Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has one of the most diverse coastlines and beaches in Costa Rica are equally diverse and unique with white or black sandy beaches, beautiful palm trees and tropical rainforest nearby.
What I like most about this country is that here you can find everything you could wish for when we speak about beaches.
From wild and untamed shores to popular coastlines with luxury hotels and from beaches perfect for swimming to those for surfing, I am sure you will find a beach perfect for you.
Although a small country, Costa Rica has more than 5% of the world biodiversity and more than 1.300 kilometres (800 miles) of beaches in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Choosing the best beaches of Costa Rica might be more complicated than you have imagined so I am here to help you and I have prepared a list of the most amazing Costa Rica beaches.
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Beaches in Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio Beach
Nestled in the park with the same name, Manuel Antonio Beach is one of the most popular coastlines in the ocean in Costa Rica.
One of the most beautiful Costa Rican beaches is famous for its stunning views, amazing sunsets and white sandy beach.
Playa Manuel Antonio is located right near Manuel Antonio town on the central Pacific coast, at a close distance to Quepos, the famous fishing spot from the Pacific Ocean coastline.
The beach is about 2 and a half to 3 hours drive from San Jose, the capital of the country.
Things to do
Besides the forest trails and varied wildlife, Manuel Antonio National Park is home to 3 beautiful beaches.
Just to give you an idea about how beautiful this place is, I want to tell you that in 2011, Forbes named this national park as one of the most beautiful natural parks in the world.
Here are 5 of the most interesting things to do in the area:
- Explore the Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio beach that are located 30 minutes hike from the park’s main entrance
- Observe the rainforest wildlife that lives in the national park
- Hike at least one of the park’s trails ( the most popular one links the two beaches and is a flat and very accessible trail that has 1.3 miles long)
- Zipline, ATV and rappel activities in the adventure park MadWorld right near Manuel Antonio
- Practice some sportfishing in a world-renowned city, Quepos.
There are only a few beachfront hotels on the beaches in Costa Rica as there is a natural park around, but most of the resorts offer an amazing view of the rainforest and the ocean.
Both resorts are less than 5 minutes drive to Manuel Antonio beach and offer the best amenities and rooms from the whole area.
Ranked as one of the most exotic beaches of Costa Rica, Playa Conchal gets its name from the sand found here that is formed of thousands of millions of small crushed shells.
It is one of the best surf spots in the country, especially if you are a beginner or you are planning to learn more about this water sport.
Playa Conchal is located in the northern part of Guanacaste province right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The beach is located just 2 kilometres from Playa Brasilito and other 2 beautiful beaches, Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo.
You can reach this beautiful stip of sand by air from San Jose or by car and the ride lasts for about 4 hours.
Things to do
Here, on one of the most exotic Costa Rica beaches, the weather is perfect all year round as the place is bathed into the sun for around 10 hours each day, especially from December to April.
The weather is exactly as you need for bathing, swimming and snorkelling, so prepare your swimsuit and hit the road.
I let below a list of 5 of the most interesting things to do on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica:
- Explore the diverse marine life on a snorkelling session
- Get a paddleboarding lesson
- Book a kayak tour to the Tamarindo estuary
- Go for a horseback ride to see the countryside
- Take a dolphin and whale watching tour
With 2 outdoor swimming pools, a fitness centre and three different restaurants, W Costa Rica Resort is the best choice from the area.
Hidden between the mangroves of Guanacaste, the hotel offers spacious rooms equipped with a coffee machine and premium class amenities and one of the best services in Costa Rica.
Another beautiful exotic beach in Costa Rica, Playa Tamarindo is awarded Blue Flag distinction and it offers all the amenities you can ask from a beach town: good food, friendly people, entertaining music, qualitative sand and warm blue waters.
Playa Tamarindo is located in Guanacaste province, right on the Nicoya Peninsula near the city with the same name, Tamarindo.
You can reach this beach by car or public transport from San Jose, and the ride lasts for about 4 to 6 hours.
The closest airport is the one from Liberia and there are direct flights from San Jose on a daily basis.
