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Overview of local transport options
There are a number of options for getting around in the Puerto Viejo area:
• The area between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo is quite compact and mostly flat so bicycle rental is an excellent option.
• Buses run frequently between Limon and Puerto Viejo and on to inland destinations such as Hone Creek, Bri Bri and Sixaola. Somewhat less frequently is the bus service between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo which is helpful for reaching Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva. View schedules.
• Driving is easy enough and the road is now paved all the way between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo and Cahuita and Puerto Viejo but there's lots of pedestrian and bicycle traffic so take it slowly. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is not required. And if you want a car just for a day or two or to take onward from Puerto Viejo car and golf cart rentals are available in the Puerto Viejo area. View local driving and car rental info.
• Taxis and tuk tuks are available. View taxi info.
As well as the express bus from San José to Puerto Viejo, the local bus company Transportes MEPE also operates local buses on the Caribbean Coast.
The main routes of interest for visitors are the route which operates between Limon and Manzanillo via Puerto Viejo and towns along the beach road and the routes from Limon to Puerto Viejo and from Limon to Sixaola (the Panama border).
Limon - Cahuita - Hone Creek - Puerto Viejo - Cocles - Playa Chiquita - Punta Uva - Manzanillo
The Limon-Puerto Viejo bus is an economical way to get to the various beaches in the area as it stops at many places along the road including Cahuita, Hone Creek, Puerto Viejo, Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva and Manzanillo. However, it is not particularly frequent. The Monday to Saturday schedule is:
¹ MEPE schedules include only departure times from Limon, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. Departure times at intermediate stops are approximate so arrive in plenty of time.
The Sunday schedule is:
There are additional buses that travel from Limon to Sixaola via Puerto Viejo but do not continue to Cocles, Punta Uva or Manzanillo. Check the schedule below for those.
Limon - Cahuita - Hone Creek - Puerto Viejo - Bribri - Sixaola
The bus company MEPE operates regular service from Limón to Sixaola (at the border with Panama), most of which also stop in Puerto Viejo (those that don't will get you only as close as Hone Creek so look for the note "entra a Puerto Viejo" in the table below).
These services are useful for traveling between Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, to Limón and to Sixaola. Sixaola is the border town with Panama so that's of interest if you're traveling onto Bocas del Toro or other locations in Panama. See our Travel to Bocas del Toro page for full details on travel to Panama and Bocas del Toro via Sixaola.
Many hotels rent bicycles. If your hotel doesn't have bike rentals available, there are tons of options in downtown Puerto Viejo and in other communities—you'll see them everywhere. There are a few specific places mentioned on the services page which may offer more options than most. Note that almost all the bikes have no gears and pedal brakes. Make sure you always lock your bike. Prices are very reasonable, generally $5-10 per day for basic bikes. Ask if roadside service is included in the case of a breakdown. You can also book a bike rental online here.
Banana Azul also is renting e-bikes so if you want to whiz around in super comfort that's a new option! You can reserve your e-bike here.
A few places in town also rent scooters although they are significantly more expensive.
The road between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo is mostly flat so it is well suited for cycling. That said, there are potholes and there can be a fair amount of traffic on it so exercise caution especially on the busiest sections from Puerto Viejo north to Playa Negra and from Puerto Viejo south to Cocles. On the more remote sections of the road, especially between Punta Uva and Manzanillo there are occasional reports of robberies so keep your rides to the daytime, don't go alone and/or ask around if there have been any problems lately.
E-Bike Beach Discovery Tour
Want to get a taste of the local area and all the highlights? Join a tour by e-bike. The tour starts at 8am, going to Manzanillo beach, moving on to Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita, Cocles and last, but not least, Puerto Viejo. The tour will go to the best spots on each beach so you can appreciate a nice view.
Taxis and tuk tuks in Puerto Viejo generally operate based on predetermined rate for common routes based on distance and on time (some back roads are slow). If the taxi has a meter, you may request the driver use it. See our price list for common routes on the taxi page.
Local Driving Conditions
The highway is paved and in good condition all the way from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. The final 5km section from the highway turn-off in Hone Creek to Puerto Viejo was paved in 2010 but there are lots of pedestrians and cyclists so please take your time. The road south of Puerto Viejo to Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Una and Manzanillo is also paved but again has lots of slower traffic so take care.
A 4WD vehicle is not necessary anywhere on this route unless you leave the main road for any distance. But there are few places to go off the road, the one local exception being Margarita Road between Punta Uva and Sixaola which a 4WD would definitely be recommended. But this road is not signed and it would be easy to get lost so it is not recommended unless you have a local along for navigation.
If you do get into an accident anywhere in Costa Rica, the procedure is to not move your vehicle - even if it is blocking the road! - until police have been able to inspect the scene and make a report.
Note that there is no gas station in Puerto Viejo, but there now is a gas station in Hone Creek, 5km before Puerto Viejo. There is no gas station in Cahuita.
If you're considering renting a car and driving to Puerto Viejo, all the major international car rental companies operate at or nearby San José International Airport as well as in downtown San José. Keep in mind that rates quoted online generally do not include any sort of insurance (which is sometimes even more than the rental rate) and that the car rental companies will definitely require proof of coverage elsewhere before agreeing to let you waive any insurance coverage they will sell you.
Please also keep in mind that only two car rental companies currently have offices in the South Caribbean area. Adobe and Alamo/National are both in Puerto Viejo center. So if you want to pick up or return your car in Puerto Viejo those are your only choices.
Electric or gas golf carts and scooters are also available for rent locally.
The driving to Puerto Viejo page has full information on getting here if you are driving from San José or elsewhere in Costa Rica.
If you're looking for information on how to get TO Puerto Viejo, check our Getting Here: Transport Options to Puerto Viejo page. Or go directly to our pages for San Jose - Puerto Viejo bus schedules, San Jose or Arenal shuttle schedules, travel to Bocas del Toro or travel to Tortuguero.