I recently shared about our experience in Playas del Coco. One of the most fun things to do is visit the many beaches in the area. There are so many beautiful beaches in Guanacaste and all of them are so different that it is fun to get a taste of them all!
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So here are some of the beautiful beaches near Playas del Coco in the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica.
Why Stay in Playas del Coco
Playas del Coco is a great town in Guanacaste. Some towns you go to will have very minimal services. Playas del Coco is kind of the hub of the northern Guanacaste area. There are many grocery stores, shops, restaurants, and even a boardwalk with great energy.
BUT, it is not the main hub of the Guanacaste coast when it comes to travelers. The majority of people end up in Tamarindo. Tamarindo is a great, hoppin’ area full of all-inclusives and surfing and everything else. It’s also a bit more crowded.
We loved Playas del Coco because of the convenience, but also because sometimes we like to go where it’s not the “hot spot.” It’s a little quieter, but still plenty to do.
Plus, as you’ll see, it was an excellent location for visiting so many beautiful beaches in Guanacaste!
When is the Best Time to Visit Guanacaste Beaches?
This really depends on what your expectations are.
Rainy season begins in June, which is when we visited. We thought it was a great time to visit because typically the mornings were pretty dry, albeit sometimes pretty cloudy.
Yes, we often (always?) had afternoon showers.
But it was so beautiful and green!
I talked to another vacationer on the beach who goes to Costa Rica often since they have a house there on the coast. She said just a few months before everything was BROWN!
It was SO green when we were there that I couldn’t imagine it being anything but green. But she said when it’s dry season, it’s completely dry and brown.
So…which is more important to you? Less rain? Or beautiful green scenery?
That will help you decide when to go.
What to Know About the Beaches in Guanacaste
All the beaches we visited had parking attendants. Have $3-$5 on hand for each beach you visit to pay the parking attendant. Make sure to ask how much it costs to park at each place. It might seem silly, but car break-ins happen. It’s nice to have reassurance that someone is watching your car.
You’ll find the waters of Guanacaste beaches to be nearly perfect in temperature. The warmth brings in sting rays.
I haven’t heard of anyone having major issues with sting rays, though some people do get stung on occasion.
I am almost certain I saw a Spotted-Eagle ray at one of the beaches both in the water and jumping above. It was pretty cool!
They are known to be shy and don’t approach people, unless surprised.
They also like to bury into the sand in the waters. If you’re worried, make sure to shuffle your feet through the sand so you don’t surprise one.
Where to Stay in Guanacaste near the beach
If you want to stay in Playas del Coco (which I think is a great choice as it is centrally located and has a great, convenient town), check out
the condo we stayed at. It’s in a gated community with beautiful pools and plenty of space.
The specific unit we stayed at is no longer available, but you can check out other condos in the same neighborhood
If you’re looking for a cool place on a different beach, check out these recommendations:
Condovac la Costa is beach front, has a few pools, playground for the kids, and restaurants and bars on site. All-inclusive, Playa Hermosa.
Villas Sol Hotel is near the beach, but provides a free beach shuttle. Visit the pools, restaurants, and request adjoining rooms if your family needs more space. All-inclusive, Playa Hermosa.
Ríu Palace is a beach front hotel that even has a waterpark. Enjoy 4 restaurants/bars, childcare, and pools. All-inclusive, near Ocotal.
W Conchal– a highly-rated, 5 star, beachfront resort. W has restaurants, bars, kids club, golf course, tennis, pools, and more. All-inclusive, Playa Conchal
The Westin Reserva Conchal is a beachfront resort with 9 restaurants. Enjoy the golf course, pools, kids club, and steam room. All-inclusive, Playa Conchal
JW Marriott Guanacaste is a 5-star, beautiful resort! It’s beach front, but also has a beach shuttle so you don’t have to lug your stuff far. Enjoy hot tubs, a spa ($), 6 restaurants, and kids club. All-inclusive, Tamarindo
The Beautiful Beaches in Guanacaste (near Playas del Coco)
del Coco Beach
Playa Coco is right in Playas del Coco. It’s a great, downtown area with shops, restaurants, and plenty of beach activities and tours.
The beach isn’t the best, but its a fun stop if you like that downtown vibe with a boardwalk.
It even has a fun little playground a few steps off the beach.
See more about what to do in Playas del Coco!
Playa Hermosa– beautiful beaches in Guanacaste
Playa Hermosa is a beautiful beach, and it’s name literally means as much!
Playa Hermosa is about 15 minutes of a drive to the north from Playas del Coco.
There are definitely less boats here than at Playa Coco.
Here’s the parking attendant situation at Playa Hermosa:
When we went to Playa Hermosa, it was one of our first days visiting the beaches, so we didn’t realize these attendants were everywhere. We thought we would just park on the street and call it good.
But when we pulled up, a guy insisted his lot was the only available parking at the beach. So we parked, but then asked if there was a cost. He said it was $5.
We legit didn’t have any cash on us (again, our first time out so we weren’t prepared.) We told him as much.
Then, he magically showed us a spot available two steps outside his lot that was public, free parking.
Whether you go in the lot and pay or park right outside on the road, the beach is just steps away from there.
The beach is beautiful, golden sand.
- Monkeys, Birds & Crocodiles Safari from Guanacaste
- Price: $88.00
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Playa Penca - hidden beach in Guanacaste
Drive time to Playa Penca from Playas del Coco is just over 20 minutes.
