25 Best Beaches in Costa Rica
If you ask visitors which Costa Rican beach is the most beautiful, no two people would agree. From sandy Caribbean beaches on the edge of coral reefs, perfect for snorkeling and diving, to magnificent enormous beaches pounded by the waves, there is a beach in Costa Rica to suit any taste. Some are fashionable and full of amenities, like those in Samara or Manuel Antonio. Others are wild and undiscovered like those on the south Pacific coast. Here are the best Costa Rica beaches for honeymooners and families. Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Fotolia
Stretched along the magnificent Caribbean coast, Playa Chiquita is just southeast of Puerto Viejo and is about four-hour drive from San Jose. Huge and almost deserted, Playa Chiquita is perfect for those who want to enjoy fine sand and swim in clear waters on their own. The beach consists of several small bays, so it is easy to find your own quiet stretch of the beach with no other soul in sight.
The fact that there is no direct road access to the beach, which is accessible only by several trails, helps to keep the beach remain secluded. The beach is spectacular for snorkeling or diving coral reefs. Swim with caution, because the water can get rough. There is no real shopping area in the village but there are a few restaurants and services along the main road.
Contact: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Fotolia
»Playa Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa is a small picturesque town on Nicoya Peninsula, in Costa Rica, about 93 miles from San Jos. Once a remote fishing village, Santa Teresa grew into a popular tourist destination mostly due to its spectacular beaches. Playa Santa Teresa is a large, wide expanse of fine white sand open to Pacific Ocean and surrounded by verdant hills and lush tropical jungle.
While the beach is isolated and still fairly undeveloped, it has recently become more popular and it is no longer easy to spend the day enjoying the beach alone. Some of the main attractions are rocky tide pools and two excellent surf spots, La Lora and Suck Rock, known for consistent year-around waves. The waves are large, steep and hollow, and can be up to 20 feet high. The famous waves are the reason for Playa Santa Teresa's annual international surfers' competitions. If you are not into surfing, the beach is also great for swimming, hiking, snorkeling, sailing and is a great starting point for deep sea fishing.
Contact: 15 Km de Cobano | 15 Km de Cobano, 60111, Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula, Province of Puntarenas, Santa Teresa 60111, Costa Rica
Samara is a charming coastal village located on the western shore of Nicoya Peninsula, with three miles of spectacular coastline and some magnificent beaches. Playa Samara is beautiful stretch of fine white sand, protected by a bay, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation on one side and aquamarine water with rich living coral reef on the other. The beach was popular amongst locals long before foreign tourists discovered it and offers a range of hotels, restaurants and night clubs.
The beach is fairly shallow with gentle waters and is considered one of the safest beaches in Costa Rica, perfect for families. In the middle of the bay, just off the beach, is Isla Chora, a small, deserted wooded island, full of birds which bird watchers can enjoy watching from a kayak. The beach's packed sand is great for hiking on. Snorkeling and diving will let you discover the mysterious underwater world and Samara is a great starting point for sport fishing.
»Costa Rica Beaches: Nicoya Peninsula
Located on the Northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula is the biggest peninsula in Costa Rica, famous for its spectacular isolated beaches, rugged scenic coastline and great small touristy towns and villages. It offers nature reserves such as Cabo Blanco, wildlife refuges including Camaronal, Curu and many others, a professional golf course in Tambor, turtle hatcheries, and the best surfing on the Pacific Coast.
Additionally, the Peninsula is home to magnificent sunsets, pristine beaches, coastal resorts, world class hotels and quaint coastal villages. Nicoya Peninsula has it all. With three international airports to serve it, it is easily accessible and quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. More Things to Do in Costa Rica
»Punta Uva Beach
Located about five miles from the lively town Puerto Viejo on the scenic Caribbean coast, the quiet beach at Punta Uva is famous for calm waters, fine white sand and magnificent reefs. Relaxed and quiet, the beach is perfect for those who want to commune with nature, teach kids to swim, snorkel to the reefs or stroll through the surrounding jungle to see monkeys and many kind of birds.
