The 10 Best Beaches Near Playas-del-Coco

Costa Rica has many stunning beaches, especially in Guanacaste province. We will look at the best beaches near Playas del Coco. Though it is a small town in Guanacaste, it has some fantastic facilities. Plan for 3–4 days of activities on this beach. If you want to stay longer, visit the beaches near Playa Coco.

I expected to find an active crowd at Playas del Coco, but I was surprised it was a tranquil beach. However, we needed more activities for our three-week vacation. My husband suggested that we beach-hop. We enjoyed visiting the 10 best beaches near Playas del Coco. 

Key Takeaways From This Article

Guanacaste in Costa Rica has over 70 beaches. Each beach has several beaches surrounding it. While most have white sand, a few have dark sand, and one has millions of shells. Here are a few key takeaways about Playa del Coco and the beaches near it. 

  • Take note of the beaches that experience rip currents, as they will not be suitable for swimming, especially for the kids. 
  • Playa Octal has some trees with poisonous apples, and their leaves cause skin rashes. 
  • Due to unpaved, rough roads, you will need a 4×4 to access some of the beaches. 
  • Playa Grande, Playa Ventanas, and Playa Carbon are part of Las Baulas National Park, which supports the largest leatherback sea turtle nesting colony. 

The Stunning Playas-del-Coco 

The beach is 27 km from Liberia International Airport ( Guanacaste Airport) on Costa Rica’s North Pacific side. The trip from the airport takes only 30 minutes, while coming from San Jose Airport takes 5 hours. 

Also known as Playa-del-Coco, this black sand beach is a small coastal town (Coco) famous for fishing activities. It’s now popular for snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, surfing, skimboarding, and spotting marine life. Cliffs and hills surround the three-kilometer-long, horse-shaped beach. 

Playa-del-Coco has a dry season from December to April, with warmer temperatures and some rainfall. The rainy season falls between May and November, with cooler temperatures and rainy days. Playa Coco is on Coco Bay and receives small waves, which might not be ideal for surfing. 

10 Best Beaches Near Playa-del-Coco

There are several beaches around Playa del Coco, some about 15–30 minutes away. If using a private car, it is essential to leave it with the capable hands of the parking attendants. Please inquire about how much they charge to watch your vehicle, saving you from car break-ins. 

Need help finding your way to any of the beaches? Use any of the map apps.

Playa Penca

Playa Penca
beautiful view of Playa Penca

 

This beautiful but not widely known beach is between Playa Hermosa and Playas del-Coco. Playa Penca is 20 minutes away from Playas del Cocos. It is a smaller beach, with only a few tourists visiting, but the locals love it. The locals refer to the beach as Playa Penca Punta Cacique. 

The road to Playa Penca is rocky and steep and has some ditches. A 4×4 is the most suitable car for the road. Alternatively, park at Playa Hermosa and hike to Playa Penca. Another way to get to Playa Penca is to use a Kayak from Playa Coco, which takes about 45 minutes. However, it’s more challenging than using a car.

Playa Penca has soft white sand and a shallow shoreline for the kids to play. The surrounding vegetation will be green if you visit during the rainy season. Snorkeling is the primary activity on the beach. Some of the marine life you’ll observe includes. 

 

Marine Life at Playa Penca
Moray eelsDamselfish
WrasseCornetfish
PorcupinefishBlacknosed butterflyfish
Orangeside triggerfishSpotted eagle rays
StingraysCortez angelfish
King angelfish

Playa Ocotal

Playa Ocotal
A beautiful view of Playa Ocotal

 

Waves from the ocean wash many shells to the shorelines of Playa Octal, which is 10 minutes downtown of Playas-del-Coco. The lush greenery surrounding the black sand and shiny black rocks make the beach one of the most attractive. Under the black sand is white sand, which is an exciting color combination. 

Playa Ocotal is a small beach with very few amenities. You can have lunch at Father Rooster, a restaurant in Playa Ocotal. Try out the Maracuya Beach Club for finer dining. 

There are several boats at the cove of Playa Ocotal. You can rent a boat and go fishing or scuba diving. 

My husband loved the low tides at Playa Octal and spent the whole afternoon snorkeling. The kids spent their time swimming while I kept an eye on them. Along the beach are several shrubby trees, some apple trees. The apples are poisonous, and the sap can cause a skin rash. 

