The Ultimate Guide to Playa Flamingo, Potrero, Brasilito

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The Ultimate Guide to Playa Flamingo, Potrero, Brasilito

Hola 👋 

Welcome to our Ultimate Guide to Playa Flamingo, Potrero, and Brasilito! Playa Flamingo is our favorite beach town in Costa Rica and should be at the top of your list. What it lacks in national parks and land-based animal life, it makes up for with pristine white and black sand beaches, ocean activities, and fiery sunsets. You can snorkel, scuba dive, zipline, and even venture inland to some amazing waterfalls.

This guide started as information for our rental guests, so all of the noted drive times are from our condo at Villas Flamingo. Drop us a comment below with any questions you have, and we look forward to hearing about your adventure. Below are many of the area’s popular restaurants, breweries, activities, and lodging. You’ll also find a guide map that visually displays the town and points of interest. Enjoy this guide to Playa Flamingo and Pura Vida. 🤙

Plan a trip to Costa Rica - Playa Flamingo
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Playa Flamingo and Potrero Bay

Getting There

From Liberia Airport

Playa Flamingo is between 50-80 minutes driving from the Liberia International Airport (LIR) depending on the route. Taxis are normally available but we encourage renting a car. While the main highways are paved, dirt roads are a norm in Costa Rica. A 4×4 (or all-wheel drive) rental is recommended in the green season and extremely helpful in navigating the occasional washed out areas. Waze / Google Maps are the preferred navigation apps but don’t follow them blindly and check your routes first. I always bring a small wireless battery pack like this to make sure my phone stays charged when using navigation apps.

Primary Route – Highway 21 to 155 to 180
80-90 Minutes in average traffic
This is the primary route into Playa Flamingo and surrounding areas. It’s three turns on three highways, and you roll right into the Flamingo Marina.
View route here

Secondary Route – Highway 21 to 151 to 911
50-60 Minutes in average traffic
This alternate route is called The Monkey Trail, and only available in the dry season, normally December-May. It crosses over a river, which makes it impassable in the Green Season. There’s a nearby private bridge to cross the river that may be open to use for around $10, but it’s only open from around 8am-5pm and not guaranteed.
View route here

From Everywhere Else

Flying into San Jose International Airport (SJO) only makes sense if you’re going to visit other areas on the way to Playa Flamingo, like La Fortuna or Manuel Antonio. Use the right navigation app and you should be good. We’ve been told by all rental car employees that Waze is the best navigation app for driving in Costa Rica. We’ve had good experience with Waze, but Google Maps has always worked well too. Apple Maps doesn’t navigate in Costa Rica, so be prepared with a different app if that’s your usual go-to.

Renting a Car in Liberia, Costa Rica
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Stanley always takes care of us!


Rental Cars

If this section sounds a bit repetitive from other city guides you've read... it is. We've synchronized the rental car section in our destination posts to provide you with the most up-to-date changes when we have something to add here, and the info applies to any place you'll be visiting.

Rental cars are honestly the best way to get around Costa Rica, and Adobe Rent A Car is now our recommended company. Their fleet of cars is refreshed every two years, keeping them in good condition. Plus, they have 13 offices in most of the major towns in case you need help with the vehicle.

We used to roll with Economy Rent A Car and have always had a good experience with them. Unfortunately, we've received too many complaints and can no longer recommend their general booking site. We have a contact at Economy who still sets up many of our rentals. Shoot us a message through Facebook or Instagram if you want his contact.

Confusing insurance requirements are the most frequent complaint about rental cars in Costa Rica, so we really like how Adobe displays their additional insurance options at checkout. It’s pretty hard to be surprised when you get there.

Rental car insurance in Costa Rica is complicated and often leaves you feeling burned at the rental counter. There are various levels of undisclosed insurance. Check out our full guide to renting a car in Costa Rica here to avoid some major frustration later. Also be sure to use our booking link here to receive an exclusive discount at Adobe Rent A Car.


