Explore all that Playas del Coco and the Papagayo Penisula region have to offer! Costa Rica blends raw, wild nature with a developed tourism infrastructure offering the ideal balance of authentic flavor and convenience. This means you’ll have your choice of almost any activity, anywhere in the country! Go from island to forest or beach to volcano in a matter of hours!
Visit nearby Playa Ocotol for amazing snorking or perfect your golf at the Papagayo Golf and Country Club. Want more adventure? Zipline through the jungle, trek though the rainforest, go horseback riding, bird watching or climb a dormant volcano. Try your hand at deep sea fishing or go scuba diving. Want to surf? Make the easy drive to Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande, Tamarindo and other points further south. Otherwise, just chill on the sands of Coco or Playa Hermosa to soak in the sun or capture a beautiful sunset.
At Casa Emerald Palms we can assist you in creating a truly unique, fun-filled vacation. Your explorations are limited only by the length of your stay and your ambition! The best way to begin planning an unforgettable vacation is to let our local concierge team or hand-picked tour operators assist you with all the details.
Guanacaste is home of the Costa Rican cowboy. Horseback riding adventures are plentiful where you can ride along the beach, through beautiful forest and prairie landscapes or in the valley below Rincon de la Vieja’s volcano. Your trip will likely start at a hacienda (ranch) where you are appropriately paired with your four-legged travel guide. Tour options are available by the hour or day and for all skill levels. Read More
Distance from condo: 13 mins to an hour by car, depending on the service provider
Get up close and personal with over 850 bird and 250 mammal species! From the heights of the jungle canopy treetops to the depths of the ocean floor watch in awe as 1200 pound leatherback sea turtles lay eggs in the middle of the night or cheer on dolphins playing in the sea. Witness howler monkey troops erupt in boisterous, echoing hoots or spot Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants like the sloth or jaguar sleeping in the trees. Read More
Popular options: Dolphin watching off Playa del Coco shores, Scarlet Mckaw sightings in the Osa Penisula, Sea Turtles nesting in Nosara (Nicoya Penisula), sloths in Monteverde, squirrel and white-faced monkeys in the Central Pacific region.
Distance from condo: 20 mins to 4+ hours by car, depending on location and tour
JUNGLE RIVER TOURS
Jungle boat tours allow access to many difficult places by providing easy transportation cruising up rivers and through estuaries or swamps in a flat-bottom or covered safari-boat. Often combined with other excursions, this is an excellent option to get close to crocodiles in their own habitat or explore Costa Rica’s biological ecosystems. Read More
Places to visit Tarcoles, Corobici, Peñas Blancas and Sarapiqui rivers.
Distance from condo: 1-4 hours depending on the tour operator and destination
SUSPENSION BRIDGE TOURS
Canopy, suspension or hanging bridge tours are one of the best ways to site birds and witness Costa Rica’s complex ecosystems from the tree tops. If you’re wondering why you’d want to head to the top of a tree just to look around, remember that 90% of Costa Rica animals and 50% of plant species in rainforests live in the upper levels of the trees. These ‘cloud forest’ trails are inter-connected by flat, ground trails making for an enjoyable, family-friendly outdoor activity Read More
Most hanging bridges are located in wildlife refuges of the ‘wet’ tropical rainforests within the Central Valley and Caribbean regions. The most famous called the ‘Skywalk’ with up to six bridges total, is spread across the forest canopy offering trails range from 100 to 984 ft. Take the self-guided route and enjoy the canopy at your own pace. Alternatively, have a naturalist guide point out wildlife or bird species that would be otherwise be invisible to the untrained eye.
Tours normally last two or three hours (excluding travel), departing at sporadic times to accommodate visitors commuting from other regions. Combine with other activities for a full-day adventure experience. For the adventurous, night bridge tours exist!
Traveler’s Tip: All suspension bridge tours are limited in size due to safety. Reservations are recommended in July and Aug and from December to May.
