The town of Coco is the northernmost port of entry on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Coco is much smaller and more rustic than we expected. There are lots of shops, including two very fancy supermarkets, two large hardware stores, and three small "marine supply" stores.
Clearing into Costa Rica here was okay. The port captain and immigration were very simple. Customs made us take the bus out to the airport even though they sent a fellow over to the port captain's office for us. We're not sure why we traveled to the airport, but we were handed our temporary importation permit for the boat almost before we stepped in the door there. All of this was entirely free.
There are a number of anchorages within ten miles of Coco. All have sandy bottoms, clear water, and sand beaches:
- Playa del Coco (proper) is a bay open to the NW. It has room for several dozen cruising boats in 30' sand in addition to the several dozen boats permanently on moorings. The prevailing SW swell wraps into the bay and makes it a little rolly, but not bad. The prevailing easterly winds enter the bay but there is little to no wind wave. There is a reef close to shore in the middle of the bay.
- Playa Hermana is about 1 mile north west of Playa del Coco and is generally very similar. The wind wave is a bit more and the swell a bit less. The settlement at Hermana is about the same size as Coco but has far fewer commercial outlets.
- Playa Panama is about 2 miles north west of Hermana. It has no swell and very good wind shelter. The bottom slope is quite gradual so you can pick any depth you like, 20' probably being prudent. There is very little settlement at Panama, though there is a single restaurant.
- Bahia Huevos is 5 miles north of Coco. Huevos has excellent wind and wave protection. There is a fascinating cave/tunnel, which is unsafe at high tide but might be passable at low tide. We also heard howler monkeys. There is no settlement at Huevos. There are four anchorage spots here: The best anchorage is the cove on the south side where a few boats can anchor in 30' sand bottom. Be careful of the reefs extending into the bay near both points which are visible at low tide. The second anchorage in between the center/eastern island and the point on the north side of the bay. You can also anchor in the head of the main bay. This third spot is a long way from shore as the bay shoals. Also watch out for the isolated reefs in the innermost cove along the south side. The final spot is between the three islands on the north side, which should probably only be used for a day stop to snorkel.
- Bahia Guacamaya is 5 miles south west of Coco. We anchored in the eastern cove, where we snorkeled on the reef. There are reefs along all of the points here, and the north-eastern most point's reef extends almost halfway into the eastern cove, so be careful. Recent construction (since Saranah's 2008 Guide) has added a long and tall wharf along the south-west side of the small, central point. The purpose of the wharf is a mystery to us as it is about 10 feet above sea level at highest high water.
We found the best snorkeling to be in Huevos. Guacamaya is supposed to be good, but visibility wasn't great when we visited.
We had a great time in Coco.