Private Driver – Bryan is our guy in Playa Flamingo. He’s picked up and dropped off our family and friends from the airport with 5-star service. Again, shoot us a message on Instagram or Facebook if you want his contact info.

Taxi – Taxis are a little hard to get in Playa Flamingo. They are available but not always quickly when you need them. Unless you’re in Tamarindo, it’s best to arrange return transportation before if you’re going out somewhere and don’t have a rental car.

Shuttle – Best for larger groups with a lot of luggage. We’ve used ILT Costa Rica for all of our shuttle needs when traveling with large groups.

Vacation rentals in Playa Flamingo
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Condos at The Palms and Villas Flamingo


In Playa Flamingo, Potrero, and Brasilito, opting for a vacation rental is pretty much the way to go. There are a couple of hotels of varying qualities sprinkled around, but if you’re after something more unique, vacation rentals are where it’s at.

It may be tempting to book a place on one of the hills with a great view. If you’re working remotely… sure. If you don’t plan on leaving the rental much… go for it. If you’re going to be at the beach all day, book a place that allows you to walk to the beach easily. We stayed up in the hills of Playa Flamingo, and walking to the beach wasn’t an option most of the time. It’s just too hot to walk back up.

It’s a pain to walk up and down the hills all day. You’ll want to be out at the beach or in town for sunsets. Links to some of the nearby hotels and vacation rental options are highlighted below. We also have a pretty awesome condo in Villas Flamingo. It’s called The Flamingo Dream, and you can take a look here.


  • The W Costa Rica at Playa Conchal – A 5-Star experience at the beach of Playa Conchal, which is famous for the crushed seashell sand and clear waters.
  • Bahia Del Sol – A beachfront resort in Playa Potrero. It’s a great option for visitors who want to be close to the restaurants and nightlife like Hemmingway’s Beach Bar.
  • Margaritaville – This is the main beach hotel in Playa Flamingo. It’s a bit run down but the location is excellent. They offer all-inclusive rates for visitors who plan on spending the majority ion their time at the property.
  • Dunama Hotel and Casino – A mid-range hotel in the hills above Playa Flamingo. Not highly rated but it had to be added.
  • Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas – This upscale seaside resort in at Las Catalinas and was designed with a touch of old-world charm and caters to a more upscale style of travel. It’s located about 20 minutes North of Playa Flamingo.

Check out a full list of Playa Flamingo hotels.

Vacation Rentals

  • The Palms – A high-end beachfront rental community.
  • Villas Flamingo – An amazing rental community behind The Palms. A 2-minute walk to the beach and Coco Loco Restaurant.
  • 360 Splendor del Pacifico Residences –  An upscale rental community on the top of hill. We’re not a fan of being up away from the beach, but this is a nice condo complex.
  • The Flamingo Dream 🤙 – Our vacation rental at Villas Flamingo. We’ve stocked our spot with everything you need for an epic trip.

Playa Flamingo Area Guide Map

Take a look at our interactive map to start the inspiration. It isn’t an absolute list, but we’ve put together some of the most popular places to visit in Playa Flamingo, Potrero, and Brasilito.

Map created using Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android


We have experienced many of these first-hand, but some have been recommended by our rental guests or friends and family.

