The Ultimate Guide to Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Looking for the ideal laid-back holiday? Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, is a family-friendly spot with a stunning beachfront & endless activities

Playa Hermosa feature

If you’re looking for somewhere to rest and unwind, let us tell you about Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica. This dreamy beach location is a hidden gem. The biggest draws are the salt-and-pepper-colored sand and the peaceful charm of the town. 

Let’s get straight into it. 

Where is Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica?

boat on the shore of Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

It’s on the northern pacific coast in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. Snuggled between the Gulf of Papagayo to the north and the lively Playa del Coco to the south. This picturesque beach looks out to the headlands that enclose it and the Papagayo Peninsula in the distance.

If arriving by plane, Liberia International Airport is the closest airport to this beach town, only 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. This will take you about 30 minutes by car.

Alternatively, if you are arriving at the main international airport in San Jose, the journey is 231 kilometers (143 miles). From San Jose Airport to Playa Hermosa, it will take you four hours.

How to get around Playa Hermosa 

aerial of Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

There are basically only three streets in Hermosa, so no matter where you are, you’ll be within walking distance or a short drive to everything.  

The main drag is where you’ll find hotels, restaurants, cafes and a few small grocery stores. There is even a movie theater.

The other two roads run perpendicular to the beach, so no matter which one you take, you’ll find yourself on the sandy beachfront. Both streets also have hotels, vacation rentals and a few restaurants to choose from.

The best activities in Playa Hermosa 

Take a picnic lunch and head to Playa Hermosa

rocky shore of Playa Hermosa

Meaning ‘beautiful beach’ in Spanish, it’s easy to see why this beach has made a name for itself. The light gray sandy beach stretches two kilometers (1.24 miles) and is lined with palm and fig trees.  

It’s an excellent place for families with no riptides or undercurrents. There are occasionally small waves, but the conditions are calm most of the year. Along the beachfront, you will find picnic benches scattered under the trees.

A fun fact about Playa Hermosa is that it holds a Blue Flag distinction and has for nine years straight. This means the beach demonstrates high environmental standards and has excellent safety considerations.

You’re in luck if you don’t like sitting still, as Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, offers some fantastic water sports. There is something for everyone, from kayaking to stand-up paddling boarding and banana boat rides.

Pro tip: This beach is not to be confused with its neighbor of the same name near Jaco. Unlike the other surfing mecca, this beach hardly has any surf.  

Visit the neighboring beaches of Playa Panama, Playa Buena and Playas del Coco

boats off shore in Playas Del Coco

If you have a few days in Playa Hermosa, you should explore some neighboring beaches. Northeast of Hermosa is Playa Buena and Playa Panama. 

Playa Panama is the better-known of the two and experiences calm waters and epic sunsets. It’s a great place to go with young children. Unfortunately, there is not much of a town, so pack water and snacks. 

Playa Buena is a sandy bay area with bright turquoise water. The shallows are pretty rocky so bring water shoes. Besides one hotel near the beachfront, there are no amenities in the area. 

Southwest of Playa Hermosa is Playas del Coco, a well-known beach town due to its superb fishing spots and scuba diving opportunities. The beach stretches three kilometers (1.8 miles) and is an excellent place to swim and sunbake. Stay around for sunset, and you’ll find beach bars playing live music.  

Hire a car and head to the national parks 

muddy river of Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica

For greater flexibility, hire a car for the day and head to the national parks within Guanacaste province. 

Palo Verde National Park

First up is Palo Verde National Park, about a 1.5-hour drive from Playa Hermosa.

This park is unique because it is simultaneously a huge floodplain and a tropical dry forest. Less than 0.1% of tropical dry forests are left in the world, making Palo Verde home to one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.

You can choose to explore the park by car, or alternatively, you can join a boat cruise along the Tempisque River. Keep your eyes peeled for waterbirds, monkeys, crocodiles, coatis and deer.

Santa Rosa National Park 

3 monkeys on a tree

Next up is Santa Rosa National Park, an hour from Playa Hermosa. Like Palo Verde, it is also a tropical dry forest.

One of the buildings inside the park, La Casona, was the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa. Today it proudly represents the independence of Costa Rica. The best way to explore the park is on a guided tour so you can learn the importance of the area and explore several hiking trails within the park.

Alternatively, if you just want to relax, there are beaches within the national park. Some are even nesting beaches for several sea turtle species. You can also go surfing in the well-known surf breaks of Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point.

Get involved in some watersports activities 

scuba divers and hammerhead shark

Playa Hermosa is a fantastic base for those looking to go fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Tour operators depart right from the beach to Bat Islands and Catalina Islands. 

Scuba divers may even get the chance to spot hammerhead sharks and manta rays.

