Casa Provence   
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

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Casa Provence is located in close proximity to countless activities and places to visit.  So if you want to do more than just kick back and relax on your vacation, you will not have to look far.  Here are just a few suggestions.


Rincon de la Vieja National Park
This park is about an hour's drive from Casa Provence.  It features an active volcano and is a great place to spend a day hiking or horseback riding through the dry tropical forest viewing the diversity of fauna and plants.  There are over 200 species of birds documented in the park along with small populations of deer, peccaries, tapirs, pumas, and sloth.  Other activities include bathing in the natural hot springs (Solfataric lakes) and mud springs, swimming at the base of waterfalls, canopy tours, and rafting.


Santa Rosa and Guanacaste National Parks
A little more drive than Rincon, these parks are about 1  hours from Casa Provence.  Santa Rosa was originally created to preserve the historical setting of the Battle of Santa Rosa and was expanded to protect the savannah, forest marshlands, and mangroves in this area.  This is a great place to view several species of land and sea turtles.

Adjacent to Santa Rosa, is the Guanacaste National Park which contains the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes with their slope evergreen forests and cloud forests.  There are great hiking trails in the park with the opportunity to view lots of wildlife including howler monkeys and white face capuchins.

 


Volcan Arenal
It is about a 4  hour drive to Arenal (assuming you don't get lost and you probably will), but well worth it.  Arenal is in the midst of a tropical cloud forest.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  You will enjoy the drive around Lake Arenal filled with scenic views to get to the volcano.  Unfortunately, there have not been any lava flows from Volcan Arenal for a couple of years, but we can hope that night time glowing lava shows will start again.  There are lots of activities in the area including swinging bridges, zip lines, hiking, white water rafting, lake cruises, and hot springs.  If you can fit it in, we recommend spending time at the Tabicon Hot Springs.  Plan on spending the night in the Arenal area because one day is not enough time to take in the many activities.
 

 

Palo Verde
The Palo Verde National Park is about a 1  hour drive from Casa Provence.   This is a great place to spend the day and see a lot of bird and wildlife species.  We highly recommend doing a river tour by boat.  A great to see Palo Verde is with a tour through Avispa Ventures.  They can pick you up at Casa Provence and on the way to Palo Verde, take you to see real local living including a sugar cane factory and river cart operators.  Its an opportunity to learn more about local culture.  Bring bug spray!  The mosquitoes can be bad in certain areas, so take bug spray with you.
 


Monteverde
The Monteverde cloud forest is an amazing area with lush green forests filled with all manners of plant and wildlife species.  Located about 3
hours from Playas del Coco, it is a great area to spend a couple of days hiking through the Monteverde and Santa Elena Reserves and enjoying the earthy atmosphere in the town of Santa Elena.  There are also  several areas to go zip-lining and horseback riding, if you want to do more than hike.  Be sure to pack rain gear.  These are cloud forests and can get rather wet at times.


Bird Watching
Many different species of birds can be spotted in the Playas del Coco area.  In fact, you can sit around the swimming pool at Casa Provence any day, especially around sunrise, and see a number of species of birds including kiskadees, motmot's, magpie jays, grackles, anis, orioles, parakeets, and hummingbirds.  Birds enjoy drinking and bathing at our pool.
 


Boating & Jet Skiing
Renting a jet ski and exploring the Costa Rican coastline is a great way to spend a morning.  Along the coast you will discover numerous uninhabited beaches ranging from near black sand to bright white sand.  You will also see caves, coral, mangroves, and interesting rock formations.  We even had dolphins follow us for a while on one of our outings.  From Bahia Coco, you can easily travel well north of the Papagayo Peninsula and back in a couple of hours.  It's best to jet ski in the morning before the afternoon winds kick up and make the waters a little rough.
 
 


Surfing
From Playas del Coco, you can rent a boat to take you to Witches Rock or Ollie's Point.  These are two world famous surf points located North of Playas del Coco.  By boat is the best way to get there as the roads are hit-or-miss depending on the weather.  Most chartered boats will also let you snorkel or fish during the trip, so it is a full day of activities.

