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So it’s September and one of the best things to do this month is Snorkeling in Puerto Viejo. In September, the seas are calm, the weather is dry and it’s the perfect time to strap on that snorkel and glide over those coral reefs!

Put yourself in another world!

Put yourself in another world!

Puerto Viejo and Cahuita have some great snorkeling spots and whether you choose to take a boat trip to an outer reef or simply snorkel from the beach, in the calm ocean of September you’ll be rewarded with good visibility and plenty to look at.

Snorkeling at Cahuita National Park

Snorkeling at Cahuita National Park

You don’t need to bring your own snorkel, mask or fins as they are readily available for rent right here in Puerto Viejo. Plenty of the tour agencies offer great tours and even if you’ve never snorkeled before, don’t worry, they’ll have you snorkeling like a professional within minutes! Have a look at the end of this post to see a list of places that offer snorkeling tours.

Snorkeling in Puerto Viejo is usually pretty and often really exciting because who knows when you’re going to spot a great big starfish, a lion fish or see a turtle glide past?

Gorgeous Starfish

Gorgeous Starfish

The spectacular Lionfish

The spectacular Lionfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to get a little practice in first and just snorkel off the beach, head down to Arrecife beach in Punta Uva, which apart from having a good reef not far offshore is also one of the most beautiful beaches on this coast.

Snorkeling off Arrecife Beach

Snorkeling off Arrecife Beach

So if you’re around this coast in September or October and thinking of things to do, snorkeling in Puerto Viejo should be high on your list!

Snorkel gear for rent: Things to Do: Snorkeling in Puerto Viejo

Snorkel Tours:
http://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/tour-detail.php?tid=expcahhttp://www.wahoofishingtours.com/our-tours/dolphin-snorkeling-sightseeing-tours/
http://geckotrail.com/en/tours/dolphin-watching-and-snorkeling/
http://www.spanishatlocations.com/spanish-school-locations/costa-rica/our-spanish-school-in-puerto-viejo/excursions/  (Learn Spanish too!)
http://tourspuertoviejo.com/snorkeling_tour_cahuita_national_park.html
http://terraventuras.com/tours/
http://www.exploradoresoutdoors.com/caribean-tours.html
http://www.reefrunnerdivers.com/dolphintours.htm

 

So, here you are in Puerto Viejo and for a change it’s a cloudy day… you feel like getting out and about… but where’s an interesting and scenic place to go? One of my favourite things to do is to take a drive into the Talamancan mountains.

A creek in the Talamancan mountains

A creek in the Talamancan mountains

Suddenly you are in a different world. Towering tracts of rainforest with waterfalls tumbling between the greenery, rivers flowing over massive stones, indigenous Costa Ricans tending their fincas, children playing with a balloon and stacks of bananas along the road awaiting collection.

The pleasure of a red balloon: Children in Talamancan mountain village

The pleasure of a red balloon: Children in Talamancan mountain village

Bananas awaiting collection, Talamancan Mountains.

Bananas awaiting collection, Talamancan Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Depending on the route you take (don’t worry, we’ll make sure you don’t get lost: Tom is an ace map maker!) you may follow the road along the Sixaola river and see the mountains of Panama on the other bank.

Sixaola River bordering Panama.

Sixaola River bordering Panama.

The Talamancan Mountain range is the highest and wildest mountain range in the whole of Central America. It extends along the border between Panama and Costa Rica and is one of the region’s most important conservation areas. It’s of global significance apart from being beautiful! Read more about it here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/205 Things to Do: Drive into the Talamancan Mountains

On your way along the Sixaola river you’re sure to see the banana transport before you climb into the foothills of the Talamancan mountain range. If you’re lucky you may happen on a fair taking place in one of the indigenous settlements.

Transporting Bananas

Transporting Bananas

 

 

On their way to your supermarkets!

On their way to your supermarkets!

Local Fair in Suretka in the Talamancan mountains.

