We spent a week in Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo region, in Costa Rica, with kids.
It’s on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and what a beautiful place that was!
Visiting Puerto Viejo and Punta Uva, Costa Rica, with kids
I was sitting on the daybed, on the porch, working. I heard a helicopter-like noise and felt a bit of fear – what kind of thing was there, just beside me? I slowly turned my head and there was a beautiful hummingbird, just there, looking at me. As soon as our eyes crossed, it flew away, stopping a couple of times on the way.
Well, that was one of my coolest moments in Punta Uva.
We drove from Manuel Antonio, and it was a long drive of around 8 hours.
We spent our days in this Airbnb, which was great for nature lovers! While there, we encountered the gorgeous hummingbird from the piece above, many white-faced capuchin monkeys, many lizards, incredible insects (including the beautiful golden-ore spider), a sloth, and one sweet kitty. The beach is also 5 minutes walking away – the most beautiful beach in the world, but we’ll talk more about it later.
It’s very wild, so there isn’t much infrastructure, though. The shower was cold water only, there were a lot of bugs, and the internet sucked.
It was incredible, though. We woke up with the rustling of the trees, went out, and there were monkeys on the top of the toilet. Or there would be hummingbirds, iguanas, frogs. At night, we’d sit out there and watch the fireflies.
All the beds had nets, though Coral ripped ours from the ceiling right on the first night and we decided to sleep without it. We did wake up a few times with unknown bugs on us, but we didn’t die, so I dare say it’s safe.
Tracy and David, the owners, were super helpful and nice. We arrived to find a delicious lemon meringue pie waiting for us, received some delicious fresh baked bread on the next morning, plus they came around to take our laundry or fix up anything very quickly.
It was one unique place to stay – that and the salt hotel in Uyuni (Bolivia) were our winners.
(If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to receive a discount on your first booking – and we receive one too, without any additional cost to you!)
The best beaches of Puerto Viejo region for kids
Punta Uva Beach
We first went to Punta Uva Beach because it was so close and easy to get to. It’s a nice beach, pretty calm, and beautiful. We actually only went there once, though.
After we’d played in the water, we started walking left and arrived at the best part of the beach, which was emptier and cleaner. But by then, we were just running and playing in the sand.
This beach is where the river ends up, so there’s the great part where the cool waters of the river mixed with the warm Caribbean beach waters – pretty good feeling! There are people renting out kayaks and surf boards there, and offering tours, which is handy.
We liked it, but…
Punta Arrecifes Beach
But then we found the Arrecifes Beach and there was no turning back. It was the perfect beach, clean, empty, beautiful sand, clear waters, and even fishes. It was love at first sight and we just never left. Every single day, we headed out there.
On some days, it was more crowded, but on other, it was just us.
The waters were calm and warm and we felt in paradise.
On one of our last days there, we encountered a three-toed sloth crossing the road on our way home. The cute slow thing, a lot of people stopped too to watch it. It took around 20 minutes to get to the other way since we arrived, and we found it half way there. Lovely, beautiful creature!
Some times, there were people walking on the beach selling coconut water (called pipa fria), fruit salad in banana leaves, or even sandwiches. It was fun and handy, as the closest place is actually around 10 minutes walking from where we liked to stay.
There was just a lot there. We could watch the fishes, swim, play on the sand, play around the huge branches that are so abundant there (we even used ‘ours’ to hang out wet clothes to dry), bird watch, snorkel, kayak.
It really was a piece of heaven.
It’s right in Puerto Viejo. We stopped there one day after we had dinner. There are many reefs there full of little fishes and crabs, so we started looking a bit closer and deeper when we saw a jellyfish stuck there. Angelo helped it out to the waves again and we carried on looking.
We saw one boy spear fishing there, though we didn’t see him catch anything. Then we saw a few people coming out of the water carrying their catch very proudly: a baby shark. Seriously. We were speechless.
The reefs form a nice pool there, where people can bathe in midst of the fishes, no waves crashing. It must be lovely, but the dead shark image kept coming to us so we never really went back.
Where to eat in Puerto Viejo and Punta Uva region with kids
Of course, we would talk about food, because we’re nothing without it.
Coconut water was way cheaper there than in Manuel Antonio, but there were fewer people selling it. If you buy it on the streets, make sure you dispose of it properly – especially the straw. Littering is inexcusable.
All the places we visited were child-friendly but they all lacked on options for kids. Our smaller kids never really managed to finish one meal, but it wasn’t so much that they could share, so we always had that little food left.
We thought it’d be something like Chocomuseo from Cusco, but it wasn’t. It was a tiny store selling out a few hand made chocolate and a chocolate tour. We bought some chocolate there, and it was good, but it tasted a lot like the cocoa beans and very little of chocolate.
El Refugio Grill
This was, by far, our favorite restaurant. It’s after Punta Uva and Arrecife Beaches, on the way to Manzanillo Beach. It is delicious. The burgers are super good, the chips on our first visit there were just the best we’ve ever had. Sadly, on the second time we went, the chips were regular chips – but we got upgraded and won some nice manioc fries. It’s very worth the trip, plus the owner is such a great person. Oh Oh! We saw so many incredible lizards while we were there too! The down side is that it’s cash only.
