We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

3 posts
1 review
Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

We just spent a month in Puerto Viejo and are planning to return next year for longer..

The weather was ... interesting but way better than what the US was experiencing. You don't need a jacket but I would highly recommend a waterproof rain jacket; the rain is warm. For the most part there were periods of sun everyday and some days were an absolute 10...

I want to give travelers 2 "warnings" that will help in their safety.

1. Respect the rip current.. If the seas look angry DO NOT BOTHER GOING IN ABOVE YOUR KNEES. Punta Uva is the most protected beach, on those 'angry' days try going there that is your best bet for an ocean swim. If you're lucky enough to be on a beach with a lifeguard (Cocles) then stay in yellow flag areas. Talk to (and thank) the lifeguard. Do not do what I did at Playa Negra and jump right in and swim out past the breakers... i got a little stuck and lucky for me there was a surfer out there. He pointed me the right way back in... lesson learned.. The very next day we were at the same beach and a 20 something couple drove up and jumped into the waves.. in less than a minute the girl couldn't get back in, Her boyfriend took off to Banana Azul hotel 300 m. back and I kept an eye on her, a local lady warned me NOT to go in after her, she said there were 5 drownings last year on this beach. alone. The girl was a strong swimmer but was getting crushed by the big waves not more than 50 meters out.. Her boy friend returned with a lifeguard float and swam out and saved her. She collapsed on the sand and was thankful to be alive. Follow the crowds into the ocean, if they aren't swimming then that in itself is a warning. Which brings me to point number 2.

2. Respect the locals. We went back to the same beach for the 3rd day in a row, this location was about 300 m. past Banana Azul on Playa Negra. Awesome beach, we were the only ones there. This was our 3rd day in the same location and started feeling pretty 'at home'. I was getting the place set up, lashing together some bamboo and putting some palm fronds on top to get some shade. Feeling pretty pretty good. I had my iphone, kindle, hammock, swim fins, flashlights, multi-tool, $100 in cash, crossword puzzle book.. we were going to be there all day.. It was about noon, I went down the road looking for more palm fronds.. Well meanwhile back at where we were set up... a man with a 3' foot machete (which are very scary looking) confronted my wife and took off with her pack.. he realized there was another pack my wife had gathered. He returned, raised the machete above his head and demanded "Gimmee", By the time (10 minutes total) I got back he was long gone and my wife was totally broken down. He did other things that made her believe he was going to molest her. We ran to Banana Azul. They couldn't have been more helpful (thanks Roberto) and called the Police Tourista..We spent the rest of the day in Bri Bri making reports.. I should not have

a. brought so much stuff to the beach (only bring what you can afford to lose)

b. left my wife alone on that beach

I am not going to say we should not have been on that beach, that punk is the one who should not have been on that beach.

14 replies to this topic
Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7 406 posts
149 reviews
1. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Thank you for sharing your hard-learned lessons. The Caribe is an absolutely stunning area, but it's not an area where you can ever let your guard down. We were there in February and the waves were really, really rough (we were there for wildlife not beach so didn't test our courage).

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9 452 posts
70 reviews
2. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Sorry to hear that you were victims of crime in CR.

Not bringing electronics is a good idea, especially to the beach. We had read enough warnings, so during our trips to that area, we tried to carry nothing with us when we were staying there, a water bottle in the hands, no cash, no wallet, no day bag. We went back to the hotel to get the cash if we needed it after a hike, etc. But nothing is guaranteed either way.

Hopefully, you have insurance to reimburse your losses.

You were reviewing a hotel in Cahuita from 2017, so it was not your first trip to that area. Was everything good last time?

Hopefully, there were some "+" moments in your recent trip, too.

3 posts
1 review
3. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Thanks for your response.

I will follow your lead in the future.

Dear reader, please don’t use my post as a reason to NOT visit PV, it is intended to be aware anywhere.

I treasure the time in PV and had the best times there…

There were so many "+" moments….

+ Snorkel tour in the National Park

+ Guided walking tour in the National Park

+ Getting woken up by howler monkeys just before daylight

+ Roosters crowing at the break of day to finish the job

+ Riding bikes to De Gustibus Bakery for espresso and fresh bread

+ Having coffee/bread on the beach and watching the surfers ride Salsa Brava

+ Going to Playa Negra to swim the beach

+ Getting fresh fruit, Hint: Try any fruit they are willing to sample.

