Playa del Coco Activities
Race through sugar cane fields, maneuver along the coast’s rocky terrain, and discover Northern Guanacaste’s back roads aboard a quad. Often you will be accompanied not only by your guide, but by birds, butterflies and inquisitive howler monkeys. Tours last from two and a half to four hours.
Hop aboard a banana boat tour and prepare for a wet afternoon of splashing, falling and frolicking. Banana boat tours typically leave from Playa del Coco’s biggest hotels, and are suited for groups of four to ten people.
Bird and Wildlife Watching
Nearby Palo Verde National Park boasts 15 separate habitats that provide for more than 300 bird species and 145 mammal species. Just north of Palo Verde, the Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve is home to 250 bee species (25 percent of the world’s total), several endangered tree species, 60 species of nocturnal butterflies and many other protected plants and shy animals.
Just outside of Liberia, a 35-minute journey from Playa del Coco, Africa Mia safari park brings fourteen animals species from the savannah to Costa Rica, including zebra, giraffe, and antelope. Closer to home, the beaches of Northern Guanacaste are lined with howler monkeys lazing in the trees, coatimundis romping through the forest and many bird species calling to each other from high above.
Canoeing and Sea Kayaking
Rent a canoe or sea kayak at your hotel, and paddle out onto the open Pacific. If you drive just a few miles north to the Papagayo Gulf, sea kayaking is especially wonderful, as tiny, secluded beaches dot the coast, many only accessible by boat.
There are two major canopy tours in northern Guanacaste, and both offer high-flying action and an up-close look at the forest’s canopy. Tours may include a combination of heart-stopping cables, suspension bridges, and family-friendly courses. To the north near Santa Rosa National Park, the area’s most thrilling canopy tour offers two and a half hours of treetop diversion on 24 platforms that cover almost two miles of cable. The more southern tour, located just outside Playa Ocotal, is family-friendly and lasts approximately one hour. Reaching a thrilling height of 82-feet, its longest cable sends you hurling through 1,150 feet of forest canopy.
Relax with a natural mud mask or unwind during a deep tissue massage at one of the area’s day spas. Order a la carte or pamper yourself with a spa package that caters to your every relaxation need. Spas are located at several of Playa del Coco's upscale hotels.
The northern Pacific’s golf courses offer sweeping ocean views, beautiful greens and championship holes. Ranging from fancy to decidedly informal, the area’s golf and country clubs allow every golfer to be comfortable on the course.
Northern Guanacaste is an ideal base for hiking enthusiasts. Santa Rosa National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park and Barra Honda National Park all lie within easy day trip distance, and are threaded with some of the country’s most well-groomed and beautiful hiking trails.
Back on the Northern Pacific coast, you will find many beach walkways, forgotten roads, and hiking paths to explore. Take your camera with you, as the resident animal population might appear for an amazing photo op.
Several local outfits rent horses for trips to exhilarating waterfalls, hidden beaches, and favorite local spots. Half or full-day excursions are available, and some companies will also rent horses by the hour. Though their rates are tempting, be forewarned that rock bottom-priced outfitters may use overworked, unhealthy horses.
Jet skis are available for rent along the Northern Guanacaste coast, and tours generally last two to three hours.
Rent a bike and enjoy the quieter side of Coco Beach, where birds, monkeys and other wildlife live far from the roar of engines and other man made noise. Foot paths and dirt roads provide excellent biking opportunities. Bikes can be rented in Playa del Coco for under $10 daily.
Feel the adrenaline boost of flying through the air with only a parachute behind you and a speedboat below. Experience the grand Pacific Ocean as never before. Parasailing tours will pick you up from Playa Hermosa or Playa Panama, just a few miles north of your Playa del Coco hotel.
Float down the peaceful Tempisque River or through Palo Verde’s canals. On both trips, you’ll meet American crocodiles, flamboyant birds, swinging monkeys and many other wildlife species. Palo Verde Boat Tours will pick you up from your Playa del Coco hotel.
Sailing tours depart daily from Playa del Coco, and will take you to some of the coast’s most tranquil islands and quiet beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles and the occasional whale. Many sailboat tours will drop anchor for snorkeling, later serving lunch and drinks from the comfort of the sun-drenched deck.
Half and full-day snorkeling tours are available, and may take you to small islands, hard-to-reach beaches or secluded coral reefs. Note that several sailboat tours stop for snorkeling, as well. Snorkeling equipment can be rented for $15 per day. The rocks on the northern and southern ends of Playa del Coco are the best places to snorkel without hiring a boat.
The northern Pacific coast is one of Costa Rica's most exciting places to dive with large marine creatures – like white tip reef sharks, whales, spotted eagle rays and sea turtles. Sightings of moray eels, parrotfish, cortez angelfish, pufferfish and morrish idols are almost guaranteed. Novelty dive sites, located less than 20 minutes from the shore, include a baby shark cave and an impressive shipwreck. Volcanic remains scar the ocean floor throughout the area, providing ideal hiding places for various schools of tropical fish, squid, and octopi.
The best time to dive Playa del Coco is during the rainy season, from May-December and into January. Enormous schools of manta rays, with wingspans of 14-20 feet, flock to the Catalina Islands (one hour south) in January, February, and March; while 8 to 15-foot bull sharks frequent the Bat Islands (two hours north) March through November. Two-tank dives cost roughly $80. Local dive shops offer PADI certification and advanced diving courses.
Several of the area’s sailboat companies offer spectacular sunset and dinner tours. Head out onto the sparkling Pacific, dine on gourmet fare and watch as the sun sets in a furious display of brilliant reds, impossible oranges, and relaxed pinks.
Take your first surf lesson or test old skills at one of Northern Guanacaste’s many surf spots. No matter your skill level, this slice of paradise has waves to match. For advanced surfers, don’t miss a surf tour to Ollie’s Point or Witch’s Rock. Ollie’s Point at Portrero Grande offers a fast right point break, with very fast and hollow waves.
There is no road access, so surfers must depart by rented boat or surf tour from Playa del Coco or Playa Ocotal. The right point break in Santa Rosa National Park is only accessible by boat from Playas del Coco. Witch’s Rock at Playa Naranjo, the surf spot forever immortalized by the film Endless Summer 2, is home to some of the best breaks in Costa Rica. You must depart from Playa del Coco by rented boat or with a surf tour.
Spend just an afternoon or an entire week aboard a sport fishing boat, reeling in some of the strongest fighters in Costa Rica. Sailfish, marlin and rooster fish are the most common catches. If you prefer to do your fishing from gentler waters (or terra firma), local companies can outfit you completely for fly fishing.