Things to do
As you might expect, one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica offers a wide variety of activities and adventures, out of which I would recommend:
- Surf, surf and again surf as this is one of the best places in the world for this sport
- Book a kayak tour on Tamarindo Estuary
- Practice some sportfishing on a designated boat
- Explore the neighbouring beaches of Langosta, Coconut Beach and Hermosa Beach
- Observe the marine life in Las Baulas National Marine Park where sea turtles come each year to lay their eggs
The beautiful Zen Garden Tamarindo is a beautiful hotel in Tamarindo with a nice outdoor swimming pool, a relaxing terrace and a garden to hide against the hot sun.
All the rooms come with a kitchen and a patio overlooking the garden or the pool and offer high-quality services and great amenities.
One of the most interesting beaches of Costa Rica, Costa Ballena or Whale beach is a beautiful coastline in the whale tail shape.
It has 35 kilometres long and comprises three beach towns: Ojochal, Dominical and Uvita and is full of amazing waterfalls, natural protected areas and jungle trails.
Costa Ballena is located between Ojochal and Dominical beaches, on the northern part of the Osa Peninsula.
You can get to this magnificent Costa Rica beach by bus from the San Jose bus terminal or by car if you follow the Inter-American highway to San Isidro de General until you reach Dominical and from there you have to follow the paved Costera Sur highway to Costa Ballena.
Things to do
Costa Ballena is a very popular place not just among beach lovers but also for adventures and nature lovers.
Among the most interesting things to try while in the area are:
- Spotting the whales and the dolphins from Marino Ballena National Park
- Photograph the two ties waterfall of Nauyaca located in the rainforest, 20 minutes away by car from Dominical
- Explore Corcovado National Park, home of one of the last lowland tropical rainforest in the world
- Meet all the three species of Costa Rican monkeys in Terraba Sierpe National Park
- Book a snorkelling or diving tour in Cano Island Biological Reserve
If you are looking for a place to relax and disconnect from the real world, then Oxygen Jungle Villas is the best choice as it features an infinity pool, great spa treatments and lovely rooms.
The bathrooms come with a rain shower and premium amenities while the rooms are spacious, clean and have amazing views of the ocean and the mountains.
Defined by many as a pure paradise, Dominical beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, the place where stunning nature and modern comfort go hand in hand.
The beach has a more relaxing vibe contrasting with other Pacific coast beach party locations although it has quite an impressive number of bars and restaurants where you can eat and enjoy a drink admiring the beautiful ocean.
One of the most popular surf beaches, Dominical beach is located in the Puntarenas province on the South Pacific coastline.
There are two ways to get to this beach: the first one is to drive along the San Isidro de General highway from San Jose and the other way is to drive along the coastal highway from Quepos to the northern part of the country.
Things to do
- Improve your surfing skill at Playa Dominical
- See the whales and dolphins at Marino Ballena National Park
- Hike to Nauyaca waterfalls and spend some quality time in the jungle
- Scuba dive or snorkel at Cano Island
- Explore one of the last rainforests in the world at Corcovado National Park
Located in Dominical beach town, just one kilometre away from Baru Beach, Tribe Boutique Hotel is a wonderful accommodation with clean and spacious rooms and a beautiful garden.
The hotel is close to the bars, restaurants and beach but far enough to enjoy the jungle music and privacy.
Playa Nacascolo is one of the hidden beaches of Costa Rica, with shallow waters, white sandy beach, perfect for families with kids but also for those of you looking to relax and reconnect with nature.
Playa Nacascolo is located in Papagayo Peninsula and in order to reach it you need to drive towards the luxury resort of Fours Seasons and at the roundabout instead of entering the resort keep left until you reach the public parking area.
The area is just one hour drive from Liberia International Airport that has direct flights from San Jose, Costa Rica’s main gateway to the world.
Things to do
This hidden beach is full of wildlife like monkeys, birds and even coatis so don’t be surprised to spot these beautiful animals right near your towel.
