Playa Ocotal

bluebeachPlaya Ocotal is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches. It is a small, pristine beach that is somewhat secluded. The beach does not border a large population center and, as a result, gets fewer visitors than other Guanacaste beaches. The hills above Playa Ocotal are dotted with some of Costa Rica’s most expensive vacation homes. Playa Ocotal’s protected shoreline provides beach goers a safe place to swim, snorkel and relax. The beach has no dangerous rip tides, nor the large waves that some Costa Rican beaches are famous for. Playa Ocotal is not a good beach for surfing…but is an excellent swimming beach for families with children. The rock formations directly below Los Almendros offer some of Guanacaste’s best snorkeling. Snorkeling equipment can be rented on site from Rocket Frog Divers.

Look for the Blue Flag:
Playa Ocotal proudly flies the Blue Flag awarded by the Costa Rican government to the country’s cleanest and most eco-friendly beaches. Los Almendros is committed to keeping the beach in pristine condition. Its staff patrols the beach daily for litter and ocean debris.

Travel Guide Book Recommendations:
All of the major travel guides rate Playa Ocotal as one of Guanacaste’s best vacation beaches. Please click on the buttons below to read their comments.

One of the most dramatic beaches in the country, this serene crescent of black sand beach ringed by rocky cliffs contrasts nicely with the sparkling, clean turquoise water. It’s only ½ km (⅓ mile) long, but the views stretch for miles and include nearby offshore islands and the jagged profile of the Santa Elena Peninsula 34 km (21 mi) away. This is prime fishing, diving, and relaxing territory. Right at the entrance to the Gulf of Papagayo, it’s a good place for sport fishing enthusiasts to hole up between excursions. There’s good diving at Las Corridas, just 1 km (½ mile) away, and excellent snorkeling in nearby coves and islands, as well as right off the beach around the rocks at the east end of the beach. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling.

This secluded gray-sand beach is three kilometers southwest of Playa del Coco within the cusp of steep cliffs. Playa El Ocotal is smaller and more reclusive than Coco, but gets the overflow on busy weekends. The rocky headlands at each end have tide pools and provide excellent snorkeling at high tide. Ocotal is a base for sport fishing and scuba diving. At Las Corridas, a dive spot only a kilometer from Ocotal, divers are sure of coming face-to-face with massive jewfish, which make this rock reef their home; and black marlin are occasionally seen.
This attractive but small beach is 3km southwest of Coco. Playa Ocotal is the cleanest, quietest beach in the area, offering good swimming and snorkeling. Scuba diving is available, and nearby Catalina Island is a recommended diving spot: it’s the best place to see huge schools of rays, including the giant manta ray. The south end of the beach is recommended for snorkeling. Apart from the hotels (where the food is pricey) down near the beach is the Father Rooster’s restaurant. Father Rooster’s serves up a good variety of grilled seafood and Tex-Mex dishes.  You cannot beat the restaurant’s location, especially if you sit in a wood rocking chair on the shaded terrace or at tables under palm trees sunk into the sand.  Inexpensive and fun, this place serves snacks and burgers, plus delicious fresh seafood. They make a good margarita.
Better, in my opinion then Playas del Coco is Playa Ocotal. Playa Ocotal is a couple of kilometers to the south of Coco. This tiny pocket cove features a small salt-and-pepper beach bordered by high bluffs and is quite beautiful. When it’s calm, there’s good snorkeling around some rocky islands close to shore.