Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Playas del Coco is a vibrant beach town in Northwest Guanacaste.   It is one of Costa  Rica’s leading centers for ocean tourism.  At night, Coco is a hot spot for dining, drinking and live entertainment.

For vacationers staying at Los Almendros, Playas del Coco is a convenient town to shop, dine and party.   Playas del Coco has four modern grocery stores, excellent seafood and ethnic restaurants, pizzerias, burger bars, night clubs,  casinos, pharmacies, banks and souvenir shops.

At night, Playas del Coco’s night clubs reverberate to the sounds of Latin America’s top musicians. The music is loud and jt was fun to “people watch”.

Messy, noisy, colorful, and interesting, Playas del Coco has the best souvenir shopping, the most dive shops, and the liveliest nightlife and barhopping on this part of the coast. It’s still a working fishing port, with a port captain’s office, a fish market, and an ice factory for keeping the catch of the day fresh—not for cooling margaritas, although many are enjoyed here. A beautiful boardwalk built in 2011 made the beach much more attractive, with palm trees, benches, and even cold showers. An explosion of condominium and villa projects has brought new money to the community, along with new commercial development, including the upscale Pacifico Village shopping center at the entrance to town. This center boasts a flagship AutoMercado, the country’s top grocery chain, as well as the Arenas Surf Shop, Citron restaurant, fast-food chains, a UPS office, and a few clothing boutiques. Fresh seafood, myriad souvenir shops, and plenty of bars have always drawn tourists here, but Playas del Coco also has a high concentration of tour operators offering diving, fishing, and surfing excursions at remote breaks such as Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock.  If you like to shop and party, and want some local color, Coco’s slightly raucous ambience can be appealing.

Playa del Coco is one of Costa Rica’s busiest and most developed beach destinations. A large modern mall and shopping center anchor the eastern edge of town. You’ll pass through a tight jumble of restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops for several blocks before you hit the sand and sea; homes, condos, and hotels have sprouted up along the beach in either direction. This has long been, and remains, a popular destination with middle-class Ticos and weekend revelers from San José. It’s also a prime jumping-off point for some of Costa Rica’s best scuba diving. The beach, which has grayish-brown sand and gentle surf, is quite wide at low tide and almost nonexistent at high tide. The crowds that come here like their music loud and late, so if you’re in search of a quiet retreat, stay away from the center of town. Still, if you’re looking for a beach with a wide range of hotels, lively nightlife, and plenty of cheap food and beer close at hand, you’ll enjoy Playa del Coco.   More interesting still, in my opinion, is Playa Ocotal , which is a couple of miles to the south. This tiny pocket cove features a small salt-and-pepper beach bordered by high bluffs and is quite beautiful. When it’s calm, good snorkeling can be had around some rocky islands close to shore.

Thirty-seven kilometers west of Liberia and connected by good roads to San José, Playa del Coco is the most easily accessible of the peninsula’s beaches. Its name is derived from the cocoa-colored sand that lies between its two rocky headlands, though it can appear a bit dirty at times, especially with the detritus of all the beachside bars. With nearby Tamarindo rapidly becoming the enclave of moneyed foreigners, Playa del Coco has emerged as a party destination for young Ticos on weekends, when the town has a beach-party atmosphere, though it’s fairly quiet during the week. The town is a growing scuba-diving center, and it’s a convenient jumping off point for surfers heading to the celebrated Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point. www.lonelyplanet.com
Playas del Coco, 35 kilometers west of Liberia, is one of the most accessible beach resorts in Guanacaste. The place can be crowded during weekends and holidays, when Josefinos flock. A two-kilometer-wide gray-sand beach (it is referred to in the plural—Playas del Coco) lines the horseshoe-shaped bay. Coco is still an active fishing village; the touristy area is to the east, and the laid-back fishing village is to the west. Playas del Coco is a center for scuba diving. www.moon.com