Although many of the region’s spectacular beaches are accessible by car from the town of Potrero, Potrero itself boasts three local beaches within walking disctance: Playa Potrero, Playa Penca and Playa Prieta. Each beach has its own merits and all are excellent for viewing the exquisite Gold Coast sunset.
Playa Potrero is the longest and most easily accessible of these. There are three main public access points with parking as well as other trails leading down to the beach from residential streets. Main access points are located on the north and south ends of the beach, along with one located roughly at the center of the beach. Playa Potrero is a long, dark sand beach with calm waters. It is family-friendly and ideal for swimming, jogging, paddle-boarding, kayaking, sailing and fishing. Playa Potrero is seldom busy so it is a great option to get away from the crowds. This beach doesn’t provide much natural shade so visitors should cover up, bring a beach umbrella or relax in the shade at one of the beachfront restaurants or sodas close to the access points. The extensive walk along shell-lined Playa Potrero is filled with sights: dozens of boats moored in the bay, flocks of feasting pelicans, lush palm and almond trees, local fishermen wading in the gentle waves, a beautiful beachfront resort, a growing number of private residences and a recreational sailing center. You are also sure to come across the local roaming cattle, resident beach dogs and occasional horseback rider.
The next most accessible local beach, situated in the bay beyond the northernmost point of Playa Potrero, is the secluded Playa Penca. There is a single public access point at the end of a residential road, located just north of the sports field in Potrero town center. Parking attendants charge a small fee to watch any cars parked in the small lot. If the lot is full there is some parking along the residential road coming from town, however the local residents living there have been known to block off spots in front of their homes or ask visitors to move their vehicles. Cars can more easily be parked closer to town. From there, the walk is about 5-7 minutes. Playa Penca is smaller, about a quarter the length of Playa Potrero, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. Its fine, white sand and clear, turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and the outcropping reefs are ideal for snorkeling. However, adventurers are advised to be cautious of the currents and waves here, as they can get stronger than those at Playa Potrero. A popular beach for locals on weekends and holidays, families and couples can be found gathering under the few select shady spots on Playa Penca, lounging the day away, enjoying picnics and music. There are a couple private beachfront properties along Penca’s sandy beach road but no restaurants or bars here, so bringing refreshments or grabbing some from one of the cafes in Potrero town before heading down the road to Playa Penca is a must.
Lesser-known Playa Prieta is further north still and a bit more difficult to find, but worth the extra effort. A beach trail from Playa Penca in one way to access Playa Prieta. Another is via an unmarked side road next to Villas Estival on the left, about a half-mile north of the Potrero sports field. If driving, a truck or car with high clearance is recommended as the access road is steep, uneven and not well-maintained. There is a free parking lot about 30 meters from the beach. It has an attendant, however it is still wise to lock up your car and ensure there is nothing of value inside. Very popular with the locals on weekends, Playa Prieta has light, tan-colored sand and the most shade of Potrero’s three beaches thanks to the many trees along its stretch. This beach is the shortest of the three and can be walked in about 10 minutes. Its clear waters typically have gentle, small waves so it is perfect for swimming, excellent for skim boarding and a good option for self-guided snorkeling. Like Playa Penca, there are no facilities or amenities here so be sure to bring all you need for a visit to this pristine, natural beach.