Visiting Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Once a quiet fishing village, over the past few decades Playas del Coco has emerged as a tourist hub complete with amenities and services including tour operators, private and public clinics, an upscale supermarket, and shopping.

Playas del Coco is most known for its lively nightlife and proximity to some of the most beautiful and unique beaches in Costa Rica. It serves as an enjoyable and practical base for a romantic or family vacation to Costa Rica. Most importantly, it is an ideal launch pad from which to explore nearby beaches, party with locals and expats, and get set for adventure and tourism activities in the area such as sport fishing, diving, snorkeling, and surfing.

Where is Playas del Coco in Costa Rica?

On the Northwestern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Playas del Coco rests on the dazzling Gulf of Papagayo, several hours south of the border with Nicaragua. It is located in the province of Guanacaste, which is known as a cradle of Costa Rican culture and the birthplace of several of the country’s most notable traditional dances such as the Punto Guanacasteco.

Today, Playas del Coco is a mixing place for locals, international visitors, and long-term residents. Thanks to its budget accommodations and convenient location, it is traditionally a popular family destination for Ticos (Costa Ricans), especially during holidays such as Semana Santa (Easter week), Christmas and New Years.

Dining & Shopping

The main street of Playas del Coco is straight shot towards the beach, lined on both sides by restaurants, bars, and shops. You can find foods of many flavors, including local sodas (typical mom-and-pop restaurants) and fried chicken joints, as well international fare including burritos, pizza, burgers, seafood, Asian fusion, and falafel.

Nightlife

What draws most visitors to “Coco Beach,” as it is known in English, is its reputation for its animated nightlife and easy bar-hopping. Unlike other smaller, sleepier beach villages, El Coco, as it is known by locals, comes to life after sunset, with most bars rolling out happy hours and drink specials, serving customers into the late hours of the night.

The atmosphere is decidedly open-air and beach-casual. On most nights of the week the boisterous sounds of live music, DJs and amateur karaoke spill onto the sidewalk. If you’re feeling lucky, you might even find yourself playing Texas Hold’Em, Roulette, or the slot machines at one of Playa del Coco’s casinos.

What to do in and around Playas del Coco

In addition to swimming and relaxing on the beach, the options for adventure and outdoor recreation abound in and around Playas del Coco. Choose from activities such as surfing, snorkeling, sea kayaking, bird-watching, horseback riding, and ATV tours.

Sport Fishing

Playas del Coco is known for its excellent fishing and prolific waters. Sport fishing charters and tours head out daily from the marina. Common catches in this region of the Pacific include various kinds of Snapper, Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, and Sailfish.

Diving

Diving is the most immersive way to explore the underwater world of marine wildlife including manta rays, colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, eels and even sharks. You’ll find multiple diving companies in Playas del Coco, offering everything from a short recreational dive tour to advanced PADI diving courses. Diving trips may explore the reefs in the immediate area, or head further out to more remote destinations such as Islas Murcielago (Bat Islands) and Isla Catalina (Catalina Island).

Exploring Local Beaches

Beaches in this area of the Guanacaste coast are quite diverse in terms of landscape, degree of development and vegetation. After enjoying Playa del Coco’s own modest beachfront, take off for day trips in either direction along the coast and you’ll find an enchanting array of beaches such as Ocotal, Brasilito, Flamingo, Potrero and Panama, each with its own scene and vibe. Conchal beach is known for its unique sand made up of colorful bits of crushed seashells. Few can resist the classic white-sand, family vacation magnet of Hermosa beach.

Whether you fancy white sand, black sand, palm trees, beachfront bars, or rocky cliffs, the “Gold Coast” of Costa Rica has got you covered. Keep in mind that while some beaches are easily accessible on fully-paved roads, others can only be accessed via unpaved roads that require a 4×4 vehicle.

Natural Attractions

Playas del Coco is located just over an hour’s drive from two of Guanacaste province’s most unique historic and natural attractions. Rincón de la Vieja provides phenomenal hiking, refreshing waterfalls, relaxing volcanic hot springs, and rejuvenating mud baths. In Rincón de la Vieja National Park you can tour geological wonders such as bubbling funerals, steaming geysers, and a genuine “mini” volcano.

Protecting both national history and tropical dry forest ecosystems, Santa Rosa National Park combines culture and conservation in one location. You can visit the famous Casona de Santa Rosa (mansion of Santa Rosa) where, in 1856, a small Costa Rican army successfully fought off the invading filibusters who were led by U.S. citizen William Walker. Due to its biological and cultural significance, the Conservation Area of Guanacaste has been declared a Natural World Heritage site by UNESCO.

What is the Weather is like in Playas del Coco?

Playas del Coco enjoys a tropical beach climate year-round. From December to April, the dry season, you can generally expect very little rainfall. Afternoon rain showers become more frequent during the rainy season from May – November. Temperatures generally range from 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit, 21-32 Celsius, throughout the year. After the sun sets, the air becomes balmy, perfect for an evening stroll down the main drag or stargazing on the beach.

How to Get To Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco is about 40 minutes from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) in Liberia. From the Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in the central valley, it is about a 4 to 5-hour drive, depending on traffic and conditions. Which airport is best for you depends on the length of your stay, your destinations, and your itinerary.

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