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September 11, 2019

Life in Potrero, Costa Rica

If you are looking for a coastal tropical town with a relaxed atmosphere, then you will enjoy life in Potrero, Costa Rica. Less than an hour’s drive from the Liberia Airport, Potrero is a short journey from busier tourist destinations. The bustling tourist town of Tamarindo is only twenty minutes away by car.  The famous Playa Flamingo is just five minutes away, making Potrero an ideal home base and peaceful sanctuary.

The town of Potrero has many attractions ranging from white and black sand beaches, a flourishing collection of local foods and diverse restaurants, as well as various tourist activities such as going on giant sea turtle tours, rafting on the Rio Colorado River , surfing lessons, or even sailing.

Young adults white water rafting in a large river | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

The rafting trips in Costa Rica are absolutely thrilling and include a personal guide!


The Beaches

Potrero is nestled on the shores of Playa Penca, Playa Prieta and of course, Playa Potrero. Playa Potrero is simply beautiful to behold.  Lush surroundings and tropical wildlife are part of the charm.  There are also a few choice restaurants along its white-sanded beach.  Perfect places to enjoy a refreshing break while you watch the sun set over the Pacific.

colourful sunset at Potrero Bay beach | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

Relax by the soothing waves of Potrero Bay and enjoy the sunset


The Town of Potrero

The winding roads of this quaint, coastal town reach through pastures and overhanging forests. Potero has all modern conveniences such as high-speed internet, electricity, clean potable water, grocery stores, pharmacies, and any other conveniences desired. Its short distance to neighbouring areas provides an even wider selection of goods and services.

Playa Conchal offers powdery white sandy beach with blue skies | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

Only a ten-minute drive from Potrero, Playa Conchal is a secret and luxurious getaway.


The center of Potrero features a large soccer field ringed by a church, a bus stop, a selection of restaurants, and friendly neighbours.  Just how friendly is the culture of Potrero you ask?  Well, when driving through Potrero for the first time, the Policia pulled us over.  Mexican authorities on motorcycles had shaken me down before, so I thought, “uh oh… here we go again…”.  However, these kind officers just smiled and welcomed us to Costa Rica.  Then they offered us tickets to the local New Years Festival!  Can you believe it?  Where else does that happen?  This surprising welcome only highlights the warmth and spirit of the entire community.   Life in Potrero is so great!

The Restaurants

There is a surprising number of culinary choices available in Potrero.  Too many to mention, really.  This section will highlight some of my favorites.

Breakfast in Potrero

Soda Marcell is a small, family owned breakfast restaurant that offers amazing value and surprising good food.  Try Soda Marcell and experience how the locals eat.  You’ll be glad you did!

The nearby Surf Box is known for its fantastic smoothie bowls and lunches and serves a blend of local and American-style cuisine such as waffles, salmon lox bagels, and Açai bowls.

happy lady in front of Surf Box at Playa Flamingo | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

Imagine ordering a fresh smoothie or Açai bowl right across from Playa Flamingo!


Dinner in Potrero

Known for its Italian community, Potrero has many Italian eateries such as La Forketta, which serves authentic Italian cuisine. There are also several gelato stops which serve a refreshing snack in the heat.

Marco Polo, a quaint Italian restaurant, is just across the street from several Italian communities.  This pool-side venue has a laid-back feel, a wide selection of pastas, pizzas and drinks.

Cerveceria Independiente is located at the end of a bumpy road and is known for their craft beers and monkeys. Its owners have a wonderful sense of humour and their passion for good beer is evident in their product.

Not to be missed is a little gem called Numu.  This classy restaurant boasts an executive chef who prepares his 5 star fare in an beautiful open kitchen.  Numu is located on the main street of Potrero.

A little farther down the road, and right on the water of Potrero Bay is the beautiful Nasu Restaurant of the Bahai del Sol hotel.  Ocean side dining at its very best!

Nearby and Worth the Trip

Sentido Norte is an up-scale hilltop restaurant overlooking the infinite vista of the Pacific. Its staff and surroundings provide an experience of utmost luxury, fine-dining, and scenery.  The food is magnificent, the service is first-class and the view… breathtaking!  This is definitely a “must do” as part of your complete “Life in Potrero” experience.

Sendidto Norte, overlooking the Pacific Ocean from high on the cliffs just north of Potrero Costa Rica | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

Sendito Norte, One of the most magical restaurants you will ever visit


The restaurants of nearby Las Catalinas offer authentic Mediterranean cuisine.

El Forno is an absolute treasure! Although it is located away from Potrero, El Forno’s authentic pizzas are undoubtedly worth the drive.  Enjoy a day in the sun at Playa Grande frolicking in the waves or watching the surfers.  After that, stop for dinner at El Forno before heading on your way back to Potrero.  This is a day trip my family has done often and it never disappoints!

From fine-dining to quick smoothie bowls, Potrero and its neighbours have you covered.

The Nightlife

La Perlas is a contemporary restaurant / pub that offers a fantastic American and Canadian menu. Located a short walk from the beach, it is a great place to grab a refreshing lunch away from the sun. At night, enjoy live music, karaoke and other fun theme-night activities.

El Garito is an outdoor night club in Tamarindo and provides a perfect opportunity for drinks and dancing by the water.

The Shack is known for its high-energy nights and lazy breakfast burrito mornings. In the evenings, enjoy live music.

group of people at night milling about the entrance to "The Shack", a local bar in Potrero | Brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

Patrons gather around live music at the Shack


Accessibility – Getting to Potrero

Potrero is a short 45 min drive from the Liberia International Airport, and 4 hrs from San Jose International Airport.  Recommended directions from the Liberia airport via Route 21 are found here.  There is an alternate route from Liberia on “Route 911“, but as the name suggests, it is an adventure all on its own!  Depending on the rains, route 911 can be treacherous and without a snorkel-equipped four-wheel drive you could end up underwater, like this.  If you do not have a suitable vehicle, it is best you take route 21.

A white jeep enters deep water but pushes though because it has a snorkel which stops water from entering the engine | brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

While most roads are now paved, thrill seekers can still find fun jungle roads to test their snorkel rig…


Over the past few years, Potrero has been slowly upgrading it’s infrastructure and has paved all of its main roads.  The few remaining unpaved roads may pose unique hurdles to those with mobility challenges. The public transit system is neither wide-reaching nor reliable. Rental cars are thus the primary form of transportation used by tourists in the region, and there are a wide number of rental companies available at the arrival gate of the airport. You must be 25 years of age to rent a car in Costa Rica.

The safety of the region is comparable to other latin-american countries.  During the day, there are no safety issues but like any holiday destination, hiding your valuables and securing your vehicles is always a good practice.  Many of the roads are dark at night because streetlights are few and far between.  It is therefore best not to walk alone in this case.  For the most secure experience, choosing to stay in a gated and guarded community is recommended.

Summary – Life in Potrero

Choosing Potrero as your Costa Rican destination provides a secluded getaway while offering access to modern amenities.  The local people, referred to as “Ticos”, are super friendly and generally seem very happy.  The proximity to bustling tourist attractions for the adrenaline junkies and nature lovers alike is simply magnificent!  All in all, Life in Potrero is pretty special.  It’s no wonder why so many Canadians and Americans are choosing retirement life in Potrero.


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