Family Travel to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica (an overview)
We spent just under two weeks in Playas del Coco in January, 2018. We traveled with our kids, my parents, my sister and her family, and for part of the trip, my sister’s in-laws. Our group ranged from 6 to 8 adults and 3 children – our 3 and 5 year olds, and my sister’s 16 month old.
In general, Playas del Coco felt very safe. We did not encounter any significant hassles, and our only scam was at the airport when we arrived in Liberia. Playas del Coco itself was clean and orderly, and the beach was quite nice, though we did find occasional pieces of glass (we did not see any other garbage on the beach).
The self-catering condo we had rented through Air BnB was lovely, but was quite removed from the main street in town. This was a challenge for Mom, who has mobility issues, and the kids, who found the walk to the main part of town quite tiring. We solved this issue when my sister rented a little golf cart, which saw a great deal of use ferrying people back and forth, and was quite reasonably priced for the amount of hassle it saved us.
Prices in Costa Rica were not especially cheap, and the cost of groceries, in particular, surprised us. We spent almost as much on meals and groceries there as we would have at home! However, the quality of the fruit and vegetables was excellent, and my brother in law, a seafood connoisseur, was impressed with the fresh tuna he found at the fish market. Fish, in general, was good quality, and very fresh – there were fishing boats right in the bay! We sampled food at a variety of restaurants, as well as a couple of street carts, and it was all quite tasty, and there were good, simple options, even for picky eaters. For a place with such delightful fruit and vegetable selections, things were surprisingly heavy on the chicken and fish, with plenty of rice and beans, of course.
The beach at Playas del Coco had black sand, which got searing hot by the afternoon, but the sand itself was soft, with only a few rocks in places. The beach was never crowded at any time of day, which was wonderful! The bay was relatively calm, and, at low tide, the water was relatively shallow for a ways out. However, near high tide, the waves were quite aggressive, crashing on the beach, and the oldest and youngest members of our group were nervous about going into the water, as the waves were strong enough to knock them down.
Things to Do
There were plenty of options for things to do in and around Playas del Coco. There are lots of souvenir shops along the main street, and there are a couple of SCUBA diving outfits. Horseback rides, ziplining, and ocean tours are available, as well as jungle tours. The tours we went on (through Sibu Tours) were relatively pricey, but were also generally a good value. We took a wildlife (particularly monkeys and crocodiles) viewing tour on a local river that was a particular hit with the kids – our guide taught them to “speak howler monkey”, which they put to good use when we encountered howler monkeys not once, but twice! Sibu Tours were very accommodating, and went out of their way to arrange a short horseback ride for my daughter, which was not on the original itinerary, but was the highlight of her trip.
All of the people we encountered were friendly and approachable, and the general vibe of the town was very laid back. At one point, Mom needed medicine, and found the folks at the pharmacy very helpful, and they made sure she was getting what she needed, even though she couldn’t communicate in Spanish. People doted on the children, and went out of their way to greet them, which the kids enjoyed greatly.
While it is not our usual style to stay in one place for such a long time, it was perfect for a family visit, especially one that included such a wide range of ages and abilities. Playas del Coco is a great choice for families looking for a safe, laid back destination.