Costa Rica is located between the shores of the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. With such an extensive coastline, Costa Rica’s beaches are diverse, with unique and varied personalities. Every beach goer will find something mesmerizing – a beautiful paradise of white sand fringed by palm trees, volcanic black sand or naturally rugged crescents of beach surrounded by tropical rainforest. There’s a sweet spot for everyone, from mega resorts to pristine shores. With so many choices, how do you choose? I’ve teamed up with other travel bloggers to share our personal recommendations for you. best beaches from Costa Rica.
Corcovado National Park
As Costa Rica is one of the first destinations in the world to emphasize responsible travel, ecotourism is an important activity there. This Central American nation became the first in the Americas to ban hunting in 2012, so its biodiversity is virtually unmatched. Nowhere is this more evident than in Corcovado National Park, which has been described by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth.” Located on the Osa Peninsula, where it spans nearly 164 square miles (making it Costa Rica’s largest national park), Corcovado is an isolated location, but increasingly popular with bird watchers, hikers and wildlife photographers. Its sandy beaches are remarkably pristine, with no hotels, restaurants or other amenities as far as the eye can see. What you find here are wide stretches of sand, crashing waves and a dazzling array of animals. From monkeys, sloths and coatimundis to rare species like Baird’s tapir and jaguars, this is a beach where wildlife is as big an attraction as the ocean. If you want to explore the park further, there are plenty of hiking trails that take you through 13 different ecosystems, including highland cloud forest, mangroves, and lowland rainforests. You can say that there is no other place like this!
Although not many people visit Montezuma in Costa Rica, it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for a quiet beach town. The main beaches are called Playa Grande and Montezuma Beach. They are both very beautiful and are usually not very crowded. Like many other places in Costa Rica, you can see parrots and monkeys around these beaches.
In Montezuma, you can also take a day trip to Cabo Blanco National Park, which is the first national park in the country. There are easy, medium and difficult trails in the national park and at the very end of the park there is also a beach. The Montezuma Waterfalls are located a short walk from town and are a good option for those who enjoy hiking.
Local restaurants are called “soda” in Costa Rica and there are only a handful in Montezuma, but they are all great places to eat. For accommodation, Pura Vida hostel is a good option for budget travellers. For higher budgets, Hotel Nya and Hotel El Jardin are good places to stay.
Playa Espadilla, along the Pacific coast, is exactly what you think of when you hear “tropical paradise” – lush palm trees, a long stretch of white sand, and rugged rocks that jut out from turquoise water. It is actually accessible in two ways: the southern part of the beach can only be reached by passing through Manuel Antonio National Park (you will, however, need to reserve and buy a $16 ticket to enter the park, and you will have to hike for about half an hour through the jungle to reach the quiet beach); the northern part is accessible to the public and certainly busier. At the north end you can participate in all kinds of water activities – parasailing, surfing, jet skiing. Playa Espadilla is one of the only west-facing beaches near Manuel Antonio and offers a spectacular sight every night when the sun sinks below the horizon. If you’re hungry, head to Barba Roja, a great place to enjoy happy hour and watch the sunset, while Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar offers delicious Mediterranean dishes. After a busy day at the beach, rest at La Posada Jungle Hotel, a comfortable and clean establishment with a swimming pool where you can cool off and where the monkeys will play above your head.
Playa Flamingo is located in the province of Guanacaste, on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Due to its fine white sand, clear water and picturesque surroundings, it is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches of the country and should be part of any Costa Rica itinerary.
The best thing to do on this scenic crescent-shaped beach is to relax, sip fresh coconuts and cool off in the sparkling turquoise waters.
If you’re looking for something more active, you can go stand-up paddleboarding or catch a few waves on a boogie board. Besides water sports, you can choose from many other activities around Playa Flamingo, such as ATV tours, zipline tours and horseback riding tours. As the beach faces west, it is also a great place to watch the sunset.
If you want something to eat, head to Coco Loco restaurant at the southern end of Playa Flamingo. They serve the most amazing ceviches, fish tacos and refreshing cocktails right on the beach.
One of the best places to stay in the area is the Margaritaville Beach Resort. This is an eco-friendly 4-star resort that enjoys an ideal location overlooking Playa Flamingo.
The pacific coastline of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula has no shortage of beautiful beaches and Playa Guiones is one of the most beautiful. For some, it’s the excellent wave surfing that draws them year-round to Playa Guiones. Others are drawn to a stay at one of the local yoga retreats right by the beach. With over 6 km of pristine white sand and the stunning blue of the Pacific Ocean, it’s a perfect destination for surfers of all levels, for beach lovers, to take a yoga class or two or simply to decompress. . If you plan your trip to Costa Rica between July and November, travel up the coast 8 km to the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important nesting beaches in the world for Olive Ridley turtles. The busiest months are August through October, when turtles come ashore literally in their thousands.
There are many places to stay in the area and one of the most popular is the Harmony Hotel which also has an excellent restaurant. Near the beach is the Beach Dog Cafe which serves excellent local cuisine.
Playa Hermosa is located approximately 35 minutes from Liberia International Airport on the northern Pacific coast. This laid-back beach village is the perfect destination for families. The beach is a cove, so the waters are usually very calm and there is even a designated area for swimming.
Usually locals walk the beach and offer various services such as jet ski rentals, snorkeling trips, boat beach tours, kayak rentals, and much more! Several secluded beaches in the area (including one with a cave) are accessible by a several-hour boat ride.
A few restaurants line the beach. These places offer delicious tropical cocktails and fresh fish. For a good dinner, Roberto’s is always a good option. For cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere, head to the Aquasport Bar & Restaurant.