There are no golf courses or fancy resorts - as most of the area is part of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. However, there is breathtakingly beautiful nature, quaint charming hotels and lodges, and avwonderful mix of people of all colors and national origins.
Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Fotolia
Located in Guanacaste, only 20 minutes from Liberia's Daniel Oduber International Airport, Playa Hermosa or 'beautiful beach' in Spanish is true to its name with its idyllic scenery and lush nature. This fine grey sandy beach is almost two kilometers long and is surrounded by large rocky volcanic ridges and a lush tropical forest.
It is relaxed, secluded and rarely crowded and can be enjoyed by everyone from those who like a bit of solitude to kids who want to splash in warm waters. The beach is great for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, and the calm waters are perfect for kayaking, windsurfing, sailboarding or jet skiing.
Contact: #7 Monte Bello, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Fotolia
Uvita, a quiet little village about 11 miles from Dominical in the South Pacific Region of Costa Rica is a features a slow, relaxed life, magnificent tropical forests and endless expanses of beaches. Uvita Beach is a wonderful vacation spot for those who prefer long walks on the sand over a busy nightlife. Tall stately palms provide welcome shade to sunbathers enjoying the fine white sands of Uvita beach.
The beach is perfect for surfing, swimming, snorkeling and diving. From May to October, the beach isa great place to watch magnificent Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles laying eggs in the sand before they return to the sea. The beach is also a good starting point for kayak trips to nearby mangroves which are full of birds, and to watch passing Humpback whales as they migrate from December and April.
Contact: Uvita Beach, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Photo: alexanderkonsta /Fotolia
»Costa Rica Beaches: Playa Cocles
Cocles is a small village on the Atlantic Coast south of Puerto Viejo, in the Caribbean lowlands. This spectacularly beautiful beach, surrounded by lush vegetation, is very popular with international surfers, especially at its northern end., Salsa Brava located nearby, is considered one of the best beaches for surfing in Costa Rica.
This beach has waves that break both to the left and right near the steep beach. Surfing is best early in the day, and between December and March. The beach is also great for swimmers and is one of a few beaches in the area patrolled by lifeguards provided by the local community.
Contact: Cocles, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
»Parque Nacional Marino Ballena
Marino Ballena National Park is spread over 270 acres of land and 13,300 acres of ocean. The park is only ten miles south of Dominical and is known for having the largest coral reef on the Central America's Pacific side. Uvita and Ballena beaches are located within the park. At this park you often can see green and black iguanas feeding on algae between the rocks. There is a stretch of rich mangroves between the beaches which is full of birds. The reef forms a protective crescent with the three small islands.
The snorkeling around the reef is great, especially during low tide, but be aware rip currents can be dangerous. Diving trips to nearby islands are available. Other fun activities include beach combing, hiking and whale watching, especially from December to April when humpback whales migrate from places like Alaska and Hawaii on the way to Cano Island, just off Osa Peninsula.
Contact: Camino a Playa Chamán, Puntarenas, Uvita, 60504, Costa Rica
»Best Beaches in Costa Rica: Nosara Beach
Nosara, a village on Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, is undeveloped and relaxed, and is surrounded by rich tropical vegetation and miles of pristine beaches. Its most popular beach is Playa Guiones, where most of the village's hotels and restaurants are located and where most visitors spend most oftheir time. The beach is a world-famous surfing destination, with consistent year-around waves.
This spectacular seven kilometers stretch of fine white sand is fantastic for exploring on foot or by bicycle, with several big tide pools which are perfect for snorkeling and relaxing. Playa Guiones' superb surf break makes it popular for surfing, both with beginners and experts. This beach is a great place to learn to surf. Most of the beach is part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge which protects breeding sites of Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles.
Contact: Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Stretched between Malpaís and Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen is a world-renowned surfing beach, an enormous stretch of white sand known for ideal surf conditions year around and a variety of breaks. The breaks and riptides are less powerful than in some other surfing destination in Costa Rica, making it perfectly suited for beginners.
