19 Things To Do in Playas-del-Coco

One of the busiest beaches in Guanacaste province is Playas del Coco. Guanacaste province alone has 65 beaches out of the 300+ in Costa Rica. Playas del Coco is no longer the small fishing village it once was. The beach might have few activities but can be your base as you explore the province. 

Don’t let anyone discourage you from staying in Playas del Coco, citing that it’s a small village. My family and I discovered 25 activities you can do while staying there. 

Key Takeaways From This Article

The true magic of Playas del Coco lies in visiting the outskirts. Fortunately, Coco town is small, and the activities you must do within it will take at least two days. Here are my key takeaways on things to do in Playas del Coco. 

  • Tortuga is an ideal place for both diving and snorkeling. 
  • Playa Huevo has 42 caves, but only one is open to the public. 

Visit Iglesia Catolica de Playas del Coco

When vacationing in Playas del Coco, Sunday mass (11:00 AM) is an excellent place to attend. You’ll need to go earlier to get a seat, as many people attend. The mass is in Spanish, so remember to bring a missal. The church is in the center of Coco Town, one block away from the beach. 

You can light a candle at the altar for a fee. It’s a small church but full of charm. 

Scuba Diving

Playas del Coco has 20 local diving spots ideal for beginners and experienced divers. These sites are 15-20 minutes away. Below are five of my favorite diving sites. 

Diving SiteFeatures
MerosIt is ideal for beginners, with a maximum depth of 18 meters (60 feet).
The most common marine life includes frogfish, eels, tropical fish, and stingrays.
It has several rock formations, coral reefs, and small canyons.
SorpresoI recommend this diving site if you only have a PADI Advanced Divers certificate.
At a depth of 30 meters (100 feet), you’ll encounter many surprises as you dive down.
Lobsters, morray eels, seahorses, devil’s rays, and sea turtles are the most common marine life.
Punta ArgentinaThe diving site gets its name from rock formations similar to Argentina’s land mass.
It is 24 m (80 feet) deep.
With an experienced guide, you might spot eagle rays, sea horses, nudibranchs, and octopi.
Monkey headProtruding from the water, there is a rock formation similar to a monkey’s head. Hence the name.
Expect to see some sea turtles, reef sharks, manta rays, and tropical fish species.
The dive site is 24 m (80 feet) deep.
TortugaI loved this dive site, as it has three shipwrecks you can explore.
It gets its name from a large cement block with a turtle shape.
The diving site is 21 m (70 feet), and you will encounter different marine life on separate levels.

Sports Fishing

Playas del Coco is famous for sports fishing. Mahi Mahi, snappers, marlins, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and jacks are some of the most common fish in the waters. Please note that most of the fish are catch-and-release. You’ll also have to get a fishing license using a fishing vessel or charter. 

Some places you can go fishing in Playas del Coco are the Gulf of Papagayo, Coco Bay, Playa Tinoco, and Coco Beach. You can fish onshore or use a kayak or panga boat. Alternatively, book a charter to go big-fish game fishing. 

Catamaran Sunset Cruises

Most tours start at around 2 p.m. Hence, you have time to do several activities in the morning. The cruise is sailing along the coast in a 66-catamaran with a bar where you can enjoy cocktails. The catamaran will anchor in one of the beaches or islands, allowing you to explore, swim, snorkel, or sunbathe. 

After one or two hours, you will be back on board for your meal. On your way back, you will sip your cocktails as you admire the sunset. 

Snorkeling

Playas del Coco is in the Gulf of Papagayo and has a fascinating underwater world of marine life. There are also interesting rock formations and a few underwater caves. Despite having dark sand, consider it an ideal snorkeling spot. 

Some of the best snorkeling sites include:. 

  • Tortuga is on the north end of Playas del Coco. It is an isolated reef, not far from the beach. You will encounter moray eels, rays, sea turtles, angelfish, and porcupine fish. 
  • Playa Penca is a small beach on the peninsula separating Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco. On the white sands, you can observe monkeys sleeping. The clear waters make snorkeling fun. You can enter the water from any spot along the beach.
    • Calzone de Pobre is a few hundred yards away from Playa Penca. Its seabed is rich in fish, and snorkelers love this spot. The area around the rocks has better underwater life. 
  • Playa Ocotal is a larger and busier beach than the others. The rocky point west of the beach is home to many sea life, including porcupinefish, angelfish, Eastern Pacific fish, and butterflyfish. The East side area also has a variety of sea life. 

