Today we are headed north of Tamarindo, to a beach that even many locals have yet to visit: Playa Danta. I have to admit I used to hike this area before a shovel was ever turned and it was magnificent. It pains me to see it developed but developed it is and a place still well worth a visit
Are you a golfer? Do you like big resort towns? Have you been looking for the pearliest marina on the Costa Rican coastline? Then you might consider skipping this little Mediterranean hamlet on the Pacific. Danta is not your average Guanacaste beach. While most beaches in Costa Rica are famous for either surfing or fishing, this one is really neither. Although, the fishing is pretty good, and if you count Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) as a cousin to surfing, then maybe it isn’t so different.
The water in the bay of Catalinas, on both Danta, and its smaller companion beach, Danita, is very calm for Central America. The way this bay is situated on the coastline, combined with the direction swells arrive in Costa Rica, makes this one of the best places to SUP in the whole country. There are no huge breakwaters to get past, and little chop once you get out. It also works well for kayaking and snorkeling for the same reason.
Danta is a black sand beach, which means there’s either a lot of soil mixed in with the sand, volcanic dust or both. Likely it’s soil with volcanic ash that has washed down to the sea and settled here. This sand can get hotter than it’s brown or white counterparts, but that doesn’t stop anyone from spending time on it. During the busy season at Danta expect to find a decent crowd sunbathing on her shores, though nothing like Tamarindo. Danta just doesn’t get busy… not yet at least.
You can’t talk about Danta without talking about the town at her shores: Las Catalinas. Less than five years old, Las Catalinas is the brainchild of investors who wanted to create old world charm in a paradise setting. You will almost immediately agree they’ve hit the ground running. What you won’t see, but might appreciate… is that before any construction started in Las Catalinas, they made provisions for infrastructure. Whereas most towns implement infrastructure as an afterthought, Las Catalina has put it in first.
The first thing you will notice about Las Catalinas is the general absence of vehicles. You may see a bicycle or two. But for cars, there is one road leading to town, with parking spaces waiting, but cars are not allowed in the town itself. The people who created this town built it with no intention of making it car friendly. That said, even at this early stage of development, the town has many friendly walking paths, central areas, and water fountains. It is, by design, a place for community and gathering, not cruising.
Once you park your car and head to the beach, you’ll immediately feel serenity. The buildings are all built with modern finishes and old-world charm. The first you find, at the grand entrance, are the Pura Vida Ride shop and the Greenhouse Restaurant. These two establishments are currently the serve-alls for the town, providing dining, and even some sundry items at Pura Vida Ride. In time the town plans to house more businesses.
Don’t have a SUP board but want to try? No problem. You can rent from Pura Vida Ride. You can also rent kayaks, mountain bikes, and other outdoor equipment. There are trails up into the hills overlooking town so you have plenty of space to explore, whether you go on a bike, or on foot.
This town might feel a little Disneyland to some, but most will find it at least “cute,” and even more will think it’s brilliant. Getting there is easy, especially since they paved the road up, and it’s a beautiful drive. (Eat your heart out California-101.) If you can find Flamingo, then you can find Potrero on the north side of the same bay. Danta is the last town north of Potrero. You can’t miss it. You shouldn’t miss it. In fact, you should start planning your trip there right now, or just go. Better hurry though. We have a lot of coastline to explore.