Playas del Coco, oh how you've changed!

As non-residents of Nicaragua every 6 months Elisha & I are required to leave the country to renew our tourist visas.  Since Elisha’s parents were here visiting and we had friends from Calgary staying at Ocotal beach in Costa Rica the timing for this renewal was great. 

Entering Costa Rica on foot!

Playa Ocotal is the beach where we got married 5 1/2 years ago and Playas del Coco was the place that inspired Elisha & I to move south – so as you can imagine we were quite excited about a return visit.  

Father Rooster Restaurant where we held our wedding 5 1/2 years ago!

When we arrived the changes we saw in the town of a Playa del Coco were more than we had expected.  Once a quaint one-road fishing village with a few restaurants and shops Coco now has a luxury gated community that resembles what you would see in a Canadian or American golf course community.

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Although many of the same restaurants from our last visit are still there, most have been “gringo-ized”.  Gone are the rough support posts and corrugated roofs that used to be the norm for beach bars.  Everything is more polished now, including the waterfront.  The row of buildings that used to be on the beach has been demolished and replaced with a boardwalk and park area.  The changes are nice, but Coco now lacks some of that rugged charm we so fondly remember.

The new Malecon

The Lizard Lounge by day…

…and by night!

While in Coco we saw more tourists and expats than locals and with the prices in the area I understand why.  Food and drink costs are pretty much on par with what you expect to pay in Canada.

One afternoon we had lunch at Father Rooster.  It’s the one and only beachfront restaurant in Playa Ocotal and the place where held our wedding reception.  We had an appy to share, 4 meals and 6 beer and our bill came to a whopping $96 USD. 

The portions were large, but unfortunately so was our bill!

Two days later we had a similar lunch at Henry’s Iguana Beach Bar & Restaurant in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  The damage for this one?  Just under $40 USD. I noticed a pizza place in Coco advertising $2.50 USD beer – like it’s a deal. Hardly!  I rarely pay more than $1 USD for beer in Nica.

Oddly enough the prices of accommodations in Playas del Coco and surrounding area are similar to those in Nicaragua.  I suspect it’s probably due to overbuilding and subsequent saturation of the rental market.  We chose a large, beautiful two bedroom apartment over looking Ocotal Bay as our place to call home for 3 days.  We were very comfortable at La Loma del Atardecer.

Pools at La Loma del Atardecer

The view of Ocotol Bay from our apartment

It was a 200 meter walk down the hill to the beach where we spent some time relaxing and snorkelling.

Sharing the beach with a lizard.

One thing that hasn’t changed  in Playa Ocotal is the snorkelling.  Right off the shore, a few feet into the water you can see a plethora of fun sea creatures.  3 out of the 4 times I went into the water I was lucky to be able to swim with some eagle rays.

Unfortunately the one time I didn’t see the rays was when I took our friend Beverly out for her 1st ever snorkelling adventure. Although we weren’t able to see the eagle rays we still saw a good assortment of sea life.

A speckled eel

The six of us sitting around our apartment in the evening playing Scrabble felt a little surreal to me.  It was almost like being back in Canada…until I looked out the window.  

Elisha’s parents take the game of Scrabble very seriously. Since her arrival in Nica Elisha’s mom, Rose had been trash talking about winning the first game on our new Scrabble board.  To her surprise Beverly handed out a crushing defeat! Wanting to go out on a high note, Beverly didn’t play the next night which meant Willard and Rose didn’t even have a chance to vanquish their defeat.

Torey pulled out a big pointer – oh & ho!

Good times with friends & family

It was a good trip.  It was great to see Beverly & Torey and nice to check out the area again, but I have to say it sure feels great to be back home to Nica!

Posted on May 30, 2012, in Sights & Activities and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Very interesting post. I thought you had to renew your visa every 90 days. How do you get a 6 month one. My husband and I are coming for 5 months later this year and expected to have to leave the country at the 90 day mark.

    Awesome pictures by the way!!!

    • You can get a 90 day extension at Metro Centro mall in Managua. Immigration has an office right there in the mall and you can be in and out in under an hour. Last time we opted to renew ours at the immigration office right in Granada. They send your passports to Managua and they tell you come back for them in a week but it only takes about 3 business days. We were in and out in 10 minutes. The cost is about $20 USD per month that you get extended so it is more expensive than crossing the border and getting 90 days but if you factor in travel for that day and possible hotel accommodations it is probably similar, not to mention much less time and effort.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, my husband and I also are coming to Granada for close to 5 months and we were thinking of doing the Costa Rica trip but I think the Granada office sounds good right now.

  3. Question. This article says you need to renew every 6 months. The prior about how to do the border crossing say tourist visa only was for 90 days. What did I miss? Thanks

    • Hi Scott,

      Upon arrival in Nicaragua you’ll be issued a tourist visas which is good for 90 days. When your 90 days is up you may go to a local immigration office to request an extension of up to 90 days. You are only allowed one extension so the absolute maximum time you may remain in country is 6 months.

      At the time of publishing this article Gordon and I were living Granada. It was easier for us to ask for the extension rather than travel to the border of Costa Rica.

      Let us know if you need further clarification regarding tourist visas and border crossings.

      Cheers,
      Elisha

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