Playa Perfection! The Beautiful and Pristine Beaches in the South Caribbean

Playa Chiquita. Photo by Manuel Pinto

The Caribbean Coast has something for everyone, find your paradise!

The south Caribbean beaches are very diverse. Black sand and white sand, exciting surfing beaches and calm snorkeling beaches. There are places buzzing with life, action and activities and others where you'll barely see another person all day.

Puerto Viejo / Playa Negra (Black sand beach)

This gorgeous black and very long stretch of beach is on the other side of Puerto Viejo center from here. Or is the first beach you see, travelling to Puerto Viejo when first arriving here.  Playa Negra is a volcanic sand beach - go visit on a sunny day and see the magic of the black sand sparkle like diamonds and the water is great for surf and play in the waves.

Puerto Viejo / Chino Beach

This small grid of streets may be just 3 or 4 blocks square but is packed with an amazing selection of hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars and shopping.

Staying here you'll definitely be closer to the action and some places will be noisier so it's not for all travelers. But around the edges also cluster some quiet and beautiful spots.

There isn't much of a swimming beach in town itself, most head north to Playa Negra or south to one of the many options, but advanced surfers can be found on the Salsa Brava reef just off of downtown.

Cocles Beach

Cocles is the first community south of Puerto Viejo and it north of Playa Chiquita. It is one of the most well developed. The beautiful beach is very popular with surfers, especially at the northern end, and also for swimmers. It is one of the few area beaches that is patrolled by lifeguards via the community supported Playa Cocles Lifeguard program

There are also many restaurants and small popup food trucks here to add some snacks, yummi foods and cold drinks to your day at the beach.

Playa Chiquita

The uncrowded Playa Chiquita is a favorite for those who want to relax on the fine sand and in the beautiful waters surrounded only by nature. It is really several small bays so you may be able to find your own small beach with no one else in sight. As well, there is no road to access to the beach so the short walk down one of several trails to the beach also provides privacy. 

There's a nice trail to Playa Chiquita just across the street from Hotel Shawanda.

Punta Uva

The quiet beach at Punta Uva is known for its calm reef protected water and white sand. This is a great place to bring the kids to swim. It is 8.5 km (about 5 miles) from downtown Puerto Viejo so appeals to those looking for a quieter spot to spend their vacation. Most of the area is located within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge so nature viewing opportunities are abundant with monkies, sloths and many types of birds common sights.

There is a small supermarket out on the main road before going to the beach and some restaurants.


The village of Manzanillo has long been off the beaten track, even since the paved road arrived in 2003. This is as far as you can go along the coastal road towards Panama. This little town remains a vibrant outpost of Afro-Caribbean culture and has also remained pristine, thanks to the 1985 establishment of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, which includes the village and imposes strict regulations on regional development.

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'After the End Of The Road'

Going beyond Manzanillo... along the coast you'll need to continue on foot along the path into the refuge (a local guide is strongly recommended, both to see the maximum amount of nature and for security) or head out on a boat. 

A half day round trip hike will get you to lovely Punta Mona. Further southeast, deep in the reserve, is the village of Gandoca which is reached from the main inland highway via a 4x4 track or by boat.

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