Local Fair in Suretka in the Talamancan mountains.

But whatever day it is you can be assured of beautiful views, wonderful photographic opportunities and of course the fun adventure of getting off the beaten track.

Small Finca in the Talamancan Mountains

Small Finca in the Talamancan Mountains

On the way to Bribri

On the way to Bribri

When I’m travelling I am often just as fascinated by all the daily activities going on around me as by the ‘must see’ famous sights. If you also enjoy the simple pleasure of experiencing a culture completely different from your own, then don’t miss a trip to Bribri when you’re next in this area.

Bribri Children

Bribri Children

Bribri is the name of an important indigenous tribe of Talamanca (one of the six counties of Limon province) and also the name of a town. Although Bribri is officially a city due to it’s status as a municipality, complete with Mayor, when you visit you’ll feel as if you’re in a small village.

Traditional House on the way to Bribri

Traditional House on the way to Bribri

So what’s so special about Bribri? Well to me, it’s fascinating because it is the complete opposite of Puerto Viejo. Completely lacking in any ‘touristy feel’ Bribri is always humming with lots of indigenous people doing their weekly shopping, going to computer classes, getting things done at the municipality, having a haircut, meeting up with friends and perhaps buying a dress for a special occasion.

Barber Shop in Bribri

Barber Shop in Bribri

Fruit Snack Stall, Bribri

Fruit Snack Stall, Bribri

 

 

Computer School, Bribri

Computer School, Bribri

 

 

Farmer shopping in Bribri

Farmer shopping in Bribri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Dresses in Bribri

Party Dresses in Bribri

To get to Bribri you can take the bus from Puerto Viejo (takes about 30 minutes) or, if you’re driving choose the more scenic route along the Sixaola river which borders Panama. So pretty! Whichever route you take, along the way you’ll see traditional houses and Bribri children playing. It’s off the beaten track certainly and that’s something I always find interesting. It is the other face of Talamanca and as much a part of life in Caribbean Costa Rica as Puerto Viejo and the entire coast.

Shop front in Bribri

Shop front in Bribri

 

Football kit wash day on the way to Bribri

Football kit wash day on the way to Bribri

So when you’re on the Caribbean coast, if you want to see the other side of life here, take a trip to Bribri for the morning or afternoon, eat a great lunch of fried chicken at El Refugio, wander around and watch daily Talamancan life unfolding. It’s not on everyone’s Things to Do list —  maybe that’s why a Trip to Bribri has a charm of its own.

The place to buy your Alka Seltzer, on the way to Bribri.

The place to buy your Alka Seltzer, on the way to Bribri.

 

 

OK, you’re right — maybe I cannot really title such a blog Things to Do: Swimming with Pelicans. But then actually why not? It’s free, no organisation needed but fun and wonder guaranteed.

Of course there is no guarantee that you will find a pelican or two to swim with — but you might. Over our years here I’ve often found myself in very close proximity with these gorgeous and impressive birds. Usually I don’t have a camera with me… but the close up shots I got below were taken standing knee deep in the sea and yes you guessed it: swimming with pelicans.

Swimming with Pelicans at Punta Uva beach

Swimming with Pelicans at Punta Uva beach

They are not very scared of people and after fishing they land with a splash in the sea close to shore where they relax, bobbing up and down. When I see that, I take my chance and slowly swim or wade towards them. They eye me up a little suspiciously but stay put in their bobbing position and only if I get within a metre of them do they take off and land a few metres further away.

Pelican resting after fishing

Pelican resting after fishing

Have you seen pelicans fishing? When I’m not swimming with them I sit on the beach and watch them swooping and diving: they are so elegant! They can skim a wave with only millimetres between them and the breaking wave: ace flyers they certainly are. Look at these two doing just that:

Skimming the waves

Skimming the waves

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca

I know there are loads of ‘official’ things to do on this coast and you could fill several weeks of being engrossed with one activity or another on daily basis without finishing ‘the list’ but some of my favourite things to do here are those rather more unorthodox fun things… and swimming with pelicans is a thrill.

