Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

Playa Potrero is a relaxed beach town in the Guanacaste Province that is a great jumping-off point for coastal exploration

playa potrero costa rica sunset
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Playa Potrero is a small beach town located on the northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

We like visiting here as an alternative from the business of Playa Flamingo to the south and the higher prices of Las Catalinas to the north.

Playa Potrero is a great place to stay for families looking to rent a vacation rental property close to a large sandy beach or for people looking for a relaxed base that is a perfect jumping-off point for tons of adventures.

Playa Potrero Background Info

Nearest International Airport

Liberia International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica

Go beach hopping, take a catamaran tour, take an ATV tour

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, tours with transportation included, walking in the downtown area

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April but, in this region, the rainy season usually isn’t too bad.

Grocery Stores

MerKdo and Super Wendy both have a good selection and are located in the center of town


There are two BCR ATM’s located in town.

Gas Stations

There isn’t a gas station in the center of Potrero. The nearest one is Bomba Huacas in Huacas (about 10 minutes away).

Keep in mind all gas stations here are full service. So stay in your car and an employee will fill your car up.

playa potrero map

Map Of Potrero

Potrero is located just north of Playa Flamingo and just south of Las Catalinas on the Pacific Coast in the Guanacaste Province.

It is about an hour south of Liberia International Airport.

Potrero Weather

potrero costa rica

The dry season runs from December to April. During these months, anticipate clear blue skies, low humidity levels, and temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C).

Occasionally, there may be a gentle breeze in December and January. 

The green season (also referred to as the rainy season) goes from late April until December. As this season begins, expect warm weather and afternoon rain showers.

These rains typically start around 2 pm and last for an hour or two. This is a great time to take a little afternoon break.

Keep in mind that it can be very humid during this time of year. Stay hydrated and expect that nothing ever seems to dry.

From August until November, the rains may intensify, lasting for longer periods. Even so, Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast tends to be the driest area of the country.

  • Average daytime temperature: 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 32 degrees Celsius)
  • Average nighttime temperature: 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius)
  • Sunrise: 5:45 AM in December | 5:15 AM in June
  • Sunset: 5:45 PM in December | 6:15 PM in June

Check out our guide to Costa Rica Weather by Month for more info

Pro Tip: The UV index is usually very high here. Stay hydrated and don’t spend too much time exposed to the sun.

Potrero Transportation

Flights to Potrero

The easiest way to get to Playa Potrero is by flying into the Liberia International Airport.

From Liberia it will take about one hour to drive to Playa Potrero.

From the San Jose International Airport it will take about 5 hours to drive to Playa Potrero depending on traffic.

More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be worth it for you.

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.

Check out our guides:

Transportation to Potrero

From either the San Jose or Liberia Airport, there are a few different ways you can get here.

We suggest renting your car with our favorite Costa Rica rental car company, Adobe. They have an office at the Liberia Airport and at the San Jose International Airport. 

We suggest them because they are upfront with their prices, have excellent customer service, and are just overall a great local company.

They have kindly given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you. 

⤷ Book Your Rental Car with Adobe

The roads are mostly well-maintained. You do not need a 4×4 to visit here.

We suggest renting at least an SUV with decent clearance for the curvy and hilly roads.

Note: Some accommodation options are located on unpaved side roads in the hills. I suggest checking exactly where your hotel is located to help you decide the right car for you.

Our #1 Car Rental Choice

Adobe Rent-a-Car

  • 10% discount for Costa Rica Vibes readers
  • Free second driver
  • 0% deductible on Liability Protection Insurance
  • Excellent customer service
  • New fleet of well-maintained vehicles

Driving to Potrero from San Jose International Airport

The drive from San Jose to Playa Potrero is long but manageable on well-maintained roads; a 4×4 is unnecessary.

Starting from the airport, take the toll road route 27 towards the Pacific Coast. These tolls can be paid in US dollars or Costa Rican colones.

Merge onto Route 1 near Puntarenas. Here you may encounter roadwork. There are limited meal stops available, so Plaza Limonal is our go-to break point for gas, Taco Bell, Subway, and an ATM.

Continue on Route 1 to Liberia. This is one of the country’s best highways but pay attention to the speed limit. It changes constantly.

Take a left on Route 21 in the downtown area of Liberia. Just be warned it gets a bit congested just before you hit this intersection as you drive through the outskirts of the city. 

On Route 21 you will pass the Liberia International Airport on your right. 

You will turn right on Route 151 and continue past the town of Sardinal. From here you will follow route 911 to Playa Potrero. This last part of the drive is very curvy. If you get car sick, you might want to prepare yourself.

