• Photo: Malgorzata Drewniak / Shutterstock

Playas del Coco

Messy, noisy, colorful, and interesting, Playas del Coco has the best souvenir shopping, the most dive shops, and the liveliest nightlife and barhopping on this part of the coast. It's still a working fishing port, with a port captain's office, a fish market, and an ice factory for keeping the catch of the day fresh—not for cooling margaritas, although many are enjoyed here. The beach has a beautiful boardwalk with palm trees, benches, and even cold showers. An explosion of condominium and villa projects has brought new money to the community, along with new commercial development, including the upscale Pacifico Village shopping center at the entrance to town. This center boasts a flagship AutoMercado, the country's top grocery chain, as well as a bank, pharmacy, restaurants, fast-food chains, a UPS office, and a few clothing boutiques. Fresh seafood, myriad souvenir shops, and plenty of bars have always drawn tourists here, but Playas del Coco also has a high concentration of tour operators offering diving, fishing, and surfing excursions at remote breaks such as Ollie's Point and Witch's Rock. Because Coco is mere minutes from Playa Hermosa, however, you can just as easily enjoy those sports while staying at that more pleasant beach. If you like to shop and party, and want some local color, Coco's slightly raucous ambience can be appealing.

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