The fifteen-kilometre stretch of coast south of Puerto Viejo features some of the most appealing beaches on the entire Caribbean coast. All the trappings of a pristine tropical paradise are here, with palm trees leaning over calm sands, purples, mauves, oranges and reds fading into the sea at sunset and a milky twilight mist wafting in from the Talamancas. The first two hamlets heading south from Puerto Viejo, are Playa Cocles (2km south) and Playa Chiquita (4km south) which, owing to the amount of recent development, now more or less blend into one another. Patrolled by lifeguards, Playa Cocles offers perhaps the best surfing in the entire region and is also home to the jungle bookstore Echo Books, with excellent coffee and chocolates, and an impressive selection of reading matter. Playa Chiquita has a couple of interesting attractions nearby, plus a good selection of bars and cafés.
Punta Uva, 5km beyond Playa Chiquita, has a pristine white-sand beach set in a protected cove making it particularly good for swimming. Manzanillo, another 2km further on, almost at the end of the coastal road, has a large shelf of coral reef just offshore that teems with marine life and offers some of the best snorkelling in Costa Rica. The village itself is small and charming, with laidback locals and a couple of great places to eat and hang out.