Getting There & Departing
By Plane: The nearest airport with regularly scheduled service is in Liberia. From there you can arrange a taxi to bring you the rest of the way. The ride takes about 25 minutes and should cost $50 to $60.
By Car: Follow the directions for getting to Liberia. When you reach the main intersection in Liberia, take a left onto CR21, which heads toward Santa Cruz and the beaches of Guanacaste. The turnoff for the Papagayo Peninsula is prominently marked 8km (5 miles) south of the Liberia airport. At the corner here, you’ll see a massive Do It Center hardware store and lumberyard.
If you are going to a hotel along the Papagayo Peninsula, turn at the Do It Center and follow the paved road out and around the peninsula. If you are going to Playa Panamá or Playa Hermosa, you should also turn here and take the access road shortcut that leads from a turnoff on the Papagayo Peninsula road, just beyond the Do It Center, directly to Playa Panamá. When you reach Playa Panamá, turn left for Playa Hermosa.
To get to Playa Hermosa, you can also continue on a little farther west on CR21, and, just past the village of Comunidad, turn right. In about 11km (6 3/4 miles) you’ll come to a fork in the road; take the right fork.
These roads are all relatively well marked, and a host of prominent hotel billboards should make it easy enough to find the beach or resort you are looking for. The drive takes about 4 to 4 1/2 hours from San José.
By Bus: A Tralapa express bus (tel. 2221-7202) leaves San José daily at 3:30pm from Calle 20 and Avenida 3, stopping at Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá, 3km (1 3/4 miles) farther north. One-way fare for the 5-hour trip is around C5,800.
Gray Line (tel. 800/719-3105 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2220-2126 in Costa Rica; www.graylinecostarica.com) and Interbus (tel. 4100-0888; www.interbusonline.com) both have two daily buses leaving San José for all beaches in this area, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The fare is around $54. Both companies will pick you up at most San José–area hotels, and offer connections to most other major tourist destinations.
You can take a bus from San José to Liberia, and then take a bus from Liberia to Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá. Transportes La Pampa buses (tel. 2665-7520) leave Liberia for Playa Hermosa and Playa Panamá at least a half-dozen times daily between 4:30am and 5:30pm. The trip lasts 40 minutes because the bus stops frequently to drop off and pick up passengers. The one-way fare costs C750. These bus schedules change from time to time, so it’s always best to check in advance. During the high season and on weekends, extra buses from Liberia are sometimes added. You can also take a bus to Playa del Coco, from which playas Hermosa and Panamá are a relatively quick taxi ride away. Taxi fare should run C9,000–C12,000.
One direct bus departs for San José daily at 5am from Playa Panamá, with a stop in Playa Hermosa along the way. Buses to Liberia leave Playa Panamá regularly between 6am and 7pm, stopping in Playa Hermosa a few minutes later. Ask at your hotel about current schedules, and where to catch the bus.
From the well-marked turnoff for the Papagayo Peninsula (near the prominent Do It Center hardware store), a paved road leads around to the Allegro Papagayo and Four Seasons resorts. If you are heading to the beaches a little farther south, continue on to the well-marked turnoff for Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa. This road forks before reaching Playa del Coco. You’ll come to the turnoff for Playa Hermosa first. Playa Panamá is a few kilometers farther along the same road. The road ends at the Hilton Papagayo Resort. A road connects the Papagayo Peninsula road and Playa Panamá. This 11km (6 3/4-mile) shortcut is definitely your quickest route to Playa Panamá.
Playa Hermosa is about a 450m (1,476-ft.) stretch of beach, with all the hotels laid out along this stretch. From the main road, which continues on to Playa Panamá, three access roads head off toward the beach. All the hotels are well marked, with signs pointing guests down the right access road. Playa Panamá is the least developed of the beaches here. Somewhat longer than Playa Hermosa, it also has several access roads heading in toward the beach from the main road, which is slightly inland.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.