In Puerto Viejo, it was the most expensive meal we’ve had in Latin America. It was fancy, and we had juice and entries and main menu and dessert, but it was way too expensive to be worth it. At the end of the meal, we got a tiny shot of a delicious cocktail (the kids’ was non-alcoholic). It’s right across from the beach, it’s beautiful, and the food was delicious, but it’s really expensive. Maybe it’d be worth for a celebration or something, but otherwise… Their fries were all banana chips – the kids didn’t like it.
This restaurant in Puerto Viejo was delicious. It served Caribbean food, played Bob Marley non-stop, and the service was really good. Plus, it had fresh coconut water. The fish with the Caribbean sauce and the rice and beans in coconut milk were the best meal I’ve had in forever. So good! We always left with our bellies so full there was no space for dessert ever. They serve some serious lobster, which we didn’t try but it looked really good. We loved it so much that we returned once again. It was lovely.
Weather in Puerto Viejo region
It rained almost every day and, apparently, it rains every day throughout the year. Don’t worry, though, we never missed a day at the beach. It usually rained at night or early morning so we could always enjoy it, even if it was in the afternoon. Hurricane season is in September and October, but it’s also the driest season. February and March are the driest months outside of hurricane season.
Temperatures are always high, though!
You can check the weather forecast here.
Animals in Punta Uva
It was always at the house, but we had so many animal encounters I can’t really name them all.
There was one cute sloth – it spent around 3 days on the same tree. We caught it one day climbing down, and never saw it again. For a couple of days it was just curled up, looking more like a bump on the tree than an actual sloth, but then once we found it eating leaves hanging from the tree, in the traditional sloth position. The last time we saw it, it was climbing down very, very slowly. It looked at us, moved the hands a tiny bit, looked away, and it moved something like 2 inches (or 5 cm) in 15 minutes or so.
The white faced capuchin monkeys were a winner, as they came really close to us, no fear. We left a banana on top of the toilet roof one night and, in the morning, there were many of them there. They let us come and place more fruits there, but never took any from our hands. One of them actually tried to scare me away while taking all the banana pieces from the roof. They are cute.
There were spider monkeys and howler monkeys too, but we only saw them far away, on the upper branches of the trees. The howler monkeys were super loud all day long, but they’d quiet down completely after dark. The spider monkeys were silent and just crossed here and there without ever sparing us a closer look.
At night, we’d hear frogs, and all the insects came out. We couldn’t name half of them! Some were cute, some were scary. The golden orb spiders were always there, huge and beautiful. The biggest was about the size of my hand, and it was one active spider. We caught it spinning the web, spinning insects, eating them, and just chilling. They are beautiful and gentle spiders, no need to fear. And their webs are super strong and stretchy! It’s incredible!
Hummingbirds, big and small, were always around too. Only one of them came really close, the others just went to the flowers and away. They are incredibly colorful and beautiful.
There were so many butterfly species there I lost count. The biggest was the blue one, incredible metallic blue wings shining in the sun!
Once the cat there found a huge lizard and tried to eat it on the day bed. We sent her away and she tried the actual night bed. We had to shoo her away, and she ate it under the house. The lizard was seriously her size. There were supposed to be iguanas, but we didn’t see any.
At the beach, we saw many fishes – unrecognizable for us, though. Some were even jumping, which was super fun to look at.
Keep your eyes open, ears sharp, and you’ll find something for sure!
Puerto Viejo for families
We didn’t really stay there but it was close enough that we could come and go as we pleased. The lack of sidewalks upset me sometimes but it’s a pretty town with plenty of options for everything. All the restaurants are out in the open, so don’t expect air conditioning – there is air con in the supermarket, though!
There are people selling fruit on the street, which is very handy and we loved! The lady we bought from was always very sweet and never tried to rip us off. We only saw her there twice, though.
Tips for families with kids visiting Punta Uva and Puerto Viejo
– The sun is really strong, so take your sunscreen. Just avoid wearing it inside the water because part of it stays there and pollutes the ocean.
– The easiest way to get around is by car. You’ll need one. It’s very easy to drive there.
– Restaurants are VERY expensive there. We never paid less than US$ 100 there, so be prepared. Food tends to be really good, though.
– Almost all the beaches are incredibly beautiful and worth visiting. If you have a short time, go straight to Arrecifes. If you have time, try all of them.
– It really is hot there. Don’t try to fit a lot into each day because the heat is a killer!
– You’ll need insect repellent. Ours isn’t DEET but it did the work. Again, avoid wearing it to the water because it is poison, after all.
– Keep eyes open for the wildlife! It’s incredible!
– There are many adventure and water sports options there, and you don’t need to book before getting there unless you’re on a very tight schedule.
– Stay longer! It’s an incredible place that’s very worth the time you take – especially if you like a beach.
Our review of Punta Uva and Puerto Viejo for families with kids
I think this is it. Punta Uva is a great place, although it is a bit hard to get the basics. It’s also pretty expensive, so you’ll need to be prepared for it.
The incredible wildlife and the beaches are worth all of that, though. We absolutely loved it!
So now, have you already followed us on Instagram? We love to share our adventures there!