Playas Ocotal & Playas del Coco

Feeling a bit disappointed from our visit to the Monkey Farm ML and I decided we hadn’t driven all this way to turn round and go home so we followed the signs for the beach at Playa Ocotal. Which once we were back on the main road turned out to be about five minutes away.

There was a small car park with an attendant who guided us into a parking place before taking his seat again outside the dive shop, I would love to know how they ended up with the name Rocket Frog Divers, I’m sure there is a quite a story behind it.


IMG_2877Playas Ocotal is located between the Catalina Islands and the Bat islands, two of Costa Rica’s dive sites. It is something I have never wanted to do and I put it down to my problem with claustrophobia, I know that may seem odd when you are in a huge ocean but I get the same feeling of fear as I do in small spaces. As for anyone diving under the ice cap if it comes on the television I have to look away because I get completely creeped out by it ……. not there is much chance of sighting the ice cap in Costa Rica.

Maybe I should try snorkelling?

If you are brave enough to go diving in the waters off Catalina Island there is a good chance you will see white tip sharks, giant mantas, turtles, fish such as the giant grouper, morays, and off Bat Island the main attraction is the Bull Sharks but there are also underwater rock formations.

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Playas Ocotal is horseshoe shaped cove with tidal pools at either end of the beach, the sand is a mixture of black and white rather like an expensive pepper mix. The beach is lined with palm and Royal Poinciana trees (often called Flame trees), unfortunately the Poinciana trees weren’t in flower when we were there but apparently it looks spectacular when they are. It isn’t surprising that weddings are sometimes held on the beach at sunset it really is a beautiful place.

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There are some beautiful and I should think expensive boats at anchor in the bay, I assume for fishing and diving. There were people snorkeling close to the shore as well as people playing in the surf and sitting in the shade under the trees.

Set up near a shaded areas were a couple of massage beds, I’m not  sure that I’d want to be on display as I was being massaged – for me it wouldn’t be very conducive to relaxing

ML and I had a stroll along the shoreline and dipped our toes in the water, it really is a pleasant, quiet sedate cove, well at least it was when we visited. There was plenty of space for everyone and I probably could have spent a lot more time there, but we knew that Playas del Coco was just up the road so decided to visit it as well.

IMG_2871Playas de Coco is bigger and brasher than Playas Ocotal, only 3 km (1.8 miles) separate them, it’s a beach town. There is nothing else there but going by the number of cars and people there it is obviously a big tourist destination with both overseas and Costa Rican tourists. Unlike Ocotal, Coco has a large nightlife with restaurants, dancing, drinking and even a couple casinos.

It’s a party town and the beach is not the place if you are looking for calm and restful, head back to Ocotal.

You can scuba dive and take part in a sport fishing trip much like at Ocotal, the beach is approximately 3 km from end to end and sand is greyish brown. Unlike much of the water off the Guanacaste beaches which is normally a blue-green off Coco is it blue-grey. The beach is fine for swimming but you need to go to the nearby beach of Tamarindo to surf.

IMG_2869A section of the beach has a beautiful boardwalk edging it, you can see landscaped gardens, fountains and a basketball court. There are beach volleyball courts, a wooden pier and places to picnic.

The boardwalk is named The Amor de Temporada (Summer Love) after a song composed by Guanacastian Héctor Zúñiga Rovira.

The song was inspired by the love stories of the tourists who used to holiday in the area, he was seventeen and still at school when he wrote the song.

It really does depend on what you want from your holiday/visit as to whether it would suit you. There a lots more facilities here unlike Ocotal and many of them are aimed at  holidaymakers such as souvenirs and lots of beachwear shops, recently a Hard Rock Café has opened and there is also a large supermarket as well as all the small local businesses, grocery stores, banks and a private hospital.

The two beaches and their respective communities are the Yin and Yang of holiday destinations, they balance each other out and there is nothing to stop the visitor/tourist from enjoying both rather than being exclusive to one.

IMG_2872I must admit I liked Playas Ocotal the best, there were so many people in Playas de Coco, I loved being able to walk along the shoreline of the beach without having to dodge other people, I loved the smallness of the cove and just the abundance of things to look at. The bluffs, the boats, the people, the movement of the trees and most importantly for me was the water. There are some rocks along the shoreline and the waves splashed and bounced high into the air as they hit them. When the sun hit the water droplet they sparkled like small flying rainbows. The water turned white as it forced its way between and over the stones boiling and bubbling like a witch’s potion.

You know I am enjoying a place when I start getting poetical about it.