Best places to get fruit/veggies

Back of truck

Fruit stands

Grocery Stores

Favorite Fruit

Pineapples (little golden ones are the best) best Price: 3 / 1000 colonnes!

Mangoes – I could eat them until I throw up

Papayas – Flowers made in to melons

Melons - little green ones about the size of a softball that are super sweet

Passion fruit : Perfect fruit

Lychees – scary looking/hard eating – most delicious

Bananas – oh yeah you will see bananas, and yes they are the best you ever tasted..

Little bananas (in Hawaii they call them apple bananas) - better than marshmallows

+ Eating a second breakfast

+ Punta Uva – rent a kayak yourself for $10 and paddle up the lazy river, snorkel out to the reef

+ Playa Chiquita – secret beach find your own personal swimming hole

+ Playa Cocles – the best beach for surfer watching and strolls; it is much longer than it looks

+ Going out in the morning, the only plan is to get coffee, some adventure presents itself and your back at dark.

+ Walking around the 2 or 3 blocks paralleling the main road through town.

+ Sunset Happy hour 2 for 1 drinks at Lazy Mon chilling to live music playing a Marley/Tosh/Cuban style.

+ Local people – way nicer / more chill / happy – they smile a lot and it’s infectious

+ Riding a bike to Manzanillo early on a weekend morning and see how to have a proper family beach day i.e, the way the locals do it

Go to Pueto Viejo, it is the best..

Puerto Viejo de...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Level Contributor
2 368 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

I like your attitude. It's absolutely true that when going to a beach you should basically only have your towel and some water with you. The stretch north of Banana Azul had these problems before but it could have happened on any beach where there are hardly any other people. Well, yes, the weather...it's a strange thing, last year we had the driest year in decades and January alone brought about 20 % of our annual average rain. Glad you were not hurt and happy you kept your spirit up.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1 427 posts
155 reviews
5. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

So sorry for your experience but great advice and you are a trooper. Banana Azul are great people (loved Roberto ) The boys warned me about going north on that beach .

Watch the waters and listen to the locals is some great advice. I watched life guards at Playa Cocles constantly having to warn people to come back they were going to far.

I also witness a family - 2 very young children (maybe 3 and 5) mom and pops. everyone had either a tablet or phone they were looking at. Decked out in Nikes and jewellery.. even youngest had rope chain. Yes .. maybe not real, perhaps they were just ghettofabulous people...but WHY?? Leave the trinkets behind.

Family beach day on weekends in Manzanillo is incredible. My grandson even loved it saying we have to go back when the locals are there on the weekend so we are spending a week down there this August.

Glad you were able to have a good time .. lesson learned.

Edited: 15 March 2018, 02:16
Level Contributor
1 post
42 reviews
6. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

I am in Playa Chiquita now and was at Banana Azul six years ago. I loved your post. It was upbeat and positive, in spite of a horrific experience. Thank you for sharing ALL the wonderful moments, as well as giving us all a heads-up in regards to the currents and the crooks.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
19 171 posts
62 reviews
7. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Stephen, yours are the 2 most important warnings for any visitor to Costa Rica! Swimming is dangerous ... both statistically and in real life. Being alone on a solitary beach is dangerous. Yet those two dangers can and should be avoided. And hopefully people will read your post and will know how to act ... and react. Thank You for sharing.

West Springfield...
Level Contributor
1 post
51 reviews
8. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Heading to Banana Azul as part of my honeymoon next January. With the three days any must do activities or sights you suggest seeing as you sound to know area, was thinking Cahuita National Park, Manzanillo Refuge and jaguar rescue with beach time to fill extra time

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7 406 posts
149 reviews
9. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra

Thomas K--those are all very worthy places to visit. Cahuita and Manzanillo are much better if you have a good local guide to show you around and spot the sloths, yellow vipers, and who knows what else.

Abel Bustamante is probably the best guide working in that part of the country.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
1 post
21 reviews
10. Re: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra


I was horrified to read your review. I was thinking about a trip in August. I am female, traveling alone. I wanted to ask you about how you felt for the majority of your trip. Did the locals, or others make you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome? I would like to go there to relax. I grew up in LA and am an alert person, just not ready for people jumping out of the jungle. I know not to travel at night, not planning on doing any partying. What about traveling during the day and your time at other area beaches? Would appreciate your feedback.



Reply to: Word to the wise .. Playa Negra
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Puerto Viejo de...