Places to visit: Heliconias in Gunacaste province, Monteverde’s Cloud Forest Reserve, around Arenal Volcano and Tirimbina north of San Jose, in the Sarapiqui region
Distance from condo: 1 hr, 43 mins (to Heliconias’ hanging bridges) to upwards of three to four hours to popular sites like Monteverde and Arenal.
Shaped by torrential weather and carved through dense forests, Costa Rican valleys and canyons are ripe for rafting opportunities. One of the more surprising water sport in Costa Rica, some of the best rapids in Central American can be conquered here. Take a gentle cruise down a class I or II rapid or hold onto your paddles as you take heart-pounding waves on class IV or V rapids! You can choose to spend several hours on the river or curate a specialized trip over several days. Read More
Traveler’s Tip: Pay attention to the season, as parts of the Costa Rica rainy season, from June until October, can make for difficult rafting conditions
Popular options: Sarapiqui, Corobici, Reventazon and the Pacuare rivers
Distance from condo: Approx. 1-5 hrs depending on the specific river
SNORKLING / SCUBA DIVING
The mesmerizing biodiversity of Costa Rica does not stops at its shoreline. See oceanic species like schooling fish, sea turtles, giant manta rays, or come face-to-face with sharks and majestic whales. While diving in the Pacific ocean is not as vibrant as other tropical waters, due to a landscape defined by volcanic formations not coral. Diving at any one of the three main areas accessible from Playa del Coco waters will not disappoint. Read More
Crowd favorite dive spots include Punta Argentina, Caceque, Cabeza de Mono and Tortuga. Popular local snorkling locations include Playa Ocotal
Distance from condo: 10-20 mins depending on the dive operator and site
Paddle boarding is a great low key water sport to try because it’s best experienced in calmer or ‘flat’ waters. Technically a variant of surfing, paddleboarding is frequently experienced in the Tamarindo area, the Papagayo gulf or the northeastern side of Lake Arenal. Catch a glimpse of schooling fish, explore caves off shore, get amazing water views of majetic volcanos or connect with your inner spirit while simultaneously practising yoga. Read More
WELLNESS & MASSAGE
If your idea of the perfect vacation involves a manicure, a coffee scrub or lava rock massage, Costa Rica has you covered! Rapidly becoming a worldwide luxury spa destination, expect to pamper oneself with organic spa ingredients due to Costa Rica’s emphasis on sustainability and the natural environment. Find many of spa and wellness options ranging from budget-friendly to ultra-luxurious, Read More
The top rated Costa Rican spas and wellness centres are found within resort communities or international hotel chains offering the gamut of wellness, yoga and aesthetic treatments. Not to be overlooked, quality independent spa operators and masseurs exist to provide relief to tired adventure seekers needing down time, couples looking to re-connect or to cap off the ultimate girls trip. Locally choose from in-suite, retail or on-the-beach massage, yoga and reflexology options. If your interests point towards yoga, drop-in private and group classes can be arranged where the sounds of flowing water and whispering breezes can bring you back into harmony. Return home from your Costa Rica adventure relaxed and recharged!
Places to Visit: Playa Coco or Hermosa beach massages (stationed at strategic places along the beach – ask us for details), The Bearth Rennissance Spa (inside the El Mangroove resort), The Spa at Tabacon (near Arenal Lake, Borinquen Mountain Resort and Spa (near Rincon de la Viejas), Villa Buena Onda on the outskirts of town and Rio Perdido (outside of Liberia)
Distance from condo: 8 mins to 21 mins for Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa or Playa Panama (regional). Between 1.5 to 3 hrs for recommended spas located in other areas outside of Coco
With over 802 miles of coastline and boasting countless lakes, rivers and estuaries, Costa Rica is ripe for kayaking opportunities. Kayaking allow for peaceful, private open water exploration. Available to experienced and inexperienced kayakers, it’s a wonderful way to spot wildlife both above and below the water. Most beaches or water sports shops have kayaks for rent from an hour to a full day. Read More
Places to visit: Lake Arenal, Playa Grande or Manuel Antonio’s estuaries and Jacó’s coastline, or right off Playa del Coco shores.
