The road heading south from Puerto Viejo is dotted with excellent Costa Rica hotels at a variety of price points, and it also happens to be one of the most beautiful and least traveled roads in all of Costa Rica. Public transport is spotty and unreliable here, but driving, biking or renting a scooter is the recommended anyway, the better to enjoy the scenery and the sea air.
Several Costa Rica hotels along this stretch cater to surfers and provide basic accommodations at low rates as close to the shore as possible. Two of these, La Isla and Totem, offer direct access to Playa Cocles and surfing culture. Farther down the road towards Manzanillo, Cabinas Something Differentc provides newer accommodations for a surfing crowd at an affordable rate.
Non-surfers will also find plenty of great Costa Rica hotels between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. Cabinas Selvyn offers budget accommodations just a short drive down a dirt road, close to one of the most breathtaking beaches in the area. The rooms are simple, but the owner Selvyn Brown cooks amazing food and tells great stories.
Other good budget Costa Rica hotels include La Costa del Papito, a collection of small cabins at low rates just across from Cocles beach; and Playa Chiquita Lodge near Playa Uva, an old-fashioned lodge with wide verandas, simple but brightly painted rooms, and free bananas and coffee all day.
One of the special charms of the stretch between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo is the relative lack of commercial development, so no true luxury hotels are available here, but travelers will find some lovely, cushy moderate Costa Rica hotels with plenty of special features.
Almonds & Corals Tent Camp is a good example of a Costa Rica hotel like no other—not really a tent camp in the camping sense, Almonds & Corals provides lush double tent accommodations with running water, cold showers, and rainforest scenery, all at moderate rate. Wooden walkways connect the tent/rooms, and the entire place is nestled into secondary forest making it seem like a separate world, even though the beach is only 180 yards away.
Azania Bungalows offers quiet romantic cabins, an in ground swimming pool, and a thatched roof open-air restaurant. Cariblue Bungalows offers similar accommodations with the addition of small verandas and hammocks, and intricately tiled private bathrooms.
Travelers who prefer traditional hotels will have a positive experience at Casa Camarona, an older Costa Rica hotel comprised of two separate two-story buildings with upstairs rooms that offer a nice cross breeze and shared verandas. Villas del Caribe, another pleasant hotel, puts guests right on the water in a collection of private villas with large sofa beds in the living rooms and private verandas with gas grills.
Last but not least, those looking for romance might consider Shawanda Lodge, a collection of rustic bungalows with artistic touches, high ceilings, varnished wood floors, and an eclectic open air restaurant featuring a mix of French, Caribbean, and Polynesian food.