Just south down the coast line from Playa Ocotal and Bahi Pez Vela you will find Playa Matapalo. When we first came to live in Costa Rica in 2007, Playa Matapalo was a quiet tranquil beach with a quiet little bar at one end that was sometimes open but most times not. If you were lucky and hit the right day, you could pick up a snack and perhaps a cold cerveza or two. Mataplao is a favorite with the locals from the nearby towns of Sardinal, Artola and Nuevo Colon. You will see them camping on the beach on long weekends and holiday time. In about 2008, the RIU organization began construction of one large hotel close to the beach at the north end - a 700 room all-inclusive called the Hotel RIU Guanacaste Resort. The hotel was completed in 2009 and has been a favorite for tourists from all over the world. This hotel was so popular that the RIU people decided to build a second 500 room hotel - Hotel RIU Palace which is all-inclusive as well. For quite some time the road to Playa Matapalo was a dusty bumpy road but with the construction of these hotels the road has been paved. This makes for a much nicer journey of about 35 minutes from the international airport or 25 minutes from Playas del Coco or Playa Hermosa. As a side note, this road is an excellent bike ride with not much traffic and some nice rolling hills – a memorable early morning bike ride of about 40 kilometers round trip from Playa Hermosa or Coco. I will never forget the great bike rides I would take on this road with the smell of the Costa Rican wood fired stoves cooking gallo pinto and coffee and on really lucky days – bacon! The beach area is still a favorite with locals as they head to the southern part of the beach down a winding dirt trail to get away from the RIU hotels. Remember all beaches in Costa Rica are public so everyone can still enjoy the beach.
There are no stores or restaurants on the beach other than the RIU. However there are often a few beach vendors peddling their wares to the RUI guests. The nearby towns of Artola and Nuevo Colon have some excellent Tico style restaurants. There is a nice corner store in Nuevo Colon that has a lot of items that can provide you with supplies from cerveza to potato chips plus groceries. The Congo Trail zip line/ATV tours is just down the road from Nuevo Colon. They have a great zipline for children and adults at a reasonable price. Diamante Adventure Park is just before the RIU hotels and offers the longest ocean view zip line in Costa Rica. Not for those faint of heart. Diamonte has a great restaurant and wild animal rehabilitation center as well. This provides a great opportunity to see some beautiful local animals – sloth, monkeys, jaguars, pumas and more. Diamante offers horse back riding and ATV tours as well.
There are no properties for sale on the beach but the nearby Lomas del Mar Development has some nice homes and lots for sale - nature view and ocean view lots. Lomas del Mar has the best ocean view Home Owner Association clubhouse in all of Costa Rica in our estimation - incredible views with pool and gym. You can pick up a 1.5 acre plus lot for a very reasonable price. This eco-community also has a nice equestrian center for horse lovers. Just down the road is the development of Artola Estates which has a selection of nature view lots at very good prices plus a few homes.
Plan your trip to include a visit to Playa Matapalo – you will not be disappointed.
Be sure to check out our section on Tourist Services for suggestions on accommodations, restaurants, tours & adventures, shopping, and professional services in the Papagayo Region.