Expect this drive to take about 5 hours depending on traffic.

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Driving to Playa Potrero from Liberia Airport

When you exit the Liberia Airport, turn right onto Route 21. You will stay on this well-maintained main road for about 7 miles.

You will then turn right on Route 151 and continue past the town of Sardinal. From here you will follow route 911 to Playa Potrero.

This last part of the drive is very curvy. If you get car sick, you might want to prepare yourself. 

Taxi to Potrero

If you are coming from the Liberia International Airport (or another location in Guanacaste) you can always get a taxi to Playa Potrero.

Just make sure it is a legal registered taxi so that you don’t get overcharged.

We suggest booking with our favorite family of Costa Rican taxi drivers. They will take great care of you and you can trust them.

🚖 Get a Taxi Price Quote from Our Favorite Drivers 🚕

Shared Shuttle

A shared shuttle to Playa Potrero is an easy way to get to the beach town from another area of the country or either international airport. This alleviates the stress of driving and typically costs less than a private shuttle.

We always have the best luck finding convenient shuttles on the website Bookaway.

🚐 Reserve Your Shared Shuttle to Playa Potrero 🚐

Private Transfer

If you don’t feel comfortable driving, a private transfer is always a good option. Adobe Car Rental now provides an excellent transfer service.

A trusted driver will take you from any place in the country directly to your place of choice in Potrero. 

This is a good transportation option if you are traveling with a large group of friends or family.

You pay one set price for the whole shuttle, so with a big group, it can be more cost-effective than a shared transfer.

Get a Private Transfer Price Quote to Potrero

Domestic Flight

If you are coming from San Jose it is always possible to take a domestic flight to Playa Potrero.

There isn’t an airport in Potreo, but you can fly to Tamarindo, which is about 30 minutes south of Potrero.

From here, you can rent a car or take a taxi up to Potrero.

Sansa Airlines typically flies 4 times a day to Tamarindo. The flight takes about 50 minutes and usually costs about $150 for a one-way flight.

Just keep in mind that this is a small plane. We don’t suggest this if you are scared of flying. However, the views are amazing.

Check Available Domestic Flights

From San Jose

If you are coming from the San Jose International Airport, there is a public bus that goes to Potrero from Alajuela twice a day.

This leaves from the downtown Alajuela bus terminal. You can get a taxi to the bus terminal for under $10.

The bus ride takes about 5 hours.

From Liberia

From Liberia, it is possible to take a bus to Playa Potrero about 10 times a day. This departs from the downtown Liberia bus terminal and takes a little over an hour.

When planning your bus route we suggest looking at TheBusSchedule

Transportation in Potrero


We like having a car while in Potrero because it gives the most flexibility for exploring the nearby area.

As I mentioned above, there isn’t a whole lot to do in Potrero, so you will likely want to take a lot of day trips.

The roads around Potrero are mostly well-maintained and manageable if you are a somewhat experienced driver.

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However, there are also a lot of day trip options with transportation from your hotel included if you really don’t feel comfortable driving. We list a bunch of great options further in this guide. This just limits you to tours instead of exploring on your own.

The distance between the downtown area and the beach in Potrero is somewhat walkable. But, it really depends on exactly where your hotel or vacation rental is located.

You won’t need a car if….

  • You are staying at a resort and don’t plan to leave much.
  • You plan on booking all activities with transportation included.

So, all in all, we like the flexibility of having a car. However, we understand that it can be scary driving in a foreign country.

Things to Do in Playa Potrero

There are so many things to do in the surrounding area. A few of our favorite activities are:

Visit the Potrero Beaches

views of playa potrero beach

In the town of Potrero, you can visit Playa Potrero, Playa Penca, and Playa Prieta.

The Potrero Bay makes it so the waters here tend to be very calm. Also, the drop-off is very gradual. It is typically the perfect place to swim or walk out into the water.

Just be aware of any signs indicating rip currents and pay attention to where other people are swimming.

These beaches are also great for beautiful sunsets.

Go Beach-Hopping

playa flamingo costa rica

There are plenty of nice beaches in this area.

The beach in Playa Flamingo is also beautiful. Here you can enjoy fine white sands and calm waters. Just south of Playa Flamingo is another beautiful beach called Playa Conchal.

All beaches in Costa Rica need to have public access by law. That means all of the coastline is yours to explore.

Take an ATV Tour

An ATV tour is a thrilling way to explore the beaches and hills near Potrero.

With this tour (with transportation included) you will enjoy three of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches, access remote trails, and possibly spot Costa Rican wildlife like howler monkeys and iguanas.

