Rincon de la Vieja
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 1½ 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.
is about a 4½ 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
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.
The Palo Verde National Park is about a 1½ 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 way 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.
The Monteverde cloud forest is an amazing area with lush
green forests filled with all manners of plant and wildlife species.
Located about 3½
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
laid-back and 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.
Tenoria Volcano National Park /
Located about 1½
hours drive east of Playas del Coco is the Tenoria Volcano National
Park. Here you will find hiking trails for bird & monkey spotting.
Probably the most popular attraction in the park is the Rio Celeste.
From the park entrance in the town of Bijagua, it's a moderate hike to the
blue river. As 2 clear water tributaries converge, minerals in the
rocks cause the water to turn a bright blue color. This is definitely
worth a day trip to see the beautiful blue lagoons and waterfall.
Many different species of birds can be spotted in the Playas del Coco
area. In fact, you can just sit
around the swimming pool at Casa Provence any day, especially around sunrise
and before sunset, 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 can find 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.
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, Ocotal, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama. We always dive with Rich Coast Diving.
They have the highest PADI certifications of any dive shop in
Costa Rica and run their dive boats safe and competently. They
have always been very knowledgeable and honest about what we would see on a
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
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!
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.
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
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); Congo Cafe
is great for breakfast and lunch (try the pancakes); Ginger for a great tapas menu
and food (must try the Ginger Fries); La Dolce Vita for good Italian
La Caveja on the road between Coco and Ocotal, another good Italian
restaurant with great pizza among other dishes; Chez Sirloin for great burgers and steaks; 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).
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 Coconutz which is a an
open air sports bar with good food, live music, lots of TV's, and brew
their own craft beer; Zi Lounge for
food, music and dancing; and
any place that the local band Yerba Buena
You will find that many of the bars and
restaurants have a Happy Hour and live music several nights a week.