Copo, in Spanish means “flake” and on nearly every beach in Costa Rica you can find vendors selling a Costa Rican copo, a shaved ice treat. I think nearly every tropical place on the beach has some version of shaved ice since it’s so hot and sells incredibly well.
I’m a huge fan of Hawaiian shaved ice, with the azuki bean paste and the condensed milk on top (drool) and the Costa Rican shaved ice is similar. It is shaved ice, powdered milk, syrup and condensed milk. Yum!
One of my favorite places to get one is at Playa Panama because it was the first time I ever enjoyed one with my family. In Playas del Coco, you can find a vendor every 50 meters on the boardwalk next to the park and each vendor makes their copo slightly different.
The Costa Rican Copo
One woman puts fruit on top, another puts a straw cookie and a marshmallow for the kids and they have different flavors for the syrup. Kola is the most popular one (the red one) but they also have coco cola, root beer and more.
Another version of the copo is the churchill which was created and made famous in Puntarenas. It is the same concept as a copo except even more intense. It’s ice cream, syrup, powdered milk and condensed milk topped with some straw cookies.
And if that isn’t enough sugar for you, they give you an extra cup of condensed milk to pour on top!
All the vendors have been in business for years and always have a smile on their face. It’s a delicious and refreshing treat for a hot day at the beach and cheap too, only 1000 colones ($2).
We asked one of the vendors at Playa Panama to demonstrate how to make a traditional Costa Rican copo which you can see here. This guy has been making copos on the beach for years!
So it’s not the healthiest thing but it’s a traditional Costa Rican street food/dessert. On those hot days at the beach they’re a great way to cool down!
Learn more about the food and drink of Costa Rica.