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Costa Rica Beaches

From the Pacific to the Caribbean, Costa Rica’s beaches offer stunning beauty, the best in surfing and sport fishing and the perfect backdrop for relaxation and tranquility.

From the Pacific to the Caribbean, Costa Rica’s beaches offer stunning beauty, the best in surfing and sport fishing and the perfect backdrop for relaxation and tranquility.

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With well over 700 miles of combined coastline along the Pacific and Caribbean, Costa Rica offers a wide variety of beaches. Whether you are seeking, white sand, black sand, swimming, surfing, laid back, party town, family atmosphere, wildlife or anything in between, chances are likely that there is a perfect Costa Rica beach for you!


Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio BeachThere is no secret as to why Manuel Antonio is the most popular beach in Costa Rica!  This destination truly is paradise with spectacular palm studded beaches surrounded by jungle lined hills.  Teaming with wildlife and adventures readily available, Manuel Antonio is an excellent destination those seeking a beach destination with plenty of activities close by.

Location: Central Pacific 
Why Manuel Antonio? Swimming, Adventure, Wildlife, Learn to Surf, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Dominical, Uvita, Drake Bay
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Samara

Samara BeachSamara is one of the best kept secrets in Costa Rica, but the word is starting to get out.  This beach town has plenty of small shops and unique restaurants to fill your time between beach time and adventures.  As an added bonus, Playa Carrillo is located just 5 minutes south and considered by many to be the most beautiful Costa Rica beach on the Pacific coast.

Location: Southern Guanacaste on the Nicoya Peninsula 
Why Samara? Swimming, Adventure, Wildlife, Learn to Surf
Destination type:  Off the beaten path, but quickly gaining popularity
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Puerto Viejo

Puerto ViejoSimilar to Samara, Puerto Viejo until recently has been one of the best kept secrets in Costa Rica.  This small Caribbean surf side village is becoming a hot spot for those seeking an alternative to the Pacific side.  It is certainly not for everybody, but perfect for some.  The local beaches are absolutely stunning and there are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy between beach time and excursions.

Location: Southern Caribbean 
Why Puerto Viejo?  Swimming, Adventure, Wildlife, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Diving
Destination type:  Off the beaten path, but quickly gaining popularity
Combines well with: Turrialba, Sarapiqui, Arenal Volcano, Tortuguero, Cahuita
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Tamarindo

Tamarindo BeachTamarindo is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica and for good reason.  The town is located on a stretch of beaches that really have something to offer everybody.  Some stretches are good for swimming, boogie boarding and learning to surf, while other stretches are perfect experienced surfers.  The town has plenty to offer, with a plethora of restaurants, shops and night life.

Location: Guanacaste
Why Tamarindo? Swimming, Adventure, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Playa Hermosa

Playa HermosaPlaya Hermosa is a beautiful beach town conveniently located just 20 minutes from Liberia International Airport.  The beach stretches for a couple kilometers with palm trees lining nearly the entire expanse.  The quiet town is spread out due to a mangrove area, but there are plenty of shops and restaurants close by.

Location: Guanacaste 
Why Playa Hermosa? Swimming, Snorkeling, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Somewhat off the beaten path for tourists, but popular among expats.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia – LIR


Mal Pais-Santa Teresa

Mal PaisMal Pais and Santa Teresa are well known for beautiful beaches, great surf, yoga retreats and night life.  The area is home to some of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.  There are plenty of surf schools, yoga instructors, restaurants, shops, bars and small hotels along the beach road.

Location: Southern Nicoya Peninsula
Why Mal Pais-Santa Teresa?  Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Yoga
Destination type:  Off the beaten path, but high percentage of tourists to locals
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, Jaco, Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Jaco

Jaco BeachJaco is a mini surf side city complete with high rise condo projects, American style restaurants, casinos, infrastructure and nightlife.  The white sand beach is best used for surfing as waves are rather large.  Many consider Jaco to be an adult playground and not particularly family friendly. 

Location: Central Pacific 
Why Jaco?  Adventure, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Dominical, Uvita, Drake Bay, San Jose
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Montezuma

Montezuma BeachMontezuma is another well-kept secret and one of the most interesting beaches in Costa Rica.  While it takes a bit of effort to access, it is well worth the trip.  The town is a melting pot of local Ticos and expatriates of numerous countries.  The varied cultural influence has created an intriguing atmosphere with a laid back feel.  The town of Montezuma has plenty to offer in terms of restaurants and shops.

Location: Southern Nicoya Peninsula
Why Montezuma?  Swimming, Yoga
Destination type:  Off the beaten path 
Combines well with:  Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, Jaco, Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Papagayo Gulf

Papagayo GulfThe Papagayo Gulf is home to more all-inclusive resorts than anywhere else in Costa Rica.  The area is well known for its calm swimming beaches and beautiful scenery.  The weather here is fantastic most of the year, with only a couple months of rains.  The Papagayo area is spread out, so there is no town center to visit.

Location: Guanacaste 
Why the Papagayo Gulf? Swimming, Snorkeling, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Flamingo Beach

Flamingo BeachFlamingo Beach is one of the most beautiful Pacific side beaches in Costa Rica.  The white sand beach is well known for perfect swimming conditions with small waves that are just large enough to boogie board on.  The weather here is perfect nearly year round with only a couple months of rains.  The town center has a few shops and restaurants, but in comparison with towns like Tamarindo or Coco, it is relatively small.

Location: Guanacaste 
Why Flamingo Beach? Swimming, Snorkeling, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Cahuita 

Cahuita BeachCahuita is a small fishing village located along the southern Caribbean coast.  It is most known for the national park, which protects both forest and coral reefs just off the beaches.  The quiet town is spread out, but has a variety of restaurants and small souvenir shops. 

