The closest major city is Liberia, Costa Rica.
5 hours from San José, 3 buses per day leaving San José at 08:00, 14:00 and 16:00, and returning from Playas del Coco at 04:00, 08:00 and 14:00. 1 hour from Liberia, buses every hour until 11:00 and then every 2.5 hours until 18:30. The bus company is called Pulmitan ☏. It is possible to get to San José via Liberia if the direct services are full.
It is a 4-hour drive from the capital, San José.
There are buses that travel the roads between Coco and nearby beaches, but they are often crowded and uncomfortable.
Depending on the season, from a handful to far too many to count local taxis will take you around Coco, as well as to nearby beaches, for anywhere from US$2-10 per trip. If you're only in Coco for a few days and don't want to invest in a rental car, this is your best option.
This is the best way to tour Coco and surrounding areas, and essential if you plan on staying more than a few days. It's recommended that you rent a 4x4, but a 4x4 is not necessary if you're a careful and competent off-road driver who understands the limitations of a car.
All rental cars are easily identifiable by locals (rental cars use a different type of license plate). Therefore, you should never leave any valuables unattended in your rental car, as they are constantly targeted by thieves. Also, local police can instantly identify a rental car and will not hesitate to pull over a tourist for speeding, so follow the speed limit closely.
This area of Costa Rica is short on historical attractions, museums, art galleries, etc. If you're in Coco, you're going to see beaches, wildlife, and enjoy the sun.
Popular beaches near Coco include Hermosa, Ocotal, Flamingo (incredibly popular with the locals on weekends), Panama, and a handful of remote beaches on the Papagayo peninsula (including the beach at the Four Season Papagayo). Further away, Tamarindo is an excellent surf beach for beginners, as well as a more commercialized beach town. If you're looking for something and can't find it in Coco, it's probably in Tamarindo (a little more than an hour away).
Downtown Coco beach is worth a look, especially after nightfall. You'll find drinking, dancing, and dining options, and even a couple of casinos.
Coco is also a great place to stay while exploring nearby natural wonders like the dormant volcano Rincon de la Vieja (about 1½ hours driving time), Llano de Cortes waterfall (about 2 hours drive time), and dozens of beaches within 1-2 hours drive (too many to mention, in fact). Jungle tours are also popular, and most of the local tour providers include a "zip line" tour as the main attraction.
Coco is fairly far away from Arenal, a volcano that has been dormant since 2010, and that is a must-see of any Costa Rica visit. Therefore, if you plan on staying in Coco, you might want to set aside two days of your trip to visit and stay at a resort near the Arenal volcano.
The main beach in Coco is under renovation with a new boardwalk but it is still not the best looking beach. However, it's a great place to rent a boat for an excursion to nearby "Gorilla rock" (also known as "monkey's head rock") as well as some mangrove swamps up the coast. A boat can also take you to some very good quality snorkeling just off-shore. If you decide to rent a boat, be sure to negotiate hard. Often times you will be asked to pay twice as much when you first ask for a price.
If you have a rental car, you can drive to either Ocotal or Hermosa beach. Both of these beaches are much cleaner and only 5-10 minutes drive away. If you're looking for a nicer beach and/or a longer trip, you can drive over to the Four Seasons Papagayo, park just outside the front gate, and then walk to the beach (in Costa Rica, all beaches are public, so they can't stop you from hanging out on their "private" beach).
A local resident named Dr. Will offers an early-morning wildlife tour that will introduce you to Costa Rica wildlife right under your nose. Will is a retired veterinarian who lives in nearby Ocotal and offers individual tours for US$30-40 per person, depending on the group size.
Deep sea fishing excursions are definitely available as well - be sure to ask around on the beach in the late afternoon to find the best deal for the following day. You can also hire a boat to take you surfing off-shore near world famous Witch's Rock just up the coast from Coco. However, if you're new to surfing or not willing to invest in an all-day boat tour, you might consider driving about an hour to nearby Tamarindo. The surfing there is very good for beginners and kids.
There are many reputable dive companies in town including Summer-Salt, and Deep Blue Diving. Both employ people who have great depth of knowledge of not only what is in the ocean but what you can find on land. If you want to go sailing the Kuna Vela and Marlin Negro are large charter sailboats with experienced and knowledgeable crews.
Finally, much like any tourist-oriented community in Costa Rica, you will find organized jungle tours that include zip-line rides. While there are half-a-dozen local tour operators and zip-line operations, you might consider visiting the Hacidenda Gauchipelin for an all day package that includes a good quality zip line tour, and then your choice of a waterfall visit, a horseback ride, a soak in a mud bath, etc. Hacienda Guachipelin is about an hour away from Coco, but it's reasonable value and offers nice views of the dormant volcano Rincon de la Vieja.
- Summer Salt Dive Center, 100m south of the park (Guanacaste 5019), ☏ .
Downtown Coco is the best place to find deals on clothes, souvenirs, and trinkets. While you can definitely negotiate prices, you may find that shop keepers are unwilling to work with you. Prices are different for tourists, so it never hurts to ask for the "Tico price" when buying any goods.
Downtown Coco has some night life and quite a few restaurants. The Hotel Coco Palms [dead link] offers a wide selection of local and familiar foods, as does the Coconutz Sports Bar on main street.
A small cafe on the western edge of Coco called Pato Loco is a good place for breakfast or lunch, and there's a hamburger stand very close to Pato Loco that serves excellent yet inexpensive hamburgers.
The Lookout is a few hundred feet up the hill and has a view of the cove. They mostly serve burgers and seafood priced around $15 each and various cocktails.
- 1 Coconutz Sports Bar & Grill, Main Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00 until late. Also headquarters of Angry Goats Brewery Costa Rica.
- 2 Bar Flipper, email@example.com. Open til midnight or later. Bar with Latin and Reggie music, a dance floor, and pool tables. Felt like mostly locals here and the bouncers just let in whoever they like. Whatever price you see for drinks, don't expect to get change back if you plan on dancing. For all the downsides, still good vibes with lots of people dancing.
- Cabinas Coco Azul Guanacaste, 100 metros sur y 25 metros oeste Playas del Coco, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The place is managed by an American and offers nice cabins and apartments in affordable prices. Probably the most economic option in town for backpackers.
- The Palms At Coco Beach (by the soccer field), ☏ , HotelCocoPalms@Hotmail.com. A quaint hotel with a nice pool, restaurant, and bar. Very popular with Europeans.
- Coco Cabinas (800 m north of town centre), ☏ . 2 apartments, each with space for up to 6 people, private bathroom and furnished kitchen. 5 minutes drive from Playa el Coco beach. US$50-100.
- Serena Suites, 400m west from Chicos bar on the road towards Ocotal beach, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. 17 built and furnished 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condos, fully equipped kitchen, automatic washer and dryer, Internet, towels and linens provided, max occupancy 5 people, 3 minutes drive from El Coco and Ocotal Beach. There is a beautiful tropical pool and gardens, 24-hour security and lots of free parking inside the gate. $100 approximate.