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Arrecife Beach Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Arrecife Beach, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Off the beaten path travel story

So you’re dreaming of getting off the beaten path and forgetting all the trivialities of daily life… it’s time to leave the alarm clock at home along with your shoes, appointments and obligations.

You’re searching for a place where you can truly relax, leave your watch behind and call time your own. You need some natural beauty and wildlife, perhaps an adventure and you don’t want it manicured and presented on a plate.Barefoot Luxury Geckoes Lodge Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Of course there’s myriad places to choose, with far too many websites promising you Paradise at a reasonable or even discounted price and you haven’t got the energy to trawl through and what’s more, are they selling what you’re looking for?

Is Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements of Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica the place for you?

Maybe…

If a golf course, pool aerobics, room service, shopping malls, theatre, or an all inclusive resort is your idea of the perfect holiday then read no further.

But if you’re looking for a small eclectic beach town laid out along a strip of coast where the rainforest meets the ocean, with an atmosphere so laid back you have no option but to relax and where there’s loads to see and do but also a string of beautiful beaches to do absolutely nothing on, this may be the place for you.

Pareos for sale in Puerto Viejo

Traditional pareos for sale at the beach in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is not for everyone… there’s a lot of things that it doesn’t have… like the ubiquitous chain restaurants and shops, theatre, cinema, ancient sites and all inclusive resorts.

You may have seen the traditional description of this area with photos of picture postcard beaches of white sand and leaning palm trees, houses in rainbow colours, Afro Caribbean cuisine, restaurants catering to every taste, howler monkeys hanging around in the trees and a sloth casually crossing the road.

Sloth looks comfy at Puerto Viejo

And possibly you’ve checked out the smorgasbord of activities and trips on offer from the popular zip-lining through the rainforest canopy to surfing, white water rafting, diving, snorkeling  fishing and dolphin watching to organic chocolate tours, Caribbean cooking classes, jungle or beach horseback riding to indigenous tribal visits and so the list goes on.

Zipline at Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

All in all it paints a pretty attractive picture especially when you add the wonderful wildlife spotting of laying leather-back turtles, huge iridescent blue Morpho butterflies, disguised iguanas, technicolor toucans, neon dart frogs, speedy agoutis and fishing pelicans alongside the famous smiling sloths and swinging monkeys.

Howler monkey resting on a tree at Puerto Viejo Geckoe Lodge

So is it ‘just’ this Caribbean menu that brings visitors back again and again, even those that have sworn to never revisit the same place twice because their Bucket List awaits?

Black-green poison dart frog

Maybe…

But maybe it’s all of the above plus something less tangible. After all there are other places in the world that also offer the visitor a menu of entertaining diversions,  a glimpse into another way of life and a chance to indulge a Caribbean fantasy.

Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area offer something more that resonates not only with locals and the 46 nationalities that call here home, but also with the most casual of visitors.

Crop of Baby Hummingbirds in Geckoes Garden, Geckoes Lodge, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Perhaps we could call that ‘extra something’ the sophistication of simplicity.

Imagine a place where many of the superficial pretentious trappings of modern life are stripped away:  Where the type of car you drive, the fancy clothing, the type of phone, the size of your house or TV screen or the title you hold at work becomes totally irrelevant.

Where you are simply you.

Where nature is not something you go and visit, but something you live within and are part of. Remember looking up at a sky full of stars and feeling infinitesimal in comparison? In that moment we are aware of the power of nature and our place within it.

Oxen at the beach, Geckoes Lodge Cocles Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

But the 24/7 world dampens that perception by assigning a place for nature and controlling it, which is probably why so many of us take every chance to escape the frenetic complications of modern life to something simpler, something natural, something that isn’t man made but real.

common-blue-morpho

So is Puerto Viejo all about getting back to nature and relinquishing all your worldly goods?

No, it’s about remembering what it is to derive pleasure from simplicity which affects us all on a deeper level than the often superficial, fleeting pleasure of packaged entertainment. It’s the difference between the thrill of surprise at coming across a troupe of Howler Monkeys as you walk along the beach as opposed to seeing them in a zoo.

Monkey party at Geckoes Lodge in Puerto Viejo

It’s going to sleep to the sound of cicadas rather than traffic. It’s lying on pale sand with a fish taco whilst watching pelicans swooping and diving for their fish lunch.

Pelicans fishing at Gandoca

It’s sometimes not being able to get everything you want but having to make do and in so doing finding satisfaction in the same.

Less is more

We are creative creatures: the more we have delivered without effort, the more entitled we feel and the more bored and demanding we can become. We derive satisfaction from effort and the more developed our world becomes the more we seek the simple pleasures and the rewards they bring.

In that simplicity is the sophistication of perspective. It’s simple wisdom that Puerto Viejo and its sister settlements have in spades: essentially that those quasi sophisticated possessions and preoccupations are nigh meaningless in a natural habitat.

That Less is More.

Toucan-eating-Palm-fruit,-Geckoes-Lodge,-Cocles,-Puerto-Viejo,-Costa-Rica

Someone who has never been here recently asked me,

“So, I’m confused, is Puerto Viejo developed or under developed?”

The answer Vadim, is both.

Under-developed in gaudy consumerism, pretensions, entitlement and predictability.

Highly Developed in simple pleasures, which I would argue is the ultimate in sophistication.

Less is More. But don’t take my word for it:

Come and see for yourself

Gandoca Lagoon Talamanca

Comments on: "Less is More: Barefoot Luxury in Puerto Viejo, Caribbean coast of Costa Rica" (6)

  1. Beautifully and elegantly written, this captures the essence in a way words rarely do. Bravo Geckoes Lodge!!

    • I second that Janet! Reading this article made me willing to go experience it right away… and I will soon. It’s the way life should be!

  2. Truly Costa Rica is a paradise on Earth. Your post beautifully describes its beauty and uniqueness.

  3. Everybody welcome to Puerto Viejo Style. Delicious Food, Reggae Music, Bike Rides and if you are a surfer, Salsa Brava is waiting you. Get this wave if you can .

    • Ahhh! Locals are speaking now. Muchas gracias for the invite, Puerto Viejo Limon! I would love to catch a few of these waves:)

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