Costa Rica Beaches can be found on two beautiful coastlines, the Caribbean and the Pacific. These two coasts are separated by majestic green mountains and imposing volcanoes. The Pacific and the Caribbean shores of Costa Rica are immensely distinct from each other. For example, weather patterns, geographical location, ambiance, resident wildlife and exotic beauty can vary across the country. In addition, each region has its unique cultural flair. With so many Costa Rican beaches to choose from, you can rest assured that we can find you the best beaches for your taste.
Pacific Costa Rican Beaches
The gulf of Papagayo consists of a stunning selection of beaches are the most easy to reach from Liberia. Oher than being a haven for those looking for an all-inclusive experience, Papagayo has been awarded the Blue Flag for its environmental efforts. Because of its calm waters, the beaches of Papagayo are a perfect destinations for a family holiday. This is especially true of Playa Panama and Playa Hermosa. Papagayo is also home to the fishing town gone beach party destination of Playas del Coco.
Tamarindo, also called Tamagringo by locals, is Guanacaste’s most popular beach destination. A large group of expats live in Tamarindo so making connections will be easy. Next to the nice restaurants, bars and souvenir shops, Tamarindo is also a prime spot for the beginner surfer.
Those who are starting to feel more confident in their surfing skills, can head next door to Playa Grande which is a bit more remote and the waves are slightly more challenging. Playa Grande is also a nesting beach for Las Baulas, or the leatherback sea turtle. This is why the area is very serene and quiet compared to Tamarindo.
Playa Conchal is one of Guanacaste’s most beautiful beaches and famous for its crushed, white shells making up the beach rather than sand. It is a great beach for swimming and relaxing on the stunning, pearly white beach. Conchal is home to the famous Reserva Conchal Beach Resort.
While it is perfectly fine to visit the beach and enjoy yourself, you are not allowed to take the shells home as a souvenir in the interest of conservation.
Manuel Antonio is most famous for its national park, but did you know it is also home to what they call the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica? Visit Playa Espadilla, the public beach just outside of the park, and visit Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur in the park itself with its stunning turqoise water and white sand.
The best part of a visit to Manuel Antonio’s beaches, is that you can also have a wander through the park. You can spot large groups of monkeys, sloth, birds and generally enjoy the atmosphere of the tropical jungle. All the trails are paved or lined with stairs so you don’t need to wear hiking shoes. You can even do the whole trail on your flip-flops.
The Central Pacific is home to three beaches known for its surfing and socializing opportunities. Jaco is just south of Herradura and Tarcoles (stop to see the crocodiles!). This coastal town has a rather metropolitan feel to it because of its skyscrapers and night life.
Hermosa and Dominical also have some dining and night life option although to a lesser degree, but are also a great destination for surfers as well as those looking for some interesting wildlife tours.
Just south of Dominical is Uvita. Uvita is the gateway to the southern pacific and most famous for its beach shaped like a whale’s tail. When here, make sure to take a tour to the Marino Ballena National Park. Especially during the months of September and October, you have a big chance to see humpback whales!
Visit the stunning Osa Peninsula and stay at Drake Bay. Other than the beach being stunning, Osa is also voted the world’s most biologically intense place. When here, also pay a visit to Corcovado National Park and Cano Island to experience the full nature of this biodiversity!
Playa Samara has a rather hippie commune feel to it with its colorful little town and horses wandering around freely. It is a great beach for horseback riding tours, hiking tours in the tropical dry forest and even a first surf lesson.
While Samara is full of life, it has a rather introverted neighbor in Carrillo. At just 5 kilometers from Samara, you can head there with a car or bicycle and have a picnic under the palm trees at this beautiful and calm crescent shaped beach. Make sure to avoid Carrillo on Sunday because this is when all the locals visit its coast!
Nosara is located just north of Samara and is mainly known for being a haven for yogis. Home to stunning and world-renowned yoga resorts, Nosara is the perfect destination for those looking to be more at home with themselves.
Additionally, Nosara is a great spot for surfers who can also enjoy yoga specifically designed for surfers. Nosara is also part of the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the Blue Zones of the world. When here, go a little further north to Ostional and watch the sea turtles nesting!
The southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is home to some remote beaches where the more experiences surfer as well as those looking for some solitude will find their little slice of heaven. When visiting by car, make sure you rent a 4-wheel drive!
Caribbean Costa Rica Beaches
Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast has the stunning white sands and sparkling blue waters anyone is looking for on their vacation. Puerto Viejo is a small and friendly town which the beaches of Cocles and Chiquita that are worth visiting. If you are up for something else, go ahead and pay a visit to the Jaguar Rescue center.
Punta Uva has a reputation for being a peaceful, quiet beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It is a fantastic beach for swimming with kids, picnicking and relaxing. Keep your eye on trees, you might see a sloth or monkey!
The quiet waters of Manzanillo are perfect for swimming and snorkeling in the coral reefs. You can also go kayaking or rowing through the nearby mangroves and swamps. There’s nothing like kayaking down the river to the sounds nearby howler monkeys and hundreds of tropical bird species!
Other than the stunning national park, you can also visit the public beach of Playa Negra and Playa Blanca in the park itself. The beaches of Costa Rica are most famous for its amazing snorkeling and swimming as well as diversity of wildlife.