Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on August 13, 2022
Located near Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal is a large, busy gray sand beach. The rocky point to the west of the beach, teeming with sea life, is a renowned snorkeling spot in the area. Snorkeling along the rocks you may spot butterflyfish, angelfish, porcupinefish, and dozens of other Eastern Pacific fish species.
Playa Ocotal is a 10-minute drive from Playas del Coco, one of Guanacaste’s main seaside resorts. Parking is available roadside near the beach. It is advisable to tip “car watchers” a small fee.
The recommended snorkeling area in Playa Ocotal is along the rocks that edge the west and east sides of the beach (see map). We, therefore, advise you to go into the water at the ends of the beach, near the rocks, depending on the area you want to snorkel.
The left side of the bay as you look at it (area 1 on the map) is quite shallow and made of rocky ridges, slopes, and small drop-offs. In places, the rocks are covered with bright green Caulerpa. Long-spined sea urchins, and sometimes some gorgonians and small blue sponges, can also be seen here.
Sea turtles can sometimes be found there. If you take your time lots of fish abound, including spotted snake-eels, spotted eagle rays, Cortez rainbow wrasse, Mexican hogfish, and many species of puffers (check the species list at the bottom of the page).
A little rarer at this spot are the Cortez angelfish and the blacknosed butterflyfish, two species that are among the most colorful of the Eastern Pacific.
To the right of the bay (area 2 on the map) are rocks that make for excellent visibility, visited by large schools of razor surgeonfish and yellowtail surgeonfish, two closely related species frequently schooling together.
Keep following the rocks and you will get to another bay/beach called Playa Gringo, only accessible by swimming or climbing the large hill. This lovely shallow sandy bay (area 3 on the map) is home to several eagle rays and stingrays species.
In Playa Ocotal as often in the region, the sea can be rough. In this case, do not enter the water. Also, watch out for the many boats that come to anchor in front of the beach.
There is a Father Rooster’s restaurant on the beach. Otherwise, get to Playas del Coco for a wider choice of restaurants and convenience stores. This part of the coast is very popular with tourists, and dozens of accommodations for all budgets are available nearby.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Small islands bordered by reefs with turtles, sea horses and colorful fish
Rocky areas with fish, stingrays and sea turtles
Free shore access
Small rocky and sandy bay with colorful fish
Rocky shore with colorful fish
Rock and coral reef with colorful fish, rays and turtles
Free shore access