  • Snorkeling – Snorkeling around this area shouldn’t be missed. We’ve seen sea turtles, eagle rays (the inspiration for our tattoos), reef sharks, and tons of tropical fish. There are many great tours out there, but Life Is Better At Sea is the company to go with. Jaume and his boat captain provide a 5-star experience, and this is a must-do activity if you’re visiting Playa Flamingo.
  • ATV Tours – There are a ton of great ATV Tour operators in the area. Here are a few highly rated options with nearly 100% smiles.
  • Zip Lining – Did you know that recreational zip lining started in Costa Rica? Congo Canopy offers zip-lining on its list of activities.
  • Scuba Diving – If you love to explore the underwater world like us, don’t miss a dive trip to the Las Catalinas Islands. Our last dive trip was with Pacific Coast Dive Center, and we had an amazing time.
  • Sunset Sailing Tour – Playa Flamingo is known for its world-class sunsets. Spend an evening on the ocean and watch the sun fade over the horizon.
  • Mountain Biking – Mountain Biking is available through Pura Vida Ride. Their two locations are in the Flamingo Marina and Las Catalinas.
  • Visit Tamarindo – Tamarindo is worth checking out if you enjoy shopping, surfing lessons, or just exploring a popular beach town. It feels more hustly than Flamingo and the surrounding areas, but still a fun day trip.
  • Visit Playa Conchal – Playa Conchal is known as one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Costa Rica. The sand is made up of crushed seashells, and the water is often crystal clear. You’ll park in Brasalito town and walk about 10 minutes down the beach before driving to Conchal. Beach vendors rent sunshades and chairs and serve drinks at the main entry point.
  • La Leona Waterfall – The La Leona Waterfall is a great full-day trip from the beach areas. You’ll drive back past the airport to Liberia, which takes around 1.5 hours each way. The waterfall is on private land so reservations are needed to secure a tour guide. You’ll also have the option to go tubing, zip lining, and soaking in pools of natural hot spring water.
  • Visit Las Catalinas – Las Catalinas is being constructed as a European-style town about 20 minutes north of Playa Flamingo. There are a few upscale restaurants, boutiques, and a tasting room for Papagayo Brewing. While beautiful, it feels out of place in Costa Rica. It’s worth visiting if you have nothing else to do.
Snorkeling with Life is Better At Sea
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Great for family a snorkeling trip

Don’t Miss Restaurants

Playa Flamingo

  • Coco Loco – A fantastic beach cafe near the waters of beautiful Playa Flamingo. It’s our go-to spot for a quick snack and only 2 minutes walking from our condo at Villas Flamingo. Drive time: 2 minute walk
  • Gracia at Mar Vista – Our favorite place for a sunset dining experience. It’s located in the Mar Vista residential community but is still open to the public. Their infinity pool is open to use during dinner so swimsuits are encouraged. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Surf Box – Recently relocated to the new Flamingo Marina, Surf Box offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We miss the old location, but congratulations to owners Dan and Natasha for expanding to this amazing new spot. Don’t miss their French Toast for breakfast and poke bowl for lunch! Drive time: 5 minutes
  • NALU Bagel & Café Flamingo – Nalu is another must-try spot for breakfast in Playa Flamingo. Drive time: 5 minutes
  • Marie’s – Located behind the Flamingo Marina, Marie’s offers a mix of local Costa Rican dishes at reasonable prices. Drive time: 5 minutes
  • El Tiki – A great little street food inspired restaurant with Tiki Vibes! Drive time: 5 minutes
  • Doki Sushi – A simple spot with amazing sushi. Try a poke bowl and a fresh cocktail. Drive time: 5 minutes
  • a’lo Nico – Rated one of the best restaurants in the Playa Flamingo area, a’lo Nico is the place to go for a Costa Rican breakfast. Drive time: 5 minutes
  • Beach House Restaurant – A casual beachfront restaurant / bar in Surfside, between Flamingo and Potrero. The food is average but we love their daily 2×1 happy hour. Drive time: 5 minutes
Coco Loco Restaurant Sunset
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The last light at Coco Loco


