In a country known for its gorgeous coastal scenery and incredible surfing, you know that Costa Rica is going to be home to some seriously gorgeous beaches. It’s a tough choice, but here are 21 of the most beautiful beaches to explore in this wonderful country.
1. Playa Hermosa
The name of this beach literally translates to beautiful beach, which makes sense given its crystal-clear waters and surrounding tropical forests. The beach is also surrounded by volcanic rock, which can be pretty exciting to see up close.
Those who love to surf will be pretty keen on visiting Playa Hermosa. The waves tend to be pretty large here; combined with the fact that this beach is rarely crowded, making it a great place to surf!
2. Whale Tail Beach
The name of this beach is extremely fitting as this beach extends into two different curves which resemble a cute whale’s tail! Interestingly enough, this “whale tail” is the result of converging currents.
To get to this beach, you first have to enter Marino Ballena National Park (Parque Nacional Marino Ballena), where you’ll be asked to pay an entrance fee. During low tide, make sure you walk all the way out to the rocks and explore the “tail” part of the beach!
It’s next to the small town of Uvita, which also boasts a stunning sand strand called Uvita beach. Have a look:
3. Playa Flamingo
Easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, this beach is quite unique because unlike the rest of the beaches in Costa Rica, the sand here is white, which can oftentimes take on a pinkish hue during the right light.
The beach is located on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica and is a pretty popular tourist destination. This is a great place to try out a variety of activities including scuba diving, swimming, and sportfishing.
The best part is that scuba diving is available here all year round. While visiting Playa Flamingo, you may also be able to spot some nesting sea turtles or even catch a wave or two!
4. Montezuma Beach
This is a cute beach ideal for those who are interested in seeing some of the wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer. Montezuma Beach can be found right on the Nicoya Peninsula and is often frequented by backpackers and those looking for a break from traditional touristy beaches. Because Montezuma isn’t easy to get to, it doesn’t get overly packed by tourists.
Here, you’ll be able to see wild monkeys, butterflies, and a variety of colorful birds. You can swim in the water or take a short hike that leads to a breathtaking waterfall.
5. Playa Espadilla Sur
This gorgeous beach is located in Manuel Antonio National Park, about half an hour from the main entrance, and is home to some seriously wonderful views. Here, you can find lush forests and high cliffs as well as iguanas, pelicans, and white gulls. This is another beach that can be hard to get to but this also means fewer tourists – bonus!
While this beach is great for swimming and relaxing, it’s also ideal for hiking as there are many paths also located here which will take you through the rainforest.
6. Playa Tamarindo
If you’re looking for a great place to surf, then look no further than Playa Tamarindo! Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the waves at Playa Tamarindo are perfect for surfing. Tourists love this place because of the golden sand and the beautiful sunset views the beach has to offer.
This beach is also one of the few that have modern developments, including paved roads and a bridge that make accessing it that much easier. As it has easier access, expect to see others also looking to soak up the sun!
7. Playa Manuel Antonio
This is another beautiful white-sand beach that is easy to access, although sadly this does mean that it can get crowded at times. This beach has been voted the second-best beach in all of Central America and is located inside of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Here, you can find a large variety of interesting sea life including fish, crabs, and sea urchins. The turquoise waters also make it an ideal place to go snorkeling and discover even more wildlife below the surface.
Aside from snorkeling, you can also surf or swim here and the beach also hosts festivals in the peak season.
8. Playa Conchal
This wonderful Costa Rica beach is conveniently located close to two other already mentioned beaches, Playa Flamingo and Playa Tamarindo.
Playa Conchal is popular for snorkeling, thanks to the crystal-clear waters that let you get a glimpse of what’s going on below the water. You’ll be able to spot all different kinds of fish, stingrays, and more.
Out of the water, you can also expect to see howler monkeys that live in the nearby forest. There’s no need to splurge on accommodation here as Playa Concha also offers several campsites where tourists can sleep after a busy day of beach activities.
9. Playa Biesanz
To get to this beautiful beach, you must simply take a 10-minute hike from a nearby peninsula called Punta Quepos. As scenic as the beach may be, it is covered by shade due to the heavy foliage that grows nearby as well as the high cliffs that have the ability to block the sun out.
Despite this, the beach is still a great place to escape for some peace. The fact that the beach is so secluded means that a very small number of tourists come here, thus allowing for some of the wildlife to make themselves seen.
10. Carrillo Beach
This beach is what many locals would refer to as a hidden gem. It has warm water with just small waves that make it a perfect spot for families to vacation. And it is less developed than most of the other beaches of Costa Rica and there aren’t many buildings nearby. However, there are some picnic tables available where you can sit and take a break from the sun or enjoy a long lazy lunch.
Although it’s not as developed as the other beaches, you can still get involved in fun activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, and even windsurfing here.
