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8 Best Day trips from Playas del Coco

Nestled along Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, Playas del Coco is not just a tranquil beach town with the countries best diving and snorkeling spots. The town is also a gateway to a multitude of unforgettable day trips. Whether you're seeking adventure, culture, beautiful beaches or wildlife and waterfalls, the province of Guanacaste offers a diverse range of experiences within easy reach from Playas del Coco. This is your guide to exploring the best day trips from Playas del Coco. We listed our 8 personal favorites that are all within a 2 hour drive. We do not receive commission for any of our recommendations in this blog. As locals we just loving going to these places and taking our friends and family for a great day out !

Top 10 best day trips:

Planning Your Excursions

When planning day trips from Playas del Coco, consider renting a car to maximize flexibility and independence. In the low seasons there are great deals on car rental and alternatively we offer guided tours. Available for many destinations, have a look at the guided full and half day trips we offer HERE.

Be sure to pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable walking shoes, especially for hikes and outdoor activities. Most importantly, embrace the pura vida lifestyle—relax, take your time, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Guanacaste.

If you are planning to visit in the months November to April then you can expect warm sunny weather. May to October is the rainy season and you can expect rain so be sure to pack a rain coat for your trip especially when traveling to the forest or national parks.

1. Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja National Park, where the active Rincon de la Vieja volcano resides, boasts numerous hiking trails that lead to stunning viewpoints, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and other natural wonders within the dry tropical forest. It's undeniable that this park provides some of the finest hiking experiences in Costa Rica and for a good reason one of our favorite day trips from Playas del Coco.

Ant eater in Rincon de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja National Park is divided into two sectors: Santa Maria and Pailas.

Opening hours: Las Pailas sector are 8 AM to 3 PM, Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). For visitors planning to hike to La Cangreja or Escondida waterfall in the Las Pailas sector, entry must be before 12 PM. After 12 PM, access is only permitted for the boiling mud pots trail.

Rincon de la Vieja

The Santa Maria sector is open Thursday to Monday from 8 AM to 3:30 PM.

Location: 60 km or 1 hour 30 minutes from Playas del Coco.

Cost: 17 USD for adult foreigners and $6 USD for children aged 2-12. The fee is the same for both sectors, and only credit cards are accepted—no cash.

Most tourists prefer visiting the Las Pailas sector of Rincon de la Vieja National Park due to its easier accessibility and better facilities. Adjacent to the park office, there is a small convenience store where visitors can purchase snacks, bottled water, and drinks, and also use restroom facilities.

The park offers a wide range of activities that will keep you occupied for the day. There are plenty of hiking trails, mud pools, waterfalls (Cangreja and Oropendola Waterfall), hanging bridges and more. Hiking trails are easily accessible, well maintained for all experience levels. If you are looking for a combination of activities then check the website of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.

2. Llanos de Cortez Waterfalls (Catarata)

Located outside Liberia just over an hour from Playas del Coco this stunning waterfall makes for a perfect afternoon escape. Or combine it with another activity in the area like National Park Palo Verde. Follow the Google Maps directions below to the entrance and parking lot. From the parking area it is an easy 2 min walk down to the waterfall. You can swim and relax at beach of the waterfall. There are guards on duty but always keep an eye on you personal belongings. On the opposite side of the waterfall there is a path that leads to the top of the waterfall giving you a great overview of the area. Young local men might ask you for money to acces the trail but not that acces is already included with the entrance fee so kindly decline their re

Opening hours: Daily from 8.00 - 16.00

Location: 60 km or 1 hour from Playas del Coco.

Cost: $7 USD entry fee (Adults), $4 USD for kids

3. Palo Verde National Park

We love visiting Palo Verde with our family and friends, for it is a truly fun and unique experience. Our favorite options are a day trip to Hacienda el Viejo or overnight trip to Rancho Humo Estancia. Both are located close to Palo Verde. If you are shorter on time we recommend the day trip to Hacienda el Viejo that includes:

  • River cruise

  • Brewery experience

  • Cultural experience

  • Lunch

Book you trip directly on their website or contact reservations on WhatsApp.