Playa Mina

Also known as Playa Zapotilla, the beach is 45 km away from Coco. But the road conditions are so bad that it can take almost two hours to reach. You can use a 4×4 during the dry season, but the road becomes impassable during the rainy season. The section between Playa Matapalo and Playa Minas is unpaved and has enormous potholes. 

Playa Mina is very remote, with no facilities and no phone reception. It is a small beach, and you only need a few minutes to walk from one end to the other. The parking lot is also small and can get crowded over the weekends. 

Locals love camping at Playa Mina. I would not recommend camping alone at the beach, especially if you’re a solo female traveler. Enjoy various activities, such as. 

    • Swimming: But be careful, as the waves can get a bit strong. 
    • Turtle nesting: Though uncommon, you will likely spot the turtles nesting around December and March. Alternatively, visit the Ostional Wildlife Refuge to see the turtle nesting. 
  • Weekend BBQs: On weekends, locals, retirees, or ex-pats bring hammocks and BBQs to the beach for a day of pure fun. 
  • Wildlife viewing: Howler monkeys are common among the trees along the beach. You might spot some crabs, iguanas, and other sand creatures. 

Playa Hermosa

It’s 15 minutes away from North of Playas-del-Coco. Like its name suggests, Playa Hermosa (meaning beautiful in Spanish) has crystal-clear blue water and stunning scenery. It’s tranquil, and the locals recommend it if you have small children. However, it gets a bit crowded over Easter, Christmas and New Year. 

Playa Hermosa is one of the cleanest beaches in Costa Rica. Playa Hermosa has many restaurants, so you don’t have to bring packed lunch. I recommend you try La Casita del Marisco, which has the best seafood. 

However, it’s important to note that there are two Playa Hermosa beaches, one in Guanacaste and another in Puantarenas. 

While the one in Puntarenas is popular with surfing enthusiasts, this specific one offers the best snorkeling and diving safaris. Along the beach are several shops to rent kayaks, waterbikes, windsurfing equipment, sailboards, and canoes. Some tour companies offer fishing tours on catamarans. 

You can opt for guided horseback tours to the surrounding areas. There is a gorgeous mangrove swamp nearby. Alternatively, take a day trip to the Arenal volcano. 

Playa Panama

Playas-del-Coco is a five-minute drive from Playa Panama, among the most attractive beaches in the Guanacaste province. The paved road is suitable for any type of car. Playa Panama has clear blue waters and slate grey sand. It lies on a small bay known as Snake Bay (Bahia Culebra). 

Playa Panama is the best place to swim, as the currents are not strong. Santa Rosa National Park is north of Playa Panama, while Rocha Estuary is on the beach. The beach had a lush forest, which is now almost gone. Other popular activities include:. 

 

Popular Activities at Playa Panama
KayakingSunbathing
SailingPaddleboarding
Snorkeling: book a private tour, as Playa Panama does not have the best off-shore snorkeling experience.Jet skiing
Scuba divingSport fishing

 

You won’t find a town center at Playa Panama, but there are a few restaurants, hotels and cabanas. Playa Panama is ideal for a day visit, especially if you are a solo traveller and crave a more fun vacation. However, many developments are coming up, including the recent completion of the Four Seasons Hotel with its first-class golf course. 

Playa Bonita

A ten-minute drive, and you’re in Playa Bonita from Playas del Coco. However, because the road is not so rough, take the car if you are going to the beach with kids. Playa Bonita is next to Occidental Papagayo Adults Only Resort

You’ll see a lot of marine life in Playa Bonita’s clear, crystal-clear waters. It is ideal for lobster and some octopus fishing. The beach’s lush vegetation is home to howler monkeys and various bird species. It’s so isolated that you might be the only one on the beach. 

Because Playa Bonita is relatively quiet, you can tie a hammock between the sturdy trees and nap. Alternatively, lay down a towel and sunbathe. 

Playa Grande

Over an hour’s drive, Playa Grande is the hotspot for experienced surfers. Its rougher waves are not suitable for new surfers. Playa Grande is part of Marino Las Baulas National Park and one of the places where you can watch turtles and wildlife. 

