Puntarenas Costa Rica
This beach, on the south side of the mouth of the Río Coto Colorado, about 15km south of Golfito, is a popular destination for locals, who claim that the 6 km-long dark-sand beach has the best swimming in the area. The surf is gentle, and at night the quiet water sometimes sparkles with bioluminescence, tiny phosphorescent marine plants and plankton that light up if you sweep a hand through the water - the effect is like underwater fireflies, which is especially fabulous on a starry night. At the far south end, the waves get big enough for surfing; views all along the beach and out across the bay are beautiful. the beach gets mildly busy during dry season when there may be weekend dances, but it's quiet at other times. many visitors end up hanging out here for a week or more. For a list of hotels along the Zancudo Beach, click here.
There are mangroves in the area around the river mouth that offer wildlife-watching possibilities, even on the boat-taxi ride from Golfito. Look for crocodiles, monkeys and birds.
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