Best Playa del Coco Snorkeling

The 6th most popular snorkel dive spot in Costa Rica.

  Tamarindo, Costa Rica


  June 28, 2016

Southwest of Liberia and Playa Hermosa, the snorkeling off Playa del Coco (aka Coco Beach) is very popular for its white tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays and sea turtles. The best snorkeling at Playa del Coco is off the rocks at the south end of Coco before Playa Ocotal.

Keep in mind that overall snorkeling is not very common or generally too rewarding off Costa Rican coastlines. The heavy rain runoff and plantation drainage tend to reduce visibility significantly. To reach the snorkeling in Costa Rica by air, you can fly into either Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) on the west side of San Jose or Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) near Liberia. If you are going to stay in one resort and do little traveling, it is highly recommended to use the resort shuttle bus or a private shuttle bus to avoid driving yourself (this tip will save your vacation). Otherwise, make sure to read the extensive notes below about driving in Costa Rica. When leaving Costa Rica, there is a $29USD cash departure tax per person. It may now be included in your airline ticket, but you will want to confirm since the lines could be quite long. Here are some basic notes on driving in Costa Rica for the tourist. There is a myth about the quality of the roads and of VW bus sized pot-holes. This may have been true years ago, but on the main routes, this is no longer true. With that said, there are still numerous challenges for first time drivers in Costa Rica. First, do not expect much out of so-call “highways”, like the InterAmerican Highway. The fancy name makes the uninitiated think this is a major 4 lane divided, restricted access road. Well, yes, about 1% is. The rest is two lane (marginally), undivided, rural roads with tons of traffic constantly stopping, turning, passing or driving slowly. Like every other road in the country, you can expect to see on the road numerous unexpected cows, cyclists, pedestrians, bus stops, school crossing zones, dogs, mud slides, police check points, unannounced one-lane bridges, missing manhole covers, and, of course, a never ending stream of semi-trucks driving erratically fast. What you do not find on any roads is much signage. There are infrequent signs indicating the distance to the next town, and even more infrequent are road names or numbers (if at all), including even within major towns. To make matters worse, signs that used to exist are disappearing due to deterioration or theft. Also, do not expect drivers to use their head lights, even in a heavy rain shower, unless it is really dark. This makes passing in rain a game of roulette since you can't see the oncoming traffic. Speaking of dark, do not drive at night since the roads in some areas can be ruled by those under the influence of alcohol. When picking up a rental car, make sure to check all the tires for wear, check the spare tire pressure, check the tire jack, and make sure to test the lock on the spare tire. It would be wise to quickly purchase a can of Fix-A-Flat. A GPS unit can be helpful when navigating roads, however, the maps in Costa Rica were created using a special map datum. This datum is not usually available on GPS units but the road base maps were created with it. Therefore if you use the default WGS84 datum with a base road map on the GPS unit, you will always show a position being about 0.5 miles to the north of the road base map. If you have to drive through San Jose, make sure to do it at dawn to avoid the horrendous traffic all day long, including weekends. Keep in mind several maps show highways passing through San Jose. This is not true. They end abruptly on the outskirts of town and you have to slug it out in a crazy stop-and-go traffic and many unmarked turns to get to the other side all day long. There are unsigned so-called by-pass routes around San Jose, but finding them can be a challenging game of trial-and-error, and they are only marginally better. If you have to drive on the Nicoya Peninsula, you can expect to find generally better roads with better signage. However, there are numerous unmarked eroded road sides, especially over stream culverts. Do not drive at night. Watch out for the iguanas sprinting across the road.

Overall, Playa del Coco is the 6th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 21 snorkeling dives in Costa Rica. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Playa del Coco including Playa Conchal, Playa Hermosa, Meros, Tamarindo, Punta Gorda and Islas Catalinas.

Local Contacts:  Costa Rican Tourism (866) 267-8274; Deep Blue Diving (506) 2670-1004.

Best Season:  May-Dec

Base Camp:  Hotel El Velero, Playa Hermosa (506) 2672-1017

Luxury Loding:  Grand Papagayo Hotel (adults-only); Hilton Papagayo

Breakfast Restaurant:  Las Olas Beachfront Restaurant, Playa Hermosa

Reference Source:  click here

GPS:  10.552474, -85.706577

Date Published:  1/3/2012

Date Updated:  6/28/2016

ID:  23059

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