The Ultimate Travel Guide to Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, or Hermosa Beach, is a famous beach town in Guanacaste just 30 minutes from the Liberia Airport. It is most well known for its restaurant scene, breathtaking sunsets, and its black sand beach.

What is Playa Hermosa like in Costa Rica?

Playa Hermosa is a quiet town that has many amenities. It is home to many tried and true restaurants, classy spas, and a quaint movie theatre. It is also just a ten minute drive from the famous Playas del Coco, the most lively town in the Carrillo area.

Hermosa Beach is one of the best places to see the sunset. You can see the sun sink right into the ocean!

This town is well-suited for families and those looking for a peaceful vacation. Here you can avoid the crowds and traffic that can be found on the main street of Coco Beach during the touristy season (December to May).

Within the town you’ll find a variety of restaurants to choose from. Aqua Sport is a large, relaxed beachfront restaurant, that’s perfect for grabbing a ceviche and a national beer. But there are also more upscale restaurants, like Roberto’s and the ever-classy Ginger!

As far as nightlife, there are some restaurants that are open later, but if you looking to hop around, you would be better to head to Coco, just a stone’s throw away.

What is Hermosa Beach, Costa Rica known for?

Playa Hermosa means beautiful beach in Spanish, and it is just that! This beach is 1 mile (2km) long of striking, volcanic sand. Here you can see some of the most beautiful sunsets that the Pacific coast has to offer. The beach offers the perfect viewing spot during many months as the year. You can literally see the sun set into the ocean!

There are many restaurants to try in this quiet town that are well-known in the Carrillo area. These restaurants are scattered around the town so you will want access to a car to visit them, or at least a taxi on speed dial.

Hermosa Beach is a wonderful place to stay if you are coming during the high season (December to May) and are looking to skip the crowds of Coco Beach. It is a perfect launching spot for visiting the main attractions of Guanacaste such as the volcano Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo, and the waterfall destinations near Liberia.

If you are a foodie, there are lots of great restaurants to try in Hermosa! You can enjoy Asian fusion, American, Costa Rican, and more right within this town.

Playas Hermosa does not have as many expats as Coco, but since these two towns are so close there is a strong sense of camaraderie between the people who live in Coco and those living in Hermosa. Coco and Hermosa have one of the biggest communities of expats in all of Guanacaste, so be careful… If you come to visit there’s always a risk you’ll end up staying! (I’ve heard that same story quite a few times.)

Where is Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa, or Hermosa Beach, is one of the most popular destinations in all of Guanacaste. Located only 30 minutes from the Liberia Airport (14.5 miles or 24 kilometers), this beach town is the perfect stop when coming from or going to the airport.

Hermosa is full of great restaurants and is the perfect takeoff spot for a variety of activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, and catamarans. There are also many attractions and destinations that are just a short drive away. There are several natural swimming holes, pristine beaches, and countless water activities to enjoy.

Let’s talk beach.

Is Hermosa Beach nice?

The actual beach of Hermosa is one of the largest in the area, stretching one full mile (2 km). It’s perfect for walking or running on the beach, watching the sunset, and going for a swim.

Hermosa is known for its impressive beauty, but remember, it is not a white sand beach! It has dark gray-black sand formed from volcanic activity. There are plenty of trees on the beach to find cover from the hot sun. The ocean is pretty calm here making it relaxing to wade in the water.

This town’s central location (and the laid back atmosphere) make it one of the best places to stay in Guanacaste. It’s a perfect launching pad for just about any activity in the area. Beautiful beaches with crystal-clear water are just about a five minute’s drive away.

Pro Tip: Get the true tropical experience by quenching your thirst with all-natural coconut water! This is called agua de pipa in Costa Rica.

Can you swim at Hermosa Beach, Costa Rica?

You can absolutely swim at Hermosa Beach! Gentle waves hit the shore year around, but most people opt for one of the many nearby beaches which have clearer water.

