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.