With coastline on two oceans, the Central American nation of Costa Rica is known for its phenomenal beaches, of which one of the finest is Playa Hermosa. Meaning ‘beautiful beach’ in Spanish, Playa Hermosa is aptly named. Edged with shade-giving trees, and situated between two forested mountains, its off-white sands are rarely as crowded as nearby beaches such as Playa Conchal, making it the perfect place to seek out a combination of undisturbed tranquility and beachside activities as different as sailing and wildlife spotting.
|Location:||Guanacaste province on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, between Playa del Coco and Playa Panama. Don’t be confused by another beach of the same name, Playa Hermosa de Jaco, in Puntarenas further south.|
|How to get to Playa Hermosa:||Playa Hermosa is a simple 20-minute drive from the international airport outside Liberia, the provincial capital of Guanacaste. If you’re coming from the airport in San Jose, the national capital, it’s roughly five hours by car or bus.|
|Annual number of visitors:||Guanacaste sees the majority of Costa Rica’s 2.9 million annual visitors head to its beaches. However, already quieter than its neighbors, outside of the weekend and the high season, it’s more than possible to have Playa Hermosa all to yourself.|
|When to go:||You’ll want to avoid the peak of the rainy season, between August and November. The dry season and hence, the best season runs from December to April. While May and June sees some rain, generally during the afternoon and evenings. Although, this shouldn’t alter anyone’s plans of visiting during these months.|
1. Take a walk on the wild side
Costa Rica is rightly regarded as a paradise for biodiversity, and the area around Playa Hermosa is no different. Of all the things to do in Hermosa Beach, heading into the wild should be one of them. There are a number of national parks within a short distance of the beach, including Rincon de la Vieja, Palo Verde, and Santa Rosa national parks. They offer great opportunities to see some of the country’s exotic wildlife, including sloths, spider monkeys and the striking long-tailed quetzal bird in their pristine natural environment. Rincon de la Vieja also offers the chance for some spectacular hiking amid dormant volcanoes, which is almost unique in combining both wetland and dry forest.
2. Jump on a board
Surfing in Playa Hermosa is becoming ever more popular. Beginners can take advantage of the experienced instructors of its surf schools, while those who have taken to a board in the past can head further out into the Pacific Ocean on dedicated boat-based surf trips to catch the very best waves. While gentler, the waves that reach the beach are still perfect for body boarding. Larger waves can be found at Playa del Coco ten minutes away, which attracts surfers from around the world.
3. Get the adrenaline flowing
To get the heart pumping, canoeing and sea kayaking offer the chance to seek out all the region’s tiny and secluded coves which are only accessible by sea. Staying on land, the footpaths and dirt tracks that wind in and around Playa Hermosa make for excellent mountain biking tracks, with the added incentive of being able to explore some of the area’s natural habitats at the same time. However, if roaring engines are more your thing, jet skis are available to rent all along the Guanacaste coast by the hour.
4. Set sail
The tranquility of sailing along the Guanacaste coast to isolated island beaches and secluded coral reefs can be experienced firsthand with daily tours departing from Playa Hermosa. Many tours include time to snorkel over reefs full of colorful tropical fish and other Playa Hermosa regulars, including various species of shark and ray. Most tours also offer lunch and drinks served on deck, where you can keep a look out for breaching dolphins, turtles, and even the occasional whale. For the ultimate sailing experience, head out at sunset, and enjoy a gourmet meal as the sky ignites with reds, yellows, and golds.
5. Grab a rod and reel
A heaven for all types of fishing fanatics, Playa Hermosa has facilities for those who enjoy the relaxation of fly fishing or the adrenaline surge that comes with deep sea sports fishing. Iconic marlin, sailfish, and tuna can be found offshore, while rooster fish, snapper, and jack are all regular visitors to the inshore waters of Playa Hermosa. Trips from an afternoon to an entire week are possible.
WHERE TO STAY IN PLAYA HERMOSA
The Hotel Mangaby is a small family-run hotel which puts you right into the heart of the local community with its location in the center of town. Although rooms are simply furnished, they are also spacious and superbly clean. Each room comes with air conditioning and hot water as standard, and all have a lovely position overlooking a central pool too, making it another perfect option for families.
A large resort-style complex with 107 villas and direct access to the northern end of Playa Hermosa, Hotel Condovac offers condos with kitchenettes and staggering sea views from its hilly location. The style of rooms means it’s a great choice for both families and also groups, while facilities include a spa, 3 outdoor pools and complementary activities such as kayak rides and biking.
Hotel Bosque del Mar
This top-end boutique hotel sits in superb grounds right on a quiet section of Playa Hermosa itself. Its decades-old trees are home to monkeys, iguanas, and colorful hummingbirds, while its suites are more than comfortable, offering guests a separate living area. A short drive from the main restaurants, it’s the perfect place for those seeking out a more relaxed vibe.
Hermosa Beach in Costa Rica is an archetypal tropical getaway. Its pristine sands and warm pacific waters are ideal for relaxing, however there are also a wide range of exciting activities on offer for those looking for something more.