The beach is popular both with short and long boarders, with long rights and short lefts, and as you go more north the breaks get faster and the walls steeper. Sand bars also change frequently. The wide expanse of beach is also popular for horseback riding and hiking, and has long stretches that are completely deserted, offering space for solitude.
Contact: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Photo: Eugene Kalenkovich/Fotolia
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»Costa Rica Beaches: La Playita
If you keep walking along the lovely sandy Playa Espadilla, just outside Park Manuel Antonio, past the rocky headland, you will find one of Costa Rica's best known gay beaches. It is not accessible within an hour of high tide, so be careful not to lose track of time while enjoying the sun.
This little tropical jungle surrounded beach was so isolated, for a it was known for its 'clothing optional' policy, but the new hotel behind the beach put a stop to that. Nevertheless, young gay men enjoy its fine sands and protection from surf, while being shaded by ancient tropical trees.
Contact: Playitas Beach, Puntarenas, Quepos, Costa Rica
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»Costa Rica Beach: Playa Espadilla Norte
Espadilla Norte Beach is a brilliant white wide and long beach located just outside Manuel Antonio National Park in Quepos, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. In an area famous for its spectacular beaches, it is the largest and the most popular beach of all The beach is shadowed by a cliff covered with lush tropical vegetation which is full of wildlife such as sloths, monkeys, porcupines, and many kinds of birds.
On the seaside you will find a rich coral reef with healthy corals and colorful fish and other sea creatures. The beach is great for swimming, long walks, and all kinds of watersports such as jet skiing, kayaking, surfing and fishing. This popular beach tends to get crowded at times.
Contact: Espadilla Beach, Puntarenas, Quepos, Costa Rica
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»Best Beaches in Costa Rica: Tamarindo Beach
Tamarindo is a small town on the Costa Rican Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula. The town population more than doubles during weekends and holidays, it is a popular destination for well-off natives. Surfers are attracted to Tamarindo year around. Playa Tamarindo, the main town beach, is long and rocky, and is famous for its excellent waves at the mouth of the estuary.
Surfers should be aware of strong currents, especially when the tide is ebbing. Most of the beach is great for those who want to learn to surf, but there are two great breaks for advanced surfers: Pico Pequeño, created by a rocky point facing the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá and El Estero, the river mouth break facing Cabinas Tsunami. The highest waves can reach 12 feet in November and December.
Contact: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Photo: Mihai Bogdan Lazar/Fotolia
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»Costa Rica Beaches: Playa Avellana
Avellana is recognized as one of the most spectacular beaches near Tamarindo. For miles all you can see is pristine white coral sand, shaded by ancient trees battered by winds, scrub, and mangroves. The beach stretches between Tamarindo's two other beaches - Playa Langosta and Playa Negra. There are some rocky stretches with tide pools, but mostly it is powdery fine white coral sand and clear turquoise water. It is a perfect swimming beach as the bottom drops gently and there are very few underwater rocks.
But, what really draws tourists to Avellana, is that there are spectacular surfing conditions year around, with waves coming from both the north and south. There are so many great surfing spots that advanced surfers produced a map to help other surfers locate an ideal spot.
Contact: Playa Avellana, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Playa Conchal, a true beach paradise, is only about one kilometer south of the small town Brasilito in Guanacaste, on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. This gorgeous pure white stretch of sand is surrounded by tall, swaying palms. The sand is cool underfoot as it is made by tiny crushed shells or conchs, giving the beach its name.
Its shallow waters have an intense turquoise color which is not often found on the Pacific Oceean. This popular beach can get crowded on weekends, but on the work days, as you walk further away from its restaurants and bars you can find deserted spots to truly enjoy the paradise and to swim and snorkel in peace.
Contact: Playa Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Located in Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Playa Biesanz is a picture-postcard jewel of a beach hidden in a small cove around Quepos Point and surrounded by old tropical rainforest. Its creamy fine sand is pristine and water unbelievably clear, making it perfect for snorkeling. There is an interesting underwater rock formation to explore.
