PLAYAS DEL COCO | HERMOSA | OCOTAL

PLAYAS DEL COCO IS A BUSTLING LITTLE CITY KNOWN FOR ITS WATER SPORTS, NIGHTLIFE, AND SOCIABLE EXPAT COMMUNITY.

WELCOME TO PLAYAS DEL COCO | HERMOSA | OCOTAL

Playas del Coco is a bustling little city known for its water sports, nightlife, and sociable expat community.
 
The largest town on the Guanacaste coast north of Tamarindo, Coco is beloved for many reasons. It has a gorgeous beach adjacent to a grassy public park with skateboarding, basketball and volleyball, and there are a string of good restaurants and hotels on the beach. 
 
The colorful main street, which starts at the beach and eventually turns into the highway out of town, is lined with souvenir stores, restaurants, bars, dive shops and other attractions. It’s a highly walkable town, where even if you have to walk six blocks you don’t mind because there’s so much to see.
 
Excursions on the ocean — which are a must if you go to Coco — include excellent fishing, scuba diving and sunset cruises with snorkeling, food and open bars.
 
Coco has long been a boom town, attracting investors who built luxury resorts, hillside villas and humbler cabinasPacifico, in the center of town, is the largest residential resort here, and it’s a beauty, with a long “lazy river” swimming pool and spectacular condos in three-story buildings.
 
High-end private homes also abound in the hills above Coco, and other residential options for sale or rent are too numerous to count. There is something here for all price ranges and all lifestyles.
Playa Hermosa is a wonderful beach town just north of Coco that has the charm of an uncrowded seaside village but offers all the adventures and conveniences of larger towns.
 
Less than 15 minutes from Coco, Hermosa rises from a beautiful bay to the green hillsides overlooking the ocean. Almost every business in town is oriented to tourism in some way, including hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants, grocery stores, dive shops, and other tour agencies. It’s also a great place to live, and if you’re shopping for a home here, you’ll find some standout options.
 
Hermosa even has a movie theater, which is very unusual for a town of this size, and something you won’t find elsewhere without driving to Liberia or Tamarindo.
 
Though it’s an hour and 45 minutes from the Nicaraguan border, Hermosa is Costa Rica’s northernmost beach town of any size on the Pacific coast. Drive north from here and you’ll find a string of luxury resorts on Playa Panama and Culebra Bay, and eventually on Papagayo Peninsula. Beyond that is the huge Santa Rosa National Park, flanked by a mostly uninhabited coastline.
 
The highway from Coco is the main street in town, with two left turns that lead to the beach. All three are bristling with businesses catering to travelers.
 
Water sports available here (or in nearby Coco) include fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and sunset cruises. All-terrain vehicles (cuadraciclos) and even dune buggies can be rented here, and you’re within striking distance of just about any other adventure on land: horseback riding, ziplining, animal rescue centers and cycling.
 
You’ll want to visit the Aqua Sport beachfront restaurant/bar, with shady open-air tables and a collection of hilarious signs that say things like “If you drink to forget, please pay in advance.” The best dining in town is Ginger on the main road, serving Asian-inspired tapas (small dishes) and cocktails in a beautiful tree house.
 
Also worth visiting is the Bosque del Mar Hotel, a stunning beauty decorated throughout with red lattice, and with tree trunks jutting through balconies.
The Liberia airport is just 30 minutes away, making Playa Hermosa the closest beach town to any international airport in Costa Rica. Liberia is a city of 67,000 people with excellent hospitals and anything else you might need.
 
There are at least four Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica, so be sure you’re in the right one. Surfers have sometimes arrived here expecting gnarly waves, only to find they’re in the wrong Hermosa and there’s really no surfing here.
Playa Ocotal is a dazzling beach town a few miles west of Playas del Coco that features hillside resorts, luxury residential communities, and good beachfront restaurants.
 
It’s more or less at the “end of the road” -- there is Playa Pez Vela further on, but the roads stop when they hit the mountains, so there’s no through traffic. This makes Ocotal feel delightfully remote, though it’s just 10 minutes from the bustling big town/little city of Playas del Coco.
 
The hills above Ocotal Bay have been expertly developed with the finest of ocean-view homes and condominiums. These include large luxury homes and more affordable condos, many within a short walk of the beach. The shape of the green hills creates the feeling of a natural amphitheater facing the ocean.
 
Stop by the beachfront Father Rooster for lunch in a picturesque spot, or drive a bit further to the Bahía Pez Vela Beach Resort and the gourmet dining at the Maracuyá Beach Club.

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