By day, this tiny beach is one of the Caribbean's best surf spots, with wicked reef breaks that keep surfers on their toes and onlookers at the edge of their perches. By night, Salsa Brava comes alive with the sound of music, with a DJ spinning and a sound system that seems to materialize from nowhere. A few steps from the former site of another dance club called Bamboo, which burned to the ground several years ago, Salsa Brava is the newset place to mingle and get your groove on after dark. It doesn't usually get started until late night, and some nights it doesn't happen at all, but when it does it's a good time.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Happy hour with a view of the sunset from the water's edge at Salsa Brava is a must-do in PV.
Sophia's expert tip: Stay up late to experience this tiny beach spot come alive with DJ spun sounds and a local scene.
Johnny's Place is Puerto Viejo's longstanding, landmark dance club, and has been the place to sway, bump, and grind for more than a decade. The digs are the epitome of non-descript, and by day it's hard to imagine the scene that unfolds in the beachfront establishment after dark. The dancefloor is loud, live, and intoxicating. Johnny's Place is located right next to Puerto Viejo's little police station, but that doesn't stop it from being a hot spot of debauchery. Roots, reggae, and dancehall beats make for good times, and excellent bar tending with great cuba libres keeps the party hopping into the wee hours.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: The original beachfront bar, Johnny's Place is still the best beach bar in town.
Sophia's expert tip: Snag a table on the sand and watch the lights twinkle on the water before you step inside and and sway to the music. Depending on the season, some nights are designated Ladies Nights for special hours when men are not allowed in and drinks are specially priced, or free.
It took awhile, but finally Americans have started settling in Puerto Viejo, and some say it's about time, especially since The Point opened, offering sports on seven screens and even Costa Rican craft beers on draft. Now the region has a place where visiting Americans can feel right at home while gazing out at a black sand beach next to the Caribbean sea, not that folks from all over the world don't also frequent this just-off-the-beaten-path place on the outskirts of town. Don't let the immense skull and crossbones, fool you, this spot is full of friendly people and fun times.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Make it a point to visit The Point, especially since they've added a Pirate Party Barge to the scene.
Sophia's expert tip: Soak up brews with the burger and fries, it's the best and made with high=grade beef.
If you've made it to Puerto Viejo, you must visit The Lazy Mon at Stanford's, day or night, before you leave town, and in which case, you may decide to extend your stay. The Lazy Mon is a casual beachfront- as in you can go for a dip in between drinks- bar with a laid-back nightlife that's inviting to all walks of life. Live music is on Sundays and whenever local reggae and calypso bands pass through town, and otherwise there's plenty to look at if ping pong's not your cup of tea. Two for one cocktails at happy hour are a nice way to spend the sunset, and if you stay, you never know what kind of harmless trouble you may get yourself into, but it's all in the name of la pura vida.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Ping pong, open mic nights, happy hour specials, and awesome sunsets.
Sophia's expert tip: Come ready to relax, kick off your shoes, and maybe even get your feet wet at my favorite beachfront spot to hang out for happy hour.
Amimodo is an old-school yet new-school family style and family friendly Italian restaurant on the main road in Puerto Viejo. A nondescript, single story cafe style that's invitingly and casual from the street side and the beach side, Amimodo doesn't need to toot it's own horn; those in the know have been coming here for excellent authentic Italian dishes and special occasions since the doors opened nearly twenty years ago. The seating spills out from inside to out, and there is a little bar inside for pizza and cocktails. Some nights a live band plays, but mostly it is a mellow vibe.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Amimodo is PV's most romantic beach bar and one of the oldest Italian restaurants in town.
Sophia's expert tip: Happy Hour is on most days, with inexpensive tapas and "drinks of the day" specials, like a Pipa Loca, fresh green coconut spiked with rum and garnished with an exotic flower.
Clearly named for the undeniably stellar Caribbean surf that unfolds just across the road, Tasty Waves Cantina does much to revive the classic surfer vibe that first drew tourists to the area; whatever the weather, from the torrential rains that bring mud slides to the places perched along the coast, like Tasty Waves is, to the punishing yet rewarding rights and lefts that make Cocles the most coveted spot along the Caribbean to surf, this winsomely laid-back bar restaurant and beachfront lounge spot with a pool table is happy to be there, and share the beauty of this beautiful place with tacos, tequila shots, and of course, Tasty Waves.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Tasty Waves takes its name from the endlessly awesome beach break from which it is across.
Sophia's expert tip: Check Tasty Waves Cantina's famous Taco Tuesdays, for good vibes, good times, and of course, good tacos.
Tex Mex is conveniently located at the center of town, a big open-air spot on a corner of the main intersection in front of the beach. Wherever you're going, you're going to pass Tex Mex. During the day, it's a nice place to enjoy a cup of espresso or a fresh fruit smoothie, though there are many options on the menu. At night, it promotes two for one cocktails, sometimes free for ladies, and is self-dubbed "the most dangerous bar in town." Besides that, it's the best spot to catch sports events on the flat screen TVs around the bar.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Every seat at the bar and every table offers a view of the old harbor a few steps away.
Sophia's expert tip: The pi--a coladas are top notch and the Cuba Libres are dangerous.
One of Puerto Viejo's most popular spots to party after dark, Cafe Mango, formerly called the Sunset Bar, has maintained its old-school vibe and infused new life into this open-to-the- ocean-front beach shack. Inexpensive drink specials such as $1 Tequila and Guaro shots, rotating DJs, and free cocktail hours for ladies have kept Cafe Mango on the local nightlife map. This is a fun and very casual place to have a few drinks, mingle with locals and tourists, and dance. Flip flops are de riguer, costumes are encouraged, and pretentions don't exist at Cafe Mango; expect to make friends and have fun, if not fall in love.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Cafe Mango is the most festive beachfront bar in Puerto Viejo.
Sophia's expert tip: Cafe Mango is a good place to drink on the cheap and party with a young and casual crowd of locals and tourists.
Just when Puerto Viejo was in need of a little more night music, Bar Maritza has stepped up to the plate with a remodeled interior and a shiny new facade, bringing life after dark to the otherwise quiet stretch of beachfront it occupies. Maritza is attached to the front of a hotel of the same name, and encompasses a long wooden bar, a dance floor, and several cocktail tables. The theme is black and white, and it works nicely with the rainbow of disco lights that make this one of the best places to get your groove on in Puerto Viejo.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Bar Maritza is one of Puerto Viejo's original bars with benches on the shoreline.
Sophia's expert tip: Seek out little beachfront Bar Meritza for the best dancing and drinks after dark.
The first of its kind in Puerto Viejo de Limon, KOKI Beach is a truly eco-friendly establishment; a bar, restaurant and lounge made almost entirely from reclaimed materials that takes relaxing and dining and turns them into art forms. With a full bar and a lunch and dinner menu that incorporates lots of local organic produce, Koki Beach invites guests to relax and stay awhile, while giving them plenty to look at- the water's edge is just across the way, and the design details like the unique chair collection and tables made from old doors will have you feeling inspired, and impressed.
Recommended for Beach Bars because: Koki Beach is the most modern art meets nature restaurant and event space in Puerto Viejo.
Sophia's expert tip: Koki Beach is a great place to go on holidays to see their unique presentations like the wine bottle tree at Christmas and take advantage of seasonal specials, like the ceviche.