If you want to get the full experience we highly recommend to add a night at Rancho Humo Estancia (located on the south side of the park). Both are great options and the staff will make sure you have a great experience.

When to visit Palo Verde National Park

The optimal time to visit Palo Verde National Park is during the summer months from December to April (Dry Season). This period coincides with the migration of numerous bird species to Costa Rica, offering excellent opportunities for birdwatching. If you visit after May, while you may not see as many migratory birds, you have the chance to observe baby reptiles.

Palo Verde Wetlands

Opening hours: Daily from 8.00 - 17.00

Location: 80 km or just under 2 hours, from Playas del Coco.

How to get there: 

Option 1 (Hacienda el Viejo)

Option 2 (Rancho Humo Estancia):

Cost: visit website for current prices and offerings.

Palo Verde National Park is a crucial area in Costa Rica, covering more than 45,000 acres (18,210 hectares) within the Tempisque Conservation Area. This protected zone plays a vital role in preserving one of Central America's most endangered ecosystems, the tropical dry forest.

White bird in Palo Verde

Within Palo Verde, there are 15 distinct habitats ranging from mangroves to swamps, providing year-round homes for thousands of animals. During the rainy season, the Tempisque River floods, creating ideal conditions for wildlife to thrive during the winter months.

Large lizards in Palo Verde

For wildlife enthusiasts visiting Guanacaste, the Palo Verde National Park boat tour along the Tempisque River offers an exceptional experience. Lasting about 2 hours, this tour is enjoyable, requires no walking or strenuous activity. It's a perfect way to witness the diverse wildlife of the region in a relaxed and scenic setting. During the boat tour, you can expect to encounter common wildlife such as iguanas, crocodiles, white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, herons, and various bird species.

Crocodile Palo Verde

Option 1: Visiting Hacienda el Viejo (Daytrip)

The national park Palo Verde itself does not organize guided boat tours. For that reason we recommend to plan your activities with Hacienda el Viejo. 

The stunning Hacienda "El Viejo," which translates to "The Old Man" in English, is surrounded by 5,000 acres of Wildlife Refuge close to Palo Verde. The main house, constructed in 1881, was formerly owned by Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza.

The staff at the front desk will help to plan your visit upon arrival. We highly recommend to arrive early (Before 9 AM) as conditions for viewing wildlife are best in the morning and boat trips might not be available in the afternoon. Book or view the packages and prices directly on the website.

Tour Guide at Palo Verde

After your boat trip you can join the brewery experience where you get to infuse your own rum with the ingredients of your choice. The staff guides you through the process of making agricultural rum and are very passionate about it. Decide for yourself if Hacienda el Viejo is the best rum in Costa Rica! Around noon you are offered a a tasty lunch at the beautiful restaurant and then opt for the cultural experience before heading back to Playas del Coco.

Visiting Rancho Humo Estancia

If you have an extra day to spare we highly recommend lodge Rancho Humo Estancia. The rooms are great, the food is amazing and the views are incredible. You can book your accommodation directly through the hotel or find a great deal on If you arrive in the afternoon they offer a guided bird tour around the wetlands which is very interesting ($44 USD + Tax). And then the next day go on an early morning boat tour on the Tempisque River ($88 USD + TAX). In the afternoon make your way back to Playas del Coco for a sunset on your favorite beach !

The hotel also offers horseback riding and trips to the Barra Honda Caves.

4. Snorkeling Pelonas Islands

Whether you're a seasoned snorkeler or a first-time explorer of the sea, snorkeling around the Pelonas Islands promises an immersive and educational adventure in Costa Rica's Pacific waters. It's an opportunity to connect with nature, relax in a tranquil setting, and marvel at the beauty beneath the waves.

The Pelonas Islands located offshore Playas del Coco are teeming with marine life. Snorkel with sea turtles, tropical fish, rays and more.

