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Along the “Gold Coast” of Guanacaste, Playa Hermosa Costa Rica has become one of the most desired expat destinations in the country. With stunning and pristine beaches, gentle waters, and a convenient location to major airports, Playa Hermosa continues to be a gem in this thriving part of the land of Pura Vida.

playa hermosa costa rica


Playa Hermosa and the Guanacaste Province – History and Location

Long before Playa Hermosa became the tourist and expat magnet of the Gold Coast, Guanacaste province has featured prominently in the history of Costa Rica. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the northern part of the Nicoya peninsula was the ancient home of the Chorotega Indians.

In the 1700s, some of the residents of Rivas (in what is now Nicaragua) moved south and established a settlement at a crossroads joining the towns of Rivas, Bagaces, and Nicoya. The location was baptized with the name of the Guanacaste tree – known today as the national tree of Costa Rica.

During the years 1824-25, Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica; July 25, 1824 marked the decision of the towns Nicoya and Santa Cruz to become part of the land of Pura Vida. The town of Guanacaste was named as province capital in 1836 and later renamed Liberia in 1854.

The early 1990s saw a boom in development in the area north of Tamarindo. Located between Playa del Coco and Playa Panama, Playa Hermosa has become a consistent center for development of beach properties including a number of high-end resorts.

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica Today

The vibrant and established expat community in Playa Hermosa continues to be a major location for retirees and investors. Values have rebounded and there is a good selection of properties for prospective buyers to examine.

The Hermosa Beach area continues to combine a laid-back atmosphere with quality accommodations. As a winner of the coveted “Bandera Azul” award for environmental quality and safety facilities, Playa Hermosa has certainly lived up to the translation of its Spanish name: Beautiful Beach.

It’s Not THAT Playa Hermosa

If riding the waves and following the “endless summer” to fulfill a surfing dream is your destination, Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste is NOT the place you want. The surfer’s Playa Hermosa is located in Puntarenas province just south of the surfing mecca of Jaco.

Expat Life in Hermosa Beach Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa Beach

Access to this most coveted tourist and expat location is a major plus for Hermosa Beach. The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia is a scant 20 minutes away and accepts daily flights from the U.S., Europe, and Canada.

Along with the growth of the expat population and the increase in the tourist trade, there has been an increase in construction of several large hotels/resorts at the northern end of Hermosa. An upside to this is added shopping and restaurant options for residents and visitors.

There are available taxis and shuttles that run up and down the Gold Coast affording access to the larger communities of Tamarindo and Playa del Coco. The bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in these lively beach towns can provide nightlife options without disturbing the tranquility that Hermosa’s visitors desire.

playa hermosa costa rica

E. Daniel

Things to See and Do in the Hermosa Beach Area

Beyond the sun, sand, and gentle ocean waves, there is a wide selection of recreational activities for expats and visitors to enjoy. Snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boats are all readily available at a number of locations along the beachfront. Sunset cruises and sport fishing charters are also easy to arrange and enjoy.

Some of the finest national parks in Costa Rica are readily accessible from Playa Hermosa. Rincon de la Vieja National Park has a variety of geological wonders including hot springs, an active volcano crater, a waterfall, and bubbling natural mud pots.

Santa Rosa National Park is home to a massive nesting and breeding grounds for sea turtles. The park was originally created to protect the site of the battle of Santa Rosa and the Second Battle of Rivas where Costa Rica’s national hero, Juan Santamaria was mortally wounded helping the Costa Rican army defeat William Walker in his attempt to establish an English speaking colony.

Palo Verde National Park has lush mangroves, wetlands and savannah and is one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet: one of the last remaining tropical dry forests. Bird watchers will be delighted by the variety of species that call this unique environment home.

For the more adventurous, the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula with communities like Samara and Nosara offer a more rustic and bohemian environment.

What Does It Cost to Live in Playa Hermosa Guanacaste

The overall cost of living in Playa Hermosa is somewhat higher than other beach locations in Costa Rica, ranging in the upper-mid range to lower end luxury prices as evidenced by the million dollar properties that can be found on both the North and South ridge areas. These higher prices may be an issue for those whose expat dreams are limited by budget constraints.

As developers return to the region in response to a reviving economy, property values can be expected to increase. The areas of the North and South ridges, in particular are slated for some exciting long term projects with the potential for a significant return on investment.

This is not to say, however, that there aren’t some more moderately priced options a short distance from the prime beachfront properties. Looking at the options available, both for completed properties and lots available for construction, is the best way to determine the affordability of living in Hermosa.

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

Sergio Quesada

The Downside of Paradise

While Hermosa Beach may be the perfect destination for many expats, even paradise has some features that may not tick everyone’s boxes in terms of an ideal location. Here are some things for consideration.

The sand at Hermosa is dark; for some beach “purists” this can be a real negative. If white, pristine sand is a requirement, Playa Hermosa may not be the best fit.

There is no real nightlife at Playa Hermosa although the nearby communities of Playa del Coco and Tamarindo certainly have many nocturnal entertainment options. The serenity and calm of Hermosa may be too sedate for those seeking the party atmosphere of an exciting beach town.

The calm waters off Playa Hermosa are a great location for many aquatic activities such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding. However the big negative of these placid waters is that there is no surfing here. As mentioned above, the “other” Playa Hermosa is the wave riders’ preferred destination.

Playa Hermosa Costa Rica and the surrounding area on the Gold Coast are very developed. Those seeking a more “adventure camp” lifestyle or wanting to immerse themselves in a rustic Costa Rican experience would be disappointed by the modern amenities that abound in the area.

playa hermosa costa rica

Sergio Quesada

Future Plans for Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

The future is definitely bright for the Playa Hermosa area of the Gold Coast. As the collapse of 2008 recedes in the distance, investors and developers are once again turning their resources and efforts to the promise of the Hermosa beach location.

The southern end of the beach is the location of the Steve Case Cacique Project. This development will include, among other amenities, a tennis court complex designed by stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. Importantly, the project will minimize impact to the environment keeping to Costa Rica’s commitment to “stay green”.

The northern end of Hermosa is the Playa Panama development. This luxury property will have Westin, Grand Occidental, and Hilton resorts and the amenities that can be expected of such high quality operations.

Importantly for residents and long-term visitors of Hermosa Beach, there will be construction of a new state of the art CIMA Hospital  just 15 minutes away. Having a world-class medical facility is a further indication of the growth potential of the this once sleepy Pacific fishing village.

So What Is the Best Way to Discover If Playa Hermosa Is Part of Your Tropical Dream

The undisputed, best way to find out how your vision of an expat retreat matches with the opportunities that abound in Playa Hermosa is to go there. Being able to physically see the area and experience life there is the first and most important step in making the decision to move.

Set aside at least a week (two would be better) so you can truly explore Hermosa Beach and the surrounding communities. Check out places like the Super Mercado (a grocery chain), take a tour (or two), maybe experiment with taking a taxi to Tamarindo or Playa del Coco.

Talk to long time expats and find out their experiences – both positive and negative. There is no better source of information than those who have made the journey (and possibly some mistakes along the way) before you.

Lastly, take all the information that you’ve gained and be honest with yourself as to whether this is the place for you. Playa Hermosa Costa Rica may not be the perfect fit for everyone but, if you discover that it’s a good match, go for your dream.

Map of Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica Fast Facts

  • Population: Aprox. 1,800
  • Typical temperature: Average temperature 82°F with a maximum of 100°F
  • Nearest airport with U.S. flights: Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport
  • Nearest U.S. consulate: San Jose, Costa Rica