Costa Rica beaches
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Costa Rica Beaches: From Quiet Paradise to Surfing and Party Meccas

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Costa Rica, bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, boasts some of the best beaches in Central America, perfect for a relaxing swim, watching the sunset, surfing, or simply strolling along the sand.

Costa Rica is considered the safest country in Latin America. When traveling in Costa Rica as a solo female traveler, you can feel completely safe.  

Costa Rica beaches

With its two coasts, located a few hours’ drive apart, which concentrate a plethora of beaches of all types, perfect for any traveler, among all paradisiacal beaches of white sand and palm trees, large sandy beaches, small coves with crystal-clear waters, and protected pristine beaches, many travelers face the dilemma of which ones to invest their precious vacation time in.

One of the best tips for traveling to Costa Rica is to take the strong waves and currents of its beaches into account, so you should always be aware of the red flag or the signs that do not recommend swimming.

Based on my experience and the numerous beaches I visited during my trip to Costa Rica, included in this Costa Rica in 30 days tour, I have made this selection of what I believe are the 10 best beaches in Costa Rica. Let’s get started!

Playa Uvita

Uvita Beach, located in the Ballena Marine National Park, one of the best national parks in Costa Rica, and with 3 kilometers of white sand, crystal-clear waters, and photogenic palm trees, is for us the best beach in Costa Rica.

But here it is not all about lying in the sun, since one of the great attractions of the area is to take a two-hour boat tour to see humpback whales, between August and November and between December and April. After the thrill of seeing such a fascinating animal, spend time walking along the sand of the huge beach and reaching, while the tide is out, the rock formation shaped like a whale’s tail at Punta Uvita.

From Punta Uvita, you can continue the walk along the neighboring Playa Hermosa, which lives up to its name, and wait for a fantastic sunset while bathing in its calm waters.

Keep in mind that all these beaches are inside a protected natural park, so they lack services besides having to pay an entrance fee of about 6 euros per person.

If you want to visit a nice beach outside the national park, you can opt for the nearby Playa Ventanas, which has two caves that you can walk through at low tide and where you can watch how the locals spend a day at the beach.

Playa Conchal

North of the Nicoya Peninsula, between Flamingo and Tamarindo, is Playa Conchal, another of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches.

This beach, about two kilometers long, is characterized by its bright white sand, composed of millions of small pieces of shell and pulverized rocks, which give its waters a beautiful turquoise color.

If you access Brasilito Beach, you will see the largest pieces of shell, although we recommend you leave the car in the parking lot on the opposite side and enjoy more relaxed and less crowded bathing.

One of the advantages of this and other beaches in Costa Rica is that they have in the back an area of trees that allow you to take shelter from the sun and leave your backpack hanging from a branch, preventing it from getting full of sand.

If you have a good budget, you can stay at The Westin Reserva Conchal, located a few meters from this beach, which has all the amenities and is also one of the best known hotels in the area.

Nicoya peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Nicoya peninsula, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Beaches of Manuel Antonio Park

Located just a few hours from the San Jose airport, the protected beaches of Manuel Antonio Park are some of the most frequented by tourists traveling to Costa Rica on their own or on organized tours.

Nothing beats spending the last few hours of a two-hour tour with an expert guide looking for sloths and other animals in the park’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters surrounded by tropical rainforest.

We would start by visiting the less accessible ones, such as Playas Gemelas and Playa Escondida, and then spend more time at the popular Manuel Antonio Beach and Espadilla Sur, which are much quieter.

Remember that you cannot bring food into the park because tourists used to feed it to the monkeys and raccoons, causing changes in their natural habitat and making them increasingly aggressive.

If you plan to spend more time in this area and want to spend some time at the beach without having to pay the park entrance fee, we recommend Espadilla and Biesanz beaches, which are two of the best beaches in Costa Rica and offer a unique atmosphere and landscapes.

For more information, you can consult this list of the best beaches in Manuel Antonio.

Cabo Blanco Beach

At the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, on the waters of the Pacific Ocean, you will find Cabo Blanco Beach, another of Costa Rica’s beaches that you can’t miss.

To get to this wild white sand beach, you will have to make a tough two-hour hike across Cabo Blanco National Park, the oldest protected area of Costa Rica.

Besides being able to see some animals like howler monkeys during the route, you will have to climb several small mountains and cross a river, so it is almost essential to wear waterproof boots, especially if it has rained recently because it forms a lot of mud on the road.

At the end of the trail, you will have the well-deserved reward of being able to swim in the beach of Cabo Blanco, with its crystal clear waters and gentle waves, as well as take a shower to remove the salt from your body and have a picnic at one of its tables. Remember that there is no service, and you should bring both water and food.