Fish Spa

The spa is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM in front of the beach. Fish spa treatments last 15–30 minutes, depending on the cost. The process is as follows:. 

  1. You sit down, and the staff clean your feet. They check on abrasions, possible infections, and open cuts. 
  2. They show you how to gently dip your feet without scaring the fish. 
  3. The aquarium has toothless Garra Rufa (doctor fish) that gently nibble on your feet and legs. 
  4. You can then proceed with the traditional pedicure or leave. 

Sugar Cane Plantation 

The nearest sugar plantation is about 1.5 hours away from Coco Beach. A Costa Rican family owns Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands, next to Palo Verde National Park. The Hacienda has a wildlife reserve. You can do three activities at the hacienda: wildlife observation, rum-making, and a cultural tour. 

For the cultural tour, you’ll learn about the ox-powered sugar cane mill (trapiche). You’ll see an ox tethered to a yoke, turning a “needle” to facilitate the cane’s entry into the mill. However, the Hacienda now has a modern electric sugar cane mill. 

After the process, we had fun eating raw sugar cane and drinking sugar cane juice. The hacienda is one of the largest sugarcane producers in Costa Rica, and it uses the same sugarcane to make rum. You’ll see the whole rum distilling process and their storage. 

After a fun-filled day, you can taste a traditional Guanacaste meal made by the Hacienda women in a wood oven. They will also show you how to make tortillas. 

Monkey Farm 

The Wildlife Rescue Center has volunteers living on the farm caring for their rescue animals. You’ll learn about “guerrilla gardening,” which combines organic farming and permaculture. You are welcome to volunteer or pay for a guided horse tour through the jungle, the proceeds of which go towards the project. 

The farm’s volunteers feed people experiencing poverty and people without homes every Tuesday evening at Playas del Coco. 

Boating

While on Playas del Coco, you’ll have to use boats to access some beaches along the Gulf of Papagayo. Most boat tours include beach hopping, snorkeling, surfing, and fishing. Request the boat guide to the best spots for beginners or advanced snorkelers. 

On the trip, you can paddleboard or go tubing. The good thing about booking a private boat tour is that you can schedule your day activities. You can also decide where to visit and stay as long as you want.

Surfing

Playas del Coco is not ideal for surfing as it doesn’t have strong waves. However, you can take a day trip to Playa Tamarindo, a surfing haven. Playa Tamarindo has several surf schools where you can learn everything about surfing. 

Visit Witch’s Rock, a 50-minute boat ride from Playas del Coco. It’s one of the best surfing spots for intermediate and expert surfers. Witch’s Rock is inside Santa Rosa National Park. 

Caves

Playas del Coco is the best place to visit caves. The egg-shaped Playa Huevo should be your first stop. I recommend booking a private tour to visit Playa Huevo, as it’s only accessible by boat. It will take 20 minutes from Playas del Coco. 

The sea caves at Playa Huevo result from old stones creating natural tunnels between them. You can only access them at low tide and must be careful when exploring them. 

You can also make a day trip to Barra Honda National Park, 1.5 hours from Playas del Coco. Its main attractions are the 42 limestone caves, but only 19 are accessible. Terciopelo is the only cave open to the public and the most beautiful. The bat cave (Pozo Hediondo) has 5,000 bats. 

The deepest cave is Santa Ana, which drops 816 feet (249 m) below the surface. Waterfalls  

Hot Springs 

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is one hour away from Playas del Coco. Several hot springs are nearby. Staying at Buena Vista del Rincón offers free access to natural volcano hot springs. If you are not waiting, you can book a day tour. You can visit the hot springs by horseback riding, hiking, or riding a tractor. 

On the north side of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is the Blue River Family Resort. After applying volcanic mud, you can spend the whole day or an afternoon soaking in the hot springs. In the morning, you can explore the forests around the Blue River resort, which have over 700 plant species. 

