One of the most famous beaches on the Caribbean side
Visiting Playa Cocles
Playa Cocles is a spectacular surf beach located just south of Puerto Viejo on Costa Rica’s stunning Caribbean coast. It’s a long, beautiful beach with waves appreciated by both novice and advanced surfers. Cocles is a great place for a peaceful day away from crowds of tourists. The small beach town doesn’t have many amenities or places to stay, but you can find a restaurant for a traditional lunch and tourist amenities nearby in Puerto Viejo. Chances are your hotel in Puerto Viejo includes bike or scooter rental, which allows easy access to Playa Cocles. Immerse yourself in small-town culture, ride the waves and enjoy a quiet picnic on the beach!
With a series of beach breaks and shallow sandbar, the best time for surfing in this area is either first thing in the morning or at mid-high tide. However, waves are pretty consistent most of the day. So if you miss a peak period, you will still have a very good time! This sandy bottom beach offers great opportunities to perfect your skills and experience some of the best of Costa Rica’s legendary surf community!
Cahuita National Park is free for visitors and is home to one of the best coral reefs in Costa Rica. It’s a great place for snorkeling, hiking and eating some traditional rice and beans.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
Visit the Gandoca Wildlife Refuge, which protects endangered Caribbean species. The water is great for swimming and snorkeling. You can also explore the nearby mangroves and swamps on a kayak. It’s a great spot for ecotourism!
Cultural excursions to the local indigenous BriBri community or the Talamanca Indian Reserve are also an option. Spend the day how the indigenous tribes live off of the land, use the cocao plant for medicine, food and traditions, and survive in relative isolation from the rest of the world.
Visit Nearby Beaches
Most of the best Caribbean beaches are within minutes of each other, either driving or biking. Nearby beaches include Playa Negra, Punta Uva,Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo and Cahuita. Make sure you keep your eyes for monkeys, sloths and iguanas hanging out in the trees!
Visit February-March, September-October:
The Caribbean side of Costa Rica is beautiful all year long. However the “dry season” is February-March and September-October.
Bring Plenty of Sunscreen:
The sun on Playa Cocles is strong! Make sure to layer on the sunscreen and drink lots of water
Watch for Wildlife:
One of the best parts of the Caribbean coast is the abundant wildlife. Keep your eyes out for sleeping sloths and hyper monkeys. Make sure to drive carefully, a lot of animals are seen crossing the road. Remember that sloths move very slowly and are difficult to see.
Getting to Playa Cocles from San Jose, Costa Rica takes just over 4 hours, depending on traffic. You can get there by private transfer, shared shuttle or rental car. You can also take a domestic flight to Limon, the capital of the Limon Province, and drive or take the bus from there. If you are going to rent a car, make sure you read about driving in Costa Rica.
On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, you’ll not only find the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto and casados but a famous dish called “rice and beans”. Rice and beans is a Caribbean dish that heavily features coconut in both the rice and meat. There aren’t many restaurants in Playa Cocles, but in Puerto Viejo you can find traditional rice and beans, fresh seafood, Mediterranean and even barbecue. Try the El Refugio Grill for barbecue, Como en la Gloira for Mediterranean and Spanish food, and El Purgatorio for North American and Costa Rica food.
Where to Stay
The Caribbean coast is famous for being laid-back, and you’ll see that reflected in the hotels. There are many bungalows and small hotels that offer bike rental, hammocks, and an overall jungle feel. The Cariblue Bungalows are located right on Playa Cocles and is a great spot for surfers. Guests can enjoy the pool, the lush rainforests and relax just steps away from the sea. The Azania Bungalows offer pool and jacuzzi, and onsite restaurant. The Hotel Escape Caribeño is a small beach resort near Salsa Bravo beach. You’ll enjoy individual bungalows and peaceful gardens full of hammocks and bright tropical flowers.