There’s nothing more exciting than the idea of a getaway with the girls. That is, until it comes time to planning said getaway. While a morning at the spa followed by an afternoon of tanning might be a dream vacay for you, you already know your bestie would be bored to tears. But with a diverse group of friends, how do you make sure everyone enjoys their hard-earned vacation time together?
If you’re looking for an option to please everyone, with relaxation, adventure, sun and (of course) chocolate, then look no further than Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. This funky town on the Caribbean Coast boasts some of the best beaches, activities, and stylish venues of all of Costa Rica—without the ‘Disneyland’ feeling you’ll find in some other more touristy locations around the country. And with a bit of something for everyone, a trip to Puerto Viejo is a girl’s getaway that’s bound to please.
Where to Stay
Puerto Viejo is the main town, but I recommend basing your stay in Playa Cocles. It’s a tad more chic and with a better beach. At only 3km from the town center, you’ll still have easy access to Puerto Viejo’s restaurants and bars. You’ll find a large variety of accommodation here, ranging from budget hotels to ultra-luxurious bungalows. For a stylish mid-range option, try Caribe Town. It’s just steps from the beach and surrounded by lush jungle.
Where and What to Eat
Bread and Chocolate: Because you can never have too much chocolate on a girl’s getaway. This lovely breakfast and lunch venue serves homemade bread and pastries, sandwiches and desserts.
Selvin’s: Head here for authentic and local Afro-Caribbean flavors, like rondon or Caribbean chicken.
La Pecora Nera: It’s a bit pricy compared to town alternatives, but the authentic Italian fare is comparable to what you would stumble upon in Italy.
Going Out to Drink
The one thing lacking in Puerto Viejo is a classy drinking establishment for gals who just want to relax with a glass of vino. But while you won’t find wine bars, there are plenty of reggae-infused beach bars, often with live music. These can get sketchy if you are out too late; so let loose, but remember to dance the night away responsibly. Popular venues are Lazy Mon and Salsa Brava.
Note: While I felt extremely safe during my travels in Puerto Viejo, it is advised to avoid walking or biking around at night. Taxis are inexpensive and the safer way to go.
Activities to Do
Surf: Playa Cocles has one of the best surfing beaches in all of Costa Rica. While the waves will definitely keep experienced surfers entertained, it’s also possible for novices to take lessons.
Hike: Take a hike to Manzanillo. The coves, cliffs, jungle and ocean views through the wildlife refuge are one of Costa Rica’s top hidden gems.
Cycle: Bike rentals are easily available throughout Puerto Viejo for just a few dollars. The cycling is easy (though the road conditions aren’t always great) and it’s the perfect way to explore the beaches along the Caribbean.
Yoga: The yoga scene in Puerto Viejo is continually growing, largely due to the efforts of OM Puerto Viejo. The classes at this yoga studio are affordable and community-based. Plus, you can enjoy an ocean view from your downward dog.
Take a Caribbeans Chocolate Tour: The small restaurant features a free chocolate tasting room, as well as a fabulous menu of drinks, pastries, and sandwiches. If you want to learn about the bean to bar process, Caribbeans offers a first-class tour from the cocoa growing stages to the chocolate making ‘lab’.
Get a Chocolate Massage: The Total Body Chocolate Decadence Massage from Pure Jungle Spa is probably one of the best massages I’ve ever had. Highly trained masseuses use local, organic cacao beans, roasted over an open fire and hand-ground into a course paste for the treatment. Need I say more?
For Animal Lovers:
Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center: The name’s a bit misleading as you won’t find too many jaguars inside; however, you will get up close and personal with a plethora of adorable rescue animals. Tooki Tooki, the resident toucan that follows guests around, is a crowd favorite, as are the baby monkeys. The goal of this non-profit is always to rehabilitate and release the animals back into the wild.
Go Horseback Riding: Horseback riding along the beach has never looked so good. For an extra dose of wildlife, take a night horseback tour where you search out creatures like owls, frogs, and other nocturnal animals.
For Beach Bums:
Take your choice pick of remote and beautiful beaches along the Caribbean. Punta Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Manzanillo are personal favorites. Just don’t be like the uninformed backpackers competing for space on teeny-tiny sand coves within the town of Puerto Viejo, unaware that miles of pristine sand are waiting just moments away.
Of course, the best girl’s getaway will likely involve a combination of all the activities listed above! Remember to take plenty of time to enjoy the moments together.
So are you ready for a girl’s getaway yet? What other awesome destinations would you recommend for a diverse group of friends?