16 Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Last updated:
Photo of author

Costa Rica is an outdoor lover’s dream come true, with impossibly green rainforests, steaming hot springs, and pristine beaches. In fact, Costa Rica boasts a whopping 800 miles of coastline, offering everything from miles and miles of soft white shores and rocky beaches in secluded coves to jet black volcanic sand, surrounded by lush jungle. But with so many options to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to go if you’re trying to plan a tropical getaway here. Regardless of what you’re looking for, we got you covered- here’s everything you need to know about the 16 best beaches in Costa Rica.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission, for which we are extremely grateful, at no extra cost to you.

Woman standing on Playa Espadilla on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica
Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Table of contents

Best Beaches in Costa Rica Along the Pacific Coastline

1. Playa Espadilla

  • Located here in Manuel Antonio (about three hours southwest of San Jose)
  • Facilities: Playa Espadilla is actually divided into two parts. Playa Espadilla Sur can only be accessed by ticket holders of Manuel Antonio National Park and offers bathrooms and outdoor showers. Playa Espadilla Norte, on the other hand, is located outside of the national park and thus, is publicly accessible. While it doesn’t have any dedicated bathrooms or shower facilities, you won’t have any problem finding bars and restaurants along its shores, in addition to vendors selling cold cervezas and coconuts and rental shops offering kayaks, surfboards, and other gear.
  • Where to stay near Playa Espadilla: The mid-range La Posada Jungle Hotel is simple, but offers everything you need, including delicious free breakfast and a nice pool that monkeys like to play above in the trees. 

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica, thanks to its incredible national park, abundant wildlife, and stunning beaches. While there are several jaw-dropping beaches in Manuel Antonio, Playa Espadilla is arguably the most beautiful, with sugar white sand, turquoise water, and floofy palm trees flanking its shores. 

Aerial view of Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica

As noted above, Playa Espadilla is actually divided into two sections—Playa Espadilla Sur, which is a more pristine and tranquil area that’s only accessible to visitors of the national park and Playa Espadilla Norte, a more lively, publicly accessible stretch of sand. 

If you’re looking to enjoy activities on the beach, head to Playa Espadilla Norte, where you can find everything from surf lessons, like this one or this one; banana boat rides; and jet ski rentals. 

Men playing soccer on Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica

Alternatively, if you’re looking to soak up the sun in peace and quiet, plan a trip to Playa Espadilla Sur. The national park only sells a limited number of tickets each day, so this beach sees a fraction of the visitors as Playa Espadilla Norte—plus, there won’t be any vendors bugging you to purchase cold beverages from them (which might be a good or a bad thing, depending on who you ask!). 

Regardless of whether you go to Playa Espadilla Sur, be sure to carve out time during your stay to visit the national park, which is absolutely one of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio. While it’s Costa Rica’s smallest national park, its rainforest is incredibly biodiverse, with over 100 species of mammals and 180 species of birds alone! 

Spider monkey in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica

If you want to have the best chance of spotting wildlife here, join one of the many Manuel Antonio tours, like this option or this option, where eagle-eyed guides will point out creatures hiding in the impossibly dense greenery and provide fascinating information about the country’s flora and fauna.

2. Playa Tamarindo

  • Located here in Tamarindo (about four hours west of San Jose or an hour and a half southwest of Liberia)
  • Facilities: While there’s no bathrooms, there is an outdoor shower near Hotel Diria to rinse off. 
  • Where to stay near Playa Tamarindo: While there are plenty of hotels in Tamarindo, Hotel Diria is just steps away from the beach and has all kinds of bougie amenities, including three swimming pools, multiple bars and restaurants, a spa, and even a casino! 

Tucked away on the country’s Pacific coastline, Tamarindo Beach offers golden sands and a party scene. In fact, many travelers actually add Tamarindo to their Costa Rica itinerary due to its vibrant nightlife—but there’s plenty to do at its beach to keep visitors plenty busy during the day!

Aerial view of Tamarindo Beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

One of the most popular things to do in Tamarindo is surfing, thanks to its relaxed swells and mellow breaks that are suitable for surfers of all skill levels. Given that its gentle and consistent waves are perfect for beginners, Tamarindo offers a number of surf lessons to choose from, ranging from group and private lessons all the way to multi-day surf camps to learn how to catch a wave.

