Playa Potrero, Costa Rica: The Perfect Small Town

Plan the ultimate trip to Playa Potrero, Costa Rica. It’s a small town with everything from beaches to adrenaline pumping things to do.

Potrero feature

For the ultimate beach vacation, head to Playa Potrero, Costa Rica. Known for its laid-back vibes and stunning, calm waters, this spot is every beach lover’s paradise. You’ll find Playa Potrero along the Pacific coast in Guanacaste province. It’s about 244 km (~150 miles) northwest of San José. 

Best beaches near Playa Potrero, Costa Rica 

You’ll find this quaint town nestled between the two fancy resort towns of Playa Flamingo and Las Catalinas. If you want to explore you should rent a car to easily move between areas. 

A benefit to staying in Playa Potrero, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is all the beautiful beaches nearby. Perfect for a day or two of beach hopping.

Playa Potrero

Best for water babies who love swimming in a calm sea.

Of course, the number one thing to do is head to Playa Potrero. 

This beautiful stretch of dark sand is excellent for swimming because it is located in Potrero Bay, which protects the beach from strong waves and intense currents. Instead, you’ll find calm and inviting waters perfect for splashing around after soaking up some sun.

Playa Potrero is a great spot to base yourself because it’s the launching point for many catamarans and fishing boats. So, if you are looking for activities on the water, this is the spot for you. 

This beach doesn’t have the same pristine white sandy beaches people flock to. And. as a result, it’s far less crowded than its popular neighbors of Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal. But don’t let this fool you! Potrero is an excellent spot to catch some epic sunsets, and the picture-perfect coastal views make it an idyllic place for a long, quiet sunset walk on the beach.

Conchal Beach and Playa Brasilito

Best for sun worshipers.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica is Conchal Beach, only 40 minutes from Playa Potrero. Here you’ll find white and pale pink sand made of shells and crystal-clear turquoise waters. 

The best way to get to Playa Conchal is to drive about 15 minutes south to Brasilito. Park here and walk the remaining 15 minutes to the beach. Or better yet, first, stop at Playa Brasilito. It’s a cute local beach with a long stretch of sand and stunning little islands on the northern end. 

It is definitely worth checking out.

Flamingo Beach

Best for people who love shopping and adorable cafes.

Located right next door to Potrero, Playa Flamingo is a stunning crescent-shaped beach with gorgeous white sand and clear waters that belong on a postcard. The town of Flamingo is also worth visiting, as it is home to several cute shops, beachfront restaurants, and cafes.

Playa Grande

Best for those who enjoy watching surfers hang 10. 

Head to Playa Grande, about 40 minutes south of Potrero, to watch some amazing surfing. Known for short boarders, this beach is a really fun place to watch local surfers and walk the shoreline while working on your tan.

Playa Prieta

Best if you enjoy a laid-back local spot. 

This small stretch of sand is only 10 minutes from Playa Potrero and is popular with local skimboarders. Head here if you enjoy low-key, local spots with excellent vibes and limited crowds.

Playa Prieta is also a great beach because there is plenty of shade from the short, shrubby trees. So if you are prone to sunburns, head here to enjoy the sea while keeping yourself protected.

Playa Penca

Best if you’re looking for a quiet, picture-perfect beach.

On the north end of Potrero, you’ll find Playa Penca (not to be confused with the other Playa Penca near Playa Hermosa—Costa Ricans love to use the same names over and over). 

You’ll find this cute little beach by looking for a small sign just past the soccer field. Then, park your car and head to the sandy beach to enjoy the clear turquoise waters. The sand here is powder soft and very light, and the waters are calm and inviting. 

Playa Penca is an excellent spot to swim or lay out and enjoy the sun. 

Pro tip: There isn’t much shade here, so be prepared with your umbrella and plenty of sunscreen.

Playa Danta and Playa Dantita

Best if you don’t mind a bit of a trek to get to the beach.

North of Playa Penca, you’ll find two beaches, Playa Danta and Playa Dantita. 

Playa Danta is a calm cove that backs up to a private development. Although it is private property, all beaches in Costa Rica are public. This gray-sand beach is popular with locals, especially on the weekends.

On the opposite side of the cove, you’ll find Playa Dantita. To get to this beach, you’ll take a short hike through the forest or walk along the rocks during low tide. The trek, however, is worth it. Once you arrive, you’ll be treated to white sand, sparkling turquoise waters, and a beautiful backdrop of trees. 


Best if you like a bit of action and a packed beach. 

Playa Tamarindo is the most popular and most developed beach town near Playa Potrero. This is the perfect spot for surfing, bodyboarding, bars, and nightlife. The 40-minute drive south is definitely worth it if you plan to surf or dance the night away.

Things to do in Playa Potrero, Costa Rica

Snorkeling tours and sunset cruises

Potrero Beach is home to plenty of sailing companies that offer sunset cruises and snorkeling packages. 

Head out in the morning for excellent snorkeling conditions and the chance to see gorgeous colorful fish, sea turtles, and even some docile sharks!

If mornings aren’t for you, book a sunset cruise, sail around the stunning Guanacaste coastline, and catch an unforgettable sunset.

Some tours combine both, so you can snorkel before sunset.

Scuba diving

Potrero is only 6 km (~3.7 miles) north of Flamingo Marina, where most scuba diving tours depart from. If you book a tour, be sure to head to Catalinas Island. This 30-minute boat ride will drop you in the best spot to see turtles, rays, reef sharks, and an abundance of other marine life.  

A great part about booking a scuba tour is that you don’t need to be certified to dive in Costa Rica. Plenty of dive shops near Flamingo Marina provide discovery dives for beginners and non-certified divers.