Check Availability and Book Your ATV Tour

Visit Tamarindo

tamarindo things to do

Tamarindo is a bustling beach town located about 30 minutes south of Potrero. Playa Tamarindo is a popular surfing destination and a great place to visit to take a lesson or rent a board.

It’s always fun to take a day trip here to check out the beaches and walk through the cute downtown area filled with fun shops.

Check out our guide to Tamarindo for more info

Visit Las Catalinas

Las Catalinas is just a short drive north of Potrero. This community is designed around the principles of New Urbanism in a Mediterranean style.

Basically, the town is designed to be completely walkable and car-free.

There is parking just outside of the downtown area and you are welcome to walk in to try one of the restaurants, just walk around, or go to the beach.

Check out our guide to Las Catalinas for more info

Check out Palo Verde National Park

palo verde

Palo Verde National Park is a somewhat remote park in the Costa Rica flatlands. Here you can take a boat tour down the Tempisque River and see a variety of wildlife and bird species.

It is possible to drive here on your own and book a boat tour (we suggest arranging your visit with Hacienda El Viejo) or you can book a trip with transportation included.

This adventure includes a traditional Costa Rican lunch, a fun boat ride with a guide, and a visit to a pottery village.

Check Availability and Book Your Palo Verde Day Tour

Take a Catamaran Tour

Taking a catamaran tour is somewhat of the quintessential Costa Rican vacation activity.

We suggest booking a sunset catamaran tour on a beautiful sailboat from the awesome company Lazy Lizard. On this tour you can enjoy snorkeling, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, and a visit to a remote white sand beach. It’s so fun!

If you are a large group of friends or family, you can also book a private catamaran tour at Lazy Lizard for up to 15 guests.

Take a Combo Tour

A combo tour is a great way to combine several activities in one fun-filled day. We love this because it takes all the stress off of you for planning.

Plus, often it can be very cost-effective when you factor in everything that is included.

Our favorite combo tours in this area are:

Playa Potrero Hotels

Curiol Boutique Hotel & Lounge

Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

A comfortable place with a boutique hotel vibe. They have several accommodation options including luxury glamping tents that can sleep up to 4 guests.

Check Availability and Book

Casa Papito

Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

This isn’t exactly a hotel. It is more of a vacation rental. The owners (a nice expat couple) live downstairs and have converted the upstairs into a few hotel rooms with private large balconies and kitchens.

You are also welcome to use the outdoor pool.

Check Availability and Book

Horizon Lodge Potrero

Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

This place consists of multiple apartments (some can sleep up to 6 guests) with a shared pool and coastal view.

Check Availability and Book

Surfside Mar Y Posa

Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

A mid-range hotel with comfortable rooms and a shared pool. We love this place for its location. It is located in the downtown area near plenty of restaurants, but still within walking distance of the beach.

Check Availability and Book

Villas Pura Vibra

Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

This cute place has a boutique hotel feel to it. It features bungalows that sleep two to four guests in modern rooms. There is an on-site pool. The one downside to this place is that it is about a 10-minute walk from the beach.

Check Availability and Book


Playa Potrero Costa Rica: The Perfect Guanacaste Beach Town

This beautiful hotel consists of straw-roof bungalows in a nice garden with pool. It’s a unique place to stay that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Check Availability and Book

Potrero Vacation Rentals

We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.

Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.

  • Tranquil Beachside Getaway: A 1 bedroom/ 1 bath condo in a tranquil complex with a shared pool.
  • Casa Blanco: A 3 bedroom home that can sleep up to 10 guests (but most comfortable for at most 8 guests). The house has a secluded backyard with pool.
  • Beachfront Villa: 7 bedroom/ 7 bath house that can sleep 14 guests. We like this place because it is directly on the beach. It would be the perfect place for a family reunion or destination wedding.
  • 4 BR/4 BA Home: A large house that is well maintained and can comfortably sleep 8 guests. It is about 100 feet from the beach.

Check VRBO for more amazing house rentals in the Potrero area

Restaurants in Playa Potrero

Here are a few of our favorite local restaurants in Potrero.

A lot of restaurants in Costa Rica do not have websites, so the best way to find places is through TripAdvisor.

  • Castillo De Lilo: A high-end completely unique dining experience at a castle with ocean views. Get more details and pre-book here.
  • Potrero Brewing Company: If you are interested in craft beer, this is a great place to stop. The vibe is very chill, the beers are excellent, and there are food options as well.
  • La Jama Playa Potrero: They serve a variety of dishes including traditional Costa Rican meals, ceviche, hamburgers etc. We like this place because there is an emphasis on fresh colorful ingredients.
  • RLT Cuisine: This is a unique private experience in which Chef Gilberto will create you an exclusive meal at his food lab.
  • El Diablito Mexican Food: An excellent place for tacos and other traditional Mexican dishes in a relaxed setting.
  • Tandoor Indian Restaurant: Excellent Indian food with a very extensive menu. Tons of vegetarian-friendly options.