If you prefer more relaxed activities, take a leisurely stroll along its soft sand—just be sure to time your walk with sunset, which casts punchy colors of pink and orange on the turquoise water of the Pacific.

Woman surfing at Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica

While the beach itself is stunning, most travelers come here to enjoy the town’s laid back yet lively vibes, with an array of vibrant cafes, restaurants, and shops to hit after your day at the beach. If you still have energy after a day in the sun, you won’t have any problem finding tropical bars, blasting reggae, until the early hours of the morning. 

The best time to visit this low-key beach town is during the dry season, from December to April, when the weather is splendid and the skies are clear—perfect for soaking up the sun on the beach! If you happen to be visiting in August or September, you should expect to experience some rain during your visit—however, you also might get to see humpback whales playing offshore! 

Recommended by Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

3. Guiones Beach

  • Located here in Nosara (about two hours and 40 minutes south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There are no facilities on the beach itself but there are restaurants, bars, and surf shops within walking distance. 
  • Where to stay near Guines Beach: Less than a ten minute walk from the beach, Olas Verde Hotel has tons of awesome features, including free bike rentals, an outdoor swimming pool, and weekly yoga classes.

Playa Guiones is a crescent-shaped beach with soft golden sand that stretches for a mile along the coastline of Nosara, a hidden gem on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.

This hippie-ish town is a surfing hotspot, thanks to its incredible waves. Playa Guiones has an extremely consistent break over its sandy floor. In fact, some say it has some of the best surfing conditions on the planet!

Sandy shores of Guiones Beach in Nosara, Costa Rica

The swells can actually get pretty big here—up to 10 feet! Thankfully for newbie surfers, though, the waves are typically much smaller and are usually suitable for beginners on calmer days. 

There’s a number of shops in town to meet all your surfing needs. For example, if you already know how to surf, you can grab a board from any number of surf shops for as little as $20 a day. Alternatively, if you’re a beginner, there’s plenty of surf schools offering lessons, like this private option. Honestly, even if you don’t surf, it’s fun to just relax on the beach and watch the surfers do their thing! 

Man surfing at sunset at Playa Guinoes in Nosara, Costa Rica

As an added bonus, the waves are actually the best here between March and November, which is conveniently Costa Rica’s low season. Accordingly, you can enjoy the beach without the crowds—and score better deals on hotels and airfare!

Nosara has a number of other beaches to enjoy, including Playa Nosara and Playa Pelada. If you get all beached-out during your visit, there’s plenty to do in and around Nosara, including spotting wildlife at the nearby Ostional Wildlife Refuge, chasing waterfalls in the surrounding jungle, and leaning into the crunchy vibes at a yoga retreat.   

Recommended by Bailey of Costa Rica Travel Life

4. Sámara Beach

  • Located here in Sámara (about two hours south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: beach bars, restaurants, and surf shops
  • Where to stay near Sámara Beach: There’s literally a hotel in Samara called “Fenix Hotel—On the Beach”, so you know it’s got to have a good location! Each room comes with its own patio and kitchen, plus there’s an onsite pool if you need a change of scenery. 

Located just an hour south of Nosara, Sámara Beach is a long and crescent shaped beach with soft, gold sand. It’s protected by a coral reef that helps maintain the water’s almost surprisingly warm temperatures, year round, and keeps its waves pretty calm. 

Accordingly, Sámara has gentle waves that are perfect for newbie surfers learning to get up on the board. There’s a number of surf schools offering lessons here, such as this private option or this private class. The calm waves also mean that this is a great beach for swimming and, if you happen to get a particularly calm day, even paddle boarding or kayaking. 

Aerial view of Samara Beach in Costa Rica

If you’re not looking to surf, Sámara Beach is an excellent spot to just kick back and relax, with a handful of beach clubs, like Locanda, that offer daybeds that you can rent for the day. 

Whether you spend the day soaking up the sun or catching some waves, Sámara is known for its vibrant red and orange sunsets. Costa Rica seriously has the most mind-blowing sunsets that I have ever seen (and we go out of our way for epic sunsets!), so ending your day while watching the sun sink into the vibrantly pink Pacific Ocean is definitely not to be missed!

Samara Beach at sunset in Samara, Costa Rica

In addition to the beach, the small town of Sámara is absolutely worth exploring and is an excellent mix of offering amenities for visitors, like restaurants and bars, while still maintaining some of its Costa Rican culture. 