National Parks And Waterfalls

One of the not-to-miss parks near Playas del Coco is Rincon de La Vieja National Park. The park is excellent for hiking, horseback riding, ziplining, tubing, and seeing waterfalls. The most accessible waterfalls at the national park include. 

  • Rio Negro waterfalls
  • Oropendola waterfalls
  • Las Chorreras waterfalls
  • La Cangreja is another beautiful waterfall, but you can’t swim in it. 

Ponderosa Adventure Park is a unique animal park where you can see African wildlife. The park has zebras, giraffes, antelopes, African cattle, ostriches, and crocodiles. You can feed some of the animals carrots. Inside the park is the lovely EL Salto waterfall. 

Tenorio Volcano National Park is a two-hour drive from Playas del Coco. Your first stop should be Rio Celeste, which is clear blue due to volcanic minerals. The national park is home to rain, clouds, and tropical forests. In the park, you will see sloths, different bird species, snakes, and toucans.

Souvenir Shopping

Pamela’s Coco Sunday Market is where you can buy authentic art and crafts made by local and expat artists. It occurs at the Garden Bar every Sunday from 10 AM to 2 p.m. At the exact location, there is a Sunset Market every Thursday from 4 PM to 8 PM. 

For local art and jewelry, Alessandra Cola has a collection. You can find her at her shop next to Hotel Coco Beach. She has books, pillows, and bags from local artists. 

At Las Chorreras, you’ll find Guayoyo Craft Coffee House, where you can buy pure Costa Rican coffee and local art and crafts. The cafe at Plaza Costa Mar sells coffee in small batches for you to carry home. 

Adventure Parks

Diamante Eco Adventure Park is 30 minutes away from Playas del Coco. It has a 1+ kilometer zipline that ends at the animal sanctuary. You will see sloths, toucans, jaguars, and other wildlife. There is also a butterfly garden in another section of the park. Watch their short Costa Rican coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane presentation. 

Turtle Watching

Playa Grande, an hour’s drive south of Playas del Coco, is best for turtle watching. During the right season, you may be lucky to see sea turtles nesting. Hundreds of leatherback turtles lay eggs on the beach from May to October. 

Another place to watch turtles is the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, a two-hour drive from Playas del Coco. Sea turtles lay hundreds of eggs, and the best season to see them is an arribada (July to December). It is beautiful to see turtles crawling onto the shore to lay eggs. You might be lucky also to see baby turtles hatching and crawling into the sea.  

Beach Hopping

When you arrive at Playas del Coco, catch a few hours of sunlight. Take your time to eliminate the jet lag before embarking on several days of adventure. Playas del Coco has a few things to do, but you can also use it as your base while exploring other nearby beaches. 

Some of the beaches you can visit near Playas del Coco include. 

  • Playa Flamingo: It is 45 minutes from Coco, and you can spend your day there sunbathing or sport fishing. 
  • Playa Conchal is different from your ordinary, sand-filled beach. Instead, it has millions of seashells (conchas) covering the ground. The beach is one hour’s drive from Playas del Coco. 
  • Playa Nacascolo: You can take a boat from Playas del Coco or access it through Hotel Planet Hollywood. It’s a white-sand beach with many stones, ideal for sunbathing or snorkeling. On your way to the beach, you’ll also see monkeys, coatis, and raccoons. 

Islands

The Pelona Islands are next to Playas del Coco. They are popular and have dive shops, and you can find some good scuba diving sites, such as Virador, Palmares Wall, and Tortuga. You might see turtles, sharks, groupers, and manta rays on a good day. 

You can explore the Bat and Catalina Islands further by diving in them to see bull sharks. 

Exploring Coco Town 

Though a small fishing town, Coco has a lot to see. Downtown Coco has several restaurants serving different cuisines. Coco town has several places to sit and people-watch as you take life slowly. The best place to do this is Sunset Point, a small eco-park. 

You can go to Zi Lounge, Coconutz, or Bambu Bar for a meal and some drinks in the evening. These bars have lively music and theme nights, making for a fun night.

Conclusion

There are so many activities near Playas del Coco that you won’t get bored, no matter how long you stay. Playas del Coco has something for everyone, whether traveling with kids, a couple, or solo. 

Which are your favorite activities when you visit Playas del Coco? Please share your experience in the ones I have shared. 

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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