11. Playa La Macha
Playa La Macha is pretty secluded and an ideal place for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The beach is about a 40-minute hike from the starting trail and you can expect to encounter a lot of foliage and undergrowth while on the way down.
Once you get there, you’ll find the smooth sand and beautiful waters that make this beach so amazing. If you’re quiet enough, you may even get a chance to see spider monkeys, macaws, toucans, and deer making their way through the forest and over the beach.
12. Playa Punta Uva
This is yet another beach that isn’t overflowing with seaside resorts and restaurants. This beach can be found on Costa Rica’s Caribbean side and is backed by palm trees and sand.
The water here is warm year-round, which makes it ideal for swimming no matter what season it is. However, this side of Costa Rica tends to have more humid, rainy weather. Since the beach is so desolate, sloths are not afraid to come out and play.
This beach also has a shallow reef, which is ideal for people looking to scuba dive or go snorkeling.
13. Santa Teresa Beach
This gorgeous gem of a beach is located on the Nicoya Peninsula and is roughly about two miles long. Easily one of the best destinations to explore in Costa Rica, the beach is very popular amongst surfers but also makes a great place to sit and relax or watch the sunset.
When low tide hits, you can expect to see a variety of colorful fish that swim into the tidal pools.
The beach is surrounded by sparse jungle and there’s also a town nearby that is home to a number of cool little local restaurants.
14. Dominical Beach
Yet another fabulous beach for surfers, Dominical Beach is located in the sleepy town of Dominical. Parts of the beach are great for swimming and surfing while other parts are reserved for sailing and all kinds of other watersports.
If you do decide to go swimming here, be sure to take caution as the riptides are strong and can be hard to manage. The waves here are intense, getting up to 10 feet high and making them a challenge for even the most advanced surfers.
Many people find that Dominical Beach makes great camping grounds so you can expect to see campers lined up alongside the beach.
15. Esterillos Oeste Beach
This beach is located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast and is also famous for attracting surfers. Esterillos Oeste Beach has a leisurely vibe to it, which makes it great for couples or families who want to come out and enjoy the sun and sand.
The beach is pretty accessible, particularly by car as there is a road nearby that takes you directly to the beach itself.
Read next: Costa Rica: Pacific vs. Caribbean – Which coast is for you?
16. Jaco Beach
Jaco Beach is great for families with small children as the water is warm and shallow although a little bit cloudy as a result of the fine sand. However, it’s a great beach to visit and spend time at nonetheless.
The town of Jaco lies just behind the beach and there you can find just about anything you need. From restaurants to shops, to lodging, Jaco has something for everyone.
If you’re planning on learning how to surf while visiting Costa Rica, be sure to stop by the surf school located at Jaco Beach.
17. Nacascolo Beach
Those looking for a beach close to resorts will love Nacascolo Beach. It is located in between two resorts, Four Seasons Resort and the Andaz Papagayo Resort. The beach’s close proximity to the resorts means that you can pack a lunch, rent a kayak, and head out for the day without having to travel much outside of your resort.
Aside from kayaking, you can also enjoy paddle boarding, swimming, and snorkeling here.
18. Samara Beach
This beach is located on the Nicoya Peninsula and is an incredibly popular place for locals to visit in Costa Rica.
Locals and tourists alike enjoy spending time at this small but gorgeous beach that is also home to iguanas, birds, monkeys, and all types of wildlife.
19. Nosara Beach
Unlike many popular touristy beaches in Costa Rica, Nosara Beach is known for being laid back, so it attracts like-minded people! Here, you can find people looking to get away from their busy lives, couples who want a romantic vacation, and lone beach-goers who simply want a moment to themselves.
Because the beach is so laid back, there aren’t too many tourists here and you’ll have no trouble in finding a nice, secluded spot for yourself.
20. San Juanillo Beach
If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Costa Rican life then try this attractive beach. Here, you can take tours by boat where you’ll get a chance to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. The calm waters and lack of overwhelming tourists make this beach a great spot to swim in or lay out on the beach without being disturbed.
When you’re hungry, simply stop in at one of the local restaurants to sample some of the popular local dishes on offer here.
21. Ostional Beach
If you’re a fan of wildlife and especially sea turtles then definitely include a visit to this beach. Here, sea turtles nest between July and October and sometimes nest on this beach from four to ten times a year, thanks to the help of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. The night tour offered at Ostional Beach is great if you hope to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures.
The area surrounding the beach isn’t very developed; it’s far from being modern. However, it’s still a great place to explore and get a glimpse into the more natural side of Costa Rica and I would definitely recommend it!
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Interactive map with 21 Costa Rica beaches worth visiting
Here’s a map including all the stunning Costa Rica beaches highlighted in this article:
Do you know of any other Costa Rica beach worth mentioning in this article? Get in touch!
Written by Michael Anderson from GlobalGrasshopper.com