If fishing is your sport of choice, head to Flamingo for a fishing excursion. Several companies offer day trips out of Potrero Bay and into the Pacific for awesome deep-sea fishing. 


Witch’s Rock, the iconic surf spot, is only an hour and a half boat ride from Playa Potrero. It’s best for intermediate to advanced surfers, so don’t try to tackle this challenge if you are a beginner.

If you are interested in taking surf lessons or just starting on your board, head to Tamarindo. There are many surf schools and nice introductory waves to try out your new skills.


Several boating companies based in Flamingo have a mix of different water activities, including wakeboarding and tubing. You can even combine these with surfing, snorkeling, diving, and/or fishing. 

Day trips

There is a lot to do in this area, which makes it a dreamy place for a vacation if you like to do more than lay on the beach. But if not, we don’t blame you


If you prefer to enjoy the local culture rather than get your adrenaline pumping, head to Flamingo for the day. Here you’ll find a stunning white sand beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing. 

Once you’ve had your fill of sunshine, wander over to the Flamingo Market. Monday evenings have live music and an artisan’s market to shop and sample the local cuisine. 

Hacienda El Viejo Wetlands

This private reserve is owned and operated by a local family and offers a variety of cultural, wildlife, and rum tours. In addition, visiting this reserve will allow you to learn much more about Guanacaste customs and traditions and the region itself. 

Diamante Eco Adventure Park

Families traveling together will love this all-in-one adventure park. Here you’ll find ziplining, ocean activities, horseback riding, ATVs, a wildlife sanctuary, and Costa Rican cultural experiences. There is plenty to do to keep everyone in your group happy and entertained, and it is only 45 minutes from Potrero.

Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Hikers will rejoice at this stunning national park. Located 78 km (~48 miles) north of Playa Potrero, this area is home to excellent hiking trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls or boiling mud pots. All the trails will lead you to spectacular views of the unique dry forest. There is even an active volcano in the area!

Rincón de la Vieja is one of the least visited national parks in all of Costa Rica, meaning you won’t have to fight the crowds for space on the trails or the impressive views.  

Where to stay in Playa Potrero

Playa Potrero is a great place to base yourself during your epic Costa Rican adventure. 

This town is home to a few beachfront hotels and campsites, and many include parking in their rate. You can also check Airbnb or VRBO if you would like to rent a property with a full kitchen for a longer stay.

Weather in Playa Potrero

perfect wave

Potrero, and Guanacaste in general, is known for great weather and almost year-round sunshine. Temperatures generally stay around 34-35℃ (90-95℉) during the day and only dip down to 26℃ (80℉) at night.

There is a dry and rainy season, though. 

The dry season is between December and April. This is also peak travel season, so book your accommodation and tours early. You don’t want to miss out.

The rainy season lasts from May to November, but don’t let that put you entirely off traveling during this time. While it is consistently more humid throughout the day, it generally only rains during the afternoons and evenings. You can expect cloudy yet dry mornings and intermittent storms throughout the afternoons, especially in October. 

May to November will be far less crowded with tourists and accommodation will be a bit cheaper, so it’s worth considering.

It is important to note that Potrero can flood in the rainiest months, like October. Be prepared for the Rio Brasilito river to rise and cause some flooding during heavy rains.

Packing list essentials for Playa Potrero

Pack plenty of swimsuits, sunscreen, and a hat when preparing for your stay in Playa Potrero, Costa Rica. You’ll spend most of your time on the beach, and the vibe is very relaxed, so casual clothing and flip-flops are perfect attire.

A waterproof camera or a GoPro will help you capture great underwater shots if you plan to do some water sports. 

You should also bring a light jacket and some hiking shoes if you plan to hike or visit the national parks. 

How to get to Playa Potrero

brilliant orange sunset
Sunset at Potrero Beach. People in silhouette. Costa Rica. November 2017

The best way to get to the quiet village of Potrero is to book a seat on a private shuttle from Liberia International Airport to Potrero. The shuttle takes approximately one hour.

Flying into Liberia is easy, whether you are already in Costa Rica or coming from an international destination. 

Alternatively, book a flight from San José to the domestic Tamarindo Airport. Then, it’s easy to grab a bus or taxi for the remaining 30 minutes to Playa Potrero.

One last option is the bus/minivan from Potrero Beach to San José, which takes about six hours. There are multiple departures daily. 

Bookaway has a lot of other routes in Costa Rica to help you plan your trip. Check them out.


What is the closest airport to Playa Potrero?

Liberia International Airport is only 38 km (~23 miles) away. But the domestic Tamarindo Airport is even closer.

What is the closest town to Playa Potrero?

The village of Potrero is closest to Playa Potrero. 

Is Playa Potrero safe?

Yes—but don’t leave valuables lying out, and always stay vigilant. There is some petty crime here, like in many places, so lock your doors and remain alert to be safe.

Can you swim at Playa Potrero?

Absolutely! The beach itself is in a sheltered area, providing calm waters ideal for swimming.

Posted November 17, 2022
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Samantha Bryant
Samantha has been wandering the globe since 2010, when she hopped on a plane for a gap year in order to wait out an age restriction for a job application. Twelve years, four continents, and countless experiences later she has decided that she is perfectly content embracing her wanderlust. Samantha works as an English and ELL teacher at an international school in South Africa, but her passion for writing has kept her busy in what spare time she can find. If she isn't working or writing, you can find Samantha exploring a new city in an off-the-beaten-path destination or relaxing on a beach somewhere.
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