A drive along Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast will bring you to some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. And while the bigger towns get much of the hype, there is a lot to see in between them. The hour-long stretch of road between Jaco and Manuel Antonio passes amazing surf spots, rolling farm fields, and quiet beachside communities.
One destination that is often overlooked along this route is Playa Bejuco. This small beachside town has its own amenities and a beautiful palm-tree-lined beach. In this post, we’ll share all the information you need to plan a visit to Playa Bejuco.
A Central Location
Playa Bejuco (Puntarenas) has a desirable location for visitors who want to see main attractions but also stay somewhere less busy, and perhaps, less expensive. It’s about 30 minutes south of Jaco and 45 minutes north of Manuel Antonio.
Playa Bejuco is right off the coastal highway, Route 34. The main area consists of just one short road that runs from the highway directly to the beach. Along that strip are a couple of residential developments and small hotels. There is also a mini-super (convenience store).
The main road ends at the beach. Here, you’ll find a narrow sandy road that runs both to the left and right.
Proximity to Jaco and Manuel Antonio
Both Jaco and Manuel Antonio are easy day trips from Playa Bejuco.
Jaco is the largest tourist town on the central Pacific coast. It has a main strip with loads of great restaurants, shops, and tour operators if you are looking for adventure. The beach in Jaco isn’t the most pristine, but it always has a lot going on, which makes it fun.
In the other direction is Manuel Antonio, which is famous for its abundant wildlife. A tour of Manuel Antonio National Park is a must when visiting the area. The jungle-backed town is full of excellent restaurants and has many tours available as well.
Proximity to the Airport
From Costa Rica’s largest airport near San Jose (SJO), the drive to Playa Bejuco is about 2 hours along paved highways. This adds to the town’s appeal since you can usually eliminate airport hotel stays, depending on your flights.
Note: There are two beaches in Costa Rica that go by the name of Playa Bejuco. One is south of Samara on the Nicoya Peninsula. The one we are talking about here is on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast in the province of Puntarenas.
Playa Bejuco – About the Beach
While day trips to the major tourist spots are fun, Playa Bejuco is an attraction in and of itself.
Shady palm trees are spaced out along the beach road, allowing you to pull your car right up to the sand’s edge in many spots.
Playa Bejuco is a long expanse of gray sand. It stretches for miles in each direction. To the north, you can see one point, which is the surfing town of Esterillos Oeste. Far to the south, you can faintly see another point with a large hill. This is Quepos and Manuel Antonio.
While strong waves and sometimes rip currents make Playa Bejuco hard to swim at, the water is nice for wading and splashing around. Kids often boogie board. and some people surf when conditions are right.
Recently a lifeguard station has been added where the main road meets the beach. It is mostly funded by the area’s residents and businesses. This shows the kind of tight-knit community that Playa Bejuco has.
Between taking dips in the warm Pacific, most people enjoy their time under the palm trees or out on the sand.
While not really on the tourist map, many locals from San Jose and other parts of Costa Rica come to Playa Bejuco on weekends and holidays. This can make for a fun cultural experience. There’s lots of relaxing in hammocks, barbequing, friendly soccer matches, and spending time with family and friends.
Accommodations in Playa Bejuco
While Playa Bejuco doesn’t have big hotels or resorts, there are a few good accommodation options for visitors.
The most common accommodations are vacation rentals. Several gated communities in and around Playa Bejuco offer large home rentals with full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, nice gardens, and often a private pool. Some are within a short walk to the beach, while others are located a few minutes away by car.
Along the beach road, you’ll also find some stand-alone rental units. These are right across the street from the beach and have an amazing view.
Along with vacation homes, a couple of smaller hotels and cabins are also dotted into the community.
A simple, but popular choice, is Hotel Playa Bejuco. This is on the main road, just a one-minute walk to the water. It is run by friendly locals and has a pool and restaurant onsite.
Another option is EcoVida Properties. EcoVida has basic, but well equipped, cabins nestled in the rainforest. They also have a larger apartment made from a shipping container. The owners of EcoVida are passionate about the surrounding environment and sustainable farming.
Finally, there is camping available at Playa Bejuco. Several campgrounds are located along the beach road. For a small daily fee, you can set up a tent and get access to bathrooms and showers.
Bejuco’s Restaurants & Other Local Eats
Although the town of Playa Bejuco is very small, it has several good choices for dining in or taking out.
Esterillos Town Center
Across the highway from the beach, you will find Esterillos Town Center. This is a large plaza with some shopping as well as several dining options. It also has a grocery store, bakery, and a weekly farmers market (Saturday evenings during high season).
We have enjoyed several meals at La Rioja Restaurant. They have a big tapas menu if you just need a small bite to eat. They also have wood-fired pizza and a variety of entrees, including fried snapper, grilled seafood, steaks, and burgers. On Fridays, check out their 2×1 cocktails and live music.
El Chiringuito is a more upscale option with Mediterranean cuisine like fresh ravioli, risotto, seafood, and grilled meats. They also have a combo menu with casual dishes that is great for a picnic at the beach. El Chiringuito is a good place to go for cocktails. Check their Facebook page for info on live music and events.
For nicely done food in a casual atmosphere, there is Jardines Café Emma. They serve traditional Costa Rican or American-style breakfast, along with burgers and quality steak and seafood plates. They also sell all-natural homemade breads and bagels.
On the beach side of town is Sunsets Restaurant in Hotel Playa Bejuco. They serve mostly typical Costa Rican fare like arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and casados (plates with rice, beans, salad, and a protein like fish or meat), but they have some more elaborate entrees as well like chicken cordon blue. The dining area is located next to the hotel’s pool.
Along with the restaurants above, you can usually find some beach vendors offering local foods, especially on weekends. Several walk around selling fresh ceviche or cold coconuts.
There is also usually a person selling ice cream or a local treat called a granizado. These are a snow-cone-type dessert made with shaved ice, sweet fruit syrups, powdered milk, and condensed sweet milk. They are sure to give you a sugar high! The vendor walks around with a cart and makes it right there for you.
Playa Bejuco is a tranquil beach town that is the perfect base for exploring Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. From day trips to popular tourist towns like Manuel Antonio and Jaco to lazy beach days, you’re sure to have a pleasant stay.
Have you been to Playa Bejuco (Puntarenas) or have a question about the area? Leave us a comment below.
Looking for more information to help you plan? Check out these posts:
Esterillos Oeste: Surfing, Serenity, and La Sirena – Just north of Playa Bejuco, you’ll find the beach town of Esterillos Oeste. This is a popular surfing beach, which has a small-town feel.
Rental Car Discount – If you plan to stay in Playa Bejuco, you’ll definitely want a car to explore the coast. Check out our discount for 10% off and free extras like a beach cooler and surf racks.
Catarata El Salto de Gamalotillo: A Relaxing Waterfall Near Parrita – This little-known waterfall is only about 30 minutes from Playa Bejuco. It’s located in the beautiful countryside and makes a great day trip.