One of the greatest things about visiting Playas del Coco is that you’re close to many attractions. Not only are there a several beautiful beaches nearby but you can plan out your whole trip doing something different every day.
You can go from island to forest or beach to volcano in a matter of hours! It’s an excellent home base to explore Guanacaste and there are many day trips from Playas del Coco to choose from.
If you’re looking for some things to do from Coco, here are our favorite day trips from Playas del Coco. Additionally, if you would like to book day trips, we have a small discount for Guanacaste day tours!
Day Trips from Playas del Coco Map
Click here to go our interactive map of all attractions listed below.
Catarata Llanos de Cortes
Llanos de Cortes is one of our favorite waterfalls in the country and we always bring our friends and family here. It’s a big waterfall with multiple cascades and a large pool to swim in. It’s a bit hidden in the forest, in fact you can drive right by it on the InterAmerica highway and never know it’s there which is why we like to call it our little oasis. It makes for a wonderful day trip especially in the heat!
It’s about a hour drive from Coco and you can read our Catarata Llanos de Cortes guide.
Plan your visit: We like to go to this waterfall in the morning, spend a few hours, have lunch in Liberia and then go to Diamante Eco Adventure Park for ziplining in the afternoon. Or hike the short boiling mud pots trail at Rincon de la Vieja National Park in the morning and then go to this waterfall in the afternoon.
Guachipelin Adventure Combo Tour
If you’re looking for adventure and excitement, you have to do a combo adventure tour. It’s one of the best day trips from Playas del Coco. There are several parks about an hour and drive from Playas del Coco Coco that you can choose from. Each one has slightly different activities and they are all incredibly fun!
Guachipelin combo tour consists of a canopy tour, white water tubing, horseback riding, waterfalls, and a separate hot spring and mud baths. Read more about it here. This one is our favorite!
Buena Vista combo tour has a canopy tour, waterslide, horseback riding, waterfall, hanging bridges and their own hot spring and mud baths. You can read more about it in this post.
Borinquen is located on a hotel and they have their own canopy, hiking trails, spa, mud baths, hot springs, and waterfall. Find out more about Borinquen on Day 2 in this article.
There is also Rio Perdido that offer similar activities. We did the river tubing and hot springs at Rio Perdido and it was really fun. The hot springs and pools were amazing.
Rainforest Sloth Tour
Want to see the tropical rainforest and sloths in the wild? Then this day trip is perfect for you! You’ll walk through a private reserve with primary rainforest and then go to a second reserve to find sloths.
You can read our article on this Guanacaste rainforest sloth tour and watch our video of it below! Only a 2 hour drive one way from Coco.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
If you like to hike, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is an excellent place for hiking. The Las Pailas sector (1 hour and 20 minute drive) has several trails of various levels, perfect for a nice day of hiking to see beautiful scenery.
For an easy hike, you can do the boiling mud pots hike (less than 1 mile) which is all flat and goes around the mud pots. You can see the steaming mud pots bubbling and boiling and smell the sulfur from the active volcano.
For a longer hike, we highly recommend the Catarata La Cangreja trail. It is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) each way, going through the tropical dry forest and ending at a gorgeous waterfall!
That waterfall hike is one of our favorites in Costa Rica.
If you want something more adventurous and off the beaten path, check out the Catarata La Leona waterfall in Curubande. It’s very close to Rincon de la Vieja National Park but is a more local, not as well known park.
There are a few different places you can beach hop from Coco. This is why we recommend to rent a car in Guanacaste (Playas del Coco) because public transportation is not good if you want to explore. There are SO many gorgeous, non touristy, under the radar hidden beaches that you can find only by car. Remember, it is also best to rent a 4×4 in rainy season if you plan to explore!
Closest to Coco: Playa Ocotal, Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama. These beaches are just a 5-15 minute drive away.
“Hidden beaches” (must have 4×4 car): Playa Cabuyal, Playa Iguanita, Playa Penca, Playa Bonita
1 hour drive away: Playa Conchal, Playa Brasilito, Playa Grande, Playa Flamingo, Playa Avellanas.
Read about the best beaches in Guanacaste here.
If you’re interested in taking a surf class, head to Tamarindo, the best beach for beginners and first timers. It’s a 1 hour drive south and you will also get to experience another popular beach town in Costa Rica.
There are lots of surf shops in Tamarindo for surf classes like Iguana Surf, Witch’s Rock, Neptuno and Mateo’s. If you have more than 3 people, I’d get a private class so you can have more personal attention. Super fun for the whole family!
You can also spend the rest of the day in Tamarindo exploring another beach town.
Now if you’re an intermediate to advanced surfer, you will definitely want to take a trip to Witch’s Rock. This iconic surf spot in Costa Rica is an absolute MUST for any surf fanatic!