By Daniel from Destinationless Travel

5. Playa Herradura

  • Located here in Playa Herradura (about an hour and 35 minutes southwest of San Jose or two hours and 40 minutes south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There are no facilities at the beach, but plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance.
  • Where to stay near Playa Herradura: Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is only a few minutes from Playa Herradura and has been named one of the best hotels in the country, thanks to its cool features, like in-room hammocks.

Nestled in a semicircular bay on the west coast of Costa Rica, Playa Herradura is a secluded sandy beach, with emerald green water, extremely calm water, and a surrounding lush jungle that’s perfect for spotting macaws, monkeys, and sloths.

Sandy shores and the surrounding jungle at Herradura Beach in Playa Herradura in Costa Rica

Due to its location in a protected cove, the waves are some of the most gentle on the country’s Pacific coastline, making this an excellent beach to swim, stand up paddle board, kayak, or boogie board. 

Until recently, this beach was a secret amongst the locals—a place to enjoy Costa Rica’s raw nature without the crowds and commercialization seen at some of the neighboring beaches, like Jaco. However, a glitzy marina and growing shopping center was recently built here, making this hidden gem slightly less, well, hidden. 

Sandy shores surrounded by jungle at Herradura Beach in Playa Herradura in Costa Rica

While Playa Herradura is now more of a bougie destination, here’s a little secret hack for budget travelers—dispersed camping is actually allowed—for free!—along the road that borders the beach and offers views over the ocean that are particularly spectacular at sunset and sunrise.

Recommended by Lucy and Dan of Thoroughly Travel

6. Playa Santa Teresa

  • Located here in Santa Teresa (about four hours south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There’s a handful of beachfront bars and restaurants here, but, for the most part, Playa Santa Teresa is an untouched beach. 
  • Where to stay near Playa Santa Teresa: Funky Monkey Lodge is located less than 700 feet from the Santa Teresa Beach (really!) and offers regular yoga classes, an outdoor pool, and even a spa if you want to indulge.

Nestled on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is one the best beaches in Costa Rica, both for its size and raw wildness. Stretching over three miles long, Playa Santa Teresa feels like a proper tropical beach—turquoise water laps onto the sugary white shores and palm trees sway nearby. And while the water may not be as toasty as the famed hot springs of Costa Rica, it’s also consistently pretty warm—around 79 to 86° F year round. 

Sandy shores on the Santa Teresa Beach in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Like much of the Pacific coastline, Playa Santa Teresa is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions. There’s plenty of beach breaks here, with waves typically ranging from three feet all the way up to eight feet high. 

Even though the swells can get pretty large, there are plenty of beginner-friendly breaks—if you’re new to surfing, just be sure to sign up for a surf lesson from any of the plethora of shops, like this private option or this private lesson. Alternatively, if you’re already a pro, try to time your visit from May through August, when the swells are at their biggest.

Man walking with a surfboard on Santa Teresa Beach in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Given the size of the waves here, it’s not the best place for swimming, but you can still relax and soak up the sun—and, of course,  the views of the stunning surrounding landscape. Be sure to stick around for sunset. It feels like the entire population of the town flocks to the beach every day to watch Mother Nature do her thing.

The chill town of Santa Teresa is also worth exploring. It has somehow managed to fly under the mass tourism radar, but still offers plenty of bars to watch the sunset, laidback cafes, vegan eateries, and local markets to keep you plenty busy.

Recommended by Soline of On the Road Diary

7. Dominical Beach

  • Located here in Dominical (about three hours south of San Jose)
  • Facilities: None
  • Where to stay near Dominical Beach: Villa Rio Mar has an absolutely beautiful location on the banks of the Baru River and offers tons of awesome perks, like complimentary breakfast, an onsite bar and restaurant, and two outdoor swimming pools. Plus, each room comes with its very own terrace, patio, and most importantly, air conditioning!

Located just an hour south of the more popular Manuel Antonio, Playa Dominical is a beautiful beach to escape the crowds that are typically found on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline. The beach’s shores are quite rocky near the treeline, but the sand generally becomes much finer and softer closer to the water. 

But most travelers don’t come here for long walks on the beach—instead, Dominical is arguably one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for surfing! It offers incredibly consistent waves, generally clustered towards the southern end of the beach, near the opening of the Baru River—it’s actually said that over 95% of days are surfable here (which is pretty mind-blowing!). 

