We spent the first part of our 2016 Costa Rica vacation in the region of Playas del Coco, and got to spend several mornings at Playa Ocotal. All of the locals had recommended the beach to us as the perfect beach to go with young children and so we decided to check it out. It was perfect- there were lots of locals from Costa Rica, beautiful tide pools for swimming, amazing black sand, and a super yummy restaurant called Father Rooster. Here’s what we learned about Playa Ocotal, Costa Rica!
Location of Playa Ocotal
Playa Ocotal is 2.5 kilometers outside of Playas del Coco- just turn right at the Mexican restaurant and keep going. Lots of twists and turns on the road, and there are TONS of pedestrians, so don’t expect to drive any faster than 25 miles per hour, if that. Upon arriving at the beach, there is a small parking lot at the end of the road. It is very common in Costa Rica for a “wachiman” to be present to take care of the cars, and there is a regular man at Playa Ocotal who does the job well. He charged us 1,000 colones per day, or just under $2 US. If you enjoy biking, a bike ride from Playas del Coco to Playa Ocotal would be super fun.
What To Do
On the far right side of the beach there are tide pools that form at low tide. The water is super warm, and there are lots of little fish to see. Our girls spent hours playing in the tide pools with their buckets and shovels. There is a lot of shade on the beach, and we put our chairs and coolers under the trees for shade (check out this collapsible travel cooler I took along- it was fabulous). Around 11 am there are several women who arrive to provide beach-side massages, the rates were variable dependent upon how busy they were and how many people wanted massages. I wasn’t able to try one on this trip, but the women were super nice when I spoke to them about their services. There were several people who were walking and running along the beach for fitness, and we saw a TON of snorkelers (I saw a Dutch couple with this handy travel snorkel set and I will definitely take one next time). Playa Ocotal is the perfect place to relax all day with friends and family- if you are going to meet lots of people or for a party atmosphere, this isn’t the beach for you.
What To Bring
Snorkel equipment, food, drinks, towels, money, chairs, towels, sand toys for kids, etc- basically everything. I found this sand toy set on Amazon that was super easy to travel with because the case was easy to wash in the ocean at the end of the day. There is a famous restaurant- Father Rooster and a few other small restaurants at the beach, (and a woman who prepares fresh fish at a tiny little stand right by the parking lot), but we didn’t find a grocery store or pulperia so it’s best to pack in the snacks and drinks you plan on consuming. There were several trash cans along the beach, and please remember to pack out what you pack in.
The Bottom Line
Playa Ocotal is the perfect morning trip from Playas del Coco- and low tide is the perfect time to enjoy the tide pools. For more family-friendly Costa Rica beach reviews, check out our article on Top 5 Costa Rica Beaches for families.