Playas del Coco itself is definitely not the gem of Costa Rica. We find it to be a bit run down and dirty in spots. However, we still think it is a great spot to stay in Guanacaste because it is centrally located and there is so much to do nearby. There are tons of beautiful beaches near Coco as well as some amazing day trip options. We love this area for sea kayaking, diving, enjoying hidden beaches, and the amazing sunset views.
Also, if you are interested in the nightlife scene, Coco has tons of cool bars to offer!
Now on to the rest of the Playas del Coco guide!
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE: CLIMATE
Every time we have visited this area it has been hot hot hot!
During the dry season (from end of December until end of April) everything gets completely dried out. We visited once at the beginning of April and we saw several forest fires in the area due to the lack of rain. It almost feels like Arizona with the dry arid climate.
Personally, we like to visit this area between May and end of July. At this time everything is green again and the area actually looks really pretty. You will have to deal with the daily afternoon thunderstorm that comes like clockwork every day for about an hour. We just get up early and enjoy the beautiful morning before the storm rolls in.
Between August and December, you will have a bit cooler temperatures and more rain.
In our opinion, if you are unsure about the weather while you are planning to visit Costa Rica, this is the area to visit. Overall it seems to get far less rain than most of the country.
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE: TRANSPORTATION INFO
GETTING TO PLAYAS DEL COCO
The easiest way to get to Playas del Coco is to fly into the Liberia airport instead of San Jose. If you have the possibility of flying into Liberia you will save yourself five hours of driving time. More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be worth it for you.
The best option to get to Playas del Coco is to rent a car. If coming from San Jose or from Liberia you can rent a car from close to the airport (but free transportation to the rental car office is provided from the airport).
We suggest using Adobe for car rentals because they are the most trustworthy company in this country and we have a 10% discount for you! You can read more about renting a car here.
The drive from San Jose is long, but the roads are well maintained throughout. You will not need a 4×4 to get to Playas del Coco, but if you plan on exploring a lot of the little beaches and areas around Playas del Coco a 4×4 will be helpful. There are a lot of steep hilly roads and some are unpaved.
If coming from Liberia the drive is less than an hour.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving that long distance on your own, the cheapest option is to take the public bus. The bus leaves from San Jose every day at 8:00am, 2:00pm, 4:00pm. It will take you about five hours to get to Coco. It’s not the most comfortable ride, but it’s cheap (under $10 per person). Definitely get there early before the departure time because once all the seats are taken you may be left standing for a five-hour ride.
Pro tip: Download the free app Off the Grid Traveler to see bus connections and schedules to and from everywhere in Costa Rica. It’s seriously a lifesaver.
GETTING AROUND IN PLAYAS DEL COCO
We suggest renting a car while in Coco. Playas del Coco is nice, but the best part about it is that it is a great jumping off point for tons of cool day trips. You will want a car so that you are not depending on expensive pre packaged tours to get around.
If you opt to take the bus up, you can rent a car from Adobe and input Liberia as your pick-up location. In the comments section specify that you need the car delivered to you at your hotel in Playas del Coco. They will deliver it to you free of charge if you are within 12 miles of their location. Adobe is pretty amazing and will usually be happy to make an exception and deliver it to you for free even if you are a little over 12 miles from their office.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE - ACTIVITIES
Visit Playa Penca: Playa Penca is a seriously beautiful “secret” beach. Just look it up on Google maps to see exactly where it’s located. As you drive there you might think you are in the wrong spot because you’ll drive higher and higher into a residential neighborhood. Just keep going. When the road ends you’ll see other cars parked. Park your car (make sure you don’t leave anything of value) and walk down the path to the beach. It is a little steep so wear sturdy shoes. You’ll be rewarded by an absolutely amazing beach.
Check out Playa Hermosa: Close to Coco is a nice expansive beach called Playa Hermosa. We like this beach because it is much cleaner than Coco. It is also nice and long, which makes it a great place to walk.
Enjoy the nightlife: Playas del Coco may seem calm enough during the day, but at night you can walk the main strip and enjoy lots of bars and clubs. Our favorite spot is Zi Lounge. They have amazing happy hour specials all day long (the margaritas are great) and in the evening it is always a party.
