How To Shop Sustainably In Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

How to shop sustainably in Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco in Costa Rica‘s Guanacaste Province is quickly becoming a major tourist destination, especially for retirees and older expats. In fact, the small beach community is known more for its diving and beaches than Costa Rican culture. Playas del Coco is even home to one of the two Hard Rock Cafes in Costa Rica, and if you take a stroll down the main road, you’ll find a casino, many tourist shops stocked with products from China and Nicaragua (yes, even the things that say “I <3 Costa Rica” are usually not made here), and several foreign-owned restaurants and sports bars.

In short, it can be hard to find places to eat and shop in Playas del Coco that are ethical and supportive of Costa Ricans in general. Luckily, there are a few hidden gems that support Costa Ricans (Ticos). To help you plan an ethical trip, here are four places to eat and shop that benefit the community.

Heading to Costa Rica? Check out these ethical businesses. #3 is so cool! #CostaRica #travel Click To Tweet
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

The atmosphere inside Ticoffia is warm and welcoming

1) Sip Costa Rica’s Best Coffee

Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s major exports and is, arguably, one of the best places in the world to buy java. That being said, not all Costa Rican coffee is created equal. Ticoffia works with Costa Rican coffee farmers to give customers the best caffeinated cup in town. They rotate varieties throughout the year and work with ethical farmers in the top coffee-growing regions of the country. Bonus: their friendly atmosphere makes it a great spot to catch up with friends over breakfast.

If you’re the type looking for an experience over just a drink, Ticoffia staff love chatting about the coffee-making process and explaining what sets their coffee apart from the others.

Want to try the best #coffee in Costa Rica? Check out this cool shop in Playas del Coco!… Click To Tweet
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Cata Chocolate harvests only the best cacao beans

2) Bean To Bar Chocolate

Cata Chocolate crafts small batch bean-to-bar chocolate near the beach of Playas del Coco. The cacao is grown in the small town of Bijagua Valley in Northern Costa Rica, harvested by hand and sun-dried before being roasted and refined in their Playas del Coco shop. Visitors can get a glimpse of the in-house chocolate making process by peeking through the glass. They have a decadent chocolate menu, with varying chocolate bars as well as bonbons, chocolate-covered frogs, truffles and more.

Tip: Make sure to ask for samples! If you’re lucky they’ll have all three bars out to try.

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Domingo and Graceann Rojas in front of their gallery wall

3) Explore Indigenous Culture Through Art

The Rojas Bros Borucan Art Gallery is dedicated to preserving the indigenous culture of Costa Rica through the ancient Borucan arts of mask-making and weaving. The gallery — owned by Borucan Domingo Rojas and his wife Graceann — features artwork from more than eight artists in Boruca. Each mask in the gallery is signed by the artist and comes with a certificate of authenticity to prove you have a true Borucan mask that was purchased ethically from a Borucan artist. The majority of the money goes back to the artist, too!

Visiting the gallery is an educational experience as well. Even if you’re not interested in purchasing the art they’re happy to talk about the indigenous history and culture of Costa Rica.

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Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

Ciao Bella is the place to go for all fashion souvenirs

4) A Small Business Supporting Small Businesses

Ciao Bella is a small shop owned by a Canadian expat offering products from small businesses around Costa Rica, most of whom do not have their own shop. There’s a bit of everything fashion-related in Ciao Bella, including clothing and swim wear, jewelry, and accessories for men, women, and children. Some of the small businesses Ciao Bella works with include Bella Soap, Isa Mar Bathing Suits, Drusa Clothing and Monkey Business.  Each product is purchased directly from the artist to ensure fair payment and support of entrepreneurship, with new products being added every 2-3 days.

Love unique souvenirs? Many of the pieces are even one-of-a-kind.

When traveling, it’s important to support the local community whenever possible. For visitors to Playas del Coco, these four businesses allow you to do just that.

Do you have a sustainable business you love in Playas del Coco? Please share in the comments below! 

Further Exploration:

5 Interesting Tours Helping Locals & Wildlife In Costa Rica [Blog Inspiration]

Frommer’s Costa Rica 2017 [Great Reads]

Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Travel Safety]

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Sky Fisher is a small-town country girl with a passion for travel. She has a love affair with Central America and currently calls Costa Rica home. Follow her adventures at Sky vs World.

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