Playa Cocles is one of the nicest beaches in Puerto Viejo with soft white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. This 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) long white sandy beach is some of the most developed beaches near Puerto Viejo with cafes and restaurants around. There are also street food stalls, surf shacks and even a volleyball and slack line set up on the beach. Playa Cocles is one of the best beaches for surfing along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Therefore the waves are sometimes too big to safely swim here. But you can still have a very good time here with plenty of other activities around. Read in this blog post everything you need to know about Playa Cocles.
How to get to Playa Cocles
Playa Cocles is a little outside of Puerto Viejo located, the laidback beach town on the Southern Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It’s a 3.8 kilometres (2 miles) drive along the jungle road that connects Puerto Viejo with Manzanillo. There are plenty of parking spots available off road that are directly connected to the beach. From San Jose it is 220 kilometers (137 miles) that takes 4.5 hours of driving to Playa Cocles. The main road in Puerto Viejo is paved so there is no specific need for a 4×4.
How to get to Playa Cocles from Puerto Viejo without car
If you don’t have a car or motorbike, then cycling is the most popular way to get around in Puerto Viejo. However if you want to explore further away from Puerto Viejo such as the BriBri waterfalls, Cahuita National Park and Manzanillo National Park, you have to take into account it can take you up to an hour biking.
But you can also take the local bus that goes from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo at 6:45, 7:45, 9:45, 11:45, 13:45, 16:45, 18:45 and 19:45. On Sundays it leaves at 7:45, 9:45, 10:45, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45, 15:45, 17:45, 19:45. You can get directly off at Playa Cocles from this bus. This bus also goes to Cahuita National Park.
Playa Cocles Puerto Viejo
Playa Cocles weather – Best time to go to Playa Cocles
The Caribbean coast enjoys a tropical humid climate all year long and has opposing rainy months to the Pacific coast. The best months to visit the Caribbean coast in general and Playa Cocles in particular are between February and April and between August and October. Those are also great months to escape the western Pacific coast which is then suffering its rainy season.
Playa Cocles can get quite busy during the weekends when locals flock to the beach. So if you can, go to Playa Cocles during the week days if you’re looking for a quieter and more laidback Costa Rican experience on the beach.
What to expect at Playa Cocles
Playa Cocles is a beautiful 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) long yellow-ish sandy beach dotted with tropical palm trees that give nice natural shade. It is one of the nicer beaches in Puerto Viejo area with plenty of facilities around. You can find restaurants, cafes, street food stalls, surf shacks and lots of vacation rentals such bungalows, private rooms in hotels and hostels around the beach.
There are always lifeguards on site which is mainly because Playa Cocles is popular for surfing. You will see some surf shacks that rent surfboards and give surf lessons. Because of the big waves, Playa Cocles is the best beach for surfing along the Caribbean coast. Therefore you will see many surfers in action on a day with good swell. In that case, the flag is mostly red which means it’s too dangerous for swimming.
Things to do on Playa Cocles
Being ‘only a beach’ there are actually quite some activities to do around besides relaxing and sunbathing. Below some of the best things to do on Playa Cocles.
Surfing at Playa Cocles
Some of the best beaches for surfing on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is Playa Cocles. Generally the best months for surfing at Cocles beach are January through March as it has bigger swell. Shortboarders will love the waves at Cocles as it has a consistent left and right break close to the beach. Because of the pretty big swell year round, surfing at Playa Cocles is more for intermediate and expert surfers.
There is really nice left break near the island that goes almost all the way down to the beach when the swell is big enough. If you’re not a surfer yourself it’s pretty epic to see the skilled surfers doing their thing in the water.
Playa Cocles surf for beginners?
For beginner surfers Playa Cocles is not the best spot to learn as the break (nicknamed the beach break) isn’t very long and close to the beach. This makes the ride pretty short which is tough for beginners, especially with long boards. However if the waves are big enough and during high tide, they can be lots of fun for beginners to get a taste of surfing in Costa Rica. Ask the surf schools at the beach if it’s the right time for beginners and know your own skills.
If you’re not a surfer or the waves are too big, then you can also go boogie boarding. You can rent boogie boards on the beach as well.
Watch sunrise at Playa Cocles
If you’re a sunrise lover then watching the sunrise at Playa Cocles is a great thing to do. Facing East, this beach catches the first sun rays of the day. We love watching and shooting the sunrise which is why we went to Playa Cocles to enjoy this magical moment.
