The economic poverty coincides with an ecological wonderland of many firsts. The historical local economies of sugar, banana, pineapple, and other plantations is still there but given a solid run for the money by the ecotourism economy and the clutch of regional and purely local lodges, hotels, and hostels, and a vibrant eco-economy of guided tours and expeditions. Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí is in the alluvial lowland plains of the eastern volcanoes and stretches to the coast. Don’t confuse it with Puerto Viejo de Talamanca down on the Atlantic coast between Cahuita and Manzanillo.
A launching pad for Tortuguero National Park, Barra Colorado Wildlife Refuge, Braulio Carrillo National, rafting the Sarapiquí and Pozo Azul rivers, and birdwatching in all points in between, Puerto Viejo is the regional capital of an agricultural region in one of Costa Rica’s poorest regions.
Buses to both Puerto Viejos depart the same Atlantic bus station in San Jose, so pinch yourself twice before you make final arrangements. This is a fantastic budget adventurer’s destination, and you’ll find your infrastructure in this town.