With Playas del Coco once being a sleep fishing village, you’ll find boat tours to be the common thing to do for tourists. Whether it be sport fishing, scuba diving, a beach boat tour, or a sunset booze cruise, sooner or later you’re bound to head out on the Papagayo Gulf for some fun in the sun.
On a Boat
If you come to Playas del Coco, it’s most likely for the beach and big blue beyond. Many of the best tours in town require you to get on a boat, as they add a unique aspect that land tours can’t offer.
Numerous world records have been set with catches off the coastal waters near Playas del Coco, and you won’t be lacking in tour options. Boats fill the view, end-to-end across the entire Coco Beach with many of them oats being available for hire or rent.
Playas del Coco is best known for its excellent sport fishing with over 40 world fishing records being set from catches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The fishing within an hour or two boat ride from town is excellent with September through March providing a never-ending supply of dorados, sailfish, and marlins.
Sunset sailing tours are one of the most popular things to do here in Plays del Coco. There are party catamarans like the Kuna Vela, along with snorkeling beach tours like Marlin del Ray offers. These trips run daily with morning runs starting around 8 am and afternoon trips leaving around 1:30 pm.
The Papagayo River Floating Boat Tour is a lazy river ride where the relaxing scenery is more notable than anything else. There’s not much of an adrenalin rush here, just a peaceful trip to enjoy nature along the Tempsique River.
With numerous dive centers in town to choose from you’ll find a lot of tourism in Coco is based around its proximity to nearby dive sport. There are over 20 dive spots within a short boat trip, which includes the Pelonas Islands. Day trips are also available to the Catalinas Islands and The Bat Islands.
The Pelonas Islands are located just down the coast from Playas del Coco and are a popular spot with the local dive shops. Some of the dive sites here include Tortuga, Virador, and the Palmares Wall where you can see turtles, rays, groupers, and possibly some sharks too. Since this is a quick boat ride, you easily do it at different times throughout the day.
For those looking for a big adventure, many dive boats leave Coco for the famous Catalina Islands (The Cats), which is a diver and animal lovers’ delight. While you can scuba year-round in Guanacaste, the best visibility is between September and March.
During this period you can encounter spinner dolphins, humpback whales, pilot whales, whale sharks, and tiger sharks. Another top attraction is the rays, of which there are many to see, from giant manta rays to devil manta rays, bat rays, stingrays, spotted eagle rays, bullseye electric rays, and cow-nosed rays.
The Bat Islands
With a required depth of 30 meters, diving The Bat Islands is not something for beginners, but offers an alternative to the Catalina Islands. It’s also where you’ll need to go during the rainy season to ensure good visibility.
Don’t worry landlubbers, there’s still plenty of things for you to do on solid ground here in Coco, or in even, in the air above it.
To truly experience the look and feel of a jungle canopy look, you have to view it from the treetops. Three zip lines can be found within easy reach of Playas del Coco. The cheapest option is the Congo Trail Extreme Zip Line ($29) whose longest run is 450 m. You can also combine it with their Original Zip Line Tour for $49, as well as, go ATV riding, river floating, horseback riding, and visit their monkey sanctuary.
The Superman Zip Line at Diamante Adventure Park ($78) is just a tad close, but more touristy. Here you can also other tours for ATVs, horseback riding, wildlife sanctuary, and cultural experiences.
To the northwest, on the way to the Four Seasons Resort, there’s the Witch’s Rock Canopy Tour where prices are similar to Diamante, and they have horseback riding and ATV tours too.
Another great way to see things off the beaten path near Del Coco Beach is to take a ride on an ATV. Most of the companies which offer these tours are the same ones that have zip lines and horseback riding, so you can combine the activities at a discounted rate.
With numerous options starting from $19-$29, the Congo Canopy ATV Tours are the cheapest of the bunch. You choose from beach or mountain paths, and they also have a special tour just for kids ($39) and dual seat, side-by-side ATVs where two can ride together.
Coco Loco ATV Tours has a few different options which are based on time. The 2-hour tour is $50, 3 hours is $60, while 4 hours is $80 for a single rider or $90 for double riders.
The Diamante ATV tour, which is only 1 hour, is $68 for a single rider and $78 for double riders, which is quite expensive compared to the two options above. Proximity to all-inclusive resorts is why the prices are so high, which is also true for the Witch’s Rock ATV Tours.
A more relaxed way to enjoy the Papagayo countryside is to take it all in while riding a horse. Again, many of the same companies who ones who offer zip line and ATV tours, so you buy discounted combo packs.
The Congo Canopy Horseback Riding Tour ($39) is a slow jaunt through some farmlands and forests along the Congo Trail. It’s also the cheapest option available.
A very close option is The Monkey Farm Horseback Riding Tour ($55), which is located in Ocotal, just a 5-minute drive from Playas del Coco. The tour is also 1 hour, but they do have a second option for $70 that is 1 hour and 45 minutes, and a 3-hour tour for $115 which includes lunch at Father Roosters.
