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. The mosiac tile entryway opens into an airy bar and tables set into the sand. There's seafood and Caribbean appetizers worth trying on the menu, but it's the scenery that's really why this is the place to be, and the beautiful beachfront bar is easy to belly up to. There is happy hour on some nights, and a live DJ spinning music after the sun goes down on others.
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.
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, and whoever's there will see you coming. During the day, it's a simple place to enjoy a decent cup of espresso or a fresh fruit smoothie. At night, it promotes two for one cocktails, sometimes free for ladies, and bills itself as "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.
It took awhile, but North Americans have arrived 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.
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.
Pan Pay is Puerto Viejo's most popular spot for locals; here is where everyone comes for coffee, croissants, baguettes for later, and to catch up with the neighbors- and if there's a soccer game on, you can watch it here. Located in a casual open air spot adjacent to the police station, many of the tables outside have a view of the water. The prices for breakfast and lunch are the lowest in town and you get plenty of bang for your buck. Owned by two Spanish brothers who take baking seriously, the glass display is brimming with goodies that are hard to resist. Pan Pay opens at 7 but closes in the late afternoon, and everything on the menu is good.
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 spirited Caribbean music, but mostly it is a mellow vibe.
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.
Maxi's Restaurant is truly a classic, planting its stilts in the sand several decades back, when it was the only restaurant in all of Manzanillo, and it practically still is. Located at the very end of the long road that runs all the way from San Jose down through Puerto Viejo, Maxi's stands overlooking the beach It's this prime location, mixed with the familiar, laid-back vibe of its proprietors, a menu stocked with fresh seafood Caribbean dishes, and a bar that makes Maxi's such a landmark. The two story, open-air restaurant is casual enough for flip flops and board shorts, but cool enough to host special occasion dinners, parties, and game-watching, too.
Perched on the edge of the coral reef overlooking the beautiful coast of Cahuita, Sobre las Olas is a perfect little restaurant that has excellent food to match its ambience. The best seats are outside nestled between the palm trees, where mussels on the half shell and ceviche are fine appetizers to get you in the mood for an excellent meal. Italian owners have created a menu with the home country's influence but focused on fresh local ingredients and expertly prepared seafood. If you haven't happened upon it while visiting Cahuita, it's worth asking to be pointed in the right direction and is a pleasant stroll just north of town. Bonus: There is a full bar here, too.