Located between the shorelines of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica features an expansive coastline and is famous for its beautiful and diverse beaches. Expect to find lovely white sand beaches lined with palm trees, rugged beach coves, and volcanic black sand beaches.
Travelers who like beaches with good facilities will be happy to hear that Costa Rica is home to several mega beach resorts, while visitors who wish to have some privacy can check out the untouched shorelines of Costa Rica.
Without further to do, we present you our list of the best beaches in Costa Rica:
1. Manuel Antonio
One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio Beach is a part of the Manuel Antonio National Park and a perfect beach for families with children. The water on the beach is constantly warm and the coral seascape is perfect for snorkeling.
You will need to walk for about 30 minutes from the park’s entrance to Manuel Antonio Beach.
The surrounding national park is packed with diverse wildlife. You can check out the white-faced monkeys, green iguanas, and sloths. Manuel Antonio is also home to the famous squirrel monkeys that fall under the category of endangered species.
If you like going for long walks, the park features several hiking trails that lead to many other beaches.
Known for its Afro-Caribbean influence, Tortuguero Beach is only reachable by a canal boat from Porto Limon or a flight from San Jose.
The beach is perfect for sunbathing and home to many green turtles that come here to breed. Tortuguero offers plenty of attractions including scenic hiking trails, tours down the jungle canals, and guided safaris.
Make sure to visit the nearby Tortuguero National Park where you will have a chance to see several endangered species such as manatees, tapirs, and ocelots. The park is well-known for its crocodile filled canals and lush rainforests.
When it comes to spending a night in Tortuguero, there are only a couple of accommodation options here and most of them are on the expensive side.
If you wish to learn how to be a surfer, Tamarindo is the perfect beach for beginner surf and features a lively nightlife. It’s not perfect for swimming due to the bigger waves, but there are plenty of other activities in the area.
Head out to the nearby Las Baulas National Park which is home to the famous leatherback sea turtles that nest on some of the beaches in the area between October and February.
There are several accommodation options close to Tamarindo Beach and some of the hotels offer discounts for nearby watersports rentals. In case you are visiting Tamarindo Beach over the weekends, when it gets super-crowded, consider checking out the lovely neighboring beach of Langosta.
Samara is a small beach town and one of the best kept secrets in the country. Unfortunately, the world has recently started to discover this place and there are more and more tourists coming here each season.
Want to know what makes it so special? Well, let’s just say that Playa Samara is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, with its fine white sand, tropical vegetation, and diverse marine life.
The beach is protected by a bay and in the middle there is a small deserted island of Isla Chora that is full of birdlife. Keen bird-watchers can rent a kayak to get as close as possible to the island to watch the bird show.
Snorkeling and scuba diving will help you discover the crystal clear underwater life. In case you get hungry, this beach town offers plenty of unique restaurants and small shops where you can order food.
5. Playa Santa Teresa
Located on Nicoya Peninsula in the small town of Santa Teresa, Playa Santa Teresa is an isolated beach surrounded by a lush tropical jungle. You won’t find a lot of tourists and high-end resorts here and this area is more for adventurous travelers. Although it takes a little effort to get to the beach, the experience is totally worth it.
Playa Santa Teresa is open to the Pacific and features fine white sand. There are amazing surf spots in the area, including La Lora and Suck Rock. Travelers, who are not into surfing, can swim on the beach, snorkel, and go for long walks on several hiking trails.
Situated on a beautiful coastline, Montezuma beach is one of the most interesting beaches in the country. You will find many divers, surfers, and backpackers on this amazing beach which is ideal for sunbathing.
Montezuma town is famous for its great nightlife and features a number of clubs and bars to choose from. Many people come here because of the romantic scenery, but keep in mind that most of the accommodation options are a bit on the expensive side.
7. Playa Flamingo
Playa Flamingo is a white sand beach perfect for swimming. Located in the Guanacaste region, this beach offers many activities including watching spectacular sunsets, scuba diving, and sailing.
It is surrounded by upscale properties and villas, so you probably won’t find many budget-friendly accommodation options in the area.