Distance from condo: 10 mins to 4 hours, depending on location.
While not available year round, kite-boarding opportunities abound between October and May due to stronger trade winds. Optimal kite-surfing locations dot the Pacific coast, however, the best location is at Bahia Salinas in Playa Copal, a remote beach location in the northern most region of Costa Rica. Here you will find four to six foot waves and steady 25 mph winds. Read More
Other kitesurfing destinations include the northern tip of Lake Arenal in the Central Valley (rated amongst the top windsurfing lakes in the world), where consistent high winds blow 24/7 during peak months. Closer to town kite-surfers have been spotted in Playa Hermosa & Playa Panama. They are good locations during the ‘green’ season between June through November, where you can expect up to three or four hours of kitable conditions. Kite-surfing gear rental options are readily available at popular kite-surfing destinations, but choice is limited by location and supplier. With patience and flexibility, you can find good, locally produced or newer imported equipment. Classes and tour packages exist from a handful of specialized firms with experienced guides/instructors.
Distance from condo: 1 hour, 50 mins up to 2 hrs depending on site
Sport fishing is carried out in the gulf waters of Papagayo, Catalinas, off Bat islands or Tamarindo region, approx. 40-60 km from shore. The country hosts several important fishing tournaments throughout the year and the Papagayo Gulf has played host to several. Catch Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Roosterfish, Wahoo, Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), Grouper and Snapper and bring it back for supper! Read More
Private and group charters are available with half or full day excursions. Many fishing tours include rods and bait and provide lunch or snacks. If you are lucky, some local fishermen take guests out, sometimes providing more bang for your buck
Traveler’s Tip: Costa Rica require anglers purchase and carry a valid Costa Rica fishing license. In some cases, these are included in the overall trip price
Distance from condo: Between 3-5 mins in town or up to 13 mins by car, depending on service provider
After a full day of heart-pounding activity in the jungle, there’s no better way to experience Costa Rica than from the water on a sailboat or catamaran. These leisurely daytrips conveniently depart twice daily from Coco beach. Spend a few hours out at sea enjoying the Pacific. Soak up the sun, swim and snorkel in calm bays off isolated islands and deserted beaches. This is a perfect excursion for families, couples and friends looking for a relaxing adventure and fun out at sea.Read More
Water sport equipment such as life jackets, snorkle fins and masks, flotation noodles, and standup paddle boards are often provided. Drinks, food and lively music are included as these excursions tend to be social affairs. Afternoon tours are recommended to catch spectacular sunset views on your return trip to shore.
For the ultimate experience, charter a private tour or sail away with a small group up to 6 or 8 persons. There are plenty of sailing firms right in town with multilingual sea captains who are local, experienced guides familiar with the Papagayo waters. Keep your eye out for flying rays, sea turtles, dolphins and the occasional humpback whale as you glide along the coast
Distance from condo: 10-12 mins
Eight hundred miles of coastline spread across two oceans make for countless beautiful beaches and amazing play dates in the sand. There are plenty of beach options in Guanacaste’s pacific north-west region, aka the “golden coast”, where you can literally enjoy a different beach everyday. Half the fun is discovering them on your own! White sand beaches may take the spotlight as ‘the most beautiful’ in the tropics, however Costa Rica also offers black, brown, tan or pink sands for a change of scenery. Read More
Beaches within the greater Playa del Coco area: Playa Ocotol, Panama and Hermosa (dark or tan sands), Playa Penca or Junquillal (white sands – lesser known)
Out of town beach destinations to visit: Playa Cabuyal, Playa Grande, Uvita (aka Whale’s tail), Conchal or Tamarindo (white sands – popular), Playa Flamingo (pink sand – popular), Playa Mina and Palmares (white sands – lesser known)
Distance from condo: 10 mins to 5 hours by car or boat, depending on destination. Many are within a 1.5 hour drive and worth renting a car to explore
Surf’s up! Costa Rica is world renowned as a top surfing destination with year round warm waters, offshore winds and consistent waves. It was selected to host the ISA World Surfing Games in 2015 & 2016. There are four different surfing zone: The Caribbean and the Northern, Southern and Central Pacific coasts. The majority of surf sites are concentrated here in the Northwest region, with regional sites featured in the ‘Endless Summer’ movie series. No matter your skill level, board or wave preference, Costa Rica delivers to match. Read More
Places to visit: In the Northwest region: Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Playa Negra, Playa Avellenas or Playa Langosta (all adjacent beach towns), Playa Flamingo (for beginner surfers wanting to practise on their own), Naranjo Beach (Witch’s Point) and Potrero Grande (Ollie’s Point) located in the Santa Rosa National Park and Nosara.