The beach is not easy to find, so you might find it to be fairly deserted, with only a few locals under the large shady trees. The location of the beach in the protected cove makes it one of few Pacific beaches with no waves, so it is wonderful for swimming.
Contact: Biesanz Beach, Puntarenas, Quepos, Costa Rica
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»Puerto Viejo Beach
Puerto Viejo is a quirky small town on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, famous for its congregation of old hippies and a lively ethnic mix of Bri Bri natives, Afro-Caribbeans and Ticos. It is also famous for its spectacular surfing beaches, which draw surfers from all over the world year around. There is a small beach in town that is not too interesting for swimming, but is where all the action is.
Next to it is Salsa Brava, where advanced surfers go - where some spectacular waves break on a reef. Just next to it is Playa Negra, with interesting dark volcanic sand. Just south of Puerto Viejo is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica- Playa Cocle, which offers fantastic surfing and great swimming - and a life guard paid by the community.
Contact: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
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»Costa Rica Beaches: Jaco Beach
Playa Jaco is a 2.5 mile strip of pristine powder fine sand located on the Costa Rican central Pacific coast, surrounded by high cliffs densely covered with a lush tropical jungle full of wildlife. Wide expanses of the beach are perfect for hiking, biking, ATV riding, swimming and surfing. The beach is great for those who would like to learn to surf - the waves are ideal for beginners - strong and consistent but not overly powerful.
Even for the most experienced surfers, the surfing at Jaco beach is best during rising tides, with the northwest and southwest swells. The undertow is strong, especially when the swells are large. Jaco Beach is the closest beach to Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, so you can expect crowds on weekends.
Contact: Jaco Beach, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Fotolia
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Playa Barrigona, a rare gem that stays undiscovered and unspoiled because it is difficult to find, is located about an hour north of Samara, on the Nicoya Peninsula. Even with detailed instructions, you will find the trip to Barrigona an adventure in itself. The beach is bordered on both sides by high cliffs covered by dense vegetation. The sand is light golden and fine as a powder.
The water is crystal clear and vivid blue - perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There is even a waterfall that spills from the mountain above down to the beach - an instant fresh water shower. The surfing is fantastic, with tubes and barrels day in and day out. The beach's seclusion almost ensures that you will have the entire space to yourself.
Contact: Playa Barrigona, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Photo: William Giakas/Fotolia
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Stretched along the deep bay in the quiet fishing village of Potrero, along the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Potrero Beach is surrounded by steep hills densely covered with tropical vegetation and rich wildlife. Fine white sand surrounds brilliantly blue bay waters, picture perfect, tranquil and unspoiled.
It is an ideal place to relax away from the hordes of tourists and noise of typical touristy beach towns. Besides swimming and sunbathing, visitors can enjoy excellent scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking. World-class deep-sea fishing for tuna, marlin and swordfish can be easily arranged. All around the beach, in the surrounding tropical forests, there are scenic hiking trails for exploring the jungle which is teaming with life. Santa Rosa National Park and Palo Verde Natural Reserve are only steps away.
Contact: Potrero Beach, Potrero, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Photo: Víctor Bautista/Fotolia
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As you drive south along Costa Rica's central Pacific coast, about 20 miles from fashionable touristy Quepos and Manuel Antonio, you will find the quiet small town of Matapalo. Playa Matapalo has all the beauty of more popular beaches in the area but has been overlooked by tourists as being a bit off beaten path, leaving its fine cocoa powder brown sands pristine and undeveloped.
The beach is surrounded by ancient tropical forests and is lined by stately tall coconut palms. If walking along the beach, swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing are not enough, you can also try horseback riding on the beach, or fishing from the shores or at the spot where the Portalón River spills into the sea.