If you do not want to walk so far, on the drive from Montezuma to Cabo Blanco Park, you have access to several beaches, like Cabuya, which is also among the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Cabo Blanco Beach
Cabo Blanco Beach

Manzanillo Beach, one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches

Manzanillo Beach, located in the town of the same name, south of the famous Cahuita National Park, is another of the natural jewels to visit in Costa Rica.

This beach, more than 3 kilometers long, is bathed by the warm Caribbean waters and is surrounded by palm trees that give it a wild look. Although the stretch of beach that runs through the town of Manzanillo is full of locals every weekend, you can find peace in the area closest to Punta Uva, where there is a photogenic boat stranded in the sand.

After a nice swim, you can go to the Mirador de Manzanillo across the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge and eat delicious Caribbean chicken at Coccoloba restaurant, one of our favorites in the area.

Other nearby beaches, located between Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo, are Punta Uva and Cocles.

If you are going to spend several days in this area, I recommend staying in a wooden cabin at Congo Bongo EcoVillage, located in the middle of the rainforest and with private access to Manzanillo beach.

Cocalito Beach

If you visit Corcovado National Park in the remote Osa Peninsula, I recommend spending a morning hiking the beautiful Drake Trail from Playa San Josecito to Agujitas de Drake to experience some of Costa Rica’s best beaches.

My favorite part of this trail is Playa Cocalito, which is about a 30-minute walk from Drake Bay and is distinguished by white sands and rock formations on both sides.

Keep in mind that if you are going to do this trail, the route is linear and it takes about 6 hours round trip. If you don’t want to make such a long journey, we recommend doing what we did: hiring a 44 that dropped us off in Rincón, one of the trail’s ends, for $30 and making a single journey of the trail. 

Santa Teresa Beach

For surf lovers or travelers who want to get started in this exciting sport, Santa Teresa beach is one of the best in Costa Rica.

On this huge beach, you can surf good waves thanks to its year-round winds, walk or run on its fine sand, and take a fresh coconut (pipe) while watching the sky redden at sunset.

In addition, the beach is surrounded by local restaurants and western cuisine, bars with a very good atmosphere, and stores where you can rent a surfboard or buy sportswear.

The only drawback of this beach is that it is fashionable and full of tourists, so if you want to surf or watch the sunset somewhere without many people, I recommend you drive a few minutes to the beach of Mal Pais, which is much less crowded than its neighbor, Santa Teresa.

Santa Teresa Beach
Santa Teresa Beach

Danta Beach

Playa Danta and its little sister Playa Dantita, located north of the Nicoya Peninsula in “La Costa Dorada” of Guanacaste, are two of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.

After leaving the car in the sandy parking lot of Playa Danta and walking a short distance, you will arrive at an incredible crescent-shaped beach, surrounded by vegetation that I am sure will make you fall in love at first sight.

After your first swim and if the tide is low, you can cross the rocks to Dantita Beach, a beautiful beach less than a kilometer long with white sand and blue waters, perfect for snorkeling near the rocks. If the tide is high, you can access Dantita through a path that runs along the top.

If you like snorkeling, you can also go to Playa Ocotal, which has on one side a small island with coral and hundreds of tropical fish and also has the good restaurant Father Rooster’s, where you can get the best taste in your mouth.

Sámara Beach

Elected in 2013 as the second most beautiful beach in Central America and located in the middle of the Nicoya Peninsula, Samara Beach is another beach that could not be missing from this list of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.

Known for its white sand and crescent shape, this beach is characterized by its calm waters and coral reefs that make it ideal for snorkeling and diving.

In front of this beach, surrounded by jungle, there is also a deserted island where numerous species of birds nest, and you can observe them by kayak.

Sámara Beach
Sámara Beach

Tortuga Island Beaches

To finish this list of the best beaches in Costa Rica, I suggest you take a boat to reach the paradisiacal Tortuga Island, located a few kilometers off the southeast coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Formed by two small and very close islands, Alcatraz and Tolinga, Tortuga Island marvels with its white sand beaches, emerald waters, and hundreds of palm trees full of coconuts that adorn its coastline.

These pristine islands, protected by a national park, are also perfect for hiking trails, zip-lining, or kayaking while trying to spot dolphins, humpback whales, or turtles if your visit coincides with the season when these fascinating animals pass through here.

Also, if you are fond of diving, remember that the seabed is home to three sunken ships.

To get to Tortuga Island, you should approach the dock in Puntarenas and hire a boat tour (the trip takes an hour and a half) or book this tour in advance through an agency with good ratings.


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Costa Rica Beaches

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