Although growing in popularity, the small coastal village of Potrero has retained its very serene and tranquil atmosphere, making it an excellent destination for those looking for a relaxing beach vacation in Costa Rica. If you are thinking about staying in Potrero, here is what you need to know to plan your visit.
Potrero, Costa Rica map
Potrero is in the Guanacaste province, 38 kilometers (23.3 miles) from Liberia International Airport and 244 kilometers (151 miles) from San Jose International Airport.
How to Get to Potrero, Costa Rica
You can easily drive to Potrero from both Liberia and San Jose. From Liberia International Airport, Potrero is about a 1 hour drive going by Route 21, 155 and 180. This route is on a fully paved, main road. We don’t recommend to go by Route 911 because this road is not fully paved and it is curvy and narrow so it’s not a very easy drive for the unfamiliar. There is also a large river when in rainy season does get very large. (The nickname of Route 911 among locals is Monkey Road so if you hear anyone telling you to avoid the Monkey Road, this is the one).
From San Jose, it is about a 4 hour drive. We recommend to take Route 18 and 21 via the Taiwan Friendship Bridge and Nicoya instead of going through Interamerican highway 1 and Liberia because that will require you to go through Route 911. You don’t need a 4×4 for this route either going through Route 18 and 21.
Public Bus and Shuttles
- There is a public bus from San Jose to Potrero, Playa Flamingo, Conchal and Brasilito at 8 AM, 1030 AM and 3 PM everyday. It leaves from Ave 5, Calle 20/22 with Empresa Tralapa. This bus takes 6 hours.
- There is a public bus from Santa Cruz to Potrero at 3:40 AM, 530 AM, 6 AM, 9 AM, 9:50 AM, 11 AM, 12 PM, 230 PM, 5 PM, 640 PM and 730 PM everyday. This bus takes 2 hours.
- There are shared shuttles available to Potrero. Check Interbus, Ride CR or Easy Ride. From San Jose, it is around $59 USD per person.
- A private shuttle from Liberia International Airport to Potrero is $90-130 USD one way depending on number of passengers. From San Jose to Potrero is around $190-230 USD one way depending on number of passengers.
There is a local airport at Tamarindo so you could fly into Tamarindo Airport and take a taxi to Potrero or pick up your rental car there. Tamarindo Airport to Potrero is a 30 minute drive.
Potrero Town and How to Get Around
There isn’t really a downtown or town center in Potrero, mostly everything is off the main road Route 911 parallel the beach. The backroads of Potrero are the local neighborhoods and some businesses here and there. Potrero is right in between the luxury communities of Flamingo and Las Catalinas.
Renting a car is the best way to get around Potrero since things are spread out. You can walk to places in Potrero itself but if you want to go to Flamingo, Brasilito or Las Catalinas, you should rent a car. There aren’t really any Ubers in this area but there are taxis.
Some people rent a golf cart to get around Potrero.
Potrero beach is long with dark sand and waters. The beach lays inside Potrero Bay so the waves don’t get too rough or intense and it is great for swimming, dipping your toes and sunbathing.
Potrero beach is much less crowded and busy than its more popular neighboring beaches of Conchal and Flamingo since those are two white sand beaches. However, Potrero has beautiful sunsets and picturesque coastal views so it’s a nice beach to wind down the day or for a long, undisturbed walk at sunset.
There are many catamarans and fishing boats in the bay as Potrero beach is a popular launch point for cruises and fishing tours.
Things to Do in Potrero, Costa Rica
Scuba Diving: Potrero is very close to the Flamingo marina which is the main launch point for scuba diving tours. From the Flamingo marina, it is only a 30 minute boat ride to the Catalinas Islands where there are whitetip reef sharks, turtles, manta rays and an abundance of marine life.
You don’t have to be certified to scuba dive in Costa Rica as there are dive shops that offer discovery dives for non certified divers.
Sunset Cruise and Snorkeling Tours: Potrero is home to several sailing companies such as Lazy Lizard, Panache and Costa Rica Sailing Center. Go on a sunset cruise to see the beautiful Guanacaste coastlines and sail back under the dreamy sunset. Or go in the morning for better snorkeling conditions.
Fishing: If you like fishing, then a fishing excursion from Flamingo is a must.
Surfing: If you surf, then you can book a surf excursion to the iconic Witch’s Rock (1.5 hour boat ride one way, must be at least intermediate level) or head over to Tamarindo to take a surf lessons for beginners and newbies.
Flamingo market: Enjoy live music, shop and eat at the artisans market on Monday evenings, 530 PM to 830 PM. At the Marie’s Restaurant.
There are many companies that can offer a mix of all these activities. We work with a boating company in Flamingo that offers private tours for snorkeling, fishing and watersports (wakeboard and tubing). For fish and surf, check out Boos Adventures. For scuba diving and snorkeling, check out Pacific Coast Dive Center.
Potrero Day Trips
Diamante Eco Adventure Park: This adventure park just 45 minutes from Potrero offers an ocean view zipline, animal sanctuary, cultural experience and ocean activities. Great place for the family for a full day of fun. Get 10% off with our Diamante discount!)
Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands: This family owned private reserve and sugar cane plantation offers cultural, wildlife and rum tours. It’s an awesome place to learn more about the Guanacaste culture and traditions. They have their own private refuge adjacent to the Palo Verde National Park and offer boat tours down the Tempisque River to see wildlife. Get our Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands discount here!
Rincon de la Vieja National Park: This large national park is home to an active volcano and dry tropical forest. You can hike in the park to waterfalls or the boiling mud pots.
Neighboring Beaches and Beach Towns
Conchal beach: Nearby Potrero is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Conchal. It has sparkly, clear turquoise waters and a white shore made up of shells! Definitely worth spending a whole day at this beach. 15 minute drive to Brasilito, then 15 minute walk to Conchal.
Playa Grande: If you want to watch some epic surfing, head to Playa Grande (40 minutes). This beach is popular among short boarders and is super fun to watch all the local surfers. You can walk all the way down the beach to Playa Ventanas and get a very good tan!
Flamingo: Flamingo is literally right next to Potrero and the crescent shaped beach is beautiful with white sand. The town itself is cute too with beachfront restaurants.
Playa Prieta: A small “unknown” beach that is popular with locals who like to skimboard. 10 minute drive.
Playa Penca: Another local beach with low key vibes and beautiful sunsets. 5 minute drive.
Tamarindo: The most popular and developed beach town in the area. It’s a surfing town so great for surfing, boogie boarding, nightlife, bars and sunset.
Potrero, Costa Rica Weather
Being in the Guanacaste province, Potrero has great weather with nearly year round sunshine. Temperatures don’t vary greatly in Costa Rica and same goes for Potrero. Dry season, which is roughly December through April is around 90-95 F (34-35 C) during the day and 80 F (26 C) at night. March and April are the hottest months and it can be nearly 100 F (38 C) for weeks. It is extremely dry during these months.
In rainy season, which is roughly May through November, temperatures don’t change much. The days are around 90 F (32 C) and nights are around 74 F (24 C) but it does get considerably more humid. A typical rainy season day is cloudy but dry in the morning and off and on showers in the afternoon and nights. October is generally the rainiest month.
There are a lot of good restaurants in Potrero and Flamingo.
- Surf Box: One of our favorite places to eat lunch in Guanacaste. They have an awesome chicken sandwich (pictured) and breakfast.
- Shogun Asian Fusion: Pretty decent place for Asian fusion with basic Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes. Sushi is pretty good.
- Cerveceria Independiente: Brewery in Potrero with good craft beer, pizza, sliders and other bar food. Fun atmosphere, nice location right off the main road.
- The Shack: Good place for typical American food like wings, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc. Also have live music.
- Soda Marcell: One of the best restaurants for traditional Costa Rican food.
- Carpe Diem Cafe: Nice cafe on Playa Penca for breakfast, cakes, donuts and coffee.
- Las Brisas: Great beach bar with cocktails, smoothies and beer.
- El Tiki: Yummy smoothies and breakfast
- The Beach House: Nice beachside restaurant for sunset happy hour drinks. Seafood and Costa Rican food.
- Restaurante Pleamar: Another beachside restaurant with good seafood, Costa Rican food and happy hour.
Hotel Bahia del Sol: A nice beachfront hotel with a pool, restaurant and gardens. Good for families and older travelers. You can read our Hotel Bahia del Sol review here.
Libelula Lounge: Boutique hotel with glamping tents in a quiet part of town. Also has a nice lounge and they host many events.
Fat Daddy’s Cabinas: Small property with a couple cabinas and apartment with private parking. Also has a grill restaurant. Walking distance to the beach right off the main road. Check rates here.
There are more vacation rentals in Potrero than hotels and you can find condos, apartments and houses in town. Check Airbnb, Surfside Property Management and VRBO.
Visiting Potrero, Costa Rica
You can stay in Potrero and use it as your home base for your Costa Rica vacation. Many people choose this option and either rent a car or book tours for day trips. Likewise, you can also stay in Potrero for a few nights for your time in Guanacaste.
We recommend Potrero for anyone who wants a quieter, more chill beach vacation in Guanacaste, especially families. It’s also ideal for those more on a budget as it’s cheaper than Flamingo, Tamarindo and Conchal but you can still enjoy the entire area. We also recommend to check out Brasilito for a similar vibe to Potrero.
Potrero may not be ideal for solo travelers as it is a bit hard to meet other travelers due to lack of hostels, nightlife and a city center. For young backpackers or solo travelers, Tamarindo would be a better option with more nightlife and hostels. Otherwise, for older couples and families, Potrero is an excellent choice.
Potrero has a couple of small supermarkets such as Super Ceymi, Merkdo and Super Massai Grocery. For a full size supermarket, you can drive to Mega Super, Maxi Pali or Auto Mercado on the way to Tamarindo.
Read About Other Beach Towns Below!
Uvita, Costa Rica: Small coastal town in the South Pacific, famous for the Marino Ballena National Park and humpback whale watching
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: Surf and yoga coastal village in the Nicoya Peninsula.
Samara: Family friendly surf beach town in South Guanacaste