With more than 1.300 kilometres (800 miles) of coastline, finding the best swimming beaches Costa Rica might be more challenging than you expected.
This small country from Latin America is famous for its diverse landforms and a large number of species of plants and animals that live here.
You will find here volcanoes, rainforests, tropical gardens and many miles of protected areas and national parks where you can observe wildlife in their natural habitat.
But besides these landforms, you can also find one of the best beaches for swimming in Costa Rica and world-famous surfing beaches.
This small paradise is the perfect place to spend your beach holiday as there are plenty of beaches to choose from.
We have been travelling all over the country searching for the best Costa Rica beaches for swimming and here is the list of our favourite beaches where the waters are ideal for swimming.
Best swimming beaches Costa Rica
Playa Punta Uva
One of the most popular swimming beaches in Costa Rica is Playa Punta Uva, located 5 miles (8.5 kilometres) away from Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast.
It is the best place to go if you are looking for a quiet holiday, far from noisy crowds, with calm waters and beautiful white sand.
In the waters around the beach, you can find a beautiful reef, a great opportunity to spot many species of fish and marine animals.
Families with kids used to come here because of the calm waters, clean and beautiful beach and quiet atmosphere.
It is surrounded by turquoise waters and beautiful palm trees under which you can put your towel and listen to nature sounds.
Playa Punta Uva, the best swimming beach Costa Rica from the Caribbean beaches is located in a protected area, Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge so don’t be surprised to see monkeys or even sloths in the area around the beach.
The area offers quite a large number of options for hotels and vacation homes where to set your camp, while Puerto Viejo is just 10 minutes by car or bus.
Our favourite hotel from the area is Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel Puertoviejo Costa Rica, a 5 stars resort with elegant rooms, minimalist decor and beautiful terraces overlooking the nearby rainforest.
Many of the beaches from Guanacaste Province have become very popular over time because of their stunning scenery, golden sands, crystal clear waters and gentle waves.
Playa Samara is considered to be one of the best swimming beaches Costa Rica from the southern Pacific Ocean coast in the Nicoya Peninsula.
This is considered to be one of the safest beaches in the country so that is why families with kids found this place perfect for their holiday.
Samara beach is surrounded by beautiful hills covered with lush forests and an impressive variety of exotic plants and beautiful animals.
The small town of Samara is packed with shops, restaurants and a few nightclubs where you can taste the incredible Costa Rican cuisine and sip a drink after a relaxing day on the beach.
In the waters around the beach, there is a beautiful coral reef, while the remote island Isla Chora is just a short boat trip from the mainland.
After perfecting your tan on one of the best beaches for swimming in Costa Rica, we recommend you to try some of the outdoor activities from the area: horseback riding, kayaking, stand up paddling, surfing or the amazing canopy tour with breathtaking zip lines from the top of the trees.
Book a few nights at Nammbu Beach Front Bungalows Samara Costa Rica where you have a beautiful outdoor pool, a restaurant and a bar, as well as spacious rooms and a great view of the sea.
Playa Hermosa Guanacaste
The small community near one of the best swimming beaches Costa Rica Guanacaste attracts thousands of visitors each year with its breathtaking scenery, calm waters and peaceful vibe.
The beach is quite remote, but the small beach town near it offers all the amenities you need for a great holiday on the beach.
The shallow waters and the soft sand from one of the best swimming beach Costa Rica attract many visitors, especially family with kids year after year.
Near this laid back beach, you can find a wide selection of restaurants where you can serve local and international cuisine.
Bars and nightclubs are missing from this place, so if you are looking for active nightlife, then this is not the right place for you.
Head to the nearby white sand beach Playas del Coco where you can find a few bars and clubs where you can party till late in the evening.
Among the most popular activities from the area, I would name: horseback riding, ATV tours, catamaran tours, hot springs or mud baths, kayaking, stand up paddling or banana tours.
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A couple of hours drive from Playa Hermosa is the beautiful Las Baulas National Marine Park, a place where sea turtles come to lay their eggs, a great place to observe these incredible marine creatures.
Another beautiful spot near Playa Hermosa is the Gulf of Papagayo, a place with a very beautiful coral reef full of marine wildlife.
It is located right on Hermosa Beach in Costa Rica featuring a beautiful pool surrounded by tropical gardens, clean and spacious rooms and a gourmet restaurant.
The next place on my list with the best swimming beaches Costa Rica is Tamarindo beach awarded with the Blue Flag prize a few years in a row.
This best swimming beach in Costa Rica has all the amenities for a great day on the beach: soft sand, crystal clear waters, good music, welcoming people and good surf options.
This popular beach is located in the Nicoya Peninsula, right on the Pacific coast and is accessible by car or plane from San Jose.
Tamarindo beach is about 2.5 kilometres long and is surrounded by lush vegetation and beautiful palm trees on one side and turquoise waters on the other side.
Because of the great waves, the beach is a popular surfing spot so you will find many surf shops and surfing teachers willing to learn new things about this magnificent spot.
I would say that Tamarindo beach is a very interesting mix of the rocky shores from Playa Langosta and the calm waters of Playa Conchal, two beautiful beaches located within walking distance from Tamarindo.
In and around Tamarindo beach you can do a lot of activities like:
- Water sports: surfing, kayaking, snorkelling, sport fishing, stand up paddling
- Day tours to Palo Verde National Park, Tamarindo Wildlife reserve, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and National Park
As for accommodation, I recommend you to stay at Cala Luna Boutique Hotel Tamarindo, a beautiful resort with its unique design and high-quality services located within walking minutes to the beach.
Manuel Antonio beach
One of the winners of the best swimming beaches Costa Rica is, of course, Manuel Antonio beach located in the protected area with the same name, Manuel Antonio National Park.
The high number of animals and plants that live in this area together with the wide range of activities available and the beautiful beach make Manuel Antonio a very popular destination among tourists.
The secluded beach of Manuel Antonio can be reached after a 30 minutes hike from the main entrance to the park and is perfect for relaxing, perfecting your tan, swimming or snorkelling.
You can go on foot to the beach or take the public shuttle as most people do when visiting the best swimming beach Costa Rica.
On your way to one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for swimming, you can spot monkeys, sloths and many species of birds that live in this protected area.
The good news is that there is a limited number of visitors that are allowed to enter the protected area each day, so you will find a great spot on the beach where to put your towel.
The village near the beach, Manuel Antonio village has a few shops, restaurants and bars from where you can buy souvenirs, eat and drink something.
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If you are wondering where to spend your night, our recommendation is Hotel La Mariposa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica, a beautiful and clean hotel, located just 2 kilometres from the beach.
It offers incredible views of the ocean and the nearby rainforest and has a Mediterranean design with elegant interiors and high-quality amenities.
There are plenty more other beaches in Costa Rica where you can swim but these 5 are the best swimming beaches Costa Rica that you definitely have to include in your travel plans.
Their unique landscapes and incredible waters, make these places real magnets that attract tourists from all over the world.
Pick at least one beach from my best beaches in Costa Rica for a swimming list and plan a memorable holiday in this exotic paradise.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.