Here is a list of nearby destination beaches that you can access by car or by boat:

Playa Bonita is one of my favorite beaches in Carillo! It is truly stunning.
  • Ocotal Beach – Ocotal is the closest beach to Coco, a 15-20 minute drive from Hermosa. This beach has a mix of beautiful white sand and black sand! It really is something to see. The water is very clear here. Towards either end of the beach you can even snorkel! This beach is accessible for any car, it even has a parking lot. Here is the exact Google Maps location for directions.
  • Playa Buena – Buena Beach is about 10 minutes from Hermosa. It is a gorgeous beach with plenty of shade and light gray sand. This beach is accessible with any car. You will find parking on the side of the quiet street it is off of. You can find the Google Maps location here.
  • Playa Bonita – Bonita is a tiny beach about 15 minutes from Coco. It has clear blue water, white sand, and a very private feel. There is road-side parking on the street near the hotel they are constructing. However, you will need to take a steep hike from the road to get to the beach. Be sure to come in sturdy shoes and pack light! I would not recommend this hike for children or people that have a hard time on unstable surfaces. Remember, you can always skip the hike and arrive by boat! Here is the Google Maps location.
  • Calzón de Pobre – This beach is about 15 minutes from Hermosa Beach but due to a new hotel construction, this beach is no longer accessible by car. You can access it via water taxi! If you go boating with a guide, ask them to bring you to this beautiful beach. The crystal clear water that makes a beautiful contrast with the white sand.
  • Playa Penca – Penca is the beach immediately to the left of Calzón de Pobre and is also no longer accessible by car. Ask your boating guide to stop by this beach. It is known for its beautiful clear blue water and white sand.

Pro Tip: Skip the hike and get to these beaches by boat! Ask around town for a water taxi to visit any of the smaller white-sand beaches (such as Calzón de Pobre, Penca, Bonita, and Playa Cuevas).

How safe is Hermosa Beach?

As far as security, Hermosa is a safe tourist destination in Costa Rica. You do hear about cases of petty theft and there are some normal precautions to take, just as in any town.

The best place to leave personal belongings is usually in your locked hotel room, but if you need to leave your things in your car it’s best to leave them in the trunk, where they are not visible from the outside of the vehicle.

As in any city, you should avoid walking long distances when it is dark out.

If you are taking a bus, take care of your belongings. Many Costa Ricans caution against putting their bags in the overhead compartments.

Try to stick to labeled taxis when traveling. If you do ride with a taxi pirata (not an official taxi person), be sure that he or she is recommended by a trusted source.

Lastly, if you travel to Coco, there is a one way street that you can park on the side of. There are people who will watch your car in exchange for a few coins. This is a normal practice in all of Costa Rica. Although they are trustworthy to take care of your car, it is always best to pay them after. I usually give at least 300 colones (about 50 cents), but you can always give more, as well.

Hermosa has many beautiful housing options. If you are coming with a large group, check out Hermosa Heights on AirBnB. You’ll find amazing houses with views of the ocean!

Final Thoughts on Hermosa Beach

Safe, homey, and chalk-full of restaurants, Playa Hermosa is one of the most relaxed beach towns in all of Guanacaste. It has is a beloved home for both locals and expats and a very attractive destination for tourists.

Since this beach is located in Guanacaste, the desert region of Costa Rica, both the rainy and dry season is a great time to visit. Guanacaste is known for its yearlong beach weather, since it’s the hottest part of Costa Rica. Its climate is drier than the rest of Costa Rica. This makes it a great destination no matter what time of year it is.

Hermosa has a wide variety of places to eat, ranging from beach bars to elegant restaurants. It also provides a central location if you are looking to go sport fishing, boating, or snorkeling. Although Hermosa is not known for its nightlife, its close proximity to Coco means there are several fun spots just a short drive away.

Wondering what other destinations you should visit when in Costa Rica? Check out the 10 Must-See Places in Costa Rica.

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