm ocean, followed by a super Caribbean Christmas lunch, fit in a siesta and finish your Christmas day with dancing to the Calypso beat… and perhaps a last glass of bubbles by your pool? Not a bad plan right?

Christmas plunge pool at Geckoes Lodge: Barefoot Luxury!

Christmas plunge pool at Geckoes Lodge: Barefoot Luxury!

Puerto Viejo really gets into the Christmas atmosphere and a Puerto Viejo Christmas goes on for several days so you don’t have to cram everything into 24 hours…
Take your time, chill out in the Caribbean warmth and then, when you need some action, take advantage of a smorgasbord of activities available.

Relax and spot wildlife on serene Gandoca Lagoon

Relax and spot wildlife on serene Gandoca Lagoon

Whether it’s a Chocolate Tour that grabs you, learning how to surf, horse-riding along the beach or through the rainforest, visiting the orphaned animals at Jaguar Rescue Centre, a relaxing wildlife spotting boat trip on the Gandoca lagoon, white-water rafting on the Pacuare river, fishing for your dinner from a panga or ziplining through the rainforest canopy, Puerto Viejo Christmas has got you covered!

Ziplining through the rainforest canopy: it's a thrill you will not forget!

Ziplining through the rainforest canopy: it’s a thrill you will not forget!

A Puerto Viejo Christmas is warm, colourful, tropical and unforgettable! So this Christmas or next, perhaps it’s time for some Barefoot Luxury in Puerto Viejo: A place to make memories.

Feliz Navidad, Puerto Viejo Christmas, Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Happy Christmas!

First, get your boat

First, get your boat

When visitors think about Things to Do in this area they don’t often think of a trip to Gandoca Lagoon. Of course there are loads of different trips and activities on this coast and so this one often remains in the background — but it shouldn’t because an afternoon spent at Gandoca Lagoon could be the highlight of your trip. It is certainly one of my favourites.

Take a couple of beers for your rowers and wildlife spotters: Thanks Junior & Roger!

Take a couple of beers for your rowers and wildlife spotters: Thanks Junior & Roger!

Sit back and enjoy the scenery

Sit back and enjoy the scenery

Easy to arrange, an interesting drive from Puerto Viejo and off the tourist track, this trip can hold all sorts of nature and wildlife surprises such as watching pelicans fishing at the end of the lagoon, egrets in mangrove swamps or even a manatee…

Egrets in the mangroves

Egrets in the mangroves

Fishing families at the end of the lagoon

Fishing families at the end of the lagoon

Pelicans fishing at the beach at the end of Gandoca Lagoon

Pelicans fishing at the beach at the end of Gandoca Lagoon

If you feel like spending a lazy afternoon in gorgeous natural surroundings, spotting wildlife whilst being rowed quietly along this pretty lagoon, then this is the trip for you.

20. Small birds on log: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica13 Bird on log: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica9 Monkey: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica 5 more wildlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaGandoca Lagoon is like a miniature Tortuguero, but without the crowds or the travelling. Each time we’ve been to Gandoca Lagoon we’ve been the only people there and have always spotted plenty of wildlife and birds. If you want to photograph wildlife and birds, this is a wonderful place to capture some great shots. It is quiet, serene and as the sun sets, simply magical.

6 Birdlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica4.Spot the wildlife: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica 7 Pelican: Gandoca Lagoon Trip. Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaAlthough these photos hardly do it justice, the beauty and tranquillity of Gandoca lagoon is remarkable. If you want to get off the beaten path, this is the trip for you.

Trees silhouetted at Gandoca Lagoon

Trees silhouetted at Gandoca Lagoon

Sun setting on Gandoca Lagoon

Sun setting on Gandoca Lagoon

Chocolate…. Food of the Gods…. and me 🙂
One of the many fun Things to Do in Puerto Viejo is a Chocolate Tour and Caribeans or Chocorart Chocolate tours are not only fascinating but delicious!

The Cacao forest on Chocorart Chocolate Tour

The Cacao forest on Chocorart Chocolate Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This area was previously well known as a cacao growing region, but after a blight wiped out many plantations the making of chocolate went into decline. But happily, (for all us chocoholics) in recent years there has been a resurgence of cacao farmers in the Puerto Viejo area. So now there are now several highly skilled chocolate makers and chocolatiers.

Chocorart Chocolates

Chocorart Chocolates

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both Caribeans and Chocorart are chocolate makers which means that they grow their own cacao, harvest, ferment and dry it to ultimately turn it into some of the most wonderful chocolate you’ve ever had. It’s so pure that it doesn’t melt even in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean — pretty handy when you want to carry some with you to the beach right?