Playa Penca is located on a peninsula between Playa Hermosa and Playa Coco. It's not one of the more popular spots that people vacation to, but it is a local favorite.
We actually found out about Playa Penca from a local who said it was his favorite beach.
To get to Playa Penca, you can simply put it into your Google maps. Make sure it takes you to where I mentioned above, as there is more than one Playa Penca in Guanacaste.
Also, to make it all the way to the end of the road and closest to the beach, you will need a 4x4. The road gets really rough! It's steep, rocky, and has some deep ditches.
If you don't have a 4x4, there is a place to park at a great lookout point of Playa Hermosa, you'll just have to do a bit of walking on the dirt road.
With a 4x4, you can drive all the way until the road dead ends. A parking attendant is present (of course) to help. He was incredibly friendly.
Once parked, you'll have to walk along a trail for about 100-200 meters.
Trail to Playa Penca
The trail down to Playa Penca is a little rough and steep. I do not recommend wearing flip flops. I would make sure to have some good hiking water sandals like Keens. (Or, here is what we wore all vacation. They are more affordable, can get wet, and are great for hiking too.)
A couple of our kids had flip flops on and slid out a few times hiking down.
Tip: COVER yourself in bug spray. While I am pretty susceptible to mosquito bites, I got bitten SO much on the short trail down to the beach. More than our 4 days in La Fortuna!
Now for the beach part...
Playa Penca is a smaller beach. Again, it is lesser known and therefore not visited as much.
We quickly realized why this is a local favorite! It is beautiful! The sand is white and soft and the waters perfect. There is a nice, shallow shoreline for the kids to play on.
Ocotal Beach- Beaches of Guanacaste
Ocotal Beach is about 10 minutes from downtown Playas del Coco.
You can park near Father Rooster's with the parking attendant. He asked us for 2 mil colones, which is roughly $3 USD.
Ocotal is a unique beach. The sand is more of a black sand since there is so much dirt mixed in. The scenery is incredible. I loved the deep greenery all around contrasting the black rock.
It's covered in beautiful, shiny, black rocks right at the front when you arrive. But if you go off to the side a little you'll have a smoother entry into the water.
If your kids like shells, they will love playing at this Guanacaste beach. With each wave that rolls in, it brings a large amount of shells.
Feel like a little excursion? There are often men walking the beach looking to take people out on their boats. The man that approached us said it would be between $200 and $300 for our family of 6 to go out for a few hours on his boat.
Make your visit much more comfortable with these essentials:
Bonus: Playa Conchal - Beautiful beaches of Guanacaste
I list Playa Conchal as a bonus because it's a little more of a drive to get to. But it is worth every minute!
Conchal is Spanish for "shell", and that's exactly what this beach is. Shells!
The sand of this beach is actually made of crushed up seashell, so it's quite unique.
Playa Conchal is about 1 hour away from Playas del Coco, so not too bad of a drive to visit this beautiful Guanacaste beach.
While it should only take about an hour, it could, of course, take much longer.
Google maps took us what would have been the fastest way. Unfortunately, it had rained too much the night before. The road we were on took a dip down, which was completely washed out. There was no way we, or anyone else we saw for that matter, were going to attempt to cross.
So I used Google maps to create an alternate route, which took a bit longer since we had to back track. Pura Vida!
Want to stay a night or two at this beautiful beach? Check out the Westin All Inclusive
Tip: Google maps took us to the southern part of Playa Conchal. This consisted of driving on a sketchy dirt road. We did see sedans on it, but we definitely would not have taken the road if we hadn't been in a 4x4.
When it started raining at the beach, we decided to leave quickly as we were worried the dirt road would be washed away and flooded with all the pot holes.
I would suggest making sure your map is taking you to the northern part of Playa Conchal. It is a different route completely (you can't just hop-on-over if you decide to go there instead afterward).
The northern part is where the hotels and such are. It is the part of the beach where you'll really experience the shells.
While the beach is one big, long, beach, there is a water crossing right in the middle, so it's a little more difficult to get to one side to the next.
Southern Part of Playa Conchal
Once you reach the parking area of the southern part, ask the parking attendant the fee to park (it was 2,000 colones for us).
You'll be able to stop at a little smoothie bar or small restaurant. Around the back of that is a bathroom. Though there were no lights in the bathroom, so bring your phone for a flashlight.
On the southern part (where we were), there were plenty of shells, but it wasn't quite what I had seen pictures of.
It was quite beautiful though!
Water comes up far in some places!
Also on the southern part (should you choose that spot), you need to really put your belongings up high on the shore. There isn't a wide beach in some parts, and the water moves up fast.
We had a few things get swept into the ocean. Luckily my son was happy to go chasing after my daughter's shoes that got sucked into the water with the tide.
See the Beaches in Action in this Quick Guanacaste Beaches video!
Guanacaste Beaches Near Playas Del Coco
Those are the beautiful beaches of Guanacaste that are near Playas del Coco. There are so many more you can explore, but those are the ones we were able to explore in our time there.
As a final reminder:
- Bring cash (colones or $) for parking attendants
- Be prepared for driving detours
- Bring a boogie board for the kids. The waves are great!
- Sunscreen and bug spray!
- Wear water sandals at any beach that requires a hike to get to (instead of flip flops)
- Rent a 4x4 to have access to all the great beaches!
I'd love to hear where you plan to visit! Comment below!
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