sitting near the window of a Puerto Viejo bungalow
Costa Rica, Review

Hotel Review: The Best Bungalows in Puerto Viejo


These jungle bungalows are great places to stay in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

In 1502, Christopher Columbus made his final voyage to the New World. The notorious explorer dropped anchor near modern-day Limon, just an hour’s drive from Puerto Viejo. The area became known as “La Costa Rica” – the rich coast, due to Columbus’s (greatly exaggerated) claims of gold and treasure.

All that gold never turned up, but Costa Rica is still rich ‒ in animals, plants, and incredible biodiversity. A homey, jungle bungalow is the best way to experience it. In this blog, I’ll review two vacation rentals in Puerto Viejo: Casa Corazon del Mar and Casa del Compositor.

Guests sit in the living room of Casa Corazon del Mar in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Looking in on the main dome of Casa Corazon del Mar

Casa Corazon del Mar

Visually, the adobe-style Casa Corazon del Mar speaks for itself. The home features three, interconnected domes of differing size, the main living area, a spa washroom, and the bedroom. Every room has large circular windows. Stairs near the entrance lead you to an outside viewing platform with a canopy, hammock, and unobstructed views of the garden and rainforest. You’ll also see some friendly bats hanging from the thatched overhang – one big reason why bugs aren’t a problem on this property.

But the first thing you’ll notice are the acoustics. John demonstrated how whispers on one side of the room can amplify and be heard on the other side. It’s quite the experience.

Clearly, a lot of work went into this space, and all the little details are fun to find in this high-style dome home.

TheGayTripper sitting in the living room of Casa del Compositor
The hat was an extra amenity in Casa del Compositor. Side note: I’m not trying to flex in this picture

Casa del Compositor

For a more traditional take on Puerto Viejo bungalows, Casa del Compositor fits the bill. This simple, wood home has minimalism – and style. In this case, interior design does the heavy lifting. The main living space is complimented with lush red sofas and a wood kitchen island.

A large set of double doors swing free from floor to ceiling, and the dual casement windows open up in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom – providing airflow and  feeling of life in the jungle. In the morning, you may be awoken by the sounds of birds, iguanas, and monkeys. Flip open your full-bed mosquito net and unlatch the windows. Then crawl back under the sheets and enjoy the garden view and the fresh rainforest air.

Location

Casa Corazon del Mar and Casa del Compositor are on the same property, just a few minutes walk from Playa Negra on Casa Amma Road. Being off the beach has its benefits. There’s little noise from the main road and no outside foot traffic. During your stay, there are hints of an old chocolate plantation. It’s been replaced by a full-blown botanical garden, which the owners have been tending to since 2013. But on the half-kilometer walk to Playa Negra and the Caribbean Ocean, you’ll see remnants of the chocolate farm and its characteristic flowers.

Due to its location, wildlife is abundant. You can find lizards, snakes, monkeys, sloths and all kinds of little creatures. Yes, you’re in the jungle, but nothing is out to get you. This property – and Costa Rica – is incredibly safe.

In practical terms, the bungalows are less than two kilometers (a twenty-minute walk by beach) from the bank and grocery store on Puerto Viejo’s main strip. You’ll find a variety of bars and rentals there. But if you’d prefer a faster method, John or Eric can call a cab, which costs just a couple bucks for a ride into town.

Related Post  Hotel Review: Las Clementinas, Panama City

Service

John and Eric have lived on the property for years, having bought the land via a handshake on their honeymoon in 2006. I found both John and Eric to be responsive during my stay, with quick replies via WhatsApp and email. John met me at the gate as I arrived on the Caribe Shuttle, and immediately gave me a tour of the property.

Knowing that I was traveling solo, John invited me to a gathering of expats one night, and to dinner the following evening. He came by daily to say hello, and to make sure I was comfortable. With his nine rescue dogs, this became something of a parade every morning. And when I was looking for places to go, John was quick with suggestions or an insider’s tip (e.g.: go to the ATM first thing in the morning, milk isn’t kept in a refrigerator at the grocery store).

To restate the obvious, John and Eric are a same-sex couple. This makes Casa Corazon del Mar and Casa del Compositor exceptionally gay-friendly hotels in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. There’s plenty of space and privacy for LGBT people to relax.

Amenities

Both bungalows are equipped for 1-2 guests, with a single bed, bath, and kitchen. There’s space to park if you’ve brought your own vehicle, otherwise, shuttles and taxis can pick up and drop you off at the gate to the property. Each bungalow features a fully furnished kitchen that’s ready for cooking, and drinking water is included. Free wifi is available, but can be spotty everywhere in Puerto Viejo during the high season. All rooms are non-smoking.

Sueño Grande, a bed and breakfast in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
A look at the pool and two-story style of Sueño Grande

Wildcard: Sueño Grande B&B

This special mention is a little different than the bungalows above. Sueño Grande is a more traditional, multi-guest B&B on the edge of town. I discovered this location on my first night in destination, when I was invited to a gathering of North American expats near Puerto Viejo’s main strip.

Shortly after walking inside, I was introduced to the owner, Jody. That’s when I learned of the B&Bs appearance on House Hunters International. I didn’t have a television crew with me, so I’ll let HGTV give you the details (video here). If you’re looking for a more traditional bed and breakfast, Sueño Grande should be on the top of your list.

And if you book, Jody can give you the story on what really happens during a House Hunters episode. More pictures and booking information is available on AirBnB or Sueño Grande’s website.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, one of Costa Rica’s national treasures. If you’re thinking about a visit across the border, read my article on the surprises of Panama.