Among the most interesting activities and spots from the area are:
- Explore Papagayo Peninsula on a daily tour
- Book a kayak tour
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- Perfect your skills at stand up paddleboarding
- Rent snorkelling equipment and explore the diversity of marine wildlife
- Play some golf at one of the golf terrains from the Peninsula
Listed as the beautiful beach in Costa Rica by Travel & Leisure, the area is full of luxurious hotels and secluded accommodations, perfect for your holiday.
Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo is a luxurious concept that gives a new meaning to luxury, located just 3.5 kilometres away from this secluded beach.
Featuring a large swimming pool and 3 restaurants, as well as a tennis court and many outdoor activities, the hotel is definitely the best choice from the area.
Santa Teresa Beach
One of the most popular Costa Rica beaches located in the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a small community with a beautiful beach that attracts thousands of surfers from all over the world.
Here you can find one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches from the country and perfect waves for practising water sports.
Santa Teresa Beach is a remote beach located in the Nicoya Peninsula, far from any city and airport, so getting to this place might be a little challenging.
The fastest way to get to this island is by plane and you have a direct plane from San Jose to Tambor and the flight lasts only 30 minutes and then you have to take a bus or a taxi for another 30 minutes.
And there is the second option and here I am talking about cars, but bear in mind that you also have to take a ferry to Paquera to reach this remote island.
Things to do
Santa Teresa Beach is a great place to relax and reconnect with nature, with many interesting attractions around. Among the most popular ones I would name:
- Surfing all year round but with best waves between May to December
- Day trips to Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve, that is located 5 kilometres away from the beach
- Horse Ride along the beach
- Observe wildlife, especially birds as there are many species in the area
- Practice scuba diving, kite surfing and fishing
Esencia Hotel and Villas is located just 100 metres from the beach, nestled in a beautiful garden with tropical plants, featuring an outdoor pool with sun chairs and umbrellas around.
The rooms are clean and spacious and come with a terrace with a garden or pool view, as well as a private bathroom with all the toiletries you need.
One of the most amazing beaches in Costa Rica, Montezuma beach is famous for its long sandy beach and the trails that lead directly to the jungle.
Montezuma is located in the southern part of Nicoya Peninsula, in a remote area of Costa Rica.
The easiest way to reach this small beach town from San Jose is by ferry which should be taken from Puntarenas and the journey lasts for about 5 hours.
If you missed the ferry you don’t have to wait for the next one as the Peninsula is linked with the mainland by road and the journey will last longer.
Things to do
Although a remote area, Montezuma, one of the most secluded beaches of Costa Rica, hide many beautiful attractions, out of which I would name:
- Montezuma Falls
- Horseback riding tours
- Curu National Wildlife Refuge
- Jungle Butterfly farm
- Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Hidden between lush vegetation and tropical gardens, Hotel Nya is a beautiful oasis designed by two young Central American architects that managed to integrate perfectly into nature this beautiful resort.
Each room is unique and has been created with high care to details offering to the guests a unique and peaceful experience while listening to the jungle sounds and observing the wildlife from the canopy.
The tranquil beach of Samara is the best destination for those of you looking to taste a little bit of the local vibe and to experience the local culture.
One of the most secluded Costa Rica beaches is located in the southern part of the Pacific Coast, in the remote Nicoya Peninsula, in the Guanacaste province.
The small beach village lies right on the foot of a hill where all the roads go directly through the town down to the beautiful Playa Samara.
The domestic airport of Nosara is just 20 minutes north of the beach, and here operate direct flights from San Jose airport.
Things to do
Samara is surrounded by many beautiful attractions and tourists have many places where to relax and enjoy their holiday.
Here are some examples:
- The remote island of Chora, the perfect destination for a day trip
- Whale and dolphin watching tours
- Hiking in the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve
- Snorkelling around Chora Island
- Surfing lessons
Located close to the beach, Nammbu Beach Front Bungalows is a beautiful resort featuring a restaurant, a bar and a swimming pool nestled in the middle of a lush garden.
The size of the rooms, the quality of services and the amazing views of the surrounding area make this place the perfect holiday resort from this part of Costa Rica.
Punta Uva Beach
The beautiful beach of Punta Uva is famous all over the world for its shallow and calm waters protected by the reef and for its white sand beach.
