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Playa Penca is located just north of the small town of Potrero. It is not nearly large as neighboring beaches. The water is generally calm with rocky points on both sides and a few offshore islands that provide some protection from the waves.
The entrance to the water is shallow and slopes gradually. The color of the sand at Playa Penca is much darker that that of neighboring Playa Flamingo which can make it very hot to walk on during those bright sunshine days especially during high season (December-April).
The southern end of the beach, which is adjacent to the small parking area, has some larger trees that provide a nice shade canopy but these spots disappear quickly if you don't get there early, especially on the weekend.
However, this beach really never gets that crowded.
There are no public restrooms at Playa Penca. I have also never seen any food or refreshment vendors most likely due to the fact that not as many people visit Playa Penca as some of the other close by beaches.
This is one of those beaches that never gets really crowded, even during holidays. However, the parking area is pretty small and holds about a dozen cars. If you don't want to park away from the beach on the side of the dirt road and walk to the beach, you may want to avoid holidays and weekends.
Playa Penca is about a 45 minute drive from Tamarindo, 45 minutes from Playa Coco, 60 minutes from Liberia and the International Airport, 3-4 hours from the Central Valley and 4-5 hours from San Jose.
Unless you are located north of Potrero, in the Las Catalinas or Playa Prieta areas, you will be arriving from the south or east and the town or Potrero.
As you drive into Potrero, twill be a park on the right. At the end of the park you can only turn left or right. Left takes you to the Las Brisas restaurant and the beach at Potrero. Turn right and then about 100 meters up the road, there will be a dirt road on the left. This road takes you straight to the beach and the parking area.
Googlemaps PIN for Playa Penca
The parking lot is right next to the beach making for a short walk. There is a parking attendant that charges between 2000 and 3000 colones to park in the dirt lot. It is a small lot and often times can be tight to maneuver in, especially if you have a truck or large SUV.
If you want to avoid paying the parking fee, then park back toward the park on the side of the dirt road and walk in.