Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá
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Playa Hermosa, separated from Playas del Coco to the south by Punta Cacique and from Bahía Culebra to the north by Punta Ballena, is a pleasant two-kilometer-wide curving gray-sand beach with good tidepools at its northern end.
The road continues one kilometer to Playa Panamá, a narrow two-kilometer-wide gray-sand beach in a cove bordered by low scrub-covered hills—a bay within a bay. The beach is popular with Ticos, who camp along it. Weekends and holidays get crowded.
The road dead-ends atop the headland overlooking Playa Arenilla and Bahía Culebra.
The much-troubled Cacique del Mar residential project atop Punta Cacique has been resurrected and is slated to host two five-star boutique hotels.
Villas del Sueño has live bands three nights weekly in high season, plus guest appearances in low season. Sports fans might check out the charmless, overly air-conditioned Upperdeck Bar (tel. 506/2672-1276, noon–1 A.M. daily).
Tours and Recreation
Diving Safaris (tel. 506/2672-1259, www.costaricadiving.net) has daily two-tank dive trips ($65), night and Nitrox dives, and certification courses. Snorkelers can accompany dive boats ($30).
Resort Divers de Costa Rica (tel. 506/2672-0000, www.hilton.com), at the Hilton Papagayo, offers surfing trips, sportfishing, snorkeling, and scuba trips.
Aqua Sport (tel. 506/2670-0050) offers all manner of water sports, plus boat tours and fishing. Dream Fishing (tel. 506/8705-4919, www.dreamvacationwithfishingtrip.com) also offers sportfishing.And Velas de Papagayo (tel. 506/2223-2508, www.velasdepapagayo.com, $100 pp) has snorkeling, sunset, and nighttime sailing trips out of Playa Panamá.
Getting to Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá
A Tralapa bus (tel. 506/2221-7202) departs San José for Playa Hermosa and Panamá from Calle 20, Avenidas 1/3, daily at 1:30 P.M. (five hours). Transportes La Pampa buses (tel. 506/2686-7245) depart Liberia for Playa Hermosa eight times daily, 4:30 A.M.–5:30 P.M. Buses depart Hermosa for San José at 5 A.M., and for Liberia 6 A.M.–7:10 P.M. daily.
Carol at J and C Tours (tel. 506/8879-4029, www.jandctours.com) specializes in transfers by minivan and can arrange all manner of tours.
A taxi from Coco will run about $5 one-way; from Liberia about $15.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition