Where to Stay in Costa Rica – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Surrounded by the vast Pacific to the west and the magnificent Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. Known for its stable political system and high literacy rate, this small nation has been a prominent tourist destination since the 80’s.

Rewarded the title of the “Greenest Country in the World” in 2009, Costa Rica is also known to visitors for its stunning beaches and many active volcanoes (which can be visited under proper guidance and safety). Given its massive coastline, the country is a paradise for adventure lovers. Scuba diving, rafting, and surfing are some of the popular sports you can indulge in.

Let us now explore the popular regions in the country so you can decide where to stay in Costa Rica and what to expect during your holiday.


Cahuita, Costa RicaSource: Kristel Segeren / shutterstock

Known for its remarkable black-sand beaches, Cahuita is a sprawling neighborhood on the southern coast of the Caribbean Sea. The warm, laid-back atmosphere is the best for travelers on a relaxing holiday. Located adjacent to one of the most visited national parks in the country, Cahuita National Park, the neighborhood is home to a plethora of adventure activities, including hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The unique Afro-Caribbean cuisine available in the area is a must try.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: BriBri indigenous reserve, Punta Uva River (kayaking), Ziplining through the rainforest, Cahuita Big Beach, and Mariposario de Cahuita.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Playa Negra Guesthouse – Just a minutes’ walk from the beach, this beautiful guesthouse offers wonderfully-decorated guestrooms with world-class amenities. All units come with a seating area overlooking either the gardens or the on-site swimming pool. You can walk 10 minutes to get to the town or make use of the car rental service offered at the guesthouse. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Magellan Boutique Hotel – A gentle stroll away from the beach, this elegant hotel offers luxury and peace to every guest. You can relax in your well-appointed guestroom or take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool. A complimentary breakfast is served every day. For a calm afternoon, take a walk in the hotel garden and order a delightful cocktail at the on-site bar. Great for solo travelers and couples.
  • Hotel La Diosa – A short drive from the National Park, Hotel La Diosa features well-furnished rooms with facilities such as comfy double beds, free Wi-Fi, private entrance, ensuite bathroom, and an amazing view of the surrounding sea or the hotel garden. Additional amenities include a massive outdoor pool that overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.


Monteverde, Costa RicaSource: SL-Photography / shutterstock

Regarded as the second-most prominent tourist attraction in the country, Montverde is among the most naturally encompassing places in Costa Rica. The star attraction of the neighborhood, of course, is the Monteverde Cloud Forest! Residence to the Quaker community and their world-class cheese, Montverde is more of a rural village than an urban town, but it does provide you with the basic comforts of a town. Be on the lookout for the red-eyed tree frog – a Costa Rican icon.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Other Highlights: Selvatura Park, La Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena, Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge, Sky Adventures Monteverde Park and Serpentario de Monteverde.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Casa Batsu – Featuring on-site horse riding and coffee plantation tours, Casa Batsu is located in the heart of Monteverde. The property features fully-furnished guestrooms with latest amenities. Every room comes with a pleasant view of the surrounding garden. A complimentary breakfast is served every day. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel Belmar – With an accreditation on sustainability, an organic garden, and a unique restaurant with a juice bar and on-site brewery, Hotel Belmar is a perfect choice to spend the holiday luxuriously. The hotel also features opulent guestrooms with classy wooden décor, an outdoor seating area, and a minibar. Other facilities include a terrace, a wellness center, and a hot tub. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Cabañas Bosques de Paz – A short drive from prominent attractions such as Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and Sky Adventures Monteverde, this extravagant hotel features stylish rooms with state-of-the-art facilities, free Wi-Fi, and free on-site parking. A sumptuous breakfast is served daily at no additional cost. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.

Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jimenez, Costa RicaSource: Rob Crandall / shutterstock
Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jimenez, a historic gold mining and logging district, is arguably one of the largest towns of Osa Peninsula and is known for its diversity. From hiking through the world’s only lowland rainforests of Corcovado National Park to dolphin spotting on Golfo Dulce, the neighborhood has it all. Stroll around the area to spot the rare Scarlet Macaw during the day and witness one of the most beautiful Costa Rican beach sunsets in the evening. The neighborhood even has an active nightlife. Watch out for the Fer-de-lance – the deadliest snake in the country.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially wildlife and outdoor lovers.
Other Highlights: Rio Platanares Estuary, Playa Platanares, Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, Chocolate Tours, Kayaking, and Sportfishing.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Inn Jimenez – A couple of minutes walking distance from the beach, Hotel Inn Jimenez features well-designed guestrooms with cozy beds, air-conditioning, wake-up service, and an ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. The property also offers free bikes to explore the town, a garden and terrace to relax in, and a communal lounge. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Casa Manglar Guesthouse – A 5 minutes’ walk from Mango beach, this charming guesthouse features a huge tropical garden bordered by a mangrove. The suites and guestrooms feature modern amenities including soundproofing, barbecue facilities, private pool (for selected rooms), and kitchen. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of 8 members.
  • Corcovado Beach Lodge – A stone’s throw away from the coast, this beach lodge has modest hut-style eco-friendly guestrooms with simple yet necessary features. Free Wi-Fi can be accessed throughout the property. There is also a tour desk if you needed help with planning your itinerary. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaSource: Simon Dannhauer / shutterstock
Puerto Viejo

Nestled on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Viejo is a beach bum’s paradise. A former fishing village, the area is now dotted with gorgeous beaches, crystal blue waters, an exotic variety of flora and fauna, and amazing surf breaks. Fast emerging as a primary tourist hotspot, the area hosts several professional national and international surfers who come here from all parts of the world to fathom the famous Salsa Brava waves. The presence of a great many bars, discotheques, and restaurants makes this place a favorite among the young. If you like off-roading, the dirt roads of this town will definitely be a good high.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially surfers and the young.
Other Highlights: Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra, The Ara Project Manzanillo, Playa Cocles, and Playa Punta Uva.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Sunshine Caribe – A couple of minutes’ walk from the beach, Sunshine Caribe is a beautiful holiday property surrounded by greenery and nature. The comfortable guestrooms at the property come with pleasant views and modern amenities. On-site parking is available free of cost for travelers with their own vehicles. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Casa Conley Del Mar – Featuring an outdoor swimming pool and a fully-operational fitness center, Casa Conley Del Mar offers well-appointed guestrooms with facilities such as air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, private bathroom, and stunning views. Great for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.
  • Makua Villas – A short walk from the beach, Makua Villas offers well-equipped guestrooms set within a tropical garden. All villas at this property feature a private pool, a patio, free Wi-Fi, and a kitchenette. Guests can make use of the airport shuttle and the free parking facility. Perfect for couples, families, and groups of up to 5 members.

San José

San José, Costa RicaSource: Mihai-Bogdan Lazar / shutterstock
San José

The capital and the most populous city in Costa Rica, San José is characterized by its diversity and rich urban culture. Welcoming hundreds of visitors from all around the daily, the city’s central location allows for convenient accessibility to all the major tourist centers in the nation. The neighborhood’s exquisite architecture reflects its traditional central American history while the bustling nightlife and sprawling tourist-centered community speak of a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Some of the most prominent attractions in the city include Central Park, Democracy Plaza, the National Theatre, and the Jade Museum.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Morazan Park, San Gerardo de Dota, La Sabana Metropolitan Park, Los Quetzales National Park, and National Park.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Presidente San Jose City Center – Set in the heart of the capital city of San José, this luxurious hotel boasts custom-designed interiors, a delicious complimentary breakfast buffet, a fully-equipped fitness center, and lavish guestrooms. National Theatre, National Museum, and Gold Museum are just a short walk away. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Wyndham Garden San Jose Escazu – Featuring world-class amenities such as an indoor swimming pool, a hot tub, a well-designed terrace space, an on-site market, and multiple dining options, this vogueish hotel welcomes its guests to enjoy their well-appointed guestrooms, a well-equipped fitness center, and a business center. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Radisson Hotel San Jose – Costa Rica – One of the most sought-after holiday properties in San José, this exclusive hotel features wonderfully-designed guestrooms, an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool, a conference center for business travelers, 24-hour parking, massages-on-request, and a workout center for fitness lovers. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna, Costa RicaSource: Bos11 / shutterstock
La Fortuna