In the Central Pacific area: Jaco’s many beaches including Hermosa, Boca Barranca and Escondida.
Distance from condo: 49 mins to 2 hrs by car, depending on destination. The popular sites centred around Tamarindo are approx. 1.5 to 1.75 hrs away by car
If your idea of the perfect vacation day involves playing 18 holes on uncrowded courses with tropical breezes and breathtaking ocean vistas or taking in a few rounds between sport fishing or scuba diving adventures, then golfing in Costa Rica is for you! Rapidly becoming a world class golf destination, the most recognized golf courses are located here in Guanacaste province. These tastefully and professionally-challenging greens were designed by top golfers such Arnold Palmer, Mike Young and Ted Robinson Jr. Read More
The best golf tours are offered by golf aficionados who can create custom packages depending on group size and budget. Fees normally include club access, mandatory cart rentals, clubs and transportation. You can even participate in local weekly or seasonal golf tournaments such as the Sunday Morning at The Ridge Tournament, Papagayo Cup, Pura Vida Weekend, A Midwinter’s golf dream or Tee Times CR Cup
Places to visit – Vista Ridge Golf & Country Club (formerly the Papagayo Golf Course). There’s a Sunday morning casual Ridge Tournament with a buffet breakfast included. Other courses include the Reserva Conchal golf course (host to the 2018 Latin-America PGA tournament) near Brasilito and Playa Flamingo beach and the Hacienda Pinilla course near Tamarindo
Distance from condo: 17 mins to an 1.5 hours by car, depending on course
If you want an ecological and fun twist to your Costa Rican exploration, then start your 4×4 engines! Plunge along rivers, ride across deserted beaches or up rugged mountainsides where you can see the country’s natural beauty off the beaten track. Travel the backroads where you can witness the tranquil Tico lifestyle. Experience the rush of fresh, open air as you ride on gravel or dirt roads and over potential mud holes, passing farms and jungle areas along the way. Read More
Places to visit: La Fortuna (near Arenal Volcano), Manuel Antonio (including popular waterfalls), Papagayo Penisula’s Horizontes Experimental Forest Reserve (participate in their re-forestation project and tour Guanacaste’s cattle ranch communities), The Monkey Trail between Playa del Coco and Playa Potero and at nearby Diamonte Adventure Park (in Playa Matapalo)
Adventure Tip: Drivers must be at least 16 years old
Distance from condo: 45 mins to 4.5 hours depending on ATV location and tour operator
No other water sport combines the trill of playing in the ocean on jet skis while soaring up to 600 ft above the coastline, providing a breathtaking, bird’s eye views of the Costa Rican landscape quite like Parasailing. An exhilarating experience for travelers of all age and skill levels, this water sport is recommended only for the most adventurous and/or those willing to make the 4+ hour trek to Manuel Antonio in the Central Pacific region. Read More
Traveler’s Tip: Minimum weight restrictions may exist with some tour operators for safety reasons.
Distance from condo: 4.5 hours
Hiking offers incredible experiences to explore the varied landscape and nature of Costa Rica. With over 25+ national parks, wildlife refuges and private reserves offering well marked hiking trails, from easy coastal walks to challenging mountainous climbs. There’s a hiking trail suitable for every skill level and desire. Most of the hikes lead to a natural wonder – be it an active or dormant volcano, relaxing hot springs, dark caves or a magical waterfall. Read More
Traveler’s Tip: Regardless of the hiking experience you crave, always remember to check local conditions and plan ahead. Some hikes are best during the dry season as trails can get washed out in the wet season. Others are full day adventures. Some book up to 3-6 months in advance due to its popularity or need to limit potential human impact on the regions delicate ecosystems.
