Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Playa Cocles / Photo @danilophoto
LIVIN’ L A VIDA
Combining a sourcing trip with some much-needed down time, designer
Turet Knuefermann samples everything from Caribbean cuisine to lush tropical rainforests in the heart of Costa Rica.
Launching her brand in 2001, Turet Knuefermann has become a local pioneer for a sophisticated brand of sexy. Languid, draping dresses, alluring after-five tailoring and the kind of luxury that celebrates sensual fabrics and the simplicity of less is more. With her destination boutique tucked away in Brown St. in Ponsonby, she’s fostered a loyal clientele who appreciate the designer’s knack for contemporary womenswear supported by her edit of international brands and accessories sourced from around the world.
On a recent sourcing trip to one of her favourite holiday destinations Costa Rica, Turet shares some of her tropical highlights. “Sustainability and conscious living are high on the list of priorities of those we came into contact with — Costa Rica offers a rewarding example of a lifestyle inspired by the natural world” she says. “There’s a reason they say that Costa Ricans live a long, healthy life, and it’s easy to understand after being there for just a week. There’s its warm climate and people have a generally healthy diet combined with an easygoing and kind nature.”
Upon arriving (after the perfect overnight sleep at Hotel Presidente — we recommend) we travelled on straight to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side, bypassing the more commercial tourist spots and staying in a small Container Airbnb called Container Bungalow in the jungle complete with resident sloths and howler monkeys (a must for the bucket list). Our sweet hosts took great care of us and we were fortunate that the local owner was a super-cool multilingual tour guide and he and his wife showed us the most relaxing and wonderful sides of Costa Rica at its best.
Hotel Presidente, San Jose, Costa Rica / Photo @danilophoto
Sloth above AirBnB Container Bungalow, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca / Photo @danilophoto
AirBnB Container Bungalow, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca / Photo by hosts Paula and Daniel
PUERTO VIEJO DE TALAMANCA
Costa Rica is a country known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and eco-friendly tourism practices. However, the small town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, located on the Caribbean coast, offers a unique and authentic experience for visitors. One of the main reasons Puerto Viejo is unique is its laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. Unlike other tourist destinations in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo is a quiet, low-key town where visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a more tranquil pace. The town is also home to a vibrant Afro-Caribbean community, which has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in the local food, music, and festivals. Visitors can sample delicious Caribbean cuisine, such as rice and beans, jerk chicken, and fresh seafood, and enjoy live reggae music in the many bars and restaurants in the town. Puerto Viejo is also a hub for eco-tourism and adventure activities. Visitors can explore the lush tropical rainforests, visit the nearby wildlife reserves and national parks, go snorkelling and diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, or surfing on the famous Salsa Brava beach break. Another unique aspect of Puerto Viejo is its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. The town is surrounded by protected rainforests and wildlife reserves, and local businesses and residents are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainable tourism practices.
Fire Dancing at Playa Cocles / Photo @danilophoto
WHAT TO DO
Ara Manzillo Park
At the Ara Manzanillo (Great Green Macaw) Reintroduction project, you can sit in the treetops and let the birds fly over you, which is so amazing! The Costa Ricans’ love for their wildlife and respect for nature is one of the most inspiring takeaways from this trip. To visit the Ara Manzanillo Park and climb into the treetops was yet another exhilarating experience, perched on some benches among the treetops you can experience being up close with the macaws and feel the wind from their wings as they soar past you with their giant colourful feathers. Breathtaking.
J8G8+93F Limon Punta Uva, Manzanillo.
Ara Manzanillo, Punta Uva, Costa rica / Photo @danilophoto
The Cahuito National Park
To walk this on your own you would see a lot of incredible jungle. There is huge lush vegetation of all kinds, trees that reach high into the sky like Jack & the Beanstalk, huge leaves that make you feel like you’re in Alice In Wonderland — so incredible. Our friend Daniel introduced us to a whole other life happening before our eyes as he pointed to something far in the distance. It took us a few minutes to adjust our eyes
and make out jungle wildlife far in the distance. With binoculars at the ready we were able to admire them in their natural habitat. We followed a path that led to a dreamy beach so isolated that you feel like the only people on Earth. As we went for a swim in the sea, a cheeky raccoon tried to steal our lunch! Av. 71 215, Limón, Cahuita.
Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica / Photo @danilophoto
This is the coolest cafe and laundromat for the most stunning breakfast or lunch — a must visit if in Puerto Viejo. We were told we could go there for breakfast and do our washing at the same time. On entering the cafe garden with its choice of cool tables surrounded by lush vegetation, we noticed the odd red frog and lizard almost completely camouflaged. There are piles of books, handmade cups and wooden toucan statues that made us feel like students discovering an entirely new world. The food was incredible. Fresh and beautifully presented, we had the pleasure of meeting more of our host’s family and having wonderful insightful conversations that we will take with us on our life journey forever. The people we met and their openness is something I will always remember and cherish and I feel immensely honoured to have been able to spend time with them.
Av. 69, Puerto Viejo.
Cafe Rico, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica / Photo @danilophoto
Pure Jungle Spa
Have a chocolate scrub here if you’re a chocolate lover — the ultimate pampering session. This was the ultimate total body decadence, and a chance to really soak in the scent like never before. Local organic cacao beans are roasted over an open fire by an indigenous family and hand ground into a coarse chocolate paste. The texture serves as a body scrub, while the cocoa butter sinks into the skin for natural silkiness. Once again, a wonderful example of how everything is treasured and made into something special. After an amazing massage and inhaling the incredible scent of cocoa, you’re in seventh heaven by the end of it. After the treatment, I rinsed off in the most beautiful private outdoor shower surrounded by palms and birds singing. I felt reborn and energised to discover the next beautiful experience.
70403 Puerto Viejo, Limon.
“THE TOWN IS ALSO HOME TO A VIBRANT AFRO-CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY, WHICH HAS A RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE THAT IS REFLECTED IN THE LOCAL FOOD, MUSIC, AND FESTIVALS.”
- Turet Knuefermann
I love discovering new brands and supporting local makers. Aloe is a clothing store that stocks only Costa Rican brands, from sunglasses to macrame bikinis, beachwear and a range of slow fashion labels. Because of the heat and lifestyle, small stalls and colourful stores are sprinkled around containing mainly beach fashion and hand made accessories. Half a day of shopping is enough as you will want to go back to the beach for more sand and sun.
Aloe, Av. 71 256, Limón, Puerto Viejo.
Caribeans Cafe and Chocolate Tour (Café y Chocolate) for a lesson on how chocolate is made. We learnt about cocoa pods, and walked through cocoa farms (all the while being made aware to respect even the smallest inhabitants as leaf cutter ants marched across our path and other small creatures fearlessly went about their day knowing they are safe!). We walked through the complete process of how the boutique chocolate is hand made and more importantly, savoured it. The food of the Gods! Next To Tasty Waves Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo.
Café & Chocolate Tours / Photo @danilophoto
Beach Break Bar & Restaurant
Go crazy with fresh juices and sit on the sand and enjoy cocktails and canapes here. The Beach Break Bar is super cool with tables and chairs on the beach, allowing us to be at one with nature surrounded by locals who were just enjoying living in the present. I loved being served fresh mojitos and beautifully presented snacks — irresistible! I also had mashed and fried plantains (cooking bananas), which created the crispy base for the canapes, and they were as delicious as they looked so we had to order more. The occasional relaxed beach vendor would wander by offering anything from delectable (still warm) churros or cotton candy for the kids with big smiles on their faces. It made me dream of selling up to live the simple life! 200mts sur de, C. Cariblue, Limón, Puerto Viejo. By the restaurant, you’ll also discover fire dancing on the beach at dusk to the best drum beats; it makes you feel alive in the evenings.
No matter how long you have been in a relationship, the romance and beauty of the palm trees never gets old. Combined with the sound of happy voices as people congregate after their work day to spend time with family and loved ones as the sun goes down and the drums begin — pure heaven. Left: Fire dancing on the beach.