Life in Playas del Coco
By Wendy Clouse
Playas Del Coco is the closest beach town to the Liberia airport (LIR). Liberia airport services the Guanacaste area. Easy access to the top private resorts such as 4 Seasons, Secrets, Planet Hollywood, Andez, and the Riu. Close by are the towns of Tamarindo (where you go to surf), Playas Flamingo, Hermosa, and many other great beach towns.
Playas Del Coco has a main street where many shops and restaurants are located. You will see the expats hanging out at a few of these locations. Hand crafted beer and great food to be had.
Talking to some of the first expats here, 20 or so years ago, life here was very different. 1 bank on Friday came to town in a van by the old police station. 1 supermarket in town. Main street was the only road paved.
Now there are over 9 supermarkets in Coco and 6 or more banks. Plus all the fruit stands on the side of the road, you will never want for close food shopping. We even have a Price Smart within 20 minutes.
Retire in Playas Del Coco
Coco has grown over the years and it is a very popular home to expats. The bulk is from Canada and the US. Not all live here year round, but many do.
You can get by without a car. Most places are walkable from anywhere in Coco. There are plenty of taxis available to take you to the grocery store if you are doing some heavy shopping.
A lot of people just opt to have a golf cart for intown excursions. If you do get a car, be careful coming through town. Dogs, pedestrians, monkeys, motorcycles, scooters, buses,bicycles, ATV’s, golf carts are all competing for a place on the road.
There are so many communities within Coco to choose where you can live. Many condos are found in the Las Palmas area, but you can find some nice houses there also. Pacifico is a gated community with very upscale houses and condos. This area comes with a private beach club, but be prepared to pay for it. Ocotal and Hermosa, just around the corner, all have expat housing/communities. Real Estate is booming in Coco. Do not expect anything to stay on the market very long, comparable to the Real Estate boom in various other places in North America.
You do not need to buy to live here. You can rent long term.
If you rent, having electricity and water included is really a bonus. But usually not the case.
It takes a bit to become a resident, but very doable for a Pensionado (1000 USD per month to qualify) , Rentista, allowing foreigners to stay for up to 2 years with the ability to extend. This visa allows self-employed, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads to work in Costa Rica.
Medical in Coco. If you are not a resident, you will not qualify for the CCSS or CAJA (for a small monthly fee you can receive free medical care) But there are good options such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Costa Rica. A policy for 2 over 60 is around 6,000 USD per year. No pre-existing conditions. You will need to go to a private hospital in Liberia to receive treatments such as physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies, ect. Liberia is about a 45 minute drive.
There is even a great medical clinic for emergencies in downtown Coco, you can even get an EKG there! Prices are minimal.
There are also several dentists in Coco, you will pay about ⅓ the cost as in the US or Canada.
You do not need to apply for residency but you will have to renew your visa every 90 days. That means leaving the country via air, bus or driving. Nicaragua is the closest land border. There are even tour companies that sponsor a border run for expats.
Lifestyle in Playas Del Coco
You will never need a jacket here! High Season (tourist season)
Is from November until May. It does not rain here and is quite hot, sometimes reaching 38C or 100F. Humidity is lower in these months due to the lack of rainfall. From June until November, it is cooler but the rains start and you get higher humidity. September and October are the wettest months, you can experience monsoon rains in these months.
There are so many ways to get exercise in Coco. You will see many expats walking the beach or fishing in the morning, between the hours of 6-9 am. Hiking the hills surrounding Coco, going to one of the 4 gyms in town, pickleball, Zumba, water aerobics, kayaking, bicycling, and Yoga, at CostaRicaWellnessRetreat.com are all great ways to get your body moving. Yoga can also be experienced on the beach or even on an SUP!
Many beach activities for all and so many beaches to do them at. Walking, swimming, sitting, kayaking, fishing, boating. If you love the beach, you will love it here.
Get out when the sun comes up (5am) when it's cooler! The hours from 11-5 you might find yourself inside working on a project, meeting others for lunch, or taking a siesta!
It gets dark in Coco around 6pm all year round, and you will see many expats reappear after the sun goes down.
Sitting on the beach for sunset, Dinner, drinking and (hopefully again soon), listening and dancing to live music are the main attractions. In 2019 Coco was host to Costa Rica Blues festival and the famous Iron Man triathlon. Events like these will be coming back.
A great Farmers market happens every Wednesday night and Sunday morning at the Garden Bar (popular expat hangout) Great place to buy local art, get fresh veggies and fruit, and see your friends.
You will find the community a little older than the surf towns such as Tamarindo and Jaco due to the waters being too calm here to surf.
Many classes and community groups here also. Learn Spanish, learn how to make Kombucha, learn Reike, meditate and more.
There are so many animals for adoption here also. You can find healthy dogs and cats (usually nurtured, and vaccinated.) If you can’t adopt, these organizations will gladly accept your donation.
In Coco https://www.facebook.com/FourTheLoveofPawsSandraBateman, In Arenal, www.HomelessandHelpless.com
Cost of Living in Playas Del Coco
Beach towns are not the cheapest place to live. Prices are higher here than inland. The cost of housing is higher and you will be spending some money on air conditioning, unless you on a hill with an ocean view that captures the ocean breeze (but you will pay more for these locations)
You can choose how much to spend on where you live and food, so below can be less. Expense (monthly)US Dollars Rent: 2 bedroom 2 bathroom Condo$1000-1500 Utilities$100-150
Groceries$250-350 Entertainment (bar and restaurants)$200-$500 Entertainment (tour and boat excursions)$150-200 Housekeeping (weekly)$40-50 Medical$100-250
Transportation (car, bus or taxi)$100-175 Monthly total$1940-2875
10 Best tourist things to do near Playas Del Coco
(and for locals)
1. Experience the Food
You gotta eat, so you’ll want to sample the full range of culinary options available here.
A traditional Costa Rican breakfast, for example, always includes “gallo pinto” — mixed rice and beans, usually served with eggs, sausage or bacon, fruit, coffee and juice. (“Gallo pinto,” FYI, means “speckled rooster” — a reference to the colors of the mixed rice and beans.)
This is a ”casado” — one of the most varied meals you can find in Costa Rica, and often the lowest-priced item on the menu.
The traditional Costa Rican lunch is called a “casado,” which means “married,” because it’s the kind of full and varied lunch a married man would eat. It consists of rice and beans, your choice of protein (beef, chicken, pork or fish), a salad, fried sweet plantains, and a “picadillo,” which is a mix of chopped vegetables like potatoes or chayote.
Casados tend to be the most popular dishes served at “sodas,” which are small, inexpensive Costa Rica diners..
However, some of the best food in Costa Rica can be found at restaurants that specialize in the cuisines of other countries — Chinese, Italian, Mexican, , Spanish, American and many more. Wherever you end up in Guanacaste, sample the food broadly and you won’t be disappointed.
2. Go out on the water
The Gulf of Papagayo has some amazing sights. You can experience it all on a sailboat, catamaran, a panga, or a kayak. Many boats offer snorkeling and sunset cruises. You also can experience all day adventures. One of the largest and most romantic sailboats is www.Seabirdsailingexcursions.com
3. Enjoy the Beach
When deciding what to do in Costa Rica, most people will naturally think of the beach. There are many ways to enjoy the beaches of Costa rica — not least of all by throwing out a towel and lying down on one, perhaps with a cold drink and/or a book.
Costa Rica is famous for its beaches, so find your own and enjoy.
You’ll also want to venture into the water and get wet, of course, but beware of two things. If the beach has riptides or huge waves, be very cautious about going too deep, and keep a close eye on children. Also, never leave valuables unattended on the beach, or they may have vanished when you return. Near Playas Del Coco, there are great beaches for the family. Playa Hermosa, Playa Penca, Playa Panama, Ocotal Beach are all within 10 kilometers.
Some beaches offer decent snorkeling, though the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots are usually reached by boat.
4. Go Ziplining
Recreational zip lining was invented in Costa Rica, and you’ll find a multiplicity of options almost anywhere in the country. Zip lining is also called “canopy tours” here, because they are almost always built in the canopy of the rainforest.)
If a child this size can do it, so can you. Ziplining is one of the most popular adventures in Costa Rica.
The Arenal, Monteverde, Congo Trail, Diamante, Rincon have great zip lines in the Guanacaste region. Some offer thrilling, face-down “Superman cables,” some have heart-stopping “Tarzan swings,” some have controlled vertical rappelling, and all offer adrenaline-pumping thrills.
Face your fear of heights, step up and fly! Ziplining is one of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica.
5. See a Volcano
Costa Rica was created by volcanic and tectonic activity, and there are many close to Playas Del Coco both active and dormant. Many volcanoes anchor a national park, including Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, and Mira Vales
If possible, you should visit at least one volcano while you’re here. This typically involves hiking — sometimes arduous, sometimes easy. In some places, especially Arenal and Rincón, and Mira Vales, all have magma underground that create hot springs that are open to the public for a relaxing soak and/or a mud bath.
Playas del Coco is famous for sport fishing..
Whether you want to catch a marlin or a tuna, sportfishing tours abound in Costa Rica.
Other common catches include tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper, jack, roosterfish and wahoo. Operators distinguish between deep-sea and in-shore fishing, and catches vary depending on the depth of the ocean.
7. Go on a Wildlife Tour
Costa Rica has only 0.03% of the world’s landmass, yet it’s home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. That means that of every 20 animal species on earth, one of them is native to Costa Rica. It’s one of the most biodiverse places in the world, rivaling the heart of Africa or the jungles of the Amazon.
A guide with a telescope will help you get the most out of your wildlife tour.
A wildlife tour typically involves a guided hike through a national park or some other protected environment, of which there are many. It’s estimated that some 25% of Costa Rica’s territory is protected from development, allowing a plethora of species to thrive in an undisturbed environment.
Some wildlife tours focus on birding, though good guides will often spot mammals, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and unusual insects. Many visitors venture out to explore the trails on their own, and you can certainly do that. But if you hire an experienced guide, you’ll see things that you would miss on your own. Guides often have telescopes to zoom in and to help you take amazing close-up photos, even with a common cell phone. Great hikes are in Rincon, Monte Verde, Mira Vales and La Fortuna Area.
8. Try Whitewater Rafting
Thanks to Costa Rica’s abundant rainfall, and the steep gradients between the mountains and the sea, there are lots of fast, fun, navigable rivers.
Whitewater rafting is a thrilling way to see Costa Rica at its wildest.
Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica, along with variants including tubing, canoeing and kayaking. The best rafting and tubing spots near Coco are located near Canas, Rio Celeste, Rincon and La Fortuna (lake Arenal)
But you can find rafting within a day trip of almost anywhere, and it’s one of the most thrilling ways to have an unforgettable adventure and see parts of the country that you’d never see from a tour bus.
Put on your helmet and life vest, and get ready to paddle, paddle, paddle!
9) Visit a waterfall
There are many waterfalls in Costa Rica, due to the terrain. You do not have to go very far to find one. La Fortuna, Rincon, Llanos de Cortez, Mira Valles are all within a 2 hour drive from Coco. Be prepared to hike, make sure to wear non-slip shoes, and a swimming suit. Bring a towel and plenty of water.
10) Go Diving
Costa Rica diving is one of the top dive spots. Variety ranges for little nudibranchs to massive whales. There are 2 seasons in Costa Rica. One is for big Palagius (giant manta rays and whale sharks), the second is for the magnificent bull shark. Dive shops vary, from the first timers that need certification, to the experienced, there is Padi shop for all. One of the most diverse and largest dive centers is Rich Coast Diving on main street.