It is one of the best places in Costa Rica to bring your kids on vacation as they can play in the sand, swim in the shallow waters and enjoy the amazing scenery around.
One of the best beaches in Costa Rica for families is located on the southern coast of the Caribbean Sea.
You can reach the area by bus from Limon or from San Jose or you can take a taxi from Puerto Viejo.
San Jose is 220 kilometres away, while the beautiful city of Puerto Viejo is just 8 kilometres away.
Things to do
There are many activities to do in the area; I will let below some of the most popular:
- visit an indigenous community
- Take some surfing lessons
- Take a chocolate tour
- Explore Cahuita National Park
- Visit Gandoca- Manzanillo wildlife refuge where you can spot toucans, crocodiles, parrots, turtles, caimans, etc
- Rio Pacuare white water rafting
There are not many luxurious accommodations in the area, but you can still find some beautiful hotels with a really great price-quality ratio.
My favourite one is Casa Viva from Puerto Viejo with its private beach and free parking as well as clean and spacious rooms.
Considered by many as the most developed and beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, Flamingo Beach is definitely a place that has recorded a spectacular transformation and a huge development over the last years.
Flamingo Beach is a place full of all the amenities needed for a beach: beautiful hotels, great restaurants and shops, many water sports options and an amazing sandy beach.
Flamingo Beach is located in Guanacaste province, about one hour drive from the domestic airport Liberia and 4 and a half hours drive from San Jose.
The easiest way to get to the beach from Costa Rica’s capital is to follow the Autopista del Sol also known as the Interamerican Highway to Caldera.
After you pass over Puntarenas, you have to turn left and follow the sign to the Puente de la Amistad and after that the sign to Nicoya until the signs start to show you Flamingo.
Things to do
This beautiful tropical beach with soft white sand and clear waters attracts many tourists from all over the world.
But besides perfecting your tan, there are plenty of activities to try and things to see while in the area:
- Rent an ATV and explore the area
- Take a canopy tour or a zip line tour
- Dive deep into the sea to observe the diversity of the marine wildlife
- Take some dance lessons of salsa, merengue, or why not cumbia or tango
- Observe the sea turtles nesting and hatching
The beautiful accommodation from Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo is the ideal place where you can relax and feel the beach vibe and the authentic Costa Rican hospitality.
The rooms are big and clean, overlooking the lush gardens or the huge outdoor pool as well as the Pacific Ocean.
Winner of Blue Flag award for many years in a row, Playa Hermosa or “Beautiful Beach” as it is translated into English, is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica.
The 2 kilometres long beach hidden between tropical forests and volcanic rocks is the perfect destination for families and couples.
This beautiful Costa Rica beach is located in Guanacaste, just 20 minutes away from Liberia domestic airport that operates direct flights from San Jose.
As there are many beaches of Costa Rica called Playa Hermosa including near San Jose and Santa Teresa, this one is known as Playa Hermosa Guanacaste.
This beautiful beach from Guanacaste is located between the town of Playas del Coco and the Playa Panama and is accessible by car.
Things to do
This long strip of sand is rarely busy so finding the perfect place to put your towel shouldn’t be that complicated.
But when you get bored of perfecting your tan, there are plenty of other interesting activities to do in the area like:
- Water sports including kayaking, stand up paddling, banana boat ride
- Take a catamaran tour to admire the beauty of Guanacaste coastline from the sea
- Observe local wildlife in the Eco Adventure Park
- Book a boat tour of Pale Verde National park
- Try the nearby hot springs and mud baths
Hotel Bosque del Mar Playa Hermosa is one of the best choices from the area, as the resort offers tropical gardens and a beautiful outdoor pool not to mention the tasty food you can find at the on-site restaurant.
The hotel is located right on the beach, just 20 minutes away from the domestic airport of Liberia, surrounded by jungle and wildlife.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, Jaco Beach is famous for its amazing scenery, beachy atmosphere and the high number of bars and restaurants where you can listen to good music, sip a drink and eat some traditional food.
Perfectly located just 1.5- 2 hours drive from San Jose International airport, Jaco beach is the largest beach town destination located so close to the capital of the city.
