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Playa Buena is a hidden gem located between Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. The rock and coral areas found at both ends of the beach are home to dense sea life, including colorful reef fish, several species of rays, and hawksbill sea turtles. If you are staying in the area, don’t hesitate to pay a visit to this wild, yet untouched bay.

Hawksbill sea turtle in Playa Buena
Hawksbill sea turtles are frequently spotted in Playa Buena.

How to get to Playa Buena snorkeling spot?

Playa Buena is located between Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá, just a few kilometers drive from these two beaches. You’ll find off-road parking (not guarded) before you reach the entrance to the Occidental Papagayo all-inclusive hotel. As ever leave no valuables in your car.

To access the beach, follow “Playa Access” signs approx 750 feet down the paved path to the beach. This spot is Occidental Papagayo all-inclusive hotel’s house reef.

Playa Buena snorkeling map, Costa Rica

Water entrance for snorkeling Playa Buena

The beach offers an easy sandy entrance to water. This location is better explored at high tide, during which you can snorkel above the rocky area to the left of the beach.

Playa Buena snorkeling exploration tips

The rocky/reef areas found at the two ends of the beach are the most recommended for snorkeling. Between them, you’ll find a less interesting large sandy area.

Lots of coral structures can be observed in the reef areas, but not too healthy-looking.

Juvenile cortez rainbow wrasse in Playa Buena
Juvenile Cortez rainbow wrasse gathers in the shallow rocky areas.

You’ll find quite shallow areas out to the rock spit (↕3-8 feet/1-3m). The area is nicely sheltered on the left side (as you look out) from waves and current.

Turtles, spotted eagle rays, stingrays, rainbow wrasse, puffers and angelfish abound at this location. If you take the time to look in the crevasses, you may also spot the odd snowflake moray or a spotted snake-eel.

Yellow guineafowl puffer in Playa Buena
A yellow guineafowl puffer photographed at reef. Usually black with white spots, this species can go through a bright-yellow phase.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

There are no facilities on the beach, but you may find vendors selling shaved ice. Massages are offered for approx 20,000 colones.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.