Places to visit: Arenal National Park – volcano and lake hike, Rincon de la Veija National Park – Geothermal and volcano crator hikes, Barra Honda National Park, Corcovado National Park’s Sirena trail wildlife tour, Barra Honda National Park’s cave/trail hikes, Tenorio National Park with the famous Rio Celeste waterfall, Catarata Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike, Chirripo National Park volcano hike.
Distance from condo: 1.5 hours to 5 hrs by car or car/boat combination, depending on destination
Costa Rica has plenty of biking trails that crisscross thru pastures, along city roads, jungles or mountains. Set amid enchanting scenery, these singletrack paved and unpaved trails offer picturesque ocean views and stunning rural landscapes with terrain to challenge any ride level. Rides are classified by its terrain (eg. flat, some hills, paved or unpaved) or recommended bike type (e.g. road, hybrid/city or mountain). Road bikes tours are for paved routes. Read More
In town, there are plenty of bike routes that originate and end at Playa del Coco, including the International Ironman 80 km road bike route, an easy 9 km Coco neighbourhood trail, an exploratory 30 km Carillo district tour and the 30 km ITU Panamericano route originating in Playa Hermosa, traversing through neighbouring Playa Panama.
Out of town places to visit: the 13 km downhill mountain bike trails of Las Catalinas, 10-30 km Rincon de la Veija trails (where experienced mountain bikers can ride along the flanks of the volcano), 13 to 26 km easy ride around Lake Arenal
Distance from condo: 52 mins to 2 hours depending on location
Biking tip: Costa Rica does have a fairly large amount of poisonous and venomous creatures, so don’t wander off the trail, without a knowledgable guide alongside.
Not just an action and adventure destination, many of Costa Rica’s more interesting cultural experiences are deeply rooted in its agricultural society. Here, cultural tours are not your average outings. What Costa Rica may appear to lack in high culture (outside of urban centres), it makes up for with friendly and knowledgeable local guides, families and business owners who are unofficial ambassadors to the world as they intervene stories about the history and culture of their country in their rural tours. Read More
Several of the more unique and interesting cultural activities that can be enjoyed for a few hours include:
• Horseback riding with authentic Costa Rican cowboys
• Making and eating chocolate delights
• Helping with rural reforest efforts or protecting sea turtles
• Cinnamon and vanilla spice harvesting
• Touring pineapple, coconut and cane plantations
• Visiting with the Maleku indigenous tribe and discovering ancestral petroglyphs
• Viewing Stonehenge-esque sized polished stone orbs from 300 A
• Protecting sea turtles along the Nicoya Peninsula
• Participating in a Mejenga (slang for a pickup game) of basketball or soccer (football to Europeans).
And before you leave, be sure to take a little piece of Costa Rica home with you with handicrafts or edibles made by artisans and producers!
ZIPLINING & RAPPELLING
Do you get a thrill out of that ‘stomach dropping’ feeling when riding a roller coaster? Want to fly thru the rainforest canopy like Superman? For those that enjoy (and want) adrenaline experiences, ziplining and rappelling represent some of the safest and fun ways to experience heart-pounding thrills while simultaneously exploring the wonders of nature. Recreational ziplining is a Costa Rican right of passage, having been invented back in 1970. Read More
Rappelling or canyoning is one of those sports that focus more on the aesthetics of the view and the fun than pure difficulty. It’s essentially rock climbing in reverse where the power of your legs help you carry out controlled descents off rock faces and more commonly waterfalls to canyons deep in the jungle forest below. It requires no previous experience to enjoy some of the best Costa Rican landscape views. Led by experienced, safety-conscious guides rappelling can be enjoyed by all ages.
Even if you’re not a fan of heights, ziplining and rappelling are equally thrilling bucket list worthy adventures to try!