This spot is inside Santa Rosa National Park and is about a 45 minute boat ride one way from Playas del Coco. There are several companies who run surf trips to Witch’s Rock (please contact us if you’d like a quote).
Rio Celeste (Tenorio Volcano National Park
One of the most magical places in Costa Rica is right at the Guanacaste/Alajuela border, Rio Celeste. It is a sky blue river inside the Tenorio Volcano National Park and visitors can hike through the park to see the waterfall and blue river.
It’s only about a 2 hour drive from Playas del Coco and it’s one of the must visit places in Costa Rica. You can hike the park on your own if you have a car or you need to book a tour if you don’t have transportation. Tours are around $140-150 USD per person, minimum 2-3 people. You can read our guide to Rio Celeste here.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
If you want to see turtles in Costa Rica, head to Ostional Wildlife Refuge about a two hour drive from Playas del Coco. This is one of the most important locations in the world for Olive Ridley sea turtles since hundreds of thousands of mothers come to this area to lay their eggs.
The best time to see turtles is during green season on an arribada, the period of time where majority of mothers come to shore. If you go during an arribada, you can see thousands of turtles crawling onto shore, digging holes and laying eggs.
You can also see baby turtles hatching and crawling out to sea. The big arribadas are generally from July – December in Ostional.
Due to the pandemic, you must have reservations and go with a guide to enter the refuge. Please contact the Ostional Guide Association via their Facebook page to make reservations. You can also book with a certified tour company who can make the reservations for you and provide the guide.
Tip: It is highly recommended to have a 4×4/4wd to visit Ostional from Coco due to road conditions.
Read more about Ostional Wildlife Refuge here.
Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde National Park is one of the most important parks in the country since it contains an endangered ecosystem in Central America, the tropical dry forest. This forest is home to thousands of birds and other wildlife. Take a boat ride down the Rio Tempisque to see crocodiles, birds, iguanas, frogs and monkeys and the 15 different kinds of habitats.
It’s about an hour and a half drive from Playas del Coco. You can read more about Palo Verde National Park here.
Tours: There are no boat tours offered or guides for hire right at the park. You will need to arrange an excursion with a tour company that includes transportation. If you have your own car, you can arrange to meet the tour company at the park. You can read details in the link above or contact us to help you arrange the boat tour.
Hacienda El Viejo
If you want to add more activities or want a more intimate/exclusive experience, head to Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands. They offer boat rides down the same Tempisque River in their own private wildlife refuge that borders the Palo Verde National Park, a cultural tour and a rum tour. That way, you can have a full day of nature, culture and wildlife.
Highly recommended if you have a rental car and want to experience more of Guanacaste! We offer a small discount for Hacienda El Viejo which you can get in that link.
Diamante Adventure Park
Want some adventure for your trip? Go ziplining! Diamante Eco Adventure Park (get 10% off in the link) is only a 30 minute drive from Playas del Coco and it has one of the best canopy tours in Costa Rica, including a 1+ kilometer superman zipline with an ocean view!
When you finish the zipline, you end up in the animal sanctuary where you can see jaguars, sloths, toucans and many more animals. Walk through the botanical garden back up to the main station for beautiful views of the Guanacaste coast.
Now they have a cultural experience where you can watch a short presentation of Costa Rican coffee, sugar cane and chocolate. This is definitely one of the best day trips from Playas del Coco and you don’t have to drive far to have a ton of fun!
This is also one of the best things to do at the Riu Guanacaste Hotel since it is literally right next to it.
Our personal favorite excursion from Playas del Coco is a private boat trip in the Gulf of Papagayo. We always arrange a tour with our visiting friends and family because it’s truly the best way to experience the stunning Gulf of Papagayo. We get to snorkel, visit hidden white sand beaches and see marine wildlife like dolphins, turtles, rays and humpback whales.
We recommend a private boating tour because you will have the boat just for your group, you make your own schedule and have a much more personal, exclusive experience. The open sailing tours are nice as well but they only go to one beach and you share the boat with anywhere from 20-70 other people!
If you’re interested in a private boat trip, we recommend going with our friend Marcy. He owns his own boating company and can take you on boating, surfing, fishing, snorkeling and beach hopping to the best spots that other sailing companies don’t go. Click here to read more about boating in Playas del Coco and request a quote!
If you are a scuba diver, the scuba diving in this part of the country is excellent. You can go out on a boat to Monkey Head, Tortuga Islands and the Bat Islands to dive with hammerhead sharks and huge manta rays. There are several dive shops in Coco such as Rich Coast Diving, Summer Salt, Rocket Frog and Deep Blue Dive.