Its also just a couple hours drive to Tamarindo, where you can spend the day learning to surf at one of the local surf schools.
 

       

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
There are plenty of scuba diving sites accessible from Playas del Coco ranging from local sites for half-day 2 tank dives to full day trips to the Catalinas and Bat Islands.  You will find the coral is not as colorful as places in the Caribbean, but there is an abundance and great variety of marine life to view.  Locally, we have seen several types of rays, octopus, white-tip sharks, moray eels, star fish and a multitude of fish species.  The Catalinas are known for giant manta rays.  There are several diving shops in Coco and Ocotal.  We always dive with Rich Coast Diving.  They run their dive boats safe and competently and have always been very knowledgeable and honest about what we would see on a dive.

You can snorkel from any of the dive boats, from jet skis, and from shore.  We snorkel from shore on the north and south sides of Ocotal bay.  Both locations are good.  The north side is easy to get to anytime, the south side is only accessible during low tide.  There were lots of volcanic rock formations and you can see large schools of various fish, rays, and eels.


Zip-Lines & ATV Tours
There are several places offering Zip-Line and ATV tours in the Playas del Coco area.  We like the tours offered at The Congo Trail.  The Zip-Line tours are very scenic and fun.  Enjoy seeing the area from the tree canopy.  There are two ATV tours offered.  One of the tours is very scenic with some great views of the ocean and the other takes you through local farming villages and rural areas with quite a few water crossings.  Be prepared to get dirty!
 

 

Sport Fishing
Golfo Papagayo is home to world class sport fishing.  You can charter a boat in Playas del Coco and spend the day fighting game fish up to 700 lbs.  These waters are home to  Pacific sailfish, striped marlin, blue marlin, black marlin, roosterfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, dorado, amberjack, big cubera snapper, grouper, cabrilla, and jack crevalle.  The local restaurants serve fresh catch from the various charter boat daily excursions.

 


Dining
Playas del Coco and the nearby towns of Ocotal, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama have an amazing selection of great restaurants.  Whatever your taste, you can find it close by.  Some of our favorites include Father Roosters for the best hamburguesas and papas fritas (burgers and fries) and an awesome beachfront atmosphere;  Le Coq in downtown Coco for excellent Lebanese food at a reasonable price (our favorite for lunch); Hotel Coco Palms for a good variety including Sushi (yes, we said Sushi); Hotel Ocotal's Broca Ruja for the absolute best breakfast buffet and a view that will leave you breathless; Ginger for a great tapas menu and food (must try the Ginger Fries); The Lookout for good craft beer, great food, and another awesome view (good place to take in the sunset);  La Dolce Vita for good Italian cuisine; La Caveja on the road between Coco and Ocotal, another good Italian restaurant with great pizza among other dishes; El Valaro in Playa Hermosa for Taco Tuesdays to enjoy beef, chicken, and fish tacos by the ocean; and La Casita del Mariscos in Playa Hermosa for the best seafood in the area with an incredible beach setting.  There are plenty of other really good restaurants in this area, several of  which serve comidas typico (typical Costa Rican food).
 


Nightlife
If you still have energy after a full day of activity and want to do more than just relax, head into Coco where there is ample nightlife to keep you entertained.  The Hotel Coco Verde has a casino where you can play blackjack, poker, and other games of chance.  Places we enjoy include La Vida Loco for its open beach atmosphere, good music, pool, foosball, and ping-pong; Coconutz which is a an open air sports bar with good food, live music, lots of TV's, and brew their own craft beer; the Lizard Lounge as a good place to have a drink and do some people watching (they crank up dance tunes with a DJ later in the night);  Zi Lounge for music and dancing; and any place that the local band Yerba Buena is playing

You will find that many of the bars and restaurants have a Happy Hour and live music several nights a week.

 

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