While the above activities may be trickier if you travel with young children, don’t worry. The north end of Playa Hermosa offers some fantastic snorkeling without having to head out on a guided tour. You will be able to see rainbow wrasse fish, spadefish and moray eels.

Explore your adventurous side and head to Diamante Eco Adventure Park

person on a zipline

This eco adventure park is well known due to its dual-action zip-line course, which is the longest in Costa Rica. 

Wondering how to get there? Fortunately, you are less than a 30-minute drive away by staying in Playa Hermosa.  

As part of your ticket to the adventure park, you will have access to a canopy tour with five cables. And you will be able to ride the superman zip-line featuring incredible ocean views. 

Another option while in the park is to take a horse riding or ATV tour. 

Walk across a hanging bridge over the crocodile lake and visit the animal sanctuary. Inside, you will come close to sloths, caimans, crocodiles, iguanas, toucans, jaguars and monkeys. All the animals were either born in captivity or rescued and, unfortunately, can’t be released back into the wild. 

After all that excitement, head to Hammock Beach to lounge in the hammocks.

Head out for a night on the town 

two drinks on a beach under a palm tree at sunset

While Playa Hermosa is the perfect place to base yourself for some peace and quiet, do you want to suss out the nightlife in Costa Rica? Well, the good news is Playas del Coco is only a 10-minute drive from Playa Hermosa.

There you will find beachfront bars offering cocktails and live music at sunset. If you like rock music, there’s a place for that. Prefer blues? No problem. No matter what you prefer, you’ll find it at Playas Del Coco.

There is also a casino with poker, roulette, and blackjack tables.

Alternatively, a bit further away is Tamarindo, a hotspot for surfers. There is always something going on. However, it’s an hour and a half away, so plan to stay over.   

Weather in Playa Hermosa

person walking on a tan beach

Something worth noting is that Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, is actually one of the hottest and driest areas in the country.

For the ultimate beach holiday, plan your visit between December and May when there is little rain and temperatures are around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, perfect weather means more travelers, and prices are at their peak.

So, what’s the weather forecast during the other months of the year? 

With the exception of a few weeks in October, expect sunny mornings with the occasional shower later in the afternoon or evening. The best part is that prices are more reasonable, and temperatures remain the same during the wet season.

Packing list essentials for Playa Hermosa

blue boats off palm lined shore in Costa Rica

Your flights are booked, and your itinerary is sorted. Now it’s time to start thinking about what to pack. 

Even if you are visiting during the dry season, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast a few days before traveling. That way, you won’t be surprised by any unpredictable weather conditions. 

Below are a few items that you should consider bringing. 

  • Beach essentials – this one is a little predictable, but of course, you will need your swimsuit, shorts, tee-shirts and a lightweight towel. Due to the year-round hot temperature, make sure you pack 50+ sunscreen.
  • Slip-on water shoes – the perfect shoe option for both in water and on land. Not only are they comfortable and lightweight, but they will prevent you from stepping on anything sharp in shallow waters. 
  • Hiking boots – if you plan to visit Palo Verde or Santa Rosa, hiking boots are a must. Even if they take up a bit of space in your luggage, they will prevent you from getting blisters.
  • Rain jacket – essential if you’re traveling to Playa Hermosa during the wet season. As the rain comes and goes, it’s best to pack one that doesn’t take up much room so you can bring it on all your day trips. 
  • Mosquito repellent wristbands – you can pack a lotion or spray, but wristbands are a fantastic option for on-the-go travelers, particularly if you are planning a day of hiking in Santa Rosa National Park. 
  • A waterproof day pack – bring a bag that can be doubled as a beach bag and a hiking bag. If it’s waterproof, that’s even better! 

Besides adding the Playa Hermosa region to your itinerary, check out Bookaway’s other routes in Costa Rica

FAQ

Is it safe in Costa Rica?

Yes, but like anywhere in the world, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, particularly in major cities and at night. Use common sense. For example, don’t leave your valuables in plain sight. 

Is there much of a yoga scene in Playa Hermosa?

You will find various yoga retreats which take place throughout the year. Alternatively, if your dates don’t align, check out yoga centers and retreats in Playas del Cocos or Tamarindo, which have larger centers.

Posted November 1, 2022
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Kate and Olly of KO Travellers
Kate Torpy and Oliver Neville of KO Travellers are travel bloggers and content creators from Australia. They caught the travel bug from a young age and have not looked back since. The things they love about travelling the most are meeting new people, experiencing diverse cultures and exploring lesser-known corners of the world. Whether they are on assignment or travelling for pleasure, they document their travels on Instagram and provide detailed accounts on their Blog. From picturesque landscapes to island paradises, they cover it all - even the underwater marine world.
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