Arenal and Monteverde are two very popular and beautiful destinations in Costa Rica. Although they are both about a 4 hour drive one way from Coco, it makes for a really fun day trip, especially if you don’t ever plan to return to Costa Rica. At Arenal, you will experience the rainforest and volcano. At Monteverde, you will experience the cloud forest.
You can go on your own or go with a tour company who will handle transportation for you if you don’t want to drive. They’ll arrange all the activities with you before hand so you’ll make the most of your day there. A day trip from Coco costs around $170 USD per person for both depending on the activities. A tour is the most convenient way as you don’t need to plan anything or worry about driving.
I actually recommend spending a couple nights in both areas if possible but if not, a day trip gives you a wonderful taste of the many different natural landmarks, ecosystems and micro-climates that exist in Costa Rica.
Arenal 1 day tours normally include breakfast, a short hike to see the volcano, lunch and hot springs. Monteverde 1 day tours normally include breakfast, a walk through the cloud forest, coffee tour and lunch. But you can customize your tour if you want different activities.
Playas del Coco is actually just a 2.5 hour drive away from the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. So if you have an open day, you should take advantage and do a 1 day Nicaragua tour. Not only is it that close to Coco but Nicaragua is a beautiful country drastically different from Costa Rica. It’ll be a great way to experience the country, especially if you don’t ever plan to make a dedicated trip there.
The Nicaragua one day tour goes to Managua, Masaya, Granada, Lake Apoyo, Lake Nicaragua and hit all the major spots. Roundtrip transportation from Playas del Coco, breakfast and lunch are included.
We offer a $10 USD discount on the Nicaragua one day tour discount which you can get here.
White Water Rafting
About a 1.5 hour drive from Playas del Coco is the Tenorio River where you can go white water rafting through Class 2, 3 and 4 rapids. It’s an exhilarating day out in the rainforest and you’ll get to experience one of the best outdoor adventures in Costa Rica!
Where to stay in Playas del Coco
- Budget: Hotel M&M. They’re on the beach with a hostel-like atmosphere. They don’t have AC but it’s a good place for a short stay. If you want AC and nicer rooms, stay at Toro Blanco which is right behind and only a little bit more expensive. Also an excellent option for families as their rooms have a sitting area, pool and a kitchen.
- Luxury: Villa Buena Onda. It’s up in the hills so you get an amazing view of all of Coco. It’s adult only so perfect for honeymooners and couple getaways.
- Mid range: Hotel Puerto del Sol. This hotel is very close to the beach and town. It is renovated and has a pool, restaurant and fairly spacious rooms.
Hopefully this list gave you some ideas of the amazing day trips from Playas del Coco. These are also great day trips from the Hotel Riu Guanacaste which is about 30 minutes from Coco. If you need recommendations for tour companies, please contact us.
Read About Other Things to do in Costa Rica!
Dominical and Uvita Things to Do
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Debbie Carlston says
Thank you! I really appreciate all of the information you share.
Hello thank you so much for this information it is very helpful! Do you know if there is mountain biking near coco, and if so are there bike rentals? We are considering bringing our two year old. What would be the best activities for young children? Thank you for your time!
There are bike rentals but they’re like banana bikes. For mountain biking, you will need to drive a little bit like 1.5 hours, up in the Rincon de la Vieja area there is some great mountain biking and you can visit Hacienda Guachipelin or Rio Perdido, they offer bike rentals and biking tours.
Hello! Can you recommend a tour company to take us on a day trip to Arenal from Playas del Coco?
Hello Angela, yes can you please fill out the form on this page here and we’ll get back to you: https://mytanfeet.com/contact-us/
Valery Mora says
Hola, gracias por tanta información importante. Voy con mi familia y mis perritas al Hotel Coco Beach, quisiera saber, si sabes si los tours están disponibles para ir con mascotas? entiendo que a los Parques Nacionales no los permiten.
Tiene que consultar con la compania porque no todos los tours y lugares permiten mascotas.
Thank you for your wealth of information. Where would you say is the closest place to see some cute wild monkeys from Playa del Coco?
Ocotal sometimes has howler monkeys right in the trees on the beach
Deborah and Steve Burke says
First off, I love all the information you have out there. I am planning a trip with my family of 4(2 adults one 20 year old & one 17 year old) we are airbnbing and are trying to decide between a condo or a house. And between the following areas:
Playa Langosta, Tamarindo town center, Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero, Ocotal Beach, Playa Coco, and Playa Hermosa. Which would you suggest best location. We plan on a day of fishing, surfing, tour inland to waterfalls,canopy, animals,etc, horseback riding, we are not fancy with food like to keep it simple.
What would be your top 3 choices? Or ones you would say don’t go. We would prefer to not rent a car if we can to save some money but not sure.
