Playas Del Coco

A quickly developing complex of playas (beaches) begins at Playa Panama, and stretches south through Playa Hermosa of guanacaste, Playas del Coco and ending at Playa Ocotal. The prettiest beach in this complex, and the one with the most potential, is Playa Hermosa. (Hermosa means "beautiful" in Spanish, and Playa Hermosa lives up to its name.) This is a lovely place, with a curving shoreline of clean sand and a peninsula which shields it from the open ocean and dangerous riptides. Development lags way behind nearby Playas del Coco, the most commercially developed of all the beach communities. Since the pavement ends in the center of El Coco, tourists tend to stay here rather than braving annoying stretches of washboard gravel roads to get to nearby beaches. In contrast with neighboring communities, which are sleepy and tranquil, Playas del Coco restaurants, bars and discos stay open all night on weekends, with happy people singing and shouting in exuberance all night long. (It seemed that way to me one weekend when I was trying to catch up on my sleep!)

Playas del Coco is a fun place to be, with potential for invest­ment opportunities. At least 60 North Americans live here, many with viable businesses. But for retirement or long-term vacations, I might choose one of the quieter, nearby places. A number of North Americans have houses along the fringes of the less popu­lated beaches. I understand that several North American families live in Hermosa Beach and more are in the planning stages of building. Italians and Germans are represented here, as well.

One resident, a retired air force sergeant, related his reasons for settling here. First of all, he bought ten acres (by mail) before he retired from the military. Then, before he had the chance to visit the property, he received a letter offering to trade the ten acres for one-and-one-half acres of jojoba bean property. This seemed to be a good deal, so he signed the papers for a trade, again, all by mail. When he finally retired and arrived in Costa Rica to claim his jojoba bean plantation, he discovered that jojoba beans don't grow in this area, and furthermore, the property was not only inaccessible by automobile, it had a Nicaraguan family living on it who were not inclined to move simply because the owner wanted them to. While he was looking fora way to visit his jojoba bean farm, he fell in love with a Costa Rican lady and got married. He forgot about his agricultural fiasco and settled down in his wife's village. "Now I have a seven-year-old daughter, a house in a village where I am the only Gringo, and I don't like about being a night watchman," he said plaintively, "is weekends, when guests party all night; they make so much noise I can't sleep." He was right; they kept me awake too.

There can be no question about Coco's potential for business, retirement or long-term living. Several very successful, American-owned enterprises operate here, and more are on the way. But if I don't sound particularly enthusiastic about the place, it's probably because here is where I locked my keys in my rental car and struggled for two hours in the hot sun before figuring out a way to get inside without breaking a window. A good car thief could have done it in less than 20 seconds. One of the most horrible sights in the world is a set of ignition keys hanging in a locked rental car.
A few kilometers to the south is Playa Ocotal, a place that maintains a village atmosphere despite also having a deluxe tourist resort. The accommodations are tastefully done to blend in with the natural surroundings, although I've heard complaints about service. The village is on the shore of Bahia Pez Vela (Sailfish Bay), and the fishing is said to live up to the bay's name.

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