Our favorite thing to do in Costa Rica is meet a new beach. We try to meet as many new beaches as we can, in the land of rich coasts, undiscovered coves, and never-ending shorelines. We've recently had the pleasure of getting to know two new beaches, so please allow me to introduce them to you.
Playa Arco ~
Playa Arco is one of the most isolated beaches along the Southern coast of Costa Rica, but also one of the most breathtaking. There are no roads to this hidden beach, making it only accessible by boat or by foot. This secluded stretch of sand only exists for a few hours each day, until it is swallowed up once again by the steady tide.
To access this beach by foot you need to park your car at Playa Ballena and pay $6/person (although it is our goal to find a free side entrance soon), and hike 2 kilometers to Playa Arco. You have a four hour window to complete this hike, starting at two hours before low tide, and you must be back 2 hours after low tide, at the very latest.
It can be a dangerous activity if you're not watching the tide and the clock closely. You do not want to get stranded and be forced to spend a creepy night alone in the jungle, so make sure to check the tide chart ahead of time. Beginning the hike, you set off down a rocky section of shore, hiking carefully over slippery river rocks.
Of course I have some war wounds from a fall on the treacherous rocks. When we finally come home from Costa Rica I will wear all my scars proudly, showing them off like tattoos of our adventures, as I tell the story of how I was gifted each one.
I would recommend some kind of water shoe with traction for this part of the hike. I alternated between my Chaco river sandals, my flip flops and my bare feet throughout the day. After completing the difficult river rock portion we climbed onto some ocean cliffs to admire the view.
The trail from here goes up behind the beach, so we hiked up the jungle hill, around the corner, and back down to the hidden entrance to Playa Arco. The water is a glowing turquoise under the melting sun. The sand a smooth, sugary, crystal texture, reflecting the sky above.
Playa Arco is a wide, expansive beach about 1 kilometer long, and is usually deserted. It is cocooned by steep, wooded, rocky cliffs covered in vibrant, dense jungle foliage, where the rainforest meets the sea. The waves are powerful and soothing as they pound the sand with a magical, steady rhythm of a unique beach song, composed just for us.
We discovered an ocean cave for exploring, and a tiny mountain waterfall for a fresh water shower:
I found at least 25 miniature sand dollars as we roamed up and down the coastline, tucked into the sand like hidden Easter eggs, just waiting for someone to come along, discover them, and pluck them from the beach with triumphant admiration.
The hike itself takes about 20-25 minutes each way, depending on your skill and speed. Make sure to bring lots of water, a hat, sunscreen, a camera, bug spray, and a sunbrella (an umbrella for sun protection).
Playa Arco is one of the most breathtaking beaches in Costa Rica and I only wish we had discovered it sooner.
Playa Hermosa ~
We have found in Costa Rica that many beaches share the same name. There are at least 4 beaches named Playa Hermosa, that we know of. One of our favorite among these is the black sand Playa Hermosa, right next to Jaco. But there is also a Playa Hermosa that makes up one section of the famous whale's tail beach at Marino Ballena National Park, near where we currently live.
This beach is located between the beach towns of Dominical and Uvita. It is one of the only beaches in the Marino Ballena National Park that we were not charged to access. Driving right up to the beach we park our car underneath the shade of a grouping of almond trees. We get out to admire the view of the untouched coast, and walk along the empty shore.
Playa Hermosa is a long, sandy stretch of beach that is a good area for surfing due to the large, intense wave patterns. Known for strong rip currents, this is not the best spot for a leisurely afternoon swim. The beach stretches about 2 kilometers along the shore and is an undeveloped section of sand with no restaurants or hotels.
This Playa Hermosa is the perfect spot to enjoy some long, quiet beach walks, and to play some beach games, with a cooler full of beverages, along with a couple of hammocks.
Hopefully you enjoyed meeting these new beach friends as much as we did!
( If not, then maybe you are just a scrooge in desperate need of a beach vacation and should come meet them in person.)
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.