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.

Mexican hogfish at Playa Ocotal
Large Mexican hogfish males can be recognized by a bump between the eyes and a lyre tail.

How to get to the Playa Ocotal snorkeling spot

Playa Ocotal is a 10-minute drive from Playas del Coco, one of Guanacaste main tourist villages.

Playa Ocotal snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Playa Ocotal

The recommended snorkeling area in Playa Ocotal is along the rocks that edges the west side of the beach (see map).

We therefore advise you to go into the water at the end of the beach, near the rocks.

Playa Ocotal snorkeling exploration

The best snorkeling is along the rocky point, west of the beach. After swimming about 70 meters, you will arrive in a very pleasant small rocky bay.

This spot is made of rocky ridges, slopes and small drop offs. If you move too far from the rocks, you will reach less interesting sandy beds.

School of sergeant major at Playa Ocotal
Large groups of sergeant majors live near the rocks.

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.

A great diversity of fish can be spotted at this spot. Sergeant major, razor surgeonfish, Cortez rainbow wrasse and Mexican hogfish are very common around the drop offs.

Near the rocky outcrops and the small caves, you may also see porcupine fish, pufferfish and cornetfish.

A little rarer on this spot are the Cortez angelfish and the blacknosed butterflyfish, two species that are among the most colorful of the Eastern Pacific.

Guineafowl puffer at Playa Ocotal
The guineafowl puffer is one of the most common pufferfish species in the Eastern Pacific.

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.

Restaurants and accommodation

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.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth15ft/5m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

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.