The great news is that the weather here is perfect year-round and it rains only for 2 to 3 months. Go to the town center and visit some of the souvenir shops or have dinner at one of the cozy restaurants.
8. Playa Conchal
A white sand beach located north of Tamarindo, Playa Conchal is a perfect destination for both snorkeling and swimming.
You will find only one hotel close to the beach, the upscale Westin Playa Conchal Resort. Luckily, this huge resort is hidden away from tree-lined Playa Conchal and doesn’t spoil its natural feel.
A variety of underwater discoveries can be made on the beach and there are no surfers here. The beach doesn’t get overcrowded, as many tourists go to popular Guanacaste Beach and Playa Brasilito.
9. Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa is located in Guanacaste, just a short drive from Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport. It is one of the best surfing beaches in the country and features giant waves which are large enough to make this beach a place where international surf competitions are held.
This 2-kilometres long grey sandy beach is also perfect for windsurfing, jet-skiing, kayaking, and sailboarding.
Playa Hermosa is surrounded by a lush tropical forest with hiking trails by large rocky volcanic ridges. If you get hungry after spending a day on the beach, head out to the surf side town of Guanacaste, where you will find a variety of restaurants and food stands.
10. Playa Dominical
Situated a short drive from the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Dominical is well-known as a surfers paradise. There are a number of surf shops and surf camps here, as well as lush green landscape and jungle-lined mountains that make Playa Dominical unique in every way.
Expect to find a lifeguard on duty here at Playa Dominical and the beach rarely gets overcrowded. Travelers who have had enough of sunbathing and surfing for the day can check out some of the bars, souvenir stands, and restaurants in the area.
11. Jaco Beach
Located in the center of the Pacific coast in Costa Rica, Jaco Beach is a perfect place for both beach lovers and surfers. The town of Jaco is located just a 2-hour drive from San Jose and offers a vibrant nightlife, a couple of casinos, and several international dining options.
The beach itself is great for surfers, but you won’t see any families with children due to huge year-round waves.
There are many buses that offer transportation from the town to Jaco Beach. You will also find a couple of great seaside joints close to the beach including the Tsunami Restaurant which offers amazing sushi.
Everyone who is into watersports, eating, nightlife, and especially surfing, will find Jaco Beach and Jaco town a perfect destination for an unforgettable summer vacation.
12. Puerto Viejo
Featuring interesting dark volcanic sand, Puerto Viejo was until recently one of the best-kept secrets in the country. Today, there are many tourists coming to this surfside village that offers a great alternative to the Pacific side.
You will find several amazing surfing beaches that attract many surfers from all around the world.
Most of these beaches look absolutely stunning and it’s no wonder that every year there are more and more people coming here for their vacation.
A quiet beachside village located northeast of Montezuma, Tambor features mild bay waters which make it a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling.
This whole area used to be frequently visited by whales, but today, they have been replaced by a lot of tourists. It doesn’t come as a surprise since the pink-gray sands are some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Although Tambor is not very easy to get to and it requires some effort to reach it, the experience is totally worth the extra exercise. You won’t find many hotels or restaurants here, but if you are searching for immaculate beaches that are safe for swimming, Tambor is the place to go to.
14. Nosara Beach
Featuring seven kilometers of fine white sand, Nosara Beach features a couple of big tide pools that are perfect for snorkeling and exploring marine life. The village of Nosara is located on Nicoya Peninsula and is an undeveloped piece of paradise, surrounded by tropical vegetation and miles and miles of pristine beaches.
Head out to Playa Guiones where you will find many hotels and restaurants, as well as plenty of surfers riding rolling waves. Nosara beach is also suitable for beginner surfers and there are several rental shops to pick up surfing gear.
15. Playa Biesanz
Playa Biesanz is definitely not easy to find, but once you do find it, you will be rewarded with a picture-postcard jewel of a beach. To make it easier for you, Playa Biesanz is kind of hidden in a small cove close to Quepos Point. It is surrounded by a tropical rainforest and there are no waves here, so the beach is perfect for easy swimming.
Since the water is crystal clear, snorkeling is one of the main activities and there are amazing underwater rock formations to explore. There are not too many tourists here and you should expect to find only a few locals chilling under the shady palm trees.