The best Costa Rica beaches are found on both coasts of this Central American country. On the Caribbean coast lie charming fishing villages that have found their new role as tourist havens. On the other side of the country, the Pacific Coast beaches long have been tourist favorites. Whatever your idea for the perfect beach, you’ll find the perfect beach to suit your style in Costa Rica.
Thanks to Costa Rica’s unique geography, you’re never far from the coast—often only two or three hours separate an interior city from the best Costa Rica Beaches. The capital city, San Jose, is landlocked, but it’s a few hours away from beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Many vacationers fly into the airport in San Jose to begin their adventure, following the paved roads that lead from the capital to the best Costa Rican beaches.
Along with its neighbor Hermosa Beach, Jaco Beach is found along the central Pacific coast in the Puntarenas Province. This laid-back beach town with a party vibe, Jaco Beach has the distinction of being the closest beach to San Jose. As one of the best Costa Rican beaches for both parties and surfing, Jaco Beach offers fun by day and night. The waves and the breaks offer perfect conditions for catching a wave—challenging beginners and experts alike. Even though the waves are a bit high for swimming, there’s plenty else to like about this beach. The snorkeling opportunities are amazing beneath the surface; back on shore, you’ll find lots of fun along the beach and in the clubs.
Playa del Coco
On the northwest coast, up in the Guanacaste Province, Playa del Coco takes its name from chocolate-colored sand. During the week, Playa del Coco is a quiet little hideaway, one of the best Costa Rican Beaches for relaxing. The party gets going on the weekend when the locals and vacationers turn the volume up and bring the fun. Several resorts are located along the beach, including all-inclusive style resorts. All the amenities are included for one price, including fun along the beach. Many resort guests include surfing lessons or snorkeling excursions during their time at Playa del Coco.
This golden-sand beach, home to a grand resort, is located along the Gold Coast in the north of the Guanacaste Province. A rocky outcropping separates Playa Conchal from Playa Brasillito. Both offer wide stretches of sand bathed in sunlight. In the wintertime, Playa Conchal is blessed with more than twelve hours of sunlight a day. The clear waters make perfect conditions for snorkeling, and deep-sea diving is fantastic away from the shore. The all-inclusive resort overlooking the beach offers its guests a full range of activities and services to keep guests happy and relaxed. Its golf course, one of the best in all of Costa Rica, has emerald-green fairways and howler monkeys in the trees.
Also a resort hotspot, Playa Tambor is nestled on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. This long, meandering beach features white sand, perfect for strolls, and crystal-clear waters prime for swimming and snorkeling. Back on shore, you’ll find a charming beach town, home of the only major airport on the peninsula. Many of Tambor’s resorts are located within steps on the beach.
Like the Hermosa Beach next to Jaco Beach, this too is located along the Pacific Ocean. The Hermosa Beach in Guanacaste is a long stretch of gray sand, where you can go for a stroll or lounge in the sun. Watersports are especially popular here, and the resorts or local outfitters can equip you with everything needed to enjoy your fun in the sun.
Named for the whales often spotted off shore, Playa Ballena is one of the best Costa Rica beaches for watching wildlife. A part of the Ballena National Marine Park on the southern Pacific coast, this beach is home to sea turtles, iguanas, and howler monkeys in abundance. It’s also a wonderful beach perfect for long strolls and relaxing in the sun. When the conditions are just right, you’ll have the chance to stroll on over to Punta Uvita, a natural wonder made out of reef and rocks, that looks like the tail of a whale.
As one of the best Costa Rican beaches on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is located in the Limon Province. A blend of cultures, this beach town has some fantastic music and cuisine to enjoy on shore. The beach, surrounded by towering palm trees swaying in the breeze, is the launching point for surfing adventures, deep-sea charters, and other fun.