Location: Southern Caribbean 
Why Cahuita?  Swimming, Wildlife
Destination type:  Off the beaten path 
Combines well with: Turrialba, Sarapiqui, Arenal Volcano, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Dominical

DominicalLocated along the south Pacific coast, Dominical is one of the most scenic beach areas in Costa Rica.  Towering jungle lined mountains with clouds obscuring the peaks create a magnificent backdrop for this gorgeous area.  The beaches here are generally deserted with the exception of the area in front of town.  With large waves, surfers have congregated to Dominical creating an interesting cultural fusion with the locals.  The unpaved roads of Dominical are lined with surf shops, restaurants, bars and souvenir stands.

Location: South Pacific 
Why Dominical? Wildlife, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing
Destination type:  Off the beaten path
Combines well with: Turrialba Volcano, San Gerardo de Dota, other South Pacific destinations.
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Drake Bay

Drake Bay BeachThe beaches of Drake Bay are simply beautiful with a variety of protected areas, surf spots and scenic rock outcroppings.  This area requires a significant investment in time, money or both to access, but is well worth the trip.  Most come to Drake Bay to visit Corcovado National Park and Cano Island, but a swim at the tropical paradise, Playa San Josecito can be just as rewarding. 

Location: South Pacific 
Why Drake Bay? Wildlife 
Destination type:  Off the beaten path
Combines well with: Turrialba Volcano, San Gerardo de Dota, other South Pacific destinations.
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Uvita

Uvita Beach The Uvita area is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Costa Rica.  All of these beaches are located within Marino Ballena National Park, which protects the natural beauty of the area, but also means you are supposed to pay $10 to enter the beach area daily.  The town of Uvita is spread out, but has plenty to offer in terms of shops, restaurants and bars.

Location: South Pacific 
Why Uvita? Wildlife, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing
Destination type:  Off the beaten path
Combines well with: Turrialba Volcano, San Gerardo de Dota, other South Pacific destinations.
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Punta Uva

Punta UvaLocated along the southern Caribbean coast, Punta Uva is one of the least visited, yet most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.  The gorgeous white sand beaches are great for swimming and framed by scenic palm trees.  Snorkeling and diving are fantastic in the reef in front of the beach during certain time s of the year when the water is clear enough.

Location: Southern Caribbean 
Why Punta Uva?  Swimming, Wildlife
Destination type:  Off the beaten path 
Combines well with: Turrialba, Sarapiqui, Arenal Volcano, Tortuguero, Cahuita
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Nosara

Nosara BeachNosara is a fun little surfside village located in southern Guanacaste.  This is another Costa Rica beach with an interesting fusion of expats and local Ticos that combine for a really fun, laid back atmosphere. The beautiful beaches of Nosara are best known for experienced surfers seeking large waves.  Less known is the fact that swimmers can also enjoy sections of Playa Guiones in front of the break.

Location: Southern Guanacaste on the Nicoya Peninsula
Why Nosara? Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing
Destination type:  Off the beaten path, but high percentage of tourists to locals
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia – LIR


Hermosa de Jaco

Hermosa BeachPlaya Hermosa de Jaco is located just south of the larger Jaco.  This is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica with big waves.  When I say big, I mean BIG.  The waves are large enough to attract international surf competitions!  The surf side town is comprised of a couple roads which are lined with hotels and a handful of restaurants.

Location: Central Pacific 
Why Hermosa de Jaco?  Adventure, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Dominical, Uvita, Drake Bay, San Jose
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Playa del Coco       

Playa del CocoPlaya del Coco is conveniently located 20 minutes from Liberia International Airport in northwest Guanacaste.  In recent years the town has been built up significantly by condominium developers.  Playa del Coco is more popular with local Ticos than international tourists, but is a great place to visit for shopping and nightlife from other local beach areas such as Playa Hermosa and Papagayo.

Location: Guanacaste 
Why Playa del Coco? Swimming, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Somewhat off the beaten path for international tourists, but popular with locals.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, other Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia – LIR


Puerto Jimenez

Puerto JimenezLocated on the Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez requires a significant investment in time, money or both to access.  This rootin tootin town is the final outpost before entering the wilds of the east side of Corcovado National Park.  The beaches in the village are not the nicest, but are quite beautiful a little north and south of town.

Location: South Pacific 
Why Puerto Jimenez? Wildlife 
Destination type:  Off the beaten path
Combines well with: Turrialba Volcano, San Gerardo de Dota, other South Pacific destinations.
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO


Tambor

Tambor BeachTambor is a quiet beach side village located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.  It requires a bit of an investment in time or money to access, but can be worth it if you are looking to get away from it all.  The town is home to a few hotels and a couple restaurants.

Location: Southern Nicoya Peninsula
Why Tambor?  Swimming
Destination type:  Off the beaten path 
Combines well with:  Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, Jaco, Guanacaste beaches
Closest Airport:  Liberia - LIR


Puntarenas

Puntarenas BeachPuntarenas is an aging port city located along the Central Pacific coast.  This is a favorite area for locals, but rarely visited by tourists other than just passing through.  There is a beach located along the peninsula, but most prefer Playa Caldera, which is a little south of town.  Visitors should be aware that locals can be territorial on these beaches.

Location: Central Pacific 
Why Puntarenas?  Adventure, Learn to Surf, Experienced Surfing, Sport Fishing
Destination type:  Popular destination for tourists.
Combines well with: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Dominical, Uvita, Drake Bay, San Jose
Closest Airport:  San Jose - SJO

 

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