Rocky shores on Dominical Beach in Domincal, Costa Rica

The swells here can be on the larger side, so if you’re a beginner, consider signing up for a lesson with one of the many surf schools in the town, like the Dominical Surf School and South Surf Costa Rica. For gentler waves, head to the nearby beach, Playa Dominicalito.

If you don’t feel like getting in the water, the beach is a popular place to just relax and watch the surfers try to catch waves. There are a handful of vendors renting beach chairs and umbrellas if you’re really looking for a chill vibe. 

While Dominical is overlooked by most visitors, there’s plenty to do in and around town. While it is pretty teeny, you’ll still find all the restaurants, bars, and souvenirs shops that you need for a killer beach vacation. Better yet, Dominical is an incredible homebase for day trips to explore the surrounding area.

Two tiered Nauyaca Waterfall in Costa Rica

For example, Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park is located just 45 minutes from Dominical and is one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica. If you have a rental car, you can drive yourself to the nature park and make the hike up to this stunning 200 foot two-tiered waterfall or, alternatively, you can join a guided tour, like this one or this one

The weather at Dominical Beach is hot and humid, pretty much all year round, So be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, bug spray (it is surrounded by a literal jungle, after all!), and protective clothing, like a hat or sun shirt. Nothing ruins a tropical vacation quite like a gnarly sunburn!

Recommended by Michele of Adventures Abound

8. Playa Uvita

  • Located here in Uvita (about three hours and 15 minutes south of San Jose)
  • Facilities: There’s no facilities on the beach itself, but there are restaurants and bars right outside of the beach’s entrance. 
  • Where to stay near Playa Uvita: Bungalows Ballena offers a variety of accommodation options, from a studio to a two bedroom villa, an outdoor pool, and a terrace to enjoy views of the surrounding jungle. 

There are several good free beaches in and around the town of Uvita, but it’s the eponymous stretch within the Ballena National Park that steals the show.

The long expanse of powdery soft golden sand, backed by towering palm trees and untamed jungle has the look and feel of Costa Rica’s more remote beaches, but is easily accessible from this popular town on the Pacific Coast. 

Sandy shores at the Uvita Beach in Uvita, Costa Rica

As it’s all part of a national park, there’s an entry fee of just over $6 USD per person to enter for the day, but it is certainly worth it. Indeed, the protected status and limited access keeps Uvita Beach a pristine, postcard-perfect paradise free from the modern tourism developments you’ll find elsewhere on this side of the country. 

Aerial view of Ballena National Park in Uvita, Costa Rica

What’s more, the waters of Ballena National Park is renowned for being one of the best places in the country to spot humpback whales, with the key seasons being mid-December through  the end of April and the end of July through mid-November. Even outside of this timeframe, the national park’s waters are an excellent place to spot dolphins and other impressive marine life. There’s a variety of boat tours, like this one or this one, that leave from Uvita every day and are the perfect complement to your time on the sand. 

Recommended by Andrew and Emily from Along Dusty Roads 

9. Playa Avellanas

  • Located here in Playa Avellanas (about four hours west of San Jose or an hour and 45 minutes southwest of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There’s no real facilities to speak of, but there are a handful of restaurants just a few steps from the beach and, occasionally, vendors that will walk around selling cold beer and coconuts (yes please!).
  • Where to stay near Playa Avellanas: The Drift Away Eco Lodge has an absolutely STUNNING property in the middle of the jungle, with an outdoor pool that’s perfect for relaxing at and onsite activities, like yoga, if you need to change it up from beach time.

You may have noticed that many of the best beaches in Costa Rica are sprinkled along the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. This area also just so happens to be one of the world’s five Blue Zones (i.e., where people live an unusually long time!). Many suspect that the longevity here is attributed, in part, to the laid back lifestyle with lots of time spent outdoors. So if you want to get that Blue Zone experience while you’re in Costa Rica, consider checking out the remote beach town of Playa Avellanas. 

Its beach boasts almost two miles of soft golden sand, directly south of Tamarindo’s Playa Langosta—but without all of the tourists.

Sandy shores along Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica

Shocker—like most of the beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, one of the best things to do in Playa Avellanas is to surf, with five different areas that are suitable for surfers of varying skill levels. The waves here can get quite large—in fact, up to 16 feet on particularly gnarly days!—so most of the breaks are better for surfers with some experience out in the ocean.