Also known as La Fortuna de San Carlos, this town is regarded as the gateway to the nearby Arenal Volcano, considered the nation’s most active volcano until 2010 and is now the third most active volcano in the country. Easily accessible from San José, this charming town is home to many marvelous spa centers that are located surrounding the volcano. On a clear sky day, you can witness the volcano puff smoke during the day, and come nightfall, the glowing red rocks rolling down the sides are a rare sight.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: La Catarata de la Fortuna and Tabacon Hot Springs.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Arenal Country Inn – Surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and spectacular views of a volcanic mountain, Hotel Arenal Country Inn offers impressive state-of-the-art guestrooms along with an outdoor swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant. The hotel concierge can help in arranging horseback riding, rafting, canopy tour, as well as hiking. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 8 members.
  • Arenal Manoa & Hot Springs – With a dedicated travel desk that helps you plan tours to nearby attractions and activities such as rafting and hiking, this luxurious property features lavish guestrooms with avant-garde facilities. Additional amenities at the hotel include a swimming pool with a sun terrace, spa treatments, business center, and on-site wining and dining facilities. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Selina La Fortuna – Sporting an authentic Caribbean atmosphere, Selina La Fortune offers accommodation in dorms, well-appointed rooms, as well as quirky little wooden huts. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool on a sunny day and grab a bite at the on-site restaurant to cure their post-swimming hunger. The artistic interiors of the property and the vintage items on display make this place quite unique. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.


Tamarindo, Costa RicaSource: Olga Gabay / shutterstock

Set along the northern coast of the Pacific Ocean, this beach town is a hit among visitors for its stunning beaches, beautifully paved roads (unlike many other beach towns in the country), glistening turquoise waters, and countless activities and attractions. Whether you wish to enjoy a peaceful swim and or go all in with your scuba diving gear, the waters here have something for everyone. Kayaking, sailing, and even surfing is popular in the area. If you are not an aquatic lover, indulge yourself in hiking, horseback riding, and golfing.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially outdoor enthusiasts.
Other Highlights: Las Baulas National Marine Park, Playa Avellana, Playa Ventanas, and Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort – Bringing luxury and extravaganza to a whole new level, this lavish beach resort features three outdoor pools that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Guests here can also enjoy multiple wining and dining options, spa treatments at the on-site spa, and a casino to try your luck. Golf enthusiasts can get discounts at the hotel’s golf course. Great for all kinds of luxury travelers.
  • Hotel Luna Llena – Less than 5 minutes from the beach, this charismatic boutique hotel offers well-appointed guestrooms with a Mediterranean-inspired décor, stylish furniture, and orthopedic mattresses. Guests can relax at the outdoor pool and enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including groups of up to 5 members.
  • La Ramona Charming Hotel – A short drive from Tamarindo Airport, La Ramona Charming Hotel features stylish guestrooms with comfy beds, a terrace, a kitchenette (in selected rooms), and an ensuite bathroom. Guests can enjoy a soothing dip in the outdoor pool or take a stroll in the on-site garden. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio, Costa RicaSource: Matyas Rehak / shutterstock
Manuel Antonio

A modest Oceanside village with a variety of accommodation options, Manuel Antonio is known for its namesake National Park. Located off the country’s central Pacific coastline and a stone’s throw away from sportfishing town of Quepos, the neighborhood’s biodiversity allures nature lovers, eco-tourists, and thrill-seekers alike. Manuel Antonio National Park, though one of the smallest, is among the most popular national parks in Costa Rica as well as the world.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially nature lovers and adventure-seekers.
Other Highlights: Manuel Antonio Beach, Espadilla Beach, Manuel Antonio Adventure Park, Playa Manuel Antonio, and Playa Las Gemelas.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Parador Resort and Spa – Encircled by 12 acres of tropical rainforest rich in wildlife, this eco-luxury resort is known for its world-class spa that offers various massages and treatments. Additional facilities include multiple dining options, three pools, and a free shuttle service to surrounding beaches. Spotting wild animals such as monkeys and various species of birds is common. Suitable for couples and families.
  • La Mansion Inn – Located in the suburbs of Manuel Antonio and featuring mesmerizing views of the Pacific coastline, La Mansion Inn offers stylish accommodation with state-of-the-art facilities, an outdoor pool, multiple wining and dining options, and shuttle service to nearby areas. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for families and groups.
  • Hotel Tres Banderas – Nestled between Manuel Antonio National Park and Quepos Town, Hotel Tres Banderas offers well-appointed guestrooms with facilities such as cable TV, safety deposit box, kitchen (in suites), and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Guests can spend the afternoon by the pool and enjoy a barbecue with their family and other visitors in the evening. Great for all kinds of travelers.