Caribeans Chocolate. Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate tour begins with a walk through the cacao forest as you learn about the history of cacao and where your chocolate bar starts. On your way through the forest you’re bound to see Dart Frogs and maybe monkeys, a sloth or a toucan or two.

Cacao pods waiting for the harvest

Cacao pods waiting for the harvest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll get to taste every stage of the chocolate making process from cacao pod to the finished product which is sold all over the world.

Caribeans Chocolate tour: see each stage of the process

Caribeans Chocolate tour: see each stage of the process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favourite moments is watching the final stages of the chocolate making — but actually what I really enjoyed was the SMELL — simply divine.

One of the most heavenly smells on earth!

One of the most heavenly smells on earth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not going to spoil the surprise element of these tours, but the tasting part is something you will remember.

Tasting tray on Caribeans Chocolate tour

Tasting tray on Caribeans Chocolate tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re talking gourmet chocolate here, made in small batches with locally grown organic and innovative flavourings. Basically this is heaven for chocolate lovers!

Just keep on sniffing!

Just keep on sniffing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re lucky enough to be in Puerto Viejo at the end of October, don’t miss the Chocolate Festival which include a Chocolate Crawl — like a pub crawl but with a different focus! The festival features all the local chocolate makers and chocolatiers (loads of tasting opportunities) and ways of eating or using Chocolate that just may not have occurred to you… Come and be surprised 🙂

So when you’re in Puerto Viejo one of THE Things to Do is a Chocolate Tour: You’ll never look at chocolate quite the same way again.

Take a look at the links below to see which Chocolate tour you fancy or make it a chocolate feast and do both! And if you are a serious chocolate aficionado you should also visit Caribeans and Chocorart’s Chocolate Café’s because, let’s face it chocolate is happiness in your hand.

Caribeans chocolate lounge. Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

 

 

 

http://caribeanscr.com/chocolate-tour.html

http://caribeanscr.com/chocolate-tour.html

http://caribeanscr.com/chocolate-tour.html

http://caribeanscr.com/chocolate-tour.html

https://www.facebook.com/chocorat.cr

A link to the website for The Chocolate Festival in Puerto Viejo:

http://www.pvchocolatefestival.com/index.html

If it’s going to be a little while until you’re in Puerto Viejo and you want to know just how good the chocolate from here is, now you can buy it online here:

https://www.chocolate-craft.com/

Be happy eat chocolate

 

 

 

Golden Arrecife beach, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Golden Arrecife beach at sunset, just minutes from Geckoes Lodge.

So you’re dreaming of getting off the beaten path and forgetting all the trivialities of daily life… it’s time to leave the alarm clock at home along with your shoes, appointments and obligations.

Indoor Outdoor Living at Casa del Bosque, Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

Indoor Outdoor Living at Casa del Bosque, Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

You’re searching for a place where you can truly relax, leave your watch behind and call time your own. You need some natural beauty and wildlife, perhaps an adventure or two and you don’t want it manicured and presented on a plate.

Take to the saddle and feel the freedom.

Take to the saddle and feel the freedom.

Zipline through the rainforest canopy and spot wildlife.

Zipline through the rainforest canopy and spot wildlife.

Of course there are myriad places to choose, with far too many websites promising you Paradise at a reasonable or even discounted price and you haven’t got the energy to trawl through and what’s more, are they selling what you’re looking for?

Is Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements of Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica the place for you?

Perhaps…

But if a golf course, pool aerobics, room service, shopping malls, theatre, or an all inclusive resort is your idea of the perfect holiday then read no further.

Pareos for sale in Puerto Viejo.

Pareos for sale in Puerto Viejo.

But if you’re looking for a small eclectic beach town laid out along a strip of coast where the rainforest meets the ocean, with an atmosphere so laid back you have no option but to relax and where there’s loads to see and do but also a string of beautiful beaches to do absolutely nothing on, this may be the place for you.

Gorgeous Arrecife beach.

Gorgeous Arrecife beach.

Fosh Tacos delivered to your hammock: Barefoot Luxury!

Fosh Tacos delivered to your hammock: Barefoot Luxury!

Puerto Viejo is not for everyone… there’s a lot of things that it doesn’t have… like the ubiquitous chain restaurants and shops, theatre, cinema, ancient sites and all inclusive resorts.

You may have seen the traditional description of this area with photos of picture postcard beaches of white sand and leaning palm trees, houses in rainbow colours, Afro Caribbean cuisine, restaurants catering to every taste, howler monkeys hanging around in the trees and a sloth casually crossing the road.

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Monkey Party at Geckoes Lodge

Traditional house in Caribbean colours

Traditional house in Caribbean colours

And possibly you’ve checked out the smorgasbord of activities and trips on offer from the popular zip-lining through the rainforest canopy to surfing, white water rafting, diving, snorkelling, fishing and dolphin watching to organic chocolate tours, Caribbean cooking classes, jungle or beach horseback riding to indigenous tribal visits and so the list goes on.

Surfing at Cocles Beach: Ride those waves!

Surfing at Cocles Beach: Ride those waves!

Barefoot Luxury: Caribeans Chocolate Tour, Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Organic Chocolate Tasting is a delicious part of Caribeans Chocolate Tour.

All in all it paints a pretty attractive picture especially when you add the wonderful wildlife spotting of laying leather-back turtles, huge iridescent blue Morpho butterflies, disguised iguanas, technicolour toucans, neon dart frogs, speedy agoutis and fishing pelicans alongside the famous smiling sloths and swinging monkeys.

The ever Smiley Sloth

The ever Smiley Sloth

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca.

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca.

Toucan eating Palm fruit at Geckoes Lodge.

Toucan eating Palm fruit at Geckoes Lodge.

So is it ‘just’ this Caribbean menu that brings visitors back again and again, even those that have sworn to never revisit the same place twice because their Bucket List awaits?

Dart Frog in Geckoes gardens.

Dart Frog in Geckoes gardens.

Maybe…

But maybe it’s all of the above plus something less tangible. After all there are other places in the world that also offer the visitor a menu of entertaining diversions, a glimpse into another way of life and a chance to indulge a Caribbean fantasy.

Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area offer something more that resonates not only with locals and the 46 nationalities that call here home, but also with the most casual of visitors.

Perhaps we could call that ‘extra something’ the sophistication of simplicity.

Less is more: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Less is more: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Imagine a place where many of the superficial pretentious trappings of modern life are stripped away: Where the type of car you drive, the fancy clothing, the type of phone, the size of your house or TV screen or the title you hold at work becomes totally irrelevant.

Where you are simply You.

Rainforest and Ocean at Punta Uva Beach

Rainforest and Ocean at Punta Uva Beach

Where nature is not something you go and visit, but something you live within and are part of. Remember looking up at a sky full of stars and feeling infinitesimal in comparison? In that moment we are aware of the power of nature and our place within it.

Emperadora with Green Tree Frog at Geckoes Lodge

Emperadora with Green Tree Frog at Geckoes Lodge

But the 24/7 world dampens that perception by assigning a place for nature and controlling it, which is probably why so many of us take every chance to escape the frenetic complications of modern life to something simpler, something natural, something that isn’t man made but real.

Feel the peace of Gandoca lagoon and watch the birds and monkeys in the trees.

Feel the peace of Gandoca lagoon and watch the birds and monkeys in the trees.

So is Puerto Viejo all about getting back to nature and relinquishing all your worldly goods?

No, it’s about remembering what it is to derive pleasure from simplicity which affects us all on a deeper level than the often superficial, fleeting pleasure of packaged entertainment. It’s the difference between the thrill of surprise at coming across a troupe of Howler Monkeys as you walk along the beach as opposed to seeing them in a zoo. It’s going to sleep to the sound of cicadas rather than traffic. It’s lying on pale sand with a fish taco whilst watching pelicans swooping and diving for their fish lunch.

Howler taking a Siesta

Howler taking a Siesta

It’s sometimes not being able to get everything you want but having to make do and in so doing finding satisfaction in the same.

We are creative creatures: the more we have delivered without effort, the more entitled we feel and the more bored and demanding we can become. We derive satisfaction from effort and the more developed our world becomes the more we seek the simple pleasures and the rewards they bring.

In that simplicity is the sophistication of perspective. It’s simple wisdom that Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements have in spades: essentially that those quasi sophisticated possessions and preoccupations are nigh meaningless in a natural habitat.

That Less is More.

Someone who has never been here recently asked me,

“So, I’m confused, is Puerto Viejo developed or under-developed?”
The answer is, both.
Under-developed in gaudy consumerism, pretensions, entitlement and predictability.
Highly Developed in simple pleasures, which I would argue is the ultimate in sophistication.

Hanging Heliconia in Geckoes gardens.

Hanging Heliconia in Geckoes gardens.

Less is More: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

Barefoot Luxury at Puerto Viejo beach.

Barefoot Luxury at Puerto Viejo beach.

But don’t take my word for it: Come and see for yourself.

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