10 Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the best travel destinations in the world for many reasons. Namely, its rich culture, friendly locals, and its plethora of beautiful beaches!
Not to mention the incredible Costa Rica surf.
This list covers everything from the tropical waters of Costa Rica’s Caribbean side to the lush jungles of the South Pacific, and everything in between. Without further ado, here we have it- the best beaches in Costa Rica!
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1. Playa Guiones
Located near the small town of Nosara on the Nicoyan Peninsula, Playa Guiones is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Playa Guiones is a very special place in Costa Rica. Due to it being a wildlife refuge, Construction and development is not allowed anywhere near the beach. The result of this law is that Playa Guiones is one of the last truly untouched beaches in Costa Rica.
One of the best things to do in Playa Guiones, without a doubt, is to surf. This beach offers consistent surf year round, and in terms of surf consistency, Playa Guiones is easily the best Costa Rica beach.
Playa Guiones is also quite popular for practicing yoga, and meditation and breathwork on the beach, and there are a plethora of unique and beautiful yoga studios in the surrounding area.
There are many delicious restaurants nearby Playa Guiones, including Rosi’s Tica, 10 Pies, or Pura Pizza for a quick snack!
Playa Guiones is the perfect beach for anyone who wants to stay in a spiritual town, practice yoga, and surf!
2. Playa Santa Teresa
Playa Santa Teresa is a remote beach town on the southernmost tip of the Nicoyan Peninsula in Guanacaste Costa Rica. This beach is a backpacker and surfers’ haven, and has much to offer.
Despite it’s remote location, Santa Teresa has a lot going on. Once a sleepy backpackers town, it is now a fairly busy party/surf town. However, despite its recent growth, it still has retained its charm and is not quite as developed as other Costa Rica beaches like Jaco and Tamarindo.
There are tons of places to stay, and delicious restaurants to eat at in Playa Santa Teresa.
The beach itself is very beautiful, and host to some solid surf.
Directly behind Playa Santa Teresa is a a skate park with rentals, and its one of the only skate parks in Costa Rica!
With so much to do and a lovely beach, Playa Santa Teresa is definitely one of the best beaches of Costa Rica.
3. Playa Tamarindo
Playa Tamarindo, known for its beautiful white sand beaches and blue waters is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Located adjacent to the little town of Tamarindo, both the beach and the settlement get their name from the Tamarind plant which produces edible fruit that is very common in South America.
Despite its small size, this Costa Rican beach is definitely not a quiet and secluded place. In fact, it’s one of the most popular in the area so it can definitely get crowded. However, there is a reason why so many travelers and locals come here. Tamarindo is stunningly beautiful and a great place to learn how to surf. There are a lot of surf school options offering affordable and high-quality lessons. Most days the surf is calm so even people with next to no experience can try surfing.
Of course, you can also just relax on the beach and read a book while you sip on a cold drink. Close to the beach, you’ll find a great selection of little restaurants and bars serving both international and local food. You can find reasonably priced food in Tamarindo, although the closer to the beach you are the more crowded and pricey it can get.
For a more quiet experience come to Tamarindo early in the morning.
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
4. Playa Grande in Montezuma
Next up on the list of best Costa Rican beaches is Playa Grande. Playa Grande is located near the town Montezuma in the southern part of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is a spectacular long stretch of white-sand beach. It is brimming with life and a fantastic place to visit in Costa Rica.
Playa Montezuma is a nice sandy beach bordering the town, but if you follow the jungle trail for about 40 minutes to the northeast you will find the popular surf beach, Playa Grande.
This spectacular strip of sand is kilometers long, and because it is so isolated, it usually only has a handful of visitors, making it one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Playa Grande is bordered by the spectacular Romelia Wildlife Reserve where you will see crabs running around, howler monkeys, coatis, and turtles that come to nest on the beach in this turtle sanctuary and hatchery.
Playa Grande is a popular place for surf lessons from the town, and the sandy beach break is a good place to learn.
Montezuma is a nice little holiday village with accommodation ranging from backpacker to luxury spa hotels all located right on the beach. Here you can visit the hidden waterfall, go for a fantastic lunch, do yoga on the beach or rent a surfboard for the day.
Recommended by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads
5. Playa Tortuguero
Tortuguero National Park is located in Costa Rica’s Northwest, right by the border with Nicaragua. The village of Tortuguero, where the amazing Tortuguero beach can be found, sits on a forested sandbar. The long beach is made of dark volcanic sand and it looks beautifully wild. This beach is just the best spot for turtles nesting and it’s what gave Tortuguero its name.
For us humans, the best use of the beach is to just walk along it and take a quick dip. The Tortuguero Beach features extremely strong currents and wild waves. One shouldn’t go too far, since you’ll be constantly splashed and pulled and it’s easy to lose grip in such conditions. Still, it’s perfect to refresh on a hot day.
Tortuguero is quite remote and encircled by private land, so the journey there is a bit complicated. To get there, you need to either fly or take a boat on one of the canals. The boat ride can take an hour (from La Pavona) or four hours (from Moín). The canal goes through the national park and is rich in wildlife – taking the longer boat ride guarantees you’ll see many animals.
Hotel Icaco is located right by the beach and its simple rooms come highly recommended.
When in Tortuguero, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Turtle Conservation Center. Otherwise it’s mainly about enjoying one of the best beaches in Costa Rica, walking through a local forest, or exploring more of the canals around and their wildlife. If you like seafood, you’ll be in foodie heaven too.
