Whenever anyone wants to know which beach the locals favor, the answer is easy: Cocles. It's a golden sandy expanse that gently curves along the Costa Rica coast a few kilometers south of Puerto Viejo de Limon, easily reached on foot or by bicycle from town via a shady jungle path or the main road. Cocles is best known for its killer waves; it hosts bi-annual surf competitions that draw enthusiasts and spectators from around the world, and in between, experienced surfers and amateurs have plenty of room to practice on Cocles' rolling waves. Cocles Beach — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
Because of its popularity, and its occasionally strong currents, Cocles is home to the only lifeguard station on the Caribbean coast. If there are red flags in the sand, that means it's not safe to swim - or surf - due to dangerous riptides, but that doesn't mean you can't hang out on the sand and take in the scene. A huge rock sits just offshore and local legend has it that pirates stored their booty there not so long ago.
The road across the street from Cocles Beach is sprinkled with little cafes and sodas where you can enjoy fresh fruit smoothies, lunch or a midday cocktail, wearing no more than your bathing suit.