The Ultimate Travel Guide to Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco, or Coco Beach, is one of the most unique towns in Guanacaste. It is the perfect mix of lively and sleepy, historical and new, local and touristy, laid-back and elegant. In this one town, you can find something for everyone, no matter what kind of trip you are hoping for!

What is Playas del Coco like in Costa Rica?

Playas del Coco has one main street which is lined on either side with shops and restaurants. At the end of this street you’ll find a gray sand beach, where you can see some of the prettiest sunsets in Guanacaste, due to Coco’s location on the coast. At just about any time of year, you can see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

You can choose from an earlier catamaran or a sunset catamaran. Usually a meal is included and there is a stop at a beach or a snorkeling spot.

But what sets Coco apart from the other beach towns are the activities that you can do here! Whether you’re looking to go sport fishing, snorkeling, boating on a catamaran, or exploring in an all-terrain vehicle, Coco Beach has all these activities and more.

Within the town you’ll find a variety of restaurants to choose from. There are more laid back beachfront locals, such as Ancla, Tortuga, and Bambu, that are perfect for grabbing a ceviche and a national beer. But there are also more upscale restaurants, like Numu, and even a new wine bar called Cava!

As far as nightlife, there are a couple spots each with their own flavor. Zi Lounge is hopping all day long, but if you’re looking for the party after 11pm, look no further! Zarpe is a classy spot to grab cocktails.

What is Coco Beach, Costa Rica known for?

Playas del Coco has a history as a fishing town. It only became developed in the past 50 years. The very first restaurants that we’re built in this town still stand today! Because of this, Coco has quite a rich history.

Today, Coco has become a tourist destination, as well as a destination for locals. The town demographic is mix of Ticos and expats, united by their love for this special town. Playas del Coco has 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.)

Zarpe is an upscale bar that is located in Pueblito Norte. It specializes in mixology so there are always new and interesting cocktails to try!

Where is Playas del Coco?

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

Coco 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 Coco Beach nice?

The actual beach of Coco is one of the largest in the area, stretching almost two miles. The beach is not known for its beauty… It has dark gray sand and the water isn’t very clear.

But this town’s central location (and the fun atmosphere) makes 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.

A gorgeous afternoon view of Coco Beach.

Can you swim at Coco Beach, Costa Rica?

You can absolutely swim at Coco Beach! Gentle waves hit the shore year around, but the water isn’t very clear. Most people opt for one of the many nearby beaches which have clearer water.

Here is a list of nearby destination beaches:

  • Ocotal Beach – Ocotal is the closest beach to Coco, a short 5 minute drive. This beach has a beautiful mix of white and black sand! It really is something to see. The water is very clear here. Towards the far left of the beach is a wonderful snorkeling spot! 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 15 minutes from Coco. 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. Here is the Google Maps location!
  • Calzón de Pobre – This beach is about 15 minutes from Coco 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.
A view from the Playa Bonita.

How safe is Coco Beach?

As far as security, Coco 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, in 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.

Johann’s has great Asian fusion food, pizza, and sandwiches. It’s located right on the main street of Coco.

Final Thoughts on Coco Beach

Lively, unique, and chalk-full of restaurants and shops, Playas del Coco is one of the best 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.

Coco has a wide variety of restaurants, including several ethnic foods. It also provides a central location if you are looking to go sport fishing, boating, or snorkeling. If you are looking for a town with nightlife, Playas del Coco also offers several different fun spots, ranging from a laid back club-feel to a more elegant night of drinks.

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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