  • Hemmingways – A high energy beachfront restaurant / bar in Potrero. Great for sunsets with live music. It can get busy at sunset so get there early. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Mengue Tapas – A relaxing beachfront tapas restaurant. Grab some snacks and watch the sunset colors over the ocean. They are on a grassy field, so bring the bug spray. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • La Forketta – A popular Italian restaurant in Playa Potrero with an excellent wine selection and a fun atmosphere. We’ve had hit or miss experiences with the food but still a good spot for Italian. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Gracia at Potrero Brewing Food Court – The little sibling of the Gracia at Mar Vista Restaurant. Located in a small food court at Potrero Brewing, they offer various sliders and small bites. Pairs well with the local craft beer! Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Gritanga at Potrero Brewing Food Court – Another small eatery in the food court at Potrero Brewing. They dish up delicious tacos and small plates. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • La Pizzetteria Da Oreste – A gem for Italian-style pizza in the area. Owner-operated, and their wine list is limited but very good. Drive time: 15 minutes
guide to Playa Flamingo, Potrero, and Brasility
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Sunset at Mengue Tapas Bar in Potrero


  • Patagonia Del Mar – A fusion restaurant with all types of food. We love the Tico California Roll, but it’s all good. High end wine selection. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • New Shogun – This is the spot for a variety of Asian cuisine in the area. 
  • Brothers of Ale Brewing – Really, this is located at the edge of Huacas town, but it is one of our favorite breweries in the region. Not only do they have great beer… the food is fantastic. Drive time: 12 minutes
Lunch at Gritanga
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Some snacks at Gritanga


We love craft beer. There are only a few in the region, so they all make our cut as our favorites.

  • Potrero Brewing – One of the two main breweries in the area. The owner / brewer TJ is a master of the craft and his beers pair perfectly with the on-site food stands. They play many of the sports games and are family friendly. Don’t miss if you’re searching for craft beer. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Brothers Of Ale – One of our favorite breweries in all of Costa Rica. Owner / brewer Alaks is a blast and has crafted some delicious food and beer. They also have misters to cool you down after a day at the beach. Drive time: 12 minutes
  • Las Olas Brewing – This brewery is just outside the scope of this post, but worth mentioning. The sleepy surf town Playa Grande is a great spot for a day at the beach, and Las Olas is the perfect spot for a beer afterwards. Drive time: 23ish minutes
  • Papagayo Brewing – Located in Las Catalinas, this Papagayo tasting room is worth a visit if you’re in the area. Otherwise I’d check out any of the breweries above first. Drive time: 25 minutes + expensive parking
  • Monkey Head Brewing – So technically not in the area, Monkey Head Brewing is our go-to brewery by the Liberia Airport. We stop here on the way to and from LIR so it makes the cut here. Drive time: 50-80 minutes

Check out Our Guide to Craft Beer in Costa Rica if you’re on the hunt for a good brew.

Potrero Brewing
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Cold brews all day long at Potrero

Our Itinerary

Time Needed – 4 Days

Don’t get us wrong… we could stay here forever. But for the average 10-14 day itinerary, 4 Days in the Playa Flamingo area is enough time to see the sights when you’re bouncing around the country. Below is our sample itinerary. Leave us a comment if there’s something you think we should add.

Day 0 – The Travel Day

Whether it’s a red-eye flight or an all-day commute from the Caribbean Coast, this is your day to get to Playa Flamingo. Decompress, grab a brew and enjoy your first night watching the sky light up during a fiery sunset.

Day 1 – Snorkeling and Ocean Activities

Want to start it off right with a private snorkel tour? We recommend Life Is Better At Sea. Jaume and his boat captain provide a 5-star experience, and this is a must-do activity if you’re visiting Playa Flamingo. Your bags should stay dry but we still suggest bringing a waterproof phone case like this to prevent your device from taking a swim with you. Finish off the first real day with dinner at Gracia at Mar Vista. It’s probably our favorite dinner spot in all of Costa Rica. It can get crowded, so reservations are highly recommended during the busy season.

Day 2 – Relax In Paradise

This is the day to actually hit the beach at Playa Flamingo. You may have stopped by before, but this is the lounge day. Grab an umbrella or sun shade or you’ll melt in the sun. There are beach vendors who rent canopy tents and chairs for a fair price, but why not stay at a rental that provides those items? (Hint: ours does.) We’re not trying to shamelessly self-promote our rental, but we do provide those items and have 100% 5-star Reviews on Airbnb. It’s a win-win-win. Grab dinner at Coco Loco and watch a another fiery sunset from sea level.