Play volleyball or try out the slack line
On Playa Cocles is a volleyball net set up and even a slack line! If you’re into these activities then head over to Cocles beach and get in touch with the people in charge of this. When we were at Cocles beach there was a big group playing volleyball and some people practicing on the slack line. Also some people practiced yoga on the beach so it’s a great place to connect with all different kinds of people.
Explore the jungle and viewpoint on Isla Cocles
On the western end of Cocles beach is a beautiful jungle with sandy paths. Here you can walk in the shade, and if you follow the path into the jungle, you will get to a viewpoint on the rocks. This is a great place to relax away from the crowds, watch the sunrise or see the waves from above. From here you’ll have a great view on the little island as well.
During our time in Puerto Viejo we went to this part to shoot the sunrise and it was absolutely magical. We had magical golden light and found some great photo spots. Below two of the pictures we took that morning.
To experience Cocles beach in another way you can also go horseback riding along the beach and into the luscious jungle of Puerto Viejo where you can spot all sorts of wildlife such as toucans, sloths, monkeys and many different exotic birds.
Other things to do near Playa Cocles
If you’re looking for more things to do near Playa Cocles then there are plenty of options. Of course relaxing in Puerto Viejo is one of those things. But you can also get a guided tour through the nearby Jaguar Rescue Centre. Or go the neighbour Playa Chiquita, Punta Cocles or Punta Uva to explore some more of the amazing beaches near Puerto Viejo. Punta Uva is known for having some of the most beautiful white sand palm studded beach in the area. This is actually a great alternative if you’re looking for a bit more laid back beach without the (surf) buzz that Cocles beach has. Possibly a great option for young families, couples looking for a more intimate beach and other peace seekers.
Best tours in Costa Rica
If you want to explore the best of Costa Rica, then it is highly recommended to book a tour. During most of these tours you will combine a few locations on one day so you can see the diversity that Costa Rica has to offer. Because of Costa Rica’s popularity it is highly recommended to book your tours in advance as it is likely that tours sell out. So don’t wait with booking until you get to Costa Rica. Choose your favorite tours here and secure your booking! All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Cahuita National Park and Tortuguero Canal boat tour. Explore Costa Rica’s Caribbean side with this wildlife-rich shore excursion to Cahuita National Park. Admire the biodiversity of the Tortuguero Canals, hike across Cahuita and enjoy Puerto Limon’s city highlights.
- 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion from San Jose. Visit one of the most important destinations in Costa Rica on a guided tour. Explore a beautiful natural paradise, tour the famous Tortuguero Canal and see diverse flora and fauna during this 3 day tour.
- Manuel Antonio National Park combo tour from San Jose. Explore the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park and its beautiful white-sand beaches. Discover the abundant wildlife on the park’s rainforest trails. Enjoy included breakfast and lunch, and make stops to see crocodiles.
- Poas volcano, Coffee plantation tour and La Paz waterfall gardens. Visit 3 destinations in one day on this guided tour from San José. Learn about coffee production, visit the Poas Volcano Crater, and experience the incredible nature around La Paz Waterfall Garden.
- Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes Guayabo Tour. Visit Irazu volcano and the “Central Town” at the foothills of the active Turrialba Volcano. Experience a unique history and culture, shaped by the tallest and most active volcanoes in Costa Rica.
- Night jungle tour Manuel Antonio tour. The best of the wildlife comes alive at night. Allow yourself to live amazing encounters that happen only at night in the rainforest. See wild night animals, and discover a whole new world.
- Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch from San Jose. Spend the day discovering the luscious landscapes of Tortuguero National Park. Explore this vibrant rainforest, see native wildlife in its natural habitat, learn about the local ecosystem and enjoy a delicious Costa Rican breakfast and lunch.
- Celeste River and Llanos de Cortez Waterfall from Tamarindo. Hike through Tenorio Volcano National Park and visit the beautiful blue river. Discover the rainforest and swim at Llanos de Cortez waterfalls while observing sloths, red-eyed leaf frogs, toucans, and butterflies.
- La Fortuna 4 activities on 1 day; base hike Arenal volcano, hanging bridges, La Fortuna waterfall and hotsprings
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about Playa Cocles in Puerto Viejo.
For more travel inspiration about Costa Rica, have a look at our other Costa Rica travel guides.