You must be particularly keen while on the upper part of the beach, as there might be turtle eggs waiting to hatch. The beach is off-limits from 6 PM to 6 AM from October to March so as not to disturb the sea turtles nesting. However, there is an exception for the turtle-watching tours. 

Use a kayak to explore the 1,500-hectare estuary and see crocodiles, aquatic birds, and other exotic animals. The sea floor at Playa Grande drops steeply, and the occasional rip currents make it unsuitable for swimming. 

If you have enough time, explore the two small beaches next to Playa Grande. 

  • Playa Carbon: Known as Costa Rica’s blackest beach, Playa Carbon has the darkest sand among all the other beaches. Interestingly, you will find some parts of the beach with pure white sand. Playa Carbon is also part of Las Baulas National Park. You can only access this beach by walking from Playa Ventanas (Guanacaste), which should take about five minutes. 
  • Playa Ventanas: It is north of Playa Grande and is known as Windows Beach. Please distinguish it from the Playa Ventanas, near Uvita or Ojochal, which has caves. Playa Ventanas makes a smooth arc and has whitish-tan sand. It is part of Las Baulas National Park. 

Playa Flamingo

The beach is a 45-minute drive from Playa del Coco. It has white sand and crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. Playa Flamingo is an idyllic beach for snorkeling, paddleboarding, surfing, and wildlife, and it is a starting point for diving tours to the nearby Catalina Island. All sports that require a boat are possible on this beach. 

Alternatively, spend the day hiking the Marina Flamingo Nature Trail. 

Playa Flamingo is known for the Marina Village, which has several shops and boutiques where local artisans display their crafts. It is also a fantastic place to watch the spectacular sunsets along the Pacific horizon. You’ll have a better view when you venture to the Mirador de Flamingo or book a sunset cruise

Playa Cabuyal

It’s the most isolated beach among all the rest. Playa Cabuyal is 45 minutes North of Coco Town. A section just before reaching Playa Cabuyal is unpaved, and a 4×4 wheel drive is more suitable, especially during the rainy season. 

There are no restaurants, bars, or hotels, so carrying snacks or a packed lunch, especially if you have kids, might be ideal. The beach has public bathrooms and picnic tables, however. You have a choice between free and paid parking space at the beach. I recommend you not leave any valuables in sight and roll up the car windows as you park.  

The waves can be strong, and testing them before allowing the kids to swim is ideal. Check out the manta rays, which are plentiful during the off-season. Some activities on Playa Cabuyal are snorkeling, surfing, swimming, turtle viewing, and scuba diving. Playa Cabuyal has some epic sunsets. 

Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal (shell) is one hour away from Playa Coco. It’s a unique beach since Playa Conchal has millions of tiny white and pink shells. Imagine walking along the beach and enjoying the sensational feel of crushed shells. Its clear turquoise waters make Playa Conchal a beauty to behold. 

Playa Conchal is exclusive to guests at Hotel W Costa Rica or Westin Reserve Conchal Resort. However, you can access it by having lunch at any Hotel W onsite restaurant. Alternatively, you can head over to Playa Puerto Viejo or use the car park at Brasilito and climb over the small, steep hill. 

Swimming will depend on the tide levels, though it’s unsuitable for small children. However, it’s ideal for the following activities:. 

  • Sunbathing in the warm tropical sun. 
  • Snorkeling and diving
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Catamaran cruise
  • Scuba diving
  • Offshore sportfishing

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you get to Playas del Coco from San Jose?

You can use a direct bus, which leaves Pulmitan de Liberia three times daily. Alternatively, take one going to Liberia and transfer to the one heading to Coco. The cost will be around $10 for a five-hour journey.

You can book a shuttle to use something other than the bus or rent a car. 

2. Is Playas del Coco safe?

It is one of the safest beach towns in Costa Rica. Playa del Coco has a notable community of digital nomads, ex-pats, and retirees. However, just like in any other place, being cautious is essential. 

Conclusion

Visiting Playas del Coco and its surrounding beaches was one of our best experiences in Costa Rica. By the time we returned home, we had experienced over 11 beaches. It is worth a second trip if you can’t visit all the beaches in one vacation. 

How many of the 10 beaches near Playas del Coco have you visited? Please share your experience with us. 

5/5 - (1 vote)

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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