On Tuesday of this week, December 3, 2013, a group of us from the Atenas and San Ramon areas of the Central Valley met at Playa Doña Ana, 10 km south of Puntarenas at the mouth of River Canyon on the Gulf of Nicoya.
Playa Doña Ana is a black sand beach (volcanic sand) protected by the ICT (Costa Rica Institute of Tourism). It has been awarded an Ecological Blue Flag by Costa Rica's National Blue Flag Commission. This is an annual certification awarded to communities scoring a minimum of 90% for all requirements: ocean water quality; quality of potable water; quality of coastal sanitation areas; coastal garbage and garbage containers; treated industrial waste; treated runoff water; environmental education; security and administration.
There is a nominal charge to enter, with plenty of parking outside the gates. There are showers, washrooms, change rooms, BBQ's, and covered and uncovered picnic tables. There is now also a restaurant but I do not know their hours of operation or if they are only open for special events. We always bring our own food and drinks so have not tried it.
One thing I like about this beach is that it is a Tico beach. We get to mingle with the Costa Ricans, who come here with their families. On this day, there was a Pops ice cream company picnic, with 72 people attending. Lance heard the number being counted off as he was waiting to pay our entry fees. So there were a lot of people at the beach, but still it was not crowded and not very noisy.
The resident white-throated capuchin monkeys are usually visible and will readily come part way down the trees for bananas. Please don't feed them anything else. I've seen junk food being offered.
Playa Doña Ana was the first Costa Rican beach we went to after moving here. I remember being so amazed, seeing the Pacific Ocean this far south, the waving palms, the tropical breezes, and then floating in the warm, salty water. Overhead flew flocks of brown pelicans and large seabirds (frigatebirds?) massing on the cliffs.