In Puerto Viejo you’ll enjoy an overload of eating, drinking, and dancing spots in the company of surfers, American and Euro expats, Afro-Caribbeans, Bribri Indians, and other Tico (Costa Rican) types, all happily coexisting with the toucans and sloths. The thatched bungalows at Korrigan Lodge surround you in jungle-like privacy, yet the golden sunburst of Punta Uva beach is steps away. The $630 a week rate includes tax, breakfast, and bikes. In Puerto Viejo, epicenter of cool, Cabinas Guarana offers low-cost charm a short walk from the beach. The $41-a-night double room rate includes tax and a community kitchen where you can make your own plantain chips and ceviche.
Wherever you stay, your hosts can connect you with affordable ecotours and guides for trekking, rafting, birding, or visiting a Kekoldi Indian village. Put Cahuita National Park and a boat trip to see turtles in Tortuguero National Park high on your list.