The community of Carate is located in a remote part of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, bordering on the incredible Corvocado National Park. It is a hard place to get to and when you get there it is largely undeveloped. This, for us, was part of the attraction. During our time in Carate we stayed at the lovely and spectacular Finca Exotica Eco Lodge, which is set in a glorious rainforest, full of wildlife.
PUERTO VIEJO DE TALAMANCA
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small coastal town on the Caribbean sea surrounded by the lush tropical rainforest, gorgeous white sand beaches, and a huge array of different wildlife. With a mixture of Afro Caribbean, Bri Bri Indigenous, Ticos, Americans, and Europeans alike, Puerto Viejo offers a diverse and multicultural vibe. Famous for its ‘Go Slow’ attitude, you won’t find a more laid-back town in Costa Rica.
Puerto Viejo is not for everyone. You won’t find any golf courses, marinas, or country clubs, and only a handful of hotels offer amenities like swimming pools or air conditioning that are standard in hotels in Guanacaste and other more-developed areas. Puerto Viejo is more suited for the down-to-earth traveller looking for a no-frills, authentic experience. If that is what you are looking for, Puerto Viejo will exceed your expectations.
Because of its strategic Caribbean location, Puerto Viejo is a cultural melting pot, populated by Costa Ricans, Jamaicans, and European ex-pats who infuse the town with a rich ethnic flavour. Rastafarian culture is alive and well in Puerto Viejo, and the sounds of reggae fill the air. Close your eyes and it might sound like you are in Jamaica!
VILLAS DEL CARIBE
Villas del Caribe is a small, medium-priced hotel located in the southern reaches of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The set-up is more of a motel, with two levels of villas. The property is beachfront, and each of the villas looks out towards the sea. The top floor villas have a balcony, whilst the lower villas have a large patio area.
The villas are set-back about 100-yards from the beach and between the villas and the beach is a pretty garden, with paths that meander through it.
When I call these villas, the rooms are more of a studio set-up. Our room had a large king-sized bed. The mattress was very firm, which we found was the case in most of Costa Rica. We were not great fans of the pillows which were sad and floppy.
There is a small kitchenette with a small refrigerator, a toaster oven and a sink. The kitchenette is stocked with a coffee maker, along with some delicious Costa Rican coffee, cups and cutlery. Just about all we needed, but not enough to prepare a full meal.
There was a small table in the kitchenette area, but no seating area. The bench in the unit was more useful for storing things on than sitting. We were not planning to spend much time here so were didn’t care about the lack of seating.
The built-in cupboard was pokey but functional.
Our favourite part of our room was the view out to the gardens and the sea beyond. A lovely sight to wake up to!
On-site at the Villas del Caribe was the delightful Spicy Coconut. This is where breakfast is served. You can get breakfast included in your package or pay separately. We went for the traditional breakfast which is a combination of rice, beans and plantains with a side, usually eggs.
The Spicy Coconut also does lunch and dinner. We ate here a couple of nights during our stay rather than head to the town of Puerto Viejo as the food was great. There were some wonderful vegetarian and vegan options.
The gardens were very pleasant to walk through or just sit and laze about in the shade.
Villas del Caribe does border the sea. There is a beach of sorts but it was mainly made up of rocks with patches of sand, so definitely not one of the top beaches in Costa Rica. The beach is a public beach, so at the weekend you will find local families enjoying the water.
There is a pool on site which was great for cooling off after a hot day of exploring. The water was very refreshing. We passed by the pool a few times and never saw many people using the pool.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Villas del Caribe. It was out of town, which made it nice and quiet, but it was a bit of a hike into town. There are no sidewalks so you need to be careful walking on the streets, especially at night. If you don’t fancy walking, local tuk-tuks are a great option for getting around.
It was very close to the Jaguar Rescue Centre if that is in your plans to visit.