For accommodations, Club & Hotel Condovac La Costa offers apartment-style rooms with amenities like multiple pools, on-site restaurants, and evening entertainment. The hotel is slightly outdated, but the amenities make it a decent option for families. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, check out the Bosque del Mar Hotel on the beach.
Playa Langosta is a beautiful hidden gem in Costa Rica, with a stunning white sand beach. Located next to Tamarindo Beach, Playa Langosta offers a quieter alternative for visitors looking for a quiet retreat.
It takes a 5 minute drive or half an hour walk to get from one beach to another. There isn’t much space to park, so be careful when parking on the side of the street. The crescent-shaped beach has soft, tan sand and welcomes you for your beach activities, whether it’s surfing the ocean waves or just soaking up the sun.
Playa Langosta, a quiet retreat in the Guanacaste region. There are a number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries nearby. It is close to a number of wildlife refuges and national parks. Tamarindo is full of things to do, so you can spend fun evenings in town and then return to your quiet beachfront hotel in Playa Langosta. The Cala Luna boutique hotel is a small family hotel whose private rooms give you the impression of being in the jungle.
Of all the beaches, Playa Langosta is one of the best in Costa Rica.
If you are looking for one of best beaches of Costa Rica located in the most biologically diverse part of the country, choose Playa Nicuesa. Located along Golfo Dulce in the Osa Peninsula, Playa Nicuesa offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing and beach enjoyment. Playa Nicuesa is the beach attached to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. This lodge offers several circuits that you can follow in the jungle and along the coast.
For a thing to do in costa rica worthy of a list things to do, you absolutely must take a boat trip around the Golfo Dulce. This gulf is known to be the world’s nursery for humpback whales and hammerhead sharks, which means you can spot some fantastic wildlife.
There are also two species of dolphins in the gulf, which can be seen in their hundreds! After exploring Golfo Dulce, be sure to take a few hikes through the rainforest for a chance to spot peccaries, howler monkeys, toucans, macaws, tapirs, and more!
And, of course, you have to spend time on the beach. Only at this beach you will most likely have everything to yourself. Pura Vida indeed.
The Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an amazing place to stay, and the cabins are all open air with front row jungle seating! It is truly an inspiring experience for those looking to think outside the box in this country.
Playa Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It’s here that you’ll find silky sands, warm tropical waters, and even cultures unique to the city and surrounding region. The laid-back, relaxing vibe is the appeal of this location, and with little infrastructure, you can expect a more pristine beach experience with plenty of surfing and snorkeling opportunities.
There are a few local restaurants and bars within walking distance, including Bread & Chocolate, popular during the day for its delicious breakfasts and brunches. Be sure to try their Caribbean pancakes or the jerk chicken sandwich, served with a freshly brewed coffee. For nearby accommodations, be sure to stop by the Selina Hostel (even if you’re not staying there) to party.
The nightlife in Puerto Viejo is worth staying and this is where the party begins. As you plan your trip to Costa Rica, you’ll find that Playa Puerto Viejo offers a great introduction to the country’s Caribbean coast, as well as countless opportunities to relax.
On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, you will find the beautiful beach of Playa Sámara. It’s one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica, but it’s surprisingly quiet compared to its more popular neighbors in heavily touristed destinations like Tamarindo.
Located in the laid-back town of Sámara, Playa Sámara is a long sandy beach dotted with palm trees under which you can sunbathe. You will also find plenty of beach bars and restaurants here if you want to cool off.
The main reason people visit Sámara is to surf, so head over to C&C Surf School to take a lesson or rent a board. The best time to surf for beginners is low tide, with more experienced surfers paddling around high tide.
At low tide, when the ocean is calmer, you can also head out on the water to snorkel or stand up paddleboard.
As the sun sets, groups of friends gather on the beach to share a drink and paddle in the ocean. You’ll also often see groups of riders strolling along the shore, and there’s probably no better way to watch the sunset in Sámara than on one of these excursions!
One of the best beaches in Costa Rica is found in Tamarindo. Located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Tamarindo offers some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. As the city is about four hours from San José, most visitors fly into Liberia Airport.
Tamarindo beach is a long peaceful beach. Naturally separated for surfers and swimmers, it’s easy to enjoy the water at your own pace. On the beach, you will find seat and umbrella rentals, free drinks and small souvenirs offered by street vendors.
Aside from lazing on the beach, there are plenty of things to do in Tamarindo, so be sure to stay at least three days to explore the surrounding area. There’s no shortage of nature near Tamarindo, whether it’s horseback riding, tubing the Blue River, lazy game drives or even scuba diving on the Las Catalinas Islands. Ziplining is a classic way to get your heart racing in Costa Rica and there are plenty of options near Tamarindo. You can even take a catamaran cruise or go Mahi Mahi fishing – some restaurants will cook your catch for you!
Hotel Diria is located on the beach and a short walk from downtown, making it the perfect place to stay in Tamarindo.
Uvita Beach is arguably one of the most famous beaches in all of Costa Rica and a must-see for many reasons. This palm-fringed beach is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also known for its incredible aerial view. The tidal sandbars form a whale at low tide, which is perfect, considering Uvita is a prime spot for whale watching.
Unfortunately on the beach it can be difficult to see the real whale tale and you may need a drone to see it properly from above. The beach is still worth the detour and even on busy days, you can find a quiet corner. There are also wonderful hiking spots located nearby that allow you to explore the national park at your own pace.
If you’re looking for an affordable, well-located place near Uvita Beach, Blue Sunshine Hostel will be a great choice. There are private rooms and dorms available and the prices are absolutely fantastic considering that Uvita can be quite pricey. Go to Falafel Uvita to enjoy delicious dishes at the entrance to the beach. Remember that entrance to the national park is $6 per person, which includes the beach.