While this location offers excellent year-round snorkeling opportunities, the Pacific Coast's unique geographical conditions create varying diving conditions from day to day. Water temperatures on the surface are generally between 28-30 Celcius. The islands are only accessible by boat and snorkeling tours depart from Playas del Coco. As conditions are best in the morning most trips leave around 7 and return around 1pm. READ our snorkeling guide or contact us for a snorkeling trip from Playas del Coco.

Pelonas Islands offshore Playas del Coco

5. Relaxing Spa day Papagayo Peninsula

Need a break from your holiday? Why not opt for a relaxing spa or pool day at one of the resort in the Gulf of Papagayo. There is a wide range of hotels to choose from depending on your budget. We listed a few of our favorites below. Note that most hotels do not offer day passes during the high season. So make sure that you make your reservation before showing up. Options below offer day passes and spa facilities.

Bahia Pez Bela Beach resort

After a relaxing day at the spa or pool you can catch a movie at the Bistro Cinema in Playa Hermosa. Check their website of Facebook page for the latest program.

Bistro Cinema Playa Hermosa

6. Vandara Hot Springs & Nature Park

Monkey in tree

Opening hours: Daily from 8.30 - 16.30

Location: 60 km or 1 hour and 30 min from Playas del Coco.

Cost: Depends on your package. Check their website for the latest offers.

Nestled amidst the slopes of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and its National Park, Vandará offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, culture, and adventure. The staff is very professional and friendly and love to organize your activities for a great day at the park. There are plenty of activities to choose from: soak in thermal hot springs along the Tizate River, indulge in mineral volcanic mud treatments, traverse hanging bridges, slide down a jungle water slide, embark on horseback riding adventures, glide through the canopy, hike scenic trails, engage in an interesting cultural experience and learn more about local life in Costa Rica. Most experiences include a great lunch at the restaurant.

7. Best Beaches Combo

Are you looking for a day of beach hopping? Then there are some great options north and south of Playas del Coco. Depending on how early you start your day you could venture further our. Below our favorite beach itinerary.

Best Beach Costa Rica

Opening hours: Most public beaches are accessible 24 hours.

Location: 70 km or just under 2 hours, from Playas del Coco.

How to get there:

Beach 2 (Playa Conchal to Playa Flamingo):

Cost: Beach access is free. Parking fees may apply.

Directions to Playa Conchal

Our favorite itinerary for a beach day is leaving early driving south to the stunning white sand beach of Playa Conchal (1 hour and 30 minutes). Considered as the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, the road leading to Playa Conchal is a dirt road so with a low rental car or non 4x4 you will need to go slow. There are no facilities or shops at Playa Conchal so bring all your snack and drinks before heading out. This long stretch of beach has plenty of shady spots. If you want to go snorkeling you might want to go closer to the rocks on the left side of the parking lot. Costa Rica is a safe country but never leave any valuables unattended in your car or on the beach.

Playa Conchel

After spending your morning on the best beach of Costa Rica you can go for lunch at Restaurant Coco Loco in Playa Flamingo.

Playa Flamingo

Then spend the afternoon with sunset drinks at Playa Penca before heading home to Playa del Coco (45 minute drive).

Are you looking for beaches closer to Playas del Coco just for the afternoon or morning? Here are some great options with (google maps) directions:

North of Playa del Coco

South of Playa del Coco

Playa Ocotal

8. Poza Los Coyotes

This is our favorite hangout for the day or afternoon. A great place to spend the day with your friends and family. To reach this beautiful location you will need a car that can travel over the well maintained dirt road. And keep in mind that there are no facilities nearby so stock up in Liberia before you head to the springs. Bring your towels, swim suits and taste beverages and spend a relaxing at the springs of Poza Los Coyotes. Located just outside Liberia you could potentially combine this trip after visiting Rincon de la Vieja. Make sure that you arrive before the springs close at 16.00.

Opening hours: Daily from 8.00 - 16.00

Location: 50 km or just under 1 hour and 30 minutes, from Playas del Coco.

Cost: CRC1000 ($2 USD) per person

For more information on or bookings contact us at:

Rich Coast Diving

WhatsApp +506 8610 0914

Rich Coast Diving Logo

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