The fastest way to get to this beautiful beach is to follow Caldera Route 27, exit on Route 34 toward Orotina and then follow the sign to Jaco.
As you are travelling on the highway expect to pay a toll of about 5 USD payable in local currency, Costa Rica colones.
Things to do
One of the closest Costa Rica beaches to the capital of the country is a very popular spot among tourists, not just because of its great location but also because of its beauty and the large number of attractions that it offers.
I drop you a list below with the most interesting activities and places to see while in the area:
- Water-related activities like surfing, deep-sea fishing, boat rides, rafting or kayaking
- Book a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park which is the most beautiful parks in the country
- Experience the vibrant nightlife and party till morning on one of the many bars and clubs from the area
- Rent an ATV and explore the jungle
- Take a canopy zip line to see the forest from above
Located right between the Pacific Ocean and the lush rainforest, Hotel Club del Mar Oceanfront is a beautiful resort surrounded by exotic gardens and offering a unique ocean view.
The rooms are spacious and modern furnished with balconies overlooking the ocean or the rainforest, while the services are among the best from the area.
Famous for its white sandy beach and beautiful palm trees, Manzanillo beach is one of the most scenic beaches in Costa Rica.
Located just 4 hours drive from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica in the southern part of Cahuita National Park, Manzanillo is one of the most epic beaches of Costa Rica.
The beach is located on the Caribbean coastline in the southern part of Limon Province, close to Puerto Limon.
Things to do
The tiny village of Manzanillo is the perfect retreat for those of you looking for a quiet and relaxing holiday on the beach.
The food is delicious, people are friendly and the weather is perfect all year round for tanning and learn to practice surfing.
Here is a list of the most popular attractions in the area, besides spending your time on this scenic beach:
- Scuba diving in the Caribbean oceans to observe the abundance of marine life
- Visit the Jaguar Rescue Centre, an animal sanctuary where you can see sloths, toucans, monkeys and some other very interesting creatures
- Observe nature and wildlife from the nearby rainforest
- Book a chocolate tour to learn more about your favourite dessert
- Try a canopy tour and admire nature from above
Congo Bongo EcoVillage Costa Rica is our recommendation for this place that impressed us with its unique architecture, beautiful rooms, closeness to the beach and great services.
This amazing natural retreat is located just 5 minutes away from the beach and it offers just 8 vacation houses hidden between the lush vegetation of Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, one of the most interesting parks from Costa Rica.
The name of the beach translates into English as “turtle catcher” and comes from the beautiful marine creatures that come here year after year, between July to October to lay their eggs.
One of the wildest beaches in Costa Rica is located on the northern part of the Caribbean coast and is one of the most isolated places in the whole area.
The place is extremely remote and the only two ways to get there are by boat or by plane.
The closest road ends 30 kilometres (20 miles) before you reach the village so from there you have to take a boat for about an hour and reach your final destination.
And the second option is to take a domestic flight that lands in Tortuguero village and from there you can walk to the beach.
Things to do
This remote area is full of beautiful spots and interesting activities out of which I would name:
- Visit Tortuguero National Park spread on more than 31.000 hectares and home to a large variety of creatures and plants
- Book a tour and observe turtles laying their eggs
- Take a night tour in the jungle to observe the wildlife
- Take a kayak tour across the rivers and canals from the area
- Hike Cerro Tortuguero or Turtle Hill which is the highest peak from the area
Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is the perfect place to set your camp and explore the beaches and the nearby rainforest.
The lodge is nestled in the middle of the jungle right on the riverbank of the local river and awaits its guests with a cool outdoor pool, a great restaurant and beautiful rooms.
The services are one of the best from the whole area and the front desk people can help you planning and booking different tours from the area.
With more than 1.300 kilometres (800 miles) or beautiful beaches at the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a beautiful destination for those of you looking to spend some memorable moments away from city noise and pollution.
The beaches presented below are the most beautiful of the entire country and each of them is unique and offers different options for spending your time.
Pick the one you like most, book your trip and don’t hesitate to share with us your impressions and experiences you have in this amazing country.