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa, Costa RicaSource: GROGL / shutterstock
Santa Teresa

A tiny beach town known for its bustling surfer community, bikini-clad locals and international tourists, Santa Teresa has seen a massive tourism boon in the past few years. With its stunning white beaches and impressive swells, Santa Teresa is regarded as one of the premier surfing spots in the nation. Surfer or not, spending a day at Playa Santa Teresa soaking in the sun and watching the sunset is a must. Canopy tours, horseback riding, and hiking are equally popular in the area. Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, the first of its kind in the country, is home to over 150 species of birds.

Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially surfers and bird watchers.
Other Highlights: Mal Pais, Stand-up Paddle Boarding at Santa Teresa, and Tortuga Island.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Villas Argan – With a private access to the nearby beach which is only a couple of minutes’ walk away from the property, Villas Argan features beautiful villas equipped with seating area to relax and enjoy a cocktail or a cup of tea and admiring the surrounding garden or the on-site pool. Babysitting services are available for visitors with children. Suitable for families.
  • Hotel Tropico Latino – Tucked away on the shores of Santa Teresa Beach, this exquisitely-designed tropical hotel features bungalows and suites that complement its natural surroundings. Aside from the well-appointed guestrooms, guests can also unwind themselves at the on-site yoga studio or enjoy a revitalizing massage at the natural spa. The on-site restaurant features an organic and healthy menu comprising fresh, local produce. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.
  • Santa Teresa Surf Vista Villas – Featuring a year-round outdoor pool and a convenient accessibility to the nearby beach, the suites and studio apartments at the property offer utmost luxury. Guests can catch up on their reading at the sun terrace and enjoy a barbecue for dinner. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.


Nosara, Costa RicaSource: Dudarev Mikhail / shutterstock

Known for its hippie vibe and a coastline free from commercialization, Nosara is the land of sand, sea, surf, and yoga. “No shoes, no shirts” are basically four words that sum up the whole neighborhood. Preserved by the national park system, Nosara is home to three astoundingly beautiful beaches – Playa Guiones, Playa Nosara, and Playa Pelada. Due to the lack of major urbanization, the skyline of this town is still lined with splendid sunsets – a must watch when here!

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Playa Ostional (Olive Ridley turtle nesting site), Nosara Wildlife Rescue, Nosara Biological Reserve, and Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Harbor Reef Hotel – Offering air-conditioned guestrooms with terrace (in selected rooms), minibar, kitchenette, complimentary Wi-Fi, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries, Harbor Reef Hotel is a great choice for visitors wanting to stay close to the beach. Guests can use free bikes to explore the area. Suitable for couples and families.
  • La Negra Surf Hotel & Soda – An ultimate choice for fitness lovers, the hotel features a yoga studio as well as surf lessons for amateur surfers. Guestrooms are fitted with latest amenities and a terrace/balcony is provided with selected rooms. Guests can make use of the outdoor pool and enjoy their meals at the on-site restaurant. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including those with pets.
  • Living Hotel – A breezy stroll from the beach, Living Hotel features a sun terrace, a swimming pool to enjoy a dip on a sunny day, a lounge area to make use of the complimentary Wi-Fi and catch up with family and friends, an organic and gluten-free menu to keep your health at its best, and spa service to relax those stress points and unwind yourself. Great for all kinds of travelers.

Where to Stay in Costa Rica – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

  • Cahuita
  • Monteverde
  • Puerto Jimenez
  • Puerto Viejo
  • San José
  • La Fortuna
  • Tamarindo
  • Manuel Antonio
  • Santa Teresa
  • Nosara