Contact: Matapalo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Only about 30 km south of popular Jaco, along the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Playa Bejuco is worlds apart. This pristine, almost deserted beach has fine brown sand, almost like a cocoa powder, and is a popular bird nesting area. The birds are occasionally disturbed by avid surfers who discovered that Bejuco offers some pretty good surfing conditions.
The beach is shaded by palm trees and miles of farmland - the locals are still mostly occupied with agriculture and fishing. The tourism market has not taken off as of yet, but it is just a matter of time. Some small projects have started to sprout up already. Until the tourists come, you can spend hours walking along the beach, and not meet a soul. Enjoy crystal clear waters for swimming and snorkeling, take long hikes to the beach's end. Or, you can go fishing with one of the locals and experience Costa Rica the way it used to be.
Contact: Puntarenas, Bejuco, Costa Rica
Photo: Dinesh Valke/Fotolia
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»Costa Rica Beaches: Puerto Carrillo
A short drive south of Samara Beach, on scenic Nicoya Peninsula, is its smaller, quieter sister beach, Carrillo. Puerto Carrillo is a small, quiet, laidback beach town, similar in many ways to Samara, but much less developed. It is snuggled into a rocky small cove that offers safe mooring for the sport fishing boats of Samara.
You can enjoy miles of fine sand on this beach in peace, with very little noise to disturb you. The clean, hard packed sand that lines a wide bay is great for long walks, watching spectacular sunsets, swimming, snorkeling and enjoying the views. If you prefer watching the birds and palm trees swaying in the wind over noisy beach bars, you will enjoy this beach.
Contact: Puerto Carrillo, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Photo: Playa Carrillo/Fotolia
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»San Juanillo Beach
San Juanillo village is located on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, between Marbella and Ostional. Located along a wide bay, San Juanillo beach provides a natural harbor and has an interesting mix of white and black sand divided by gravel. There are several nice shady spots perfect for an afternoon nap.
The quiet, crystal clear waters of the bay are amazing for swimming. The beach is also exceptionally good for snorkeling, diving and fishing. It is easy to arrange with local fishermen to take you on their boat to see whales, turtles and dolphins. There is a highly respected professional dive operation that will take you out to scuba diving, swim with turtles and enjoy the underwater world.
Contact: Central Street, Off of Highway 160, San Juanillo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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25 Best Beaches in Costa Rica
- Playa Chiquita, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Playa Santa Teresa, Photo: Courtesy of traveltelly - Fotolia.com
- Samara Beach, Photo: Courtesy of vividflowstudio - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: Nicoya Peninsula, Photo: Courtesy of picturist - Fotolia.com
- Punta Uva Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Playa Hermosa, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Uvita Beach, Photo: Courtesy of alexanderkonsta - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: Playa Cocles, Photo: Courtesy of gloriaclares - Fotolia.com
- Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, Photo: Courtesy of alexanderkonsta - Fotolia.com
- Best Beaches in Costa Rica: Nosara Beach, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Playa Carmen, Photo: Courtesy of Eugene Kalenkovich - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: La Playita, Photo: Courtesy of erikkellison - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beach: Playa Espadilla Norte, Photo: Courtesy of hullam - Fotolia.com
- Best Beaches in Costa Rica: Tamarindo Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Mihai Bogdan Lazar - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: Playa Avellana, Photo: Courtesy of supercake - Fotolia.com
- Playa Conchal, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Playa Biesanz, Photo: Courtesy of mikeccross - Fotolia.com
- Puerto Viejo Beach, Photo: Courtesy of piccaya - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: Jaco Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
- Barrigona Beach, Photo: Courtesy of William Giakas - Fotolia.com
- Potrero Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Víctor Bautista - Fotolia.com
- Playa Matapalo, Photo: Courtesy of piccaya - Fotolia.com
- Playa Bejuco, Photo: Courtesy of Dinesh Valke - Fotolia.com
- Costa Rica Beaches: Puerto Carrillo, Photo: Courtesy of Playa Carrillo - Fotolia.com
- San Juanillo Beach, Photo: Courtesy of brizardh - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
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