If you’re looking to just relax, the beach is surrounded by rainforest and mangroves, providing plenty of shade from the Costa Rican sun and, more importantly, offering excellent wildlife spotting opportunities.

Man surfing at Avellanas Beach in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

The dry season from December to April is the best time to visit Playa Avellanas Beach. Although the beach doesn’t tend to get too crowded, regardless of the time of year, it can get busy with locals on weekends and public holidays, so if you prefer your beaches very quiet, try to schedule your visit on a weekday.

Recommended by Tanya of Can Travel, Will Travel

10. Playa Grande 

  • Located here in Montezuma (about three and a half hours south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There are no facilities here, but you will find bars and restaurants in the nearby town of Montezuma.
  • Where to stay near Playa Grande: Sunshine Sanctuary Boutique Jungle Lodge has a beautiful pool overlooking the ocean, a suspension bridge that takes you right into town (and that’s fun to walk on!), and free access to the top tier of the 130 foot tall Montezuma Falls.

Just south of Playa Montezuma, the most popular beach in town, you’ll find Playa Grande—a beautiful stretch of sand, which sees just a fraction of the visitors of the busier beaches in the area. 

Rocks onshore Playa Grande in Montezuma, Costa Rica

The beach has a wild, untouched beauty. There’s no roads leading here, so the only way to get there is a 30 to 40 minute hike, blessedly in the shade of the surrounding jungle. If you put in the effort to get here, though, you’ll be rewarded with over two miles of a beautiful beach, with hardly any people. Playa Grande offers super calm waves that are perfect for swimming for beginner surfers (after you’ve taken a lesson or two at Playa Montezuma, like this option or this option, of course!). 

The true highlight of Playa Grande, though, is undoubtedly the opportunity to see some conservation work in action. Most afternoons around 4 PM volunteers release baby sea turtles back to the ocean—definitely worth putting on your Costa Rica bucket list!

Baby turtles at Playa Grande in Montezuma, Costa Rica

After watching baby sea turtles make their way back to the ocean, head into the small, but enchanting town of Montezuma. This laidback little village has a handful of bars and restaurants to choose from—don’t miss the beachfront Playa De Los Artistas, where you can enjoy a drink with your toes in the sand.

Recommended by Jane of The Family Conscience

11. Playa Pavones

  • Located here in Pavones (about six hours south of San Jose or seven hours south of Liberia)
  • Facilities: There’s no facilities at the beach, but luckily, you’re only a block away from the bars and restaurants of Pavones. 
  • Where to stay near Playa Pavones: Tiskita Jungle Lodge sits on a whopping 800 acre biological reserve with TONS of wildlife (over 275 species of birds alone!) and offers all kinds of neat activities, including night jungle walks. Plus, there’s tons of amazing features, like a yoga shala overlooking the ocean and a natural waterfall and pool to cool off in.

Pavones is a fast-growing hidden gem on the southernmost tip of Costa Rica’s Pacific side. The town is becoming much more popular every year, thanks to its stunning beach, which offers dramatic dark sand, lush greenery and abundant wildlife. It’s not unusual to see monkeys, parrots, macaws, and slots right along the beach.  

View of dark sand shore at Playa Pavones in Pavones, Costa Rica

Playa Pavones is best known for its world famous surf break, one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world. If surfing’s not your thing, you can also boogie board the inner bay during mid-to-high tide. Alternatively, you can just kick back and watch the surfers ride on the epic waves here! 

The town of Pavones has also become a hot spot for yoga and spiritual retreats, thanks to its raw nature and remote seclusion from the tourist crowd. It’s seriously teeny tiny, with just a handful of businesses located within a block of Playa Pavones. So if you’re looking for lively nightlife, and upscale restaurants, this probably isn’t the right destination for you—but if you’re looking for an authentic Costa Rican experience that embodies “pura vida”, it may just be perfect for you.

Rocky shores along Pavones Beach in Pavones, Costa Rica

Recommended by Gabi of Nomads with a Purpose

Best Beaches in Costa Rica Along the Caribbean Coastline

12. Playa Blanca

  • Located here in Cahuita (about three and a half hours east of San Jose)
  • Facilities: Bathrooms and showers
  • Where to stay near Playa Blanca: Selina has a mix of dorm rooms and private rooms, plus a lively atmosphere that’s awesome for meeting other travelers at events ranging from daily yoga classes to karaoke. 