Hi Deborah, you can read our posts on the destinations below:
Tamarindo Costa Rica
Langosta, Costa Rica
Flamingo beach Costa Rica Ocotal, Costa Rica
Playas del Coco guide
I don’t have a post yet for Potrero but it is a small, quiet beach next to Flamingo and on the way to the Las Catalinas.
It really depends on what you want because all those places are good home bases for the things you want to do. Some beaches are nicer than others, Tamarindo is a busy surf town, Flamingo and Langosta is an upscale luxury community, so all of them are different and it depends on your budget, what you want, what the beaches are like, etc.
If you don’t rent a car, I’d stick to either Tamarindo or Coco town so you can walk to restaurants and be close to everything. All the other ones don’t really have a town so you will be stuck and will need to taxi around to do shopping, supermarkets, etc.
Hello. Is there a sloth refuge around this area and second question is there a excursion that takes you to the Caribbean side…a day trip from Coco area?
Hi Amanda, there is an animal sanctuary at Diamante Eco Adventure Park which is about a 25 minute drive from Coco. The Caribbean side is very far (9 hours driving one way) from Coco so there is no day trip.
Do you have a preferred tour company to go from Coco to arenal for a day trip?
Hi Sarah, I just sent you an email!
Would there be any hikes VERY close by to playas del coco?
Hi Stephanie, not really. You could walk from Coco to Ocotal or Coco to Hermosa via Penca hill or Coco to Playa Penca but those are all on roads. You could also walk from Coco to Vista Marina hill for a nice view (but all on a road). You’ll get a good sweat from those though!
Julie Bosch says
We’re staying in Hotel Riu Guanacaste, arriving this Friday staying through next week. Our neighbors went a few weeks ago and said that you can just go down to the beach from the hotel, and there’s plenty of locals who will take you on excursions. Since its spring break (for some places), is it going to be hard to get going on excursions. Also, how hard is it to get to other beaches from our hotel? Like Coco, Flamingo,etc? We want to do a couple of excursions, but then maybe spend a day going to different beaches checking them out. My daughter would love to ride a beach cruiser around a beach town. I’ve tried to research all of this, but I’m wondering what your thoughts are
Hi Julie, it will be pretty busy for the time you’re here, I do recommend booking tours before just in case but the RIU has a tour desk so you can book right at the hotel. They have a bus to Playas del Coco which is around 40 minutes. Flamingo is about 1.5 hours south so you will need to rent a car or book transportation. The Riu is kind of far away but they do have a tour desk and can arrange transportation if you want to go visit other beaches or towns.
I wanted to get prices with Marcy to go snorkeling. Who do I contact? Also we are thinking about renting a car but would prefer to just find a driver who could take us to some of these amazing spots do you know someone who would do that?
Hi Alison, you can email us at mytanfeet.com/contact-us and please include the number of people, type of tour (full or half day), your date of tour and pick up location so I can give you a quote.
You can book tours to many of the places like RIncon de la Vieja, Nicaragua, Tamarindo so that way you can also have a guide with certain meals included. IF you hire a driver, they aren’t a guide and many times don’t speak a lot of English and it’s always more interesting to have a guide who can share information. You can also include in the email if you’d like recommendations for tour companies out of Coco.
The Yaris will be fine for most of the trips, except the roads in Rincon de la Vieja National Park and Palo Verde aren’t paved. Those ones aren’t too bad, it’s gravely and it will be bumpy but you can make it. I will say though we went in a Yaris to Rincon and it was incredibly bumpy for about 40 minutes. However, for Llanos waterfall the road isn’t gravel but you’ll need to be extremely careful on that road because it has a lot of mini hills and huge pot holes. Then the road to Ostional Wildlife Refuge is not recommended in a sedan, you need to cross a couple rivers and the road is pretty bumpy. We drove our sedan and broke our license plate, scruffed up our bumper and got some water in the hood when we crossed the river. The river might not be as bad now since it is currently the middle of dry season but I can’t say for sure. You can do all of them without a guide except for Ostional – to see the tours it is best to go with a guide because they know when the turtles come. It’s not wise to just show up at the beach because you most likely won’t see any turtles, especially as it isn’t turtle season right now.
You can see what Guanacaste to Arenal roads are like in this post: Driving Guanacaste to Arenal
and we have a whole section dedicated to the kind of car for certain routes in our tips for renting a car post:Costa Rica car rental tips
Also we have an exclusive 10% and more discount for car rentals including a free 2nd driver and cell phone for our readers you can check out: Costa Rica car rental discount
I enjoyed your website! We are in Playa del Coco and plan to rent a car fro the last week here. Is a small car (Yaris) suitable for most of the trips you describe? We wouldn’t go to Monteverde, but we were hoping a little car is adequate for the rest. Are most tours available at the various destinations without beforehand planning with a guide? Thanks..