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Playa Hermosa is one of the most popular seaside resorts on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The beach, in a large bay with steep hills around it, is bordered to the west by the Punta Cacique, with excellent snorkeling spots (Playa Penca and Calzon del Pobre). If you are staying at Playa Hermosa, you should still pay a visit to this spot since, when the conditions are right, there are great observation opportunities.

Snorkeler in Playa Hermosa
A snorkeler along Playa Hermosa rocky shore.

How to go snorkeling Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa is on the west coast of Costa Rica, about 20 miles/35km from Liberia. From Liberia, take the beach road and head for “Playa Hermosa”, which is well signposted. Several buses go to Playa Hermosa from Liberia each day. Playa Hermosa is also just a 10-minute drive from Playas del Coco.

When you get to Playa Hermosa, park near the beach and continue on foot. Once at the beach, walk for about ten minutes to the east (to the right when you are facing the ocean), and enter the water just past Hotel Condovac.

Playa Hermosa snorkeling map

Entering the water to snorkel Playa Hermosa

Enter the water from the small white sand beach nestling in the rocks. The snorkeling spot is all around the rocky bars you can see on your left and right as you look out to sea.

Pacific spadefish at Playa Hermosa
A school of Pacific spadefish encountered on the rocky beds.

Playa Hermosa snorkeling tips

Soon after leaving the beach, you will see the rocky reefs covered in seaweed surrounding the spot (↕3-10ft/1-3m). You will see a large number of blennies, which are easy to get near to, resting on the rocks, while Cortez rainbow wrasse come and go along the shore.

Further on, the water level increases (↕6-12ft/2-4m). Soft coral with white polyps, which is quite rare in the region, cling on to the reef drop-off, between small blue sponges and colonies of Caulerpa.

Spotted snake eel in Playa Hermosa
A spotted snake eel noted on the sandy beds.

Beautiful white sea fans are interspersed here and there along the rocky sea bed. Small shoals of sergeant major flow this way and that in the swirling water, and a few Cortez angelfish move along the sea bed, protecting their territory.

Many other species of fish can be seen here, including stingrays, Pacific spadefish, and several species of moray eels and snake eels.

This spot is strongly exposed to sea conditions and visibility can deteriorate in the rainy season. Wear swimfins and keep at a distance from the rocks to avoid all risk of a collision. Don’t hesitate to postpone your snorkeling session in case of doubt, and head for the spots in Playa Penca and Calzon de Pobre in case of poor visibility.

Barred serrano
A barred serrano.

Restaurants and accommodation around Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is full of restaurants and accommodation for every budget, less than 5 minutes away from the snorkeling spot on foot.

 

  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersNo

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.