Despite its name, it is highly unlikely that you will ever come across a flamingo on the magnificent crescent of white sand that is Playa Flamingo, or Flamingo Beach. The picturesque beach area remains relatively undeveloped, and the Flamingo Beach Resort is the only hotel located directly on it. Most of the town is elegantly perched on a hillside overlooking Flamingo to the south and the neighboring Potrero Beach to the north.
Free Vacation Planning
Sophistication lingers in the air around Flamingo town, which has seen a lot of development in recent years. Boutiques, restaurants and bars tastefully line its streets and the area is a favorite among wealthy Ticos and foreigners looking to avoid the pace of nearby Tamarindo.
Although sunbathing and relaxing on the gorgeous beach is a must, scores of tours and activities can be arranged in Flamingo. Diving trips to the superb Catalina Islands, right off Playa Flamingo, are highly recommended for underwater enthusiasts who might run into a white tipped reef shark or two, while catamaran tours departing from Flamingo head to the nearby Sugar Beach and Potrero for a day of fun on the water.
Though the Flamingo Marina was shut down by the government years ago efforts persist to reopen it and world-class sport fishing charters are available here while tournaments continue to draw aficionados to the area. Flamingo waters are home to lots of beautiful Sailfish, Marlin, Roosterfish, Snapper and Yellow Fin Tuna, which is nearly under threat of extinction due to overfishing.
Playa Grande, just a short drive away, is a top surfing location and home to Las Baulas National Marine Park, one of the world’s most important leatherback turtle nesting sites. The leatherback nesting season runs from mid-October to mid-February, when visitors may enjoy nighttime guided tours to watch these magnificent creatures as they lay their eggs. There is a small museum on site.
Planning a Vacation to Flamingo Beach
We recommend a stay of 3 – 4 nights at Playa Flamingo. Any less than 3 days and you will not have enough time to enjoy the beauty and laid back feel. Any more than 4 days and you will be overstaying, missing out on other attractions. Planning this way in advance can save you plenty of money and headaches.
There are several hotels in Flamingo to choose from. We highly recommend the laid back experience at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Beach Resort for anybody seeking a tropical escape at an upper mid-range oceanfront hotel. They offer a breakfast only plan or all inclusive. In nearby Playa Conchal, there is the Westin Playa Conchal Resort for luxury travelers seeking the country’s best all inclusive resort.
It is easy to get around Flamingo, so a rental car is not necessary. Most shops and restaurants are within walking distance and cabs are readily available. A rental car is nice if you plan to visit other nearby beach towns or attractions.
Reasons to visit
It is a beautiful swimming beach
There are shops and restaurants, but it is not overly developed
All inclusive resorts are available
It is only 45 minutes to Liberia Airport
Tamarindo is only 25 minutes away, providing more shopping and nightlife
Great sport fishing
Reasons NOT to visit
It is located in Guanacaste, where there is no jungle, little wildlife and not very many good adventure activities
There really is not any nightlife in town
It is a long drive to San Jose Airport (4 hours)
If you prefer an active town with a lot of shops, restaurants and kiosks, you may prefer Tamarindo
Not a good surfing beach
How to get there
From San Jose: The shortest route to Flamingo is via the Autopista del Sol or the Interamerican Highway to Caldera. Make a left turn after Puntarenas and follow the sign to the Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge). After you drive past it, follow the signs to Nicoya until you start seeing signs to Flamingo. The roads here are well signaled!
Weather and packing list
Flamingo is blessed with strong doses of sunshine and dry heat for a good portion of the year. Daytime highs hover around the upper 80s to lower 90s, while nighttime lows are generally in the upper 70s. You can expect clear, blue skies and sunshine during the dry season, between the months of November and August.
Remember to pack beach clothes including swimsuits, flip flops, shorts, t-shirts, towels and sarongs, rain gear, sunblock and aloe vera gel for those painful lobster red days. Our Costa Rica packing list article offers a more detailed list of things to bring for your trip.
Fun Fact: The Catalina Islands are located just off the Playa Flamingo coast and are great for White Tipped Shark observation while scuba diving.