Pelican Flyover at Playa Grande

Pelican Flyover at Playa Grande

So when you’re thinking of Things to Do in this area don’t forget to go down to Punta Uva, one of the best beaches for swimming with pelicans. If like me, you enjoy some of the simpler and more unorthodox things in life, you may find getting up close and personal with a pelican may be just as thrilling as I think it is!

Today’s offering in the Things to Do series is calling all horsey people, both experienced and first time riders! You’re going to love this… One of the best Things to Do here for you could be Horse Riding along the beaches and in the rainforest jungle.

Imagine riding along a beach like this:

Things to do: Horse riding at Arrecife Beach

Things to do: Horse riding at Arrecife Beach

Or under the trees like this:

Playa Chiquita Horse Adventures

Playa Chiquita Horse Adventures

And don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a horse, there are two horse riding stables here, both with expert riders who will take you out and give you the ride of your life!

Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures (http://www.playachiquitaridingadventures.com/) and Caribe Horse Riding Club (http://www.caribehorse.com/) have beautiful, well looked after horses, comfortable saddles, experience and passion for their animals and the tours they offer.

Happy Horses, Comfortable Saddles and Experts for the Ride of your Life!

Happy Horses, Comfortable Saddles and Experts for the Ride of your Life! Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures.

If you can’t get enough of riding along tropical beaches or through the rainforest Caribe Horse Riding Club also offer a complete Horse Vacation — 3 or 7 days of exploring this coast on horseback.

Or how about swimming with your horse in the Caribbean sea? This is how beautiful it looks: Imagine how that feels 🙂

Caribe Horse Riding Club

Caribe Horse Riding Club

Both Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures and Caribe Horse Riding Club don’t only offer the usual tours you might expect though… Want to propose on horseback on the beach? No problem, they’ll set it up. Feel like getting married on the beach and riding to your wedding? They’ve got you covered!

Caribe Horse Riding Club at Punta Uva Beach

Caribe Horse Riding Club at Punta Uva Beach

And so the possibilities go on: Honeymooners (or lovers!) can take a private romantic sunset beach ride followed by a couples massage or how about taking a horse ride by full moon?

Quite apart from plenty of wonderful horse riding options, don’t forget the wildlife spotting (and photo!) opportunities that come with horseback riding. Regularly spotted from the saddle are sloths, monkeys, hawks, toucans iguanas and legions of beautiful butterflies.

Things to Do: Horse riding along tropical Caribbean beaches

Things to Do: Horse riding along tropical Caribbean beaches

So when you’re thinking of Things to Do in Puerto Viejo, consider doing it in the saddle: It may just be one of the rides of your life.

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

 

 

 

When I want to completely relax and indulge myself, going to a Spa is top of my list. It’s that wonderful feeling of having Time for You, no need to think about anything and let all those obligations slip away while you lie back and indulge your senses.

Indulge your senses at Pure Jungle Spa

Indulge your senses at Pure Jungle Spa

One of my favourite Things to Do on a rainy day in Puerto Viejo is go and indulge in some Caribbean Spa time. And we are lucky enough to have two wonderful Spa’s here in Puerto Viejo: Pure Jungle Spa and Indulgence Spa.

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

http://www.indulgencespa-salon.com/

Pure Jungle Spa

Pure Jungle Spa

Hair Salon at Indulgence Spa.

Hair Salon at Indulgence Spa.

Both Pure Jungle Spa and Indulgence Spa offer a varied and extensive menu of delicious treats for all parts of your body. Whether you are a Spa aficionado or a Spa novice these spa’s will delight and surprise you.

First they are both gorgeously built in tropical Caribbean style — a feast for the eyes even before you’ve begun. Secondly the use of local fruits, oils and produce make the treatments original and specific to this area.  I recently had a Tropical Bliss facial which was pure pleasure: from the smell of the fresh papaya and pineapple to the feel of smooth cooling fruit on my skin.