If there’s one constant with kids that transcends culture and time, it’s their need for constant entertainment. If you want to get them away from their phones and off social media, give them something to learn and interact with.
The cheapest option ($9), and probably one of the most fun is the Monkey Sanctuary at Congo Canopy. This is not a big place, but a small space full of monkey’s who happily climb on your back, in your hair, and search your pockets. It’s a surreal feeling to be the entertainment for monkeys rather than the other way around.
Formerly known as Africa Mia, the Ponderosa Adventure Park has an African safari with a unique savannah feel. For a $37 entrance fee can see animals that are not native to Costa Rica like zebras, giraffes, antelopes, ostriches, and coatimundi. What’s more surprising, is who they thrive here in the open, spacious park, and it almost feels natural. A full-day pass is available for $66 which includes zip-lining and kayaking near a scenic waterfall.
Another good option is the Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary at Diamante, where you can see exotic animals like jaguars and pumas, as well as, toucans, sloths, monkeys, frogs, etc. There’s also a world-class butterfly observatory, and over a dozen licensed biologists who are available for question.
The Costa Rica Cultural Experience Tour at the Diamante Adventure Park is probably the most American-like tour you’ll find in Guanacaste. It’s a show and learning experience at the same time, with a cost of $44 for children under 10, and $55 for those 11 and older.
If you’re looking to learn about self-sustainable living, the recovery center at The Monkey Farm is worth a look. It’s nothing fancy, but the kids will surely enjoy the goats and pigs As For a $10 donation, you will learn things like the process of feeding a baby lamb, medicinal plants and teas. You will also be able to meet and feed some of the farm animals, fish, and reptiles. You can also book horse riding tours here. Do also note that the monkeys are wild and simply visit the property on their own schedule rather than being an attraction.
At times you may simply want a little time to yourself, to reflect upon your day, or simply to enjoy the quiet side of life.
For those who’d rather stay above the surface, there are many rock formations just off the coast in the Papagayo Gulf that offers a decent undersea viewing along with a few ocean caves.
If you walk Coco beach during sunrise and sunset, you’ll see many locals and tourists alike fishing for their meals. With the beach stretching 4 km (2.5 miles) there’s room enough for everyone, and you’ll never run out of spots to fish.
While not located within the city limits of Playas del Coco, a few adventure parks are available within a short 15-20 minute drive. Diamante is the biggest and most touristy park, so expect to pay a bit more there, while the Congo Trail can be a little less pricey at times.
Located near the Hotel Rui Guanacaste, the Diamante Eco Adventure Park caters to resort tourists looking for an all-day adventure. Whether you come for the superman zipline, horseback riding, or an ATV tour, you also be tempted to check out the animal sanctuary or take a Costa Rica cultural experience tour. If you’re looking for a full day’s worth of activities, you can easily find it here in one place.
Before Diamante was built, The Congo Trail was the only zipline available near Playas del Coco. They’ve since expanded to include a waterfall ATV tour, and horseback riding. If you’re looking for a less touristy, and more authentic canopy experience, this is an option worth looking into.
While not the thriving party-town it once was, going for drinks plays an important part in the local culture and nightlife. You’ll still find several bars along the main strip like Zi Lounge and Coconutz, and well those by the main beach entrance like Bambu and El Ancala.
Some new unique places have also opened up, which include the lovely cocktail bar name Zarpe, along with the relaxing and entertainment-orientated Garden Bar. Some decent options for sunset drinks include The Lookout which is high above, on the hills of Coc, and Cafe de Playa, which is right on the beach.
Artesian and souvenir shops line the main street of Coco close to the boardwalk by the beach. Here you find a host of handmade wood-carved sculptures, trinkets, jewelry, handbags, clothes, and hammocks. Pura Vida signs, traditional coffee makers, and a plethora of animal statues are general tourist fare, but Sussy Souvenirs has some more unique items.
At the Pacifico Mall, you’ll find the Auto Mercado, which has the best supermarket selection in and around Papagayo Gulf. You’ll find an Arenas Surf & Skate shop if you looking for some decent beachwear. Perla’s Beach Fashion on the main strip is also worth a look.
The main beach in Coco is not really a selling point, as the sand is gray-black and the sheltered bay ensure the waves rarely ever get big enough to surf. It is, however, a decent place to get a tan or go for a swim. On the peninsula nearby, however, you’ll find the secluded Playa Penca, which is one of these nicest beaches in the area.
The sand of Playa del Coco is s darker gray rather than golden, but with Playa del Coco being a 4km stretch of beach, you won’t have any trouble finding a place to relax the day away. You can swim and sunbathe, as well as even do a little offshore fishing here, but the waves in this sheltered bay are not big enough to surf.
Located at the end of the peninsula between Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa you’ll find a gorgeous hidden beach called Playa Penca. Many local boat tours and water taxis bring tourists here as it’s such a nice spot. You also get close to it by car by turning onto the access road on the way to Playa Hermosa. Many people also walk this road as it offers scenic viewpoints and some monkey sightings too.