Costa Rica Beaches
The Costa Rica coastline is 1290 kms long, with a never-ending variety of beaches for any possible taste. There are rocky and stony beaches, as well as sandy beaches with white, pink, gray, black and golden colored sand. These gorgeous beaches make traveling to Costa Rica a memorable experience.
Being at almost the narrowest point of the isthmus of Central America, the Pacific and Caribbean Seas are mere hours apart by car. Both coasts have beautiful, warm beaches, but the Pacific side is much larger, and has a strong dry season. These beaches are ideal for swimming, diving, fishing, surfing and many other water sports. The Caribbean coast is more cultural diverse than the Pacific coast. Half of this coastal area is protected by national parks and wildlife refuges, which has slowed development and the building of access roads, making it an especially verdant place to get away from it all. Here are some of the top beach destinations in Costa Rica.
Playa Conchal wraps around a turquoise bay that’s perfect for swimming or snorkeling. Because it’s tucked away south of Playa Brasilito, Playa Conchal is overlooked by many visitors. In this area you will find the Reserva Conchal Golf Course and a couple of luxury hotels with direct access to the beach. The golden sand mixes with tiny shells that seem to glisten alongside the turquoise tides. It is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and seaside picnics.
Manzanillo is a beautiful golden sand beach and the waters are gentle. Just to the south is Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, where you can find a series of coves lined with overhanging palm trees. There are a few small lodges in the area, or you can stay in the main town of Puerto Viejo, a 25 minute drive north, offering a bigger variety of accommodations and dining. South of Manzanillo, the road ends and a network of hiking trails begins, stretching out to Punta Mona and the Gandoca station, down to tiny coves and beaches where you’re unlikely to see anyone else. The reserve protects a number of rare habitats including wetlands, beach, mangrove and palm swamps, 740 acres of lowland rainforest, and a coral reef. Beneath the ocean, the coral reef is home and host to a wide variety of brightly colored tropical fish including the blue parrotfish, angelfish, sea anemones, urchins, sea fans, sea cucumbers, lobsters and sponges.
Playa Biesanz, Manuel Antonio
This stunning beach, part of Manuel Antonio National Park, has long been considered one of Costa Rica’s best beaches. The water here is consistently calm, making it a terrific choice for families with young children. The surrounding national park, meanwhile, is filled with wildlife. You can easily spot white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, green iguanas and sloths. Manuel Antonio is also one of the few places in Costa Rica that is home to a healthy population of squirrel monkeys.
Playa Flamingo, to the north of Playa Conchal is world famous for fishing but the mile long, crescent shaped beach is what really attracts visitors. It has pristine clear blue waters, lagoons and lush vegetation. Playa Flamingo area offers a wide variety of secluded beaches and lagoons due to the mountain formations reaching into the sea. Some of the best water activities can be found in Flamingo such as sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
On the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a tiny idyllic beach village that in the last few years has blossomed into a booming travel destination with luxury boutique hotels. A broad strip of forest frames Santa Teresa’s beach, and one of the town’s best features is its absence of high-rise buildings, allowing the town to maintain its paradisiacal pristine allure with its long white sand beach backed by jungle-covered hills.
Playa Grande, Tamarindo
Playa Grande beach is 2.8 miles long, perfect for those who enjoy a leisurely beach stroll and a warm ocean breeze. The northern end of the beach is marked by a giant boulder named Dante’s Rock. The southern part of the beach ends at the Tamarindo Estuary. Here, a small river separates the two towns of Playa Grande and Tamarindo. The entire beach coast is protected by Las Baulas National Park. Between October and May, turtles come ashore to lay their eggs during the night. This makes the beach accessible only during day time to help protect the nesting sites of leatherback turtles. The only exception for night time visitors is for a turtle watching tour. Playa Grande is very popular for surfing too, so be careful when swimming as the seafloor does drop steeply and rip currents can be strong.
Playa Montezuma is a sandy white beach located in the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. This beach has hiking trails through the jungle connecting it to another great beach called Playa Grande. Montezuma with its pleasing bohemian atmosphere and charming views is loved by trek lovers, backpackers and couples looking for a romantic escape.
Playa Uvita is among the most stunning beaches on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. Located within the Marino Ballena National Park, swimming conditions are ideal and visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports. This is a great spot for whale watching which has 2 seasons, from mid July to mid November and from mid December to April. These seasons are based on the annual migration cycle of the pacific humpback whale. These animals travel from far to visit Marino Ballena.