Playa Hermosa Guanacaste and Other Beaches

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costa rica expertA note from the Publisher: The Costa Rica Blog Network has chosen to feature the following article for its Guanacaste highlights, including worthwhile (and not so worthwhile) dining locations and hidden paths to secluded beaches that “looked like a postcard”. Thanks to Fernando and Carolina for submitting their personal account to us. It is a pleasure to share a view of Costa Rica with foreign visitors as seen through the lens of its own people. Pura vida!

Featured Authors: Fernando & Carolina (visit The Life In Costa Rica Blog)

One of our favorite areas in Costa Rica is Guanacaste, specifically Playa Hermosa and Coco. Whenever we have at least a couple of days, we usually head up there, since we believe the drive isn’t worth it to stay for just one day, because it could take about 4 hours just to get there.

A couple of months ago, we went on a three day trip and had a blast.

Whenever we know we are in for a long drive, we like to head out as early as possible, usually before dawn. This way we can avoid plenty of traffic, and beat some of that asphyxiating morning heat. Because we usually arrive pretty early, we feel like we get an extra day at our destination.

Carolina’s hat in the sand
Carolina’s hat in the sand
The left hand side of playa hermosa
The left hand side of playa hermosa

On our first day we left around 3 a.m., and went straight to Hermosa Beach (this place is well liked by ticos as well). We arrived at around 6 am, it was quiet with just a few people on the sand, a man jogging next to the water with his dog, and some boats picking up tourists who are probably heading out for some scuba diving or snorkeling (Guanacaste is the Mecca of tours, there is so much to do). I watched Fernando go into the water while I sunbathed.

Playa hermosa can get pretty packed
Playa hermosa can get pretty packed

We stayed there for most of the morning, and headed back to our room for some shade at noon, because we just can’t stand the heat at that hour, and besides, don’t ya know it’s dangerous for you? At 3 pm we went back to the beach and enjoyed a late BBQ lunch and admired the sunset. We had red snapper and salad, and both were amazing (we didn’t take pictures of the food this time). The sunset was incredible, warm in all matter of ways, containing orange and red tones, along with the sounds of birds and waves. It looked like a postcard.

Beautiful sunset in Hermosa Beach
Beautiful sunset in Hermosa Beach

After the sunset we went to Aqua Sport for a drink, and ordered a beer and a Piña Colada, but it took ages for the waiter to bring our drinks even when there were barely a few people there. To my disappointment, the piña colada was just piña and nada of Colada… I guess the bartender forgot the bit of rum. I told the waiter but he said that it did in fact have liquor. I know if my drink has liquor or not and this one didn’t have any at all, so we paid the bill and left, to never go back again.

A peaceful day on a beach in Costa Rica
A peaceful day on a beach in Costa Rica

The next day we were already at the beach by 6:30 am. We went to a beach where the Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort is located. If you head out as early as we usually do, then you’ll generally find less people, and if you are driving you can park under one of the few trees on the road. There is a side entrance to the beach beside the hotel guests’ entrance. This “secret” entrance is for people who are not staying at the hotel. After you enter the brick paved trail and walk for about 300 meters you’ll get to a clearing with some trees and you can see the beach in front of you, that area is where the hotel places the sun tanning chairs, but all you have to do is walk all the way down to your right and you will find the nice beach.

Our own hidden beach in Costa Rica
Our own hidden beach in Costa Rica

This beach is less visited than others for some reason and that makes it even better if you ask us. It has white sand, and the water itself is nice and calm if that is what you are looking for. In the right conditions, the water is so clear you can see the bottom of the ocean. There are trees that you can lay under and if you walk past the hotel towards the right-side, there is actually a nice walk on the rocks that we like to do, taking about 20 to 30 minutes.

This beach is close to playa hermosa
This beach is close to playa hermosa
Look at those colors!
Look at those colors!

We brought sandwiches, fruit, water, and puppy food (If you are not staying at the hotel make sure you bring water and food because there is nothing near and you cannot purchase anything at the hotel, there are no bathrooms either so remember that) We stayed the whole day chilling with Ernie our little puppy of course as he always comes with us. It was such a nice day!

Our beloved doggy, Ernie
Our beloved doggy, Ernie

For dinner we drove to El Coco which is about 10 minutes away by car from Playa Hermosa. We checked TripAdvisor for the best places to eat a meal and Le COQ a Lebanese Health Food restaurant came up as #1. Tempted by such good reviews we took a chance. The place is a little shack, with a counter at the windows and bar stools around it. The place is small, nice and clean. The owner is a nice friendly guy who we believe is not from Costa Rica, he works along his wife who definitely is local. The food was simply delicious, with prices and portions being fair as well. We definitely recommend this place to anyone, but its better if you go for lunch, the reason is because later on at night you may have to wait for an item that they ran out of.

After a nice meal we walked along Coco’s main road looking at trinkets, bracelets, hammocks, jewelry, crystals and semiprecious stones. The side of the street is a collage of different things where you can basically find anything. There are even little BBQ trollies where you can buy skewers of bbq meat for about $2, we didn’t try any but they smelled delicious! There was a fair going as well, and one of the rides “La Tagada” as we call it in Costa Rica was in full swing. We didn’t dare go on it after having eaten, imagine that!  I went on one when I was a teenager and I remember my whole body being much bruised after that. This ride spins while at the same time going up and down, while the riders are sitting holding on to their dear lives with nothing but their hands, (next time if I see one I’ll make a video).

A crazy ride, “la tagada”
A crazy ride, “la tagada”

We went to the Coconutz Bar and restaurant for a drink, the service wasn’t the best but the place, music, and general atmosphere made up for it.