Recommended by Veronika from Travel Geekery
6. Playa Manuel Antonio
While looking for the best beaches in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio beach should come up on your radar. Manual Antonio is a national park so the mix between nature and the ocean makes this beach a paradise on earth.
As well as a popular national park, Manuel Antonio is a safe place in Costa Rica that you can enter with zero worries. There is an $18 entrance fee to go inside the park and access the beach.
Along the route to the beach, you’ll encounter sloths, monkeys, iguanas, and a host of other exotic insects roaming around. If staying in nearby Quepos, make sure you spend the whole day in the park so you can make the most of the surroundings and fully enjoy the beach and its tranquility.
Since the beach is on the pacific coast you’ll find a mix of swimmers and surfers who can be very entertaining to watch.
Since the park closes at 4 pm it’s best to get there as early as possible and remember to arrive prepared for the day because there are no chairs or umbrellas for rent.
All in all, Manuel Antonio makes an ideal place for you if you want a day of tranquility with the chance to connect with the ocean and some unique wildlife.
Recommended by Daniel from Layer Culture
7. Playa Junquillal
The tiny village of Playa Junquillal on Costa Rica’s Guanacaste coast is one of the country’s hidden gems and easily one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. It is approximately 1 ½ hours’ drive from Liberia and 4 ½ hours from San Jose.
Playa Junquillal offers visitors the chance to get off the beaten tourist trail and is a tranquil location away from the noisy bars and busy hotels of its more popular Guanacaste neighbours.
Visitors to Playa Junquillal can spend their days strolling the 4 kilometre long, Blue Flag sandy beach, rock pooling in tidal pools or spotting the area’s abundant wildlife.
Take a fishing trip, go horse riding on the beach, hire a mountain bike or learn to surf at nearby Playa Avellana or Playa Negra.
Day trips options include a trip to Marino Las Baulas National Park, a 30-minute drive away in Tamarindo or nearby Ostional Wildlife Refuge.
An unmissable experience in Playa Junquillal is volunteering at the locally run turtle sanctuary. During hatching season (July – February) visitors can turn up at sunset to help release newly hatched baby Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles into the sea. Watching these tiny turtles painstakingly make their way into the sea against the backdrop of a setting sun is a once in a lifetime experience.
Stay at the welcoming Guacamaya Lodge which offers hotel rooms as well as spacious self-catering cottages on its beautifully landscaped grounds.
Recommended by Sinead from Map Made Memories
8. Playa Langosta
A beautiful hidden gem beach in Costa Rica, is Playa Langosta. Neighbor to the larger beach of Tamarindo, Playa Langosta is worth a visit.
It’s a five-minute drive or half-hour walk between the two beaches. There isn’t a parking lot, so be careful when you park on the side of the road. The crescent beach with soft tan sand welcomes you for your beach needs- whether that is surfing the waves or just enjoying the sun.
Playa Langosta is a quiet refuge in the Guanacaste region. It’s close to a number of wildlife refuges and national parks. There are plenty of things to do in Tamarindo, so you can enjoy a fun night out in town and come back to your quiet hotel in Playa Langosta. The Cala Luna Boutique Hotel is a family-owned hotel with secluded accommodation that makes you feel like you’re staying in the jungle.
Of all the best beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Langosta is a hidden gem worth visiting.
Recommended by Pamela from the Directionally Challenged Traveller
9. Playa Punta Uva
One of the most pristine beaches on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is Punta Uva. This beautiful white-sandy beach is dotted with palm trees. The water here is crystal clear and calm enough to go for a relaxing swim or even float. It honestly is pure paradise.
Punta Uva Beach is located at the small town of Punta Uva. While you can stay here, it is super tiny with very little accommodation to offer. That’s why most people choose to stay in the larger town of Puerto Viejo nearby. There are lots of things to do in Puerto Viejo, and from there you can easily go on a day trip to Punta Uva. Just rent a bicycle and enjoy the leisurely 8-kilometer ride there. You can also drive yourself or just take a taxi, it’s super easy!
Once at Punta Uva it is about pure relaxation. There are a couple of small restaurants here, but not many, and the beach is very peaceful. If you want something more exciting to do, you can book snorkeling, scuba diving, and even horseback riding tours here too.
Recommended by Bailey from Destinationless Travel
10. Playa Pan Dulce
Playa Pan Dulce in Costa Rica is located on the Osa Peninsula between the town of Puerto Jimenez and Corcovado National Park.
The white sand beach lined with palm trees is a great place to relax while soaking in calm turquoise waters. Plus, this beach is almost always empty, even during the high season, making it one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
For the perfect day, first stop at the nearby King Louis waterfall for a hike along a rocky stream to the impressive fall.
From the King Louis waterfall, there are three nice beaches to check out on the way to the main road. These beaches are; Playa Matapalo, Playa Carbonera, and finish at Playa Pan Dulce.
After a day of enjoying the perfect beach ambience, stop at one of the small roadside restaurants for a meal or drink on the way back to Puerto Jimenez.
This is a remote corner of the country and not the easiest to access due to the many dirt roads and occasional river crossings. In fact, it is recommended to only visit during the dry season, and even then a four wheel drive vehicle is suggested.
Despite the challenges of getting to Playa Pan Dulce, a visit to this little slice of paradise is 100% worth a visit!
Recommended by Sarah from Costa Rica Vibes
Best Beaches in Costa Rica Final Thoughts
With so much information on where to go in Costa Rica, it can certainly be overwhelming trying to plan your vacation! Hopefully, this carefully curated list of the best beaches in Costa Rica composed by travel experts helps you to better plan your trip.