Most visitors to Puerto Viejo focus on the beautiful beaches around the town itself, but some of the areas most stunning—and underrated—beaches are actually found in the nearby Cahuita National Park. 

White sand shores at Playa Blanca in Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica

For example, Playa Blanca is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica, with soft white sand and clear turquoise water, ringed by lush greenery. The calm water makes this an excellent beach for swimming and, unlike some other options in the country, there’s plenty of shade if you need a break from the tropical sun. 

The waters off Cahuita National Park are absolutely teeming with wildlife—in fact, there’s over 500 species of tropical fish that call the park home! However, the park actually prohibits snorkeling at Playa Blanca or any of its beaches without a guide to protect its marine life and the coral reef. If you’re interested in snorkeling, you can book a tour with a local guide so you can experience the underwater world for yourself and learn about the park’s incredible wildlife, like with this option.

Tropical bird at Playa Blanca in Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica

Outside of Playa Blanca, the national park has plenty to explore, like enjoying the park’s other beach, Playa Vargas, or spotting wildlife along the five mile hiking trail in the park. You’re welcome to hike the trail by yourself or, if you want a better chance of spotting wildlife in the dense jungle, you could alternatively go on a guided tour, like this option.

Recommended by Thomas of Out and Across

13. Playa Negra

  • Located here in Cahuita (about three and a half hours east of San Jose)
  • Available facilities: None—this beach is au natural, baby! 
  • Where to stay near Playa Negra: Hotel Boutique La Casa de las Flores is a boutique hotel, with eco-friendly touches, including solar panels; a modern and minimalistic decor; and a nice pool to relax at, if you get tired of beach time. 

Tucked away on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Playa Negra stands out as a beach lover’s paradise, with a whopping six miles of dark volcanic sands, laid back vibes, and abundant wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and coatis. Due to its location off the usual tourist path, it’s usually pretty quiet here—in fact, don’t be too surprised if you’re lucky enough to get it all to yourself! 

Dark sandy shores of Playa Negra in Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica

It’s one of the most popular beaches in Cahuita for swimming, thanks to its crystal clear water. If you decide to take a dip, just be wary of riptides—unfortunately, this beach is known for them, even when the water appears calm on the surface. 

If you’re feeling more adventurous, this is the perfect beach for beginner surfers to try to catch a wave, with a gentle beach break.

Capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica

Recommended by Giorgy of Sabiduri

14. Playa Puerto Viejo

  • Located here in Puerto Viejo (about three hours and 50 minutes southeast of San Jose)
  • Facilities: There’s no public restrooms or showers, but there are bars and restaurants, like Pirata Tiki Bar (which happens to have a killer happy hour!) and Grow Restaurant, right along the beach.
  • Where to stay near Playa Puerto Viejo: La Cameleon Boutique Hotel has resort-like amenities, including a beach club, outdoor pool, and spa and is located in an absolutely beautiful outdoor setting.

Puerto Viejo arguably offers some of the most sought after beaches on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline—and it’s no wonder why! 

For example, the small, but lovely Playa Puerto Viejo offers warm turquoise waters and soft white sand, surrounded by seemingly countless palm trees. The water is quite shallow, with lots of small rocky areas that break up the waves and pools to sit back and relax in. Because of the beach’s shallow nature, there are several shipwrecks jutting out of the water, including one that you can actually swim out to and jump off! For something even more adventurous, you can even find decent waves to surf and bodyboard on in certain areas. 

Wide sandy shores at Playa Puerto Viejo in Peuerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo is also popular, in part, due to its vibrant nightlife, unique Indigenous cultures, and laid back Caribbean vibes. It’s common for backpackers to stop in the town for some chill beach (and party!) time before continuing on to Bocas del Toro in Panama.

Recommended by Dan from Backpacking Latin America

15. Playa Punta Uva

  • Located here in Punta Uva (about three hours and 50 minutes southeast of San Jose)
  • Available facilities: parking, kayak and snorkeling rentals, beach bars
  • Where to stay near Playa Punta Uva: aWà Beach Hotel is an excellent lodging option, just steps away from the beach and, yet, nestled in the jungle. It’s common to see monkeys, sloths, and toucans throughout the property. Plus, there’s a lot of other nice perks with staying here, like an onsite bar and complimentary breakfast. