A note from the executive editor: Costa Rica Travel Blog 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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 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.
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.
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
- 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 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.
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…]
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