Flamingo has long been a popular destination for expat living and dream vacations, and now it’s stepped up its game in a major way by building a fabulous new marina to welcome yachts, fishing boats and even helicopters.
Flamingo is blessed with an oceanfront topography that makes it one of the most visually spectacular beach towns in Costa Rica. A green, hilly peninsula called the North Ridge juts into the Pacific Ocean from the small downtown, with steep changes in elevation that provide stunning ocean views toward both Potrero Bay and Brasilito Bay.
On the southeastern end of this ridge, a sheltered cove provides the perfect location for Marina Flamingo, which opened in 2023 with 92 slips, a fueling dock, a desalination plant, a wastewater treatment plant and a heliport. A large building painted in colorful pastels offers restaurants, shops, a medical clinic and 40 luxury condos for lease.
The marina is right next to downtown Flamingo -- a small, walkable space hemmed in between two beaches, Potrero and Flamingo, that are just a 5-minute walk apart. Despite the tiny size of the downtown, it has several restaurants, vacation rentals, shops, offices, and the Margaritaville Beach Resort.
Walk two blocks from the marina on Playa Potrero and you’ll find yourself at Playa Flamingo, a beautiful mile-long beach that is mostly protected from development because of fragile mangroves behind it. But where there is construction, homes and condos are of the $1 million-plus variety.
There’s another part of Flamingo a bit inland, on the highway from Brasilito, which is lined with hotels, condos, restaurants, hardware stores, a pharmacy, a doctor’s office, two banks, and the excellent Super Massai grocery store.
Flamingo is a great location to explore beaches north and south. It’s a short hop to Potrero, Las Catalinas, Brasilito, Playa Conchal and Playa Grande. It’s also close to Huacas -- a sizable town with big grocery stores and other conveniences, and it’s a half-hour drive to Tamarindo.
Potrero (“pasture”) is a charming Tico community with a downtown (soccer field, church, school, and convenience stores) one block from the beach. In fact, Potrero has three beaches very close by: Playa Potrero, Playa Penca and Playa Prieta.
Potrero has two large condominium developments called Villaggio Sueño al Mar and Villaggio Flor del Pacífico, as well as the high-end, ocean-view Villas Catalina. The Old World-style resort town of Las Catalinas is five minutes to the north.
But what’s probably Potrero’s main attraction for tourists and expats is a southern suburb that goes by a different name, Surfside. Surfside is sometimes considered part of Potrero, though as the English name suggests, it was largely developed by and for foreigners, and it’s really a separate community.
Surfside has a main street about three blocks long that is brimming with restaurants, bars, shops, tour agencies and a good grocery store called the MerKdo. At the eastern end of this street is Perlas, a very popular roadhouse-style restaurant, bar and night spot that often offers live music. At the other end of the street on the beach is the Costa Rica Sailing Center, with a swimming pool, restaurant, bar and sailboat rentals. Across the street from there is the beachfront Bahía del Sol Hotel.
Just south of Surfside’s main street is a big residential neighborhood filled with high-end homes and vacation rentals. This is a go-to choice for many expats wishing to live here part of the year and generate rental income the rest.
It’s a five-minute drive from Surfside to downtown Flamingo, where the new marina offers every adventure imaginable by sea. From Potrero to Playas del Coco, it’s a 35-minute drive on the so-called Monkey Trail, a small but paved road through the hills. You can also drive from Potrero to Tamarindo in about 40 minutes.

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