The Costa Rican Surf Town of Puerto Viejo

For whatever reason, likely my fault, we weren’t able to cook on the day we were dropped at a colorful but dusty corner in Puerto Viejo. We had an appointment to learn cooking with a woman who is like the culinary grandmother of residents both old and new on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Everyone knows her, everyone raves about her cooking – we were excited. Surfers, wanderers and stray dogs inhabit the narrow strip of land she calls home, which is caught between the sea and an ever-encroaching jungle that refuses to be tamed. It is a paradise in many ways, albeit a run-down one.

As a photographer, I was rather happy to have our allotted cooking time to myself for a photographic expedition. After all, photographing anything that is aged or exploding with shades of the rainbow – is for me, akin to what heaven might be for other people. The beach and streets were somewhat empty, residents still sleeping off the sting of hangovers from a night of raucous partying. I wandered in a creative, happy haze, with the town almost to myself.

This is what my ecstatic heart captured on the day were were supposed to be learning to cook:

When our van driver finally found us again, with the intention of delivering us back to our tent in the jungle, I remember that I wanted to beg him to return and say he’d been unable to collect his charges. Ideas of sleeping in a hammock between palm trees while the sea breeze played with my hair, surfing with men from Koki Beach and maybe learning to create bamboo furniture consumed my desires. Alas, our guardian was not to be swayed from his duty. He, and others, urged me to return on my own again one day.

I’m more inclined to find another surf town on another foreign shore …
the wide world I’ve not yet seen continually calls my name and I hear good things about Tenerife …

My trip to Costa Rica was provided by the Gift of Happiness campaign sponsored by the tourism board. As always, thoughts and opinions are mine.

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  • Golden Triangle

    Awesome post. Images tell us to come and enjoy here.

  • Kokibeach

    You really captured the essence of Puerto Viejo and Caribesur with your wonderful pictures. I hope more people will have a chance to come and experience this gem on the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica. I am flattered you included our restaurant – Koki Beach – in your photographic journey
    Pura Vida

  • Maria

    You’ve captured the vibrance of Costa Rica though the melange of brilliant colors in these photos. Beautiful. 

  • Leah

    Such color and vibrance in your photos. Beautiful. They remind me why I love CR so much. 

  • DavenDeb

    Fantastic photos. I love the rich colours. You have so made me want to go there. The sign of a truly great travel photo series in my humble opinion is to entice your readers to visit the destination and you have completely done that! I want to buy my ticket right now. 

  • Ceri

    Wow, Kirsten. You continue to be my favourite photographer and you work just keeps getting better and better. These pictures are incredible.

    And I can feel how disappointed you must have been at seeing all this and then knowing you had to go back to camping in the jungle … which I know you said you didn’t like. 

  • Linda

    Can’t tell you how much I love these photos!  Costa Rica is right at the top of my bucket list (though it’s got to wait a while). The way you have captured the colors and vibrancy is stunning.

    I am thrilled you’ve heard good things about Tenerife!!  There certainly is plenty of scope here for your talents!!  

  • Annette | Bucket List Journey

    I have only been to the Costa Rican beach town of Tamarindo, but this looks just as charming :)

    • Kirsten Alana

      Yes, it definitely was charming Annette!! Thank you for the comment. 

  • Erin

    Those bikes!!  That color is unreal!

    • Kirsten Alana

      Ha! Yes, they really were Erin! Thanks for the comment :)

  • Peter Heck

    We were just talking this morning about returning to Central America next winter…  This spot looks so chill.  Love your photos as always.

    • Kirsten Alana

      DEFINITELY a chill place Pete. I think you and Dalene might love it :) Thank you, as always, for the kind comment.

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    I bet you were thinking “No! Not back to the tent!” :)

    That area holds a lot of significance for us. We stayed down the road (south of Puerto Viejo) for about a week years ago. It was pretty “removed” from reality at the time, empty and gorgeous.

    • Kirsten Alana

      That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking :) 

      I’m so glad you know the area well too. With the exception of my jungle tent, I really did love that area. How wonderful that it holds such special memories for you.