Take a boat ride: One of our favorite things to do is find someone to take us on their boat. Usually, there are locals on the beach who will ask you if you are interested in a boat tour. We recently did this and paid $40 per person for three hours of beach hopping by boat. We’ve had good luck at Playa Hermosa, so definitely check there.
Go fishing: The Coco area is a prime fishing spot. You can fish from a boat, but Thomas has also had luck fishing right from the shore. He recently caught a nurse shark from the beach in Playa Hermosa.
Take a drive north: If you head up towards Nicaragua there are tons of nice beaches along the way. We recently did this drive and found a lot of nice empty beaches up near the border.
Take a drive south: If you head south from Coco you will find tons of nice beaches along the way. Our personal favorite is Playa Flamingo. It tends to be a bit more crowded than some of the other beaches but it is considered one of the nicest beaches in Costa Rica. We also love the beach bar Coco Loco which is located on the beach. In fact, we had them cater our wedding!
Visit an amazing waterfall: About 45 minutes from Playas del Coco is a waterfall called Llanos del Cortez. Last time we were there we only paid about $2 for parking. The waterfall is seriously amazing and definitely worth a visit. You can swim under it and if you are feeling really adventurous you can hike up behind the waterfall for an overhead view. We have a full guide to visiting this waterfall here.
Visit Rincon de la Vieja: Rincon de la Vieja national park is located close to Coco and is a great place to spend a day hiking. You can go with a guide, but you are also able to pay to enter the park and hike on your own.
PLAYAS DEL COCO PHOTO BREAK!
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE - FIND ACCOMMODATIONS
Villa del Sueno: Super great hotel on Playa Hermosa (amazing beach near Coco). This is a bit more pricey than the other options (approximately $60 a night) but it is really nice. Breakfast is included and there is a pool on site.
Aparthotel Toro Blanco: Apartment hotel with a pool. This place is pretty basic, but it is close to the beach and every apartment has a kitchen.
Hotel M&M Beach Hotel: Basic hotel located across from the beach. Breakfast is included and there is a kitchen that all the guests can use. There isn’t air conditioning, but they have plenty of fans in every room which you can point at your bed while sleeping.
There are not a whole lot of great hotel options in Playas del Coco. If you are interested in staying in this area we suggest checking out nearby Playa Hermosa (to the north) and Playa Flamingo (to the south). Another great option is Airbnb. We have had great luck with Airbnb in Costa Rica. You can read our guide to using Airbnb here.
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE - PLACES TO EAT
Soda La Teresita: Super good typical Costa Rican food at a great price.
Ticoffia: The best coffee shop in Coco. This place is super cute and a great breakfast spot for when you need a break from Costa Rican food.
Soda Oasis: Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the food is great! They make a seriously good burger.
Le COQ Lebanese: Awesome Lebanese food at a great price.
Chorotacos: Doesn’t look like much but the tacos are amazing (and cheap).
Honestly, there are tons of great restaurant options in Playas del Coco. Let us know which places you tried and how you liked them. We’d love to hear your favorites!
ARTICLES ABOUT PLAYAS DEL COCO
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE: OUR ADVICE
– Coco is relatively safe, but we have heard of tourists being targeted for petty crimes. Just keep an eye out and don’t carry a lot of cash on you when you go out.
– In the past, we always suggested as Playas del Coco as a great place to stop before heading up to Nicaragua. At the moment it is just not safe to go to Nicaragua. Please don’t plan a trip up there for now.
– Don’t forget to check on flying into Liberia instead of San Jose. My family recently did this and said it was such a great decision.
PLAYAS DEL COCO BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE - GEAR SUGGESTIONS
Here is just some of the gear we always pack when visiting the Playas del Coco area.
WHAT TO PACK FOR PLAYAS DEL COCO
IF THIS GUIDE WAS HELPFUL WE'D LOVE IF YOU'D SHARE IT ON PINTEREST
Let us know if you have any questions about visiting Playas del Coco in the comment section below. We are happy to help you out!
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