Costa Rica Has Some of the Best Beaches in Latin America
Costa Rica is one of the best Latin American travel destinations for beach lovers, because this beautiful nation has not one but two spectacular coastlines.
In Costa Rica, you can visit the sandy beaches of the Caribbean coast, where you can unwind at resorts or enjoy the pristine nature of the national parks.
On the Pacific coast, you can make the most of the best surf in the country, and you can find off-the-beaten track beach towns or book into fabulous five-star resorts.
With so much coastline to explore, there really is something for everyone no matter what sort of beach you desire. To inspire your next getaway, here are the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Beaches of the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast
On the Caribbean coastline, one of the most famous beaches in Costa Rica is Tortuguero.
This beautiful sandbar is located within the wider Tortuguero National Park, and it’s named for the thousands of turtles that make use of its soft sands for nesting.
You can visit the research centre to learn more about the green turtles that nest here throughout the year, and to discover more about the unique wetland ecosystems that the national park protects.
Aside from the Tortuguero sandbar, there are acres of pristine jungle to discover and a wonderful array of wildlife, ranging from manatees to jaguars.
Found on the pristine Caribbean shores of Limon, the beaches of Cahuita National Park are some of the best in Costa Rica.
Cahuita is well known for its laidback beach vibes, and it’s the perfect place to unwind and relax under the tropical sun.
The white sand is gloriously soft and, once you’ve enjoyed the beach itself, you can explore Cahuita National Park too.
This protected area covers swathes of inland rainforest, where you can hike through jungle in search of local wildlife. Cahuita National Park also extends into the Caribbean Sea, and the colourful offshore coral makes for a great snorkelling destination.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca Beaches
Just a short journey south from Cahuita and you’ll soon be in the wonderfully tropical climes of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, one of the best beach getaways in Costa Rica.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is one of the most diverse Caribbean beach destinations, because here you can find both white sand beaches and black sand beaches.
You can visit the volcanic sands of Playa Negra, while the Salsa Brava Beach is one of the most popular surf beaches on the Caribbean side of the country.
Nearby you can snorkel in the Cahuita National Park, or venture into the rainforest in search of jaguars within the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park.
Punta Uva Beaches
Punta Uva is a small, seaside town, but it’s quite easily the most picturesque destination along the Caribbean coast.
Located south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Punta Uva is known for its super-soft sand. There’s a startlingly white sheen that reflects the sunlight dramatically, while the water is exceptionally clear.
Add in the swaying palms, the rustic, laidback local vibes, and you have a tropical destination like no other in Costa Rica. You can relax all day on the sands admiring the surrounding scenery, or you can make the most of the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea by taking on a spot of snorkelling or diving.
Manzanillo Beach Beaches
As part of the exceptionally pristine Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park, Manzanillo Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.
Manzanillo Beach stretches along the Caribbean coast for several miles, fronting the charming yet rustic fishing town of Manzanillo, and overlooking perfectly clear waters.
Due to its long fishing history, Manzanillo is highly regarded for its superb seafood. So you can spend your day relaxing on the white sands under swaying palms, before enjoying a barbecue of fresh fish and crabs in the evenings, as the tropical sun sets in a fiery haze over the jungle.
The Best Beaches of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Del Coco Beach
On the Pacific coast, the Guanacaste region is not only an enclave of local indigenous cultures, but also a fantastic display of Costa Rican scenery.
This is an area that’s home to some of the best beaches in the country. One of the most outstanding beaches in Guanacaste is Del Coco Beach.
This burgeoning tourist destination is still a quiet and relaxed place to visit, although that looks set to change as news of its pristine white sands and jungle-strewn rocks emerge from this remote stretch of coastline.
Also found along the Pacific Guanacaste coastline is the spectacular environs of Flamingo Beach.
This is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica, but it’s also one of the busiest. The scenery here is undeniably beautiful. You’ll find azure waters fringed by soft, white sand that literally sparkles and dazzles in the bright tropical sunshine.
In the Flamingo Beach area, there are a huge number of resorts and hotels, but many of them are found in secluded, isolated bays along the coast. It’s a great place for anyone who’s looking for accessibility and luxury within simply stunning natural surroundings.
One of the highlights of a trip to Guanacaste is a visit to the coastal town of Tamarindo, where you can find great beaches and fantastic surfing.
This is a popular surfing destination, because the waves here are both powerful and consistent. But with soft sands and swaying palms, it’s not a bad spot to just relax and unwind, too.
Conchal Beach is one of Guanacaste’s most popular destinations, and you’ll be swept away by the beach and the crisp Pacific air as soon as you arrive.
This is a beautifully pristine beach, despite the fact that a number of large resorts have moved in over the years. If you’re looking for comfort and want plenty of activities to enjoy, then Conchal Beach is most definitely the place for you.
Located on a small peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Nacascolo Beach is one of the best-kept secrets in Guanacaste.
