La Penca

La Penca is a small beach on Punta Cacique (the peninsula separating Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa). Completely natural, this white sand beach where you may observe monkeys sleeping around make the atmosphere very romantic and peaceful. The water is usually calm and crystal clear, and allows snorkeling sessions among the most enjoyable of Guanacaste. You can combine an exploration of the area with Calzon de Pobre, which lies just a few hundred meters away.
How to get there?

La Penca is a small beach on the peninsula separating Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa, which are among the most sought-after resorts on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. From Liberia, you can get to Playa Hermosa in about 40 minutes (well signposted). Once you are at Playa Hermosa, continue on towards Playa del Coco for a few minutes. At the top of the hill, turn right along the dirt road serving the peninsula (a GPS application may come in handy since there are no signposts along the path, see on google maps). From Playa del Coco, head for Playa Hermosa and turn left on the track. Entry is controlled (a note is taken of your license plate), but free. Follow the track for five minutes until a cul-de-sac. Park and continue for around five minutes on foot. You can drive along the track in a normal vehicle, but ask for more information at the entrance (a 45-minute walk approximately).

Water entrance

The area to explore is at the left-hand part of the beach, along the rocky point enclosing the bay. You can enter the water anywhere along the sandy beach.

Aerial view


As you move away from the beach, you cross 20 meters or so of rocky seabed (↕3-6ft/1-2m) which gradually give way to a sandy seabed (↕6-12ft/2-4m). Large groups of wrasse and damselfish rest near the rocks, where small moray eels sometimes find a home. Cornetfish and triggerfish are easy to see.

The rocky area enclosing the left side of the beach is the most interesting. Hundreds of sergents majors and chromis take shelter around the rocks, and blacknose butterflyfish are common. Here and there, you will also see Cortez angelfish, and the elegant Passer angelfish.

Watch out for boats that sometimes come and go on this site when you are out to sea. The waters are particularly translucent here during the dry season, but sea conditions can be poor depending on the wind or the waves. Be careful and postpone your swim if the sea is too rough.

Restaurants and accommodation

The site is completely natural. To make the most of this very nice site, take along a picnic.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Intermediary level
  • Maximum depth
    20ft (6m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling La Penca

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Passer angelfish
Holacanthus passer
Cortez angelfish
Pomacanthus zonipectus
Speckled moray
Gymnothorax dovii
Fistularia commersonii
Orangeside triggerfish
Sufflamen verres
Bluebarred parrotfish
Scarus ghobban
Indo-Pacific sergeant
Abudefduf vaigiensis
Long-spine porcupinefish
Diodon holocanthus
White-spotted puffer
Arothron hispidus
Acapulco gregory
Stegastes acapulcoensis
Acapulco gregory
Stegastes acapulcoensis
Cortez rainbow wrasse
Thalassoma lucasanum
Starry grouper
Epinephelus labriformis
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You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?
  • Lisiane Ortega

    endroit sauvage, avec une petite plage très sympa, et de très jolis poissons à voir. L’accès demande un peu de courage ( surtout pour remonter au parking, car la cote est raide!!!!! mais le spot en vaut vraiment la peine.