Day 3 – Explore The Area

Today, is your adventure day so go out and explore the area. Take a short trip to nearby spots like Tamarindo, Playa Conchal, or Las Catalinas. More info on our day trip post here.

After a day in the sun, grab a local craft beer at Potrero Brewing, recharge, and then treat yourself to dinner and live music at Hemmingway’s.

Day 4 – Le Leona Waterfall

You may want to swap days 3 and 4 depending on your travel schedule. The La Leona Waterfall is located in Liberia, about 90 minutes driving from the Playa Flamingo area. It’s an adventure and you should plan on getting completely soaked. So fun. Take another day trip if you’re not feeling the waterfall commute.

This last dinner may take you to Patagonia Del Mar in Brasilito. Great for sunset colors and good vibes in Brasilito.


  • Super Massai Market (Flamingo) – This is the main market in Playa Flamingo. It’s not cheap like the Pali Markets in bigger towns, but it’s very convenient and has all of the essentials. Drive time: 5 minutes
  • MerKdo (Potrero) – Same as the Super Massai in Flamingo. It’s not cheap like the Pali Markets in bigger towns, but it’s very convenient and has all of the essentials. Drive time: 10 minutes
  • Super Wendy (Potrero) – Same as the Super Massai in Flamingo. It’s not cheap like the Pali Markets in bigger towns, but it’s very convenient and has all of the essentials. Drive time: 12 minutes
  • Pali (Huacas) – Cheaper than the smaller local markets in Flamingo and Potrero. They have the essentials at reasonable prices. Drive time: 20 minutes
  • Monday Night Market – A fun seasonal pop-up market near the Flamingo Marina. Check the open times before heading over. Drive time: 2 minutes
MerKdo Market in Potrero
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MerKdo Market in Potrero


Ideally, you won’t need any of these, but we’ve listed them here just in case. Depending on the type of trip you’re booking, trip insurance could be a helpful peace of mind. We’ve used Safety Wing Travel Insurance. It’s affordable and covers most activities you’ll encounter on your trip to Costa Rica. Check their coverage here and see if it’s right for your trip.


  • Hospital Metropolitano – A a small regional hospital nearby. It’s okay for minor injuries, breaks, etc. Anything major may require transportation to a larger hospital in San Jose. Drive time: 12 minutes


  • Dentico Flamingo – Near the Flamingo Marina. Drive time: 2 minutes
  • Cabo Vellas Dental Group – Past the Reserve Conchal entrance In Brasilito town. Drive time: 10 minutes


  • Farmacia Guanacasteca Express Flamingo Drive time: 2 minutes
  • Farmacia Bohemia Drive time: 5 minutes

Don’t Forget

You can buy almost anything you need in the area, but the prices of some items may surprise you. Sunscreen can cost upwards of $20 USD for a normal size tube at the local market. Some of our don’t forget items are listed below.

Sunscreen – Reapply all day when you’re outside. This is the stuff we use. The sun is no joke in Costa Rica!
Bug Spray—Bugs are minimal during the day, but mosquitoes often come out in the evening. We don’t like DEET sprays, so this is our pick.
Quick-dry towel – These quick-dry towels pack down small and are also sand-free.
Waterproof hat – I like this floating hat, but anything works.
Polarized sunglasses – They don’t have to break the bank. Check out these polarized sunglasses by Blenders.
Waterproof phone case – Great if you’re going to be on the ocean. We use these for any water activities.

Let’s Go

You’re going on vacation and it’s a lot to take in. Hopefully, this list is a helpful resource in planning your epic trip to Playa Flamingo and the surrounding beach areas. Drop us a comment below if you have any questions!

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Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here 🤙

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