KOKI Beach in Puerto Viejo de Limon is a truly eco-friendly establishment; it's a bar, restaurant and lounge made almost entirely from reclaimed materials, and it seems to turn relaxing, drinking and dining into creative 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.
Clearly named for the 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 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 here, sharing the beauty of this beautiful place with plenty of tacos and tequila shots.
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.
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 is hard to imagine the scene that unfolds in the beachfront establishment after dark. Johnny's Place is 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, decent drink prices keep the party hopping into the wee hours. The later it gets the liver it gets.
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.
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- it's that kind of place. The Lazy Mon is a casual, and very laid-back, beachfront bar- as in you can go for a dip in between drinks- bar with nightlife that runs the gamut from lazy to live- inviting to all walks of life. Live music is on Sundays and whenever local reggae and calypso bands pass through town, they play at the Lazy Mon at Stanford's.
Candlelit tables twinkle from the sand, beckoning pedestrians from the side of the road De Paso is nestled between the trees and the water's edge. Named for the path that connects the road to the jungle path and the beach, this little restaurant serves up some excellent, and inexpensive, plates from afternoon til night. Fish tacos are one of many specialties, including pizzas, pastas, and a seafood dish of the day, and there are always two-for-one drinks on happy hour special. This is a beach casual place, flip flops and shirts are optional, a pura vida vibe is the only requisite for dining here.
Tex Mex is conveniently located at the very center of Puerto Viejo, at the fork in the road a few steps from the sand. It's a big open-air spot with a circular bar for bellying up to. Wherever you may be headed, you're going to pass Tex Mex. During the day, it's a simple place to enjoy a cup of espresso or a fresh fruit smoothie. At night, there are two for one cocktails, ladies night specials, and a vibe that's earned it a reputation as "the most dangerous bar in town."
Although it's a fine Italian restaurant first and foremost, with experienced chefs in the kitchen that turn out exceptional dishes based on authentic Italian recipes that come to life with Costa Rica's bounty of fresh ingredients, Cafe Viejo is also a great place to enjoy a cocktail at the bar, and on special nights, dance to the beats of talented DJs who frequently hold later night events at the restaurant. Slightly more sophisticated than its beachfront counterparts, the bar at Cafe Viejo wraps around and spills almost on to the street, and it couldn't be more centrally located on the main road near the middle of town.
By day, Salsa Brava 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 DJs 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 newest 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, good times ensue.