The History of Playas del Coco

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Food, Costa Rica Living, Costa Rica Service Providers, Guanacaste Tourism, Newsletters, Playas del Coco

Tank Tops Flip Flops Newsletter edition no. 90

The History of Playas del Coco – The reason why we did this newsletter in the first place is that our good friend Freddy Barahona just opened a new store called Solo Bueno in Playas del Coco.  Freddy was born and raised in Playas del Coco and his family settled here in 1956 as one of the founding families of what is now a modern, thriving quintessential Costa Rica beach town.

The History of Playas del Coco

The concept of the Solo Bueno store is to only offer hand made, locally crafted goods.  He and his partner started originally producing hand-rolled cigars with local tobacco leaf and opened Artesanos Cigars that many have enjoyed over the years.  Just recently they created Cata Chocolate and decided to move to a larger facility next door that could handle the Solo Bueno store, Artesanos Cigars and now their brand new bean to bar chocolate production facility right here in Playas del Coco.

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While Freddy was explaining the concept of the new Solo Bueno Store, walking us through the Chocolate making process and giving us the tour of Artesanos Cigars rolling process we realized that he was a veritable treasure trove of stories about Playas del Coco – How it was formed, what life was like in the old days and how it has changed from then to now.

The History Playas del Coco

So come with us on a journey with one of Playas del Coco’s favorite Sons and see how he has come full circle from growing up right on the beach in the then sleepy little fishing village, becoming the first in the town to be university educated, returning home to practice law and now opening up one of the finest specialty shops you will find anywhere in the world.

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Before we get to the history of Coco and some of Freddy’s great stories we want to introduce everyone to the Solo Bueno Store and Cata Chocolate.  In this video Freddy explains how he and his partner developed the concept of the store and walks us through the brand new Chocolate Making facility that is right inside the store.

For those cigar aficionados, you will find Freddy’s Artesanos Cigars inside the new Solo Bueno Store featuring premium hand-rolled, locally sourced tobacco in their extensive walk-in Humidor.  In this next video, Freddy explains where the tobacco comes from, how it is rolled and why they are considered premium cigars. 

What is more iconic than smoking a good cigar with a Panama Hat on?  Freddy and his partner researched the story of the Panama Hat and were able to find the authentic source and have become exclusive distributors of the true Panama Hat and in the process discovered why it is called a Panama Hat.  Would you believe it has something to do with a former U.S. President?  The video below explains.

Now to the bonus part – It turns out that Freddy is a walking encyclopedia of old stories about Playas del Coco history.  In the 1950’s the Costa Rican government encouraged settlement to the sparsely populated coastal areas so in 1956 Freddy’s Father and Mother moved to Coco and like most families built their homes and businesses right on the beach front.  His family built what was known as Cabinas Luna Tica on the south side of the beach so Freddy grew up on the beach fishing for sustenance.

Playas del Coco Sportfishing 1960

He later became the first native born son to go to University where he earned a law degree and came back to set up his law practice right on the beach in Playas del Coco.  Many of the old time gringos remember doing business with the only English speaking Attorney and seeing him come to the office in Flip Flops – OUR KIND OF GUY!

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Freddy gives us his first hand account of how life was when they were only 100 inhabitants and brings us through all the changes that Coco has experienced up to modern day 2016.

Next time you land at the Liberia International Airport, hop into your brand new rental car and head down into Playas del Coco on beautifully paved roads (by Costa Rica standards!) for a cocktail on the beach before heading to your nice home, condo or hotel room remember the story that Freddy is about to tell us in this next video.

Playas del Coco Hill 1960

Not too long ago in Coco there was no electricity, no paved roads and only one bus in and out per day (if it made it up the Coco hill) which is a far cry from the one bus every hour, vibrant, fully serviced beach town that we all enjoy today.

From the very beginning everything about Playas del Coco has been centered around the Ocean – Evolving from hand to mouth sustenance to a full blown water sports mecca.  Coco has never lost its small fishing village roots – and to many that is still what holds a special charm for locals and visitors alike.  There is still a thriving commercial fishing fleet but many of the fishing families have Progressed and are now leaders in the new local industries of Sport Fishing, Scuba Diving, Sailing, Whale watching, Snorkeling, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Surf Charters –  you name it Coco has it.  This next video takes us through the history of Coco’s fascination with the Sea.

Playas del Coco is the official port of entry on the Pacifico Ocean for vessels arriving from the North and it is well known that during World War II part of the US Pacific Fleet holed up in Bahia Culebra weathering a storm.  What is not as well known is that Playas del Coco was instrumental in the building of the Pan American highway that runs all the way from Alaska through Costa Rica to the Tip of South America.  Check out this video where Freddy explains how Coco helped in the mammoth project.

There is a famous song written by Costa Rican Hector Zuñiga titled “Amor de Temporada” (Summer Love).  The song is your typical Summer love story set in Costa Rican vacationers beloved Playas del Coco.  Not by chance the new beautiful waterfront Boardwalk in Playas del Coco is called “Paseo del Amor de Temporada”.  Sr. Zuñiga attended the inauguration of the Boardwalk that has become a successful symbol of Costa Rica’s committment to allowing everybody access to enjoy every single beach in the country.

Playas del Coco 1960

This was not always the case and Freddy explains in detail how the beach front in Playas del Coco was settled – from the government asking for settlers in 1956, how the Maritime law (Ley de la Zona Maritima Terrestre) was passed in 1977 and then finally enforced in full in 2007 and what has put the icing on the cake of our beloved Playas del Coco.

So put on your Panama Hat, join us for some Artesanal Chocolate, a premium Cigar and a walk on Playas del Coco’s Boardwalk.


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