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Playas del Coco

Never a ship sails out of the bay But carries my heart as a stowaway ~ Roselle Mercier Montgomery, writer, 1874-1933

Playa del Coco Playa del Coco, south of Hermosa, has been a popular destination for Costa Ricans and tourists alike for many years. It has a paved road going right up to the beach, which makes for easy access. Weekends are generally boisterous and loud downtown - head here if you're looking for something to do. The beach itself has a dull volcanic gray sand (for white sand, sneak down to Ocotal). Coco isn't a surfer beach, but it is a port, which makes it very popular with divers and fishermen, who ship out from its anchorages, and surfers bound for Witch's Rock. The southern end houses a commercial fishing fleet. Mid-July sees a very big celebration - the Virgin del Mar Festival. The north end is wealthier and home to several good bed and breakfasts. The town's first Internet café is on your left on the way into town. It's owned by long-time residents Linda and Jim Gray. You'll find plenty of water-related and other adventures through Resort Divers (_ 506/672-0106, www.resortdivers-cr.com). Places to Stay & Eat As for lodgings, the modern Villa del Sol B&B (_ 506/670- 0085, www.villadelsol.com, $$) is an excellent Canadian family establishment with a big garden. They had a great cook when we were there - they serve à la carte dinner too, so remember them when you're hungry. Turn north at the Coco Verde Hotel to this quiet part of the beach. Also, nearby is the open and airy Puerta del Sol (_ 506/670- 0195, www.lapuertadelsol.com, $$), which offers suites and terraces around a pool. Coco Verde (_506/670-0494, cocoverde@ racsa.co.cr, $$) is a 33-room, Spanish hacienda-style hotel in the town center. Simple rooms with cable TV and air conditioning. Very attractive pool, plus a steak-and-rib restaurant. It offers fishing and dive charters. Hotel Villa Flores (_ 506/670-0787) has air conditioning, a pool, jacuzzi and dive center. Hotel Vista Mar (_ 506/670- 0753) offers similar accommodations with a French and Italian restaurant menu. Prices here range from about US $50 to $80. The best bet if you're backpacking is Hotel Luna Tica (_ 506/670-0127). It's spartan, clean, on the beach and cheap. In the hills above the beach is the 10-hectare/25-acre Rancho Armadillo Estate (_ 506/670-0108, www.ranchoarmadillo.com, $$$-$$$$), a Texas ranch-style luxury hotel that offers resort accommodations with a casual attitude. Up high for cool breezes and bright sun, this is the best hotel in Playa Coco. To get there, turn left in front of the pink condos just before the beginning of the boulevard and follow the white boulders 400 meters/1,316 feet uphill. For dining, Playa Coco's Pacific Café is a good light-meal restaurant. The same gringo owner has the Tequila Bar & Grill in the center of town - perfect for us Mexican food addicts. The best seafood restaurant in a fishing town is Papagayo Seafood, a simple and rustic place that thrives because of its menu rather than its décor. Check out Lizard's Lounge for drinks and bocas.


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