Potrero Safety Tips

playa potrero sunset fishing

You should feel safe in Potrero. In general, it is a very secure town.

Your biggest safety concern should be petty theft. To combat that we suggest:

  • Keep your valuables secure and refrain from openly displaying expensive items. 
  • Don’t leave things in your rental car and always park in secure lots or at a spot with a guard.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.
  • A lot of restaurants are open-air. Don’t leave your cell phone out on the table or your purse just hanging on the back of your chair.
  • Dressing in a relaxed way will also help you blend in.

If something happens, the emergency number in Costa Rica is 9-1-1. You should be able to get a police officer who speaks English if you need.

Also, always purchase travel insurance. It doesn’t just cover injury but also helps if things get stolen. Our go-to travel insurance company for Costa Rica is a company called Heymondo. They are great!

Their comprehensive plans offer 24/7 assistance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, lost baggage coverage, assistance in case of medical issues, as well as the option to add-on adventure activity coverage. 

↳ Get Your Travel Insurance Quote

Packing for Potrero

playa potrero view

Potrero is a relaxed beach town. Unless you are staying at a resort or plan to go to very nice restaurants, you can keep it casual.

Your main focus here needs to be sun protection. The sun here is strong! Also, it can be very humid during the dry season.

  • We suggest carrying your stuff in a large backpack instead of a suitcase if possible. The Osprey 55L is great if you are only bringing a carry-on (take the small bag part off for under your seat) and the Osprey 75L is our go-to for checking in a bag.
  • Waterproof Day Bag: Our go-to day pack for keeping all of our stuff protected from the rain and for keeping things dry at the beach.
  • Columbia Bora Bora Sun Hat: This hat is slightly nerdy, but great for blocking the sun, folding up small in your luggage, and is made of breathable fabric.
  • Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Lotion: Hopefully you don’t get sunburned, but if you do, this stuff is a lifesaver.
  • Hero Microfiber Towel: Most hotels will have towels for showering, but not for the beach, Microfiber towels dry quickly and can easily fit in your luggage.
  • Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen: SPF 50 because the sun is powerful. We like Sun Bum because they are reef-safe.
  • LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle: You can drink the water in Santa Teresa, but it is safer to buy bottled water. We like LifeStraw to filter out any extra bacteria or impurities.
  • Headlamp: The sun sets between 5:30pm and 6pm year round. It can be very dark here.
  • LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle: You can drink tap water in Potrero, but it is safer to buy bottled water. We like LifeStraw to filter out any extra bacteria or impurities.

Check out Our Complete Potrero Packing List for all the essentials. 

Our Opinion on Potrero

playa potrero coastal view

We really like the town of Potrero and have stayed here many times. It is a good alternative to the more bustling town of Playa Flamingo and the more expensive Las Catalinas.

The beaches here are not as nice as some of the other nearby beaches, but because of its central location, it is a great spot to stay to explore all of the fun things nearby.

Playa Potrero Travel Tips

playa potrero sunset
  • It is a good idea to book your hotel here as early as possible. This especially applies to the dry season when tourism is at its peak.
  • The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people in tourism are used to tourists and speak at least some Spanish. Plus, in Potrero there are a lot of expats living here and running businesses.
  • Some places here may not accept credit cards. It’s a good idea to carry cash in US dollars or Costa Rican colones.
  • Potrero is a good place to visit for everyone. Families, couples, groups of friends, and solo travelers will all find something to do here.
  • Don’t forget travel insurance! Heymondo travel insurance was designed with ease and flexibility in mind. ↳ Get Your Travel Insurance Quote

Articles About Potrero

You Might Also Like Visiting

Papagayo Peninsula: An beautiful beach area with luxury resorts

Playa Langosta: A beautiful beach village near Tamarindo with several luxury villas

Playa Flamingo: Home to one of the nicest white sand beaches in the country and condo-style resorts

….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Guanacaste Province for more ideas of places to visit in this area.

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will allow you to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations and will allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

Save 10% Plus Other Perks with Our Adobe Rental Car Discount

☀️ Should I buy travel insurance for Costa Rica?

Yes, travel insurance is always a good idea. It is not just for illness or injury, but also lost luggage, delayed trips, and more!

We like Heymondo for Costa Rica travel insurance.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.