The Papagayo Peninsula is home to some of the most upmarket resorts in Costa Rica though, so you’ll need plenty of spare cash to stay here. But, if you can afford it, then you’ll really appreciate the seclusion and isolation.
Nicoya Peninsula's Best Beaches
Malpais & Santa Teresa
Just south of the Guanacaste coastline is the popular Nicoya Peninsula, where you can find more of Costa Rica’s best beaches.
If you’re looking for rustic, ramshackle, beachside towns, then head to Malpais and Santa Teresa, an area that has only just started to be developed for tourism.
You’ll find wonderful, pristine beaches, while the crashing waves make this a popular surfing destination too.
The laidback town of Montezuma is becoming one of the must-visit destinations in Costa Rica, because there’s so much here to see and so much to do.
The town is best known for its white sand beach, where you can wind away your days in the sunshine, enjoying the calm of the Pacific Ocean. But head down the road, and other nearby beaches offer a more tumultuous experience, as you’ll also find crashing waves and great surfing spots.
The quieter stretches of sand are important turtle nesting spots, while the Montezuma Waterfall is a natural attraction that can’t be missed when you are visiting the Nicoya Peninsula.
Samara Beach is a long stretch of sand that curves its way aesthetically around a sheltered bay on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.
The small beach town of Samara enjoys some of the sunniest weather in Costa Rica. Given the quiet, peaceful nature of the waves found here, it’s the perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing.
Off the coast, you’ll also find a wealth of marine life in the bay, including a colourful stretch of coral that’s perfect for snorkelling.
The small town of Ostional on the Nicoya Peninsula takes the meaning of laidback and the Costa Rican saying of Pura Vida to new extremes.
This is the place to visit if you’re looking for a quiet, calm getaway, with little to bother you except the sound of the Pacific Ocean. The beaches here are lovely, and you can stay in homestays or small family-run guesthouses to get a little closer to the local way of life.
As well as the beach and the town, you’ll be right next to the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find a fantastic array of walking trails leading into the rich, diverse rainforest. The reserve is renowned for its nesting turtles and superb birdlife.
Central Pacific Coast Beaches
Manuel Antonio Beach
Take a journey along the Central Pacific Coast to one of Costa Rica’s most unmissable destinations, the Manuel Antonio National Park. Here you’ll find the superb Manuel Antonio Beach.
This is another of the best beaches in Costa Rica, home to a pristine stretch of sand that’s protected within the national park. You can hike through the forest on well-marked trails to reach the beach itself, where you’ll be greeted with vibrant, turquoise waters and soft, white sand.
It’s one of the best natural sights on the Pacific Coast. Plus, if you hang around until the crowds leave, then you’ll be able to enjoy a fiery sunset over the Pacific.
One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica is the Pacific town of Jaco.
This is a big tourist destination. As well as being home to some great beaches, you’ll find that Jaco has a great nightlife scene.
If you’re looking for bars and pubs, then Jaco has it all. You can lounge away your days in the beach or hit up the surfing spots before enjoying a few drinks and some fantastic nightlife in the evening.
Nearby you’ll find that there are plenty of national parks and wildlife refuges to explore, too. There’s enough here to keep you in Jaco for weeks at a time.
Isla Tortuga, or Turtle Island, is located just off the shores of the Central Pacific Coast, and it makes for a great beach getaway.
The island is part of a protected marine area. Here, you can find spectacular beaches, biodiverse rainforests, and plenty of wildlife waiting to be discovered.
The area makes a great day trip, because in many ways, this is Costa Rica in a raw and rugged microcosm. You can reach Isla Tortuga from many of the main tourist towns on the mainland, such as Jaco or Montezuma.
Best Southern Pacific Coast Beaches
If it’s tropical islands that you’re after, then keep heading south along the Pacific coast and you’ll reach Cano Island.
Part of the wider Corcovado National Park that stretches across the mainland, Cano Island is one of the most biodiverse marine reserves in Costa Rica.
It’s home to some excellent beaches but, even more than this, the snorkelling opportunities are immense.
Corcovado National Park
Take a boat back to the mainland to explore the rest of the Corcovado National Park, and you’ll find yet more of Costa Rica’s sublime beaches.
The area has a raw and rugged coastline that fronts some of the oldest rainforest reserves in Costa Rica. It’s a haven for wildlife and for marine life, and you can enjoy the beautiful beaches, and a range of outdoor activities too, from snorkelling to hiking.
One of the best beaches along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica can be found at Dominical.
Dominical Beach is one of the top surfing destinations in the country. There are crashing waves that attract surfers from across the world to this otherwise sleepy, coastal town. It’s rustic, ramshackle, and it’s so beautiful.
If you’re not a surfer, then close to Dominical Beach, you can also find some of Costa Rica’s best natural attractions, including the Nauyaca Waterfall and the Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge, where there’s a wonderful array of wildlife and scenery to explore.
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