On our third day we went to Playa Bonita. This hidden gem is close to the beach we went to the day before, close to the Papagayo Hilton, but you keep going until you hit a dead end. There is construction going on, but if you are lucky (or it is Sunday) they may let you in. You have to leave your car out, pay about $2 to have your car watched, and walk in.

The view is nice, just disregard all the construction materials
The view is nice, just disregard all the construction materials

The man at the gate informed us that there were two paths to access the beach. The one closer to the entrance was closed down because it was in such a bad state. The other path was a bit further away, basically a small hike if you are a real avid hiker. We ended up taking the more dangerous way and I was glad we did as the view from there was picture perfect. The path was basically up in the air and made of broken down wood that was really worn down after the years. Fernando got a baby praying mantis on his arm and we snapped a few pics of the little fellow.

A baby mantis on Fernando’s arm
A baby mantis on Fernando’s arm

I don’t believe that path is open any longer, so if you are planning to see this beautiful beach remember it is a bit of a hike, there is no water, no toilets and no food nearby.

Our deserted beach in Costa Rica, lol
Our deserted beach in Costa Rica, lol
A private beach to ourselves!
A private beach to ourselves!

Playa Bonita was all we wanted. Secluded, pristine, and we had the beach most of the day to ourselves. A bit later in the afternoon another couple arrived on a boat, Fernando asked to borrow their snorkeling masks, to which they happily obliged. While he snorkeled, I found myself sitting in what seemed to be a private beach with white sand pressed on my skin, the same skin the sun is kissing, and I thank:

  • The Universe
  • God
  • That supreme Being
  • Mother Nature
  • Whatever you want to call it.

For our final dinner another TripAdvisor review was all it took for us to decide. About 3 kilometers from Hermosa Beach sitting on the perch of a mountain is the beautiful Abbocatto restaurant.

The view from Abbocatto’s terrace
The view from Abbocatto’s terrace
A priceless view
A priceless view
This moment was perfect
This moment was perfect

The views from the pool area are breathtaking, the whole atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and they also have a very good selection of music. A 5 course menu is set or you can order a la carte. We went for the 5 course menu with a fixed price. Paola and Andrea run the place, a couple who got married and had this idea of really appreciating good food prepared with love using excellent produce. We truly recommend this place for basically any occasion but especially for honeymooners, weddings or romantic getaways. The food was spectacular and we definitely would love to visit again. The price was worth it due to the amazing flavors we tasted. You do have to make a reservation in advance, as they don’t open for regular service. They are reservation only.

Delicious steak
Delicious steak
Super yummy food!
Super yummy food!

Click here to read the above post on The Life In Costa Rica Blog

About Fernando & Carolina:

We are Fernando and Carolina, a couple from beautiful Costa Rica. We are starting this page as a way to share our experiences living in the country. [continue reading…]

Post photos are owned by the featured author (not the Costa Rica Blog Network). Please contact the featured author directly for permission of use.

Pura vida!

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dear Traveler
    I would be remiss if I did not warn you about a recent experience my wife and I had while staying in Costa Rica. We were looking for a place to rent for a month or two and my wife found the site “crparadise.weebly.com” on craigs list. We emailed the site and communicated with Dave an expat from Texas. We arranged to meet his wife Lizbeth, a native Costa Rican, in San Isidro de el General and she showed us a few places. Our options were limited as we were travelling with our 2 dogs. The first place was a very rustic wooden cabin way up in the hills and the second choice was a small (330 ft.) bachelor in town that was advertised as a one bedroom. For the sake of convenience we went with the bachelor for $475 per month. Lizbeth pushed for a commitment of 3 months but we said no we can only do month to month as we were not sure how long we would stay. We paid the first month and Lizbeth also wanted a $300 damage deposit which we agreed to. Our dogs are older and we knew there would be no problems with them. Towards the end of the first month we realised that we did not want to stay in Costa Rica any longer and gave Lizbeth our 30 days notice even though we had booked flights out for the next week. We asked Lizbeth if they would accept a half months rent basically giving them a weeks rent without us being there. She agreed but then said she was keeping our deposit. She gave no reason for this other than to say the money was gone, too bad that’s just how it is. When we pressed for a better explanation and explained that there was no damage and that keeping a deposit is illegal she got very nasty and abusive, and began making all sorts of threats. While in CR we met several expats and learned that $475 for a tiny room is outrageously high (something we knew already but had no options at the time) and that Dave has a warrant out for his arrest because while repairing clients computers he has hacked into there bank accounts with codes he has pulled of the computers. These are nasty people who will rip you off and rob you for all they can. They repeatedly claim they have nothing to do with the deposit which is of course a lie, the money went straight into their pockets. Stay clear of Dave and Lizbeth. Here are some quotes from emails and texts she sent us.

    “are you 2 stupid or what? how many times I tell you I don’t have your deposit”

    “you are the dullest person I have ever dealt with. The owner in the U.S. has the deposits from everyone. Geez are you really that
    dull that YOU DO NOT understand, WE DO NOT HAVE A THING TO DO WITH ANYONES DEPOSIT. HOW MANY TIMES MUST EVERYONE TELL YOU. YOU ARE THE WORST PEOPLE I HAVE DEALT WITH IN 12 YEARS.”

    And my favorite; “ja,ja,jaaa..look at you..you diablo, i am glad you lose the deposit and you paid 1000 in 6 weeks ja, ja, jaaa.. losers”

  2. betunada says:

    “social net solutions” told a true horror story. so sorry that people like “Liz and Dave” definitely diminish whatever trust one may have in conducting negotiations such as renting. Now Nikki/Rikki will probably agree with me in that I dealt w/Andres Matos over at ConchalCR — which we all have posted positive reviews of ~

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