Puerto Viejo: Laidback Beachside Community on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

New Yorker Eddie Ryan could arguably be named one of Puerto Viejo’s original expats. He’s been living here since the 1980s.

“I came to Costa Rica for the first time 34 years ago, with a friend who was visiting family. During that first trip, someone mentioned the Caribbean coast to me,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a tourist destination at the time—there wasn’t even a road connecting Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, which are two of the most popular spots today.”

The harbor at Puerto Viejo is popular with pleasure craft.

About four years after that fateful first visit, Eddie found the property where he lives today. It’s just across the road from Playa Cocles, a 40-minute drive north of the Panamanian border. Cocles is one of a small, coveted group of beaches that the Costa Rican government has awarded its Blue Flag designation for pristine coastline.

“There weren’t even real estate agents in the area at that time, although there are many today. Back then, I just got connected through a friend of a friend to the owner of the property, and basically bought it with a cash advance on my credit card,” he recalls.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and Eddie now lives just a hop and a skip from Costa Rica’s crystal-blue Caribbean waters, with his wife Auxi and their three children. “It’s our home and our business. It’s called La Costa de Papito, and we’ve got 13 bungalows now, along with a restaurant and bar, and a spa where we offer all kinds of facial and body treatments,” he says with pride. “It’s a family business now and it keeps our hands full, but we make sure we never forget that the beach is right across the street.”

Eddie tells too how it’s a great community in which to live.

“Life here is all about the natural beauty and the community coming together. Everyone does their part, and the people who are happy here are those who come with the intention of becoming a part of it,” he says.

And while it’s far removed from New York, there are still some of the comforts and tastes of home too.

“You can get DirectTV and your NFL package to catch all your games. And you can find imported Parmesan cheese at the grocery store…but all in all, it’s a whole other world from a city like New York,” he says.

As to the weather, Eddie says Puerto Viejo gets another check mark in the paradise column. “Trends have changed during the time I’ve lived here—this stretch of coast used to be notorious for a very intense rainy season, but that has honestly dropped off a bit. It seems to me in recent years we’ve been able to count on anywhere from 275 to 300 days of sunshine a year. Even in the months of September, October, and November, which are traditionally the rainiest in most of the country, we’ve been getting more and more sun.”

Eddie says life isn’t always just lying back in a hammock with a cocktail, but the slower pace and tranquil atmosphere do allow an appealing balance. “I’m running a business and I have a pretty full schedule most days, but I can step out and walk across the street to get in the ocean. There’s something about not only having that option, but taking advantage of it, that always brings me a sense of peace here.”

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