Exterior of Pure Jungle Spa

Exterior of Pure Jungle Spa

And if you like chocolate, these two spa’s have treats in store for you! Choose from a fabulous chocolate facial or go the whole hog and have a full body chocolate treatment with massage — it’s a completely different and divine way of experiencing chocolate. Such a heady concoction that I just had to taste it and yes, it was as delicious as the aroma wafting around me.

Chocolate facial at Indulgence Spa

Chocolate facial at Indulgence Spa

 

 

 

 

So who doesn’t like a great massage? Both Spa’s have expert masseurs so you can choose from all sorts of different types and pressures. Or go together for a couples massage. Or go alone and get the ultimate massage experience of four hands. Or maybe you feel like combining your massage with essential oils, or Talamanca rose mud or Passion-fruit body scrub or soothing Aloe Vera — chances are you will feel so good you’ll want to extend your stay on this coast.

Thai Massage at Indulgence Spa

Thai Massage at Indulgence Spa

 

Couples massage at Indulgence Spa

Couples massage at Indulgence Spa

 

 

 

 

Massage room at Pure Jungle Spa

Massage room at Pure Jungle Spa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for those that didn’t have time for a pedicure, manicure, haircut, bikini waxing or various other beauty enhancers before rushing to the airport, don’t worry because between Pure Jungle Spa and Indulgence Spa, they’ve got you covered.

Manicure time at Indulgence Spa

Manicure time at Indulgence Spa

 

 

 

 

Pure Jungle Spa

Pure Jungle Spa

So the next time you’re in Puerto Viejo, take a look at the Spa’s …. choose your indulgence   and come out feeling fantastically Pura Vida!

 

 

Apart from enjoying the spectacular beaches and ravishing rainforest and all the wildlife, did you know there are loads of Things to Do on this coast?

Sized ziplining 1 Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Ziplining is the number 1 activity / Trip / Tour in Puerto Viejo — so don’t miss it!

Terraventuras run this successful tour in Puerto Viejo with a good deal of professionalism and a whole lot of fun. Just call them or drop into their office in Puerto Viejo and you could be ziplining through the canopy the following day.

Take a look here:

Is it for You?

If, like me, you don’t really enjoy heights and feel drawn to the edge of anything elevated, you might be thinking ‘well that’s one activity that’s really not for me’. But don’t decide against it just yet…

Sized Ziplining 2 Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The Terraventuras  team ( www.terraventuras.com ) are not only very good at what they do, they’re reassuring too! If you are initially scared (because after a zipline or two you’ll be having a great time) one of the team will zipline with you until you feel confident enough to go it alone.

The first time I went with my nieces and nephew I had a LOT of misgivings. Standing on the first platform after the instructions and safety briefing, I thought to myself ?I must be crazy — what the hell am I doing here?’ By the end of the tour I wanted to go and do it all over again — it was such a thrill.

Sized Ziplining 3 Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

So what’s it like?

Apart from being fun and more thrilling than the best fairground ride, I thought Ziplining was also incredibly beautiful. To be high up in the canopy is to have a birds-eye view and that is simply gorgeous. Suddenly you have a different perspective and see the rainforest up close and from above. It’s stunning.

Also you never know what bird or animal life you’re going to see from either the platform or as you zip along the wire. Sightings of sloths, monkeys, toucans, iguanas and agoutis are not unusual.

Sized Ziplining 5 Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Walking between the platforms is also lovely and something that is rarely mentioned in reviews or articles about ziplining. Those brief walks between platforms are a great plus because there you are, immersed in the rainforest — it’s a botanical treat.

So if you want to get up close and personal with the rainforest try it : Go Ziplining!

Sized Ziplining 6 Geckoes Lodge, Cocles, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica geckoeslodge.com

On my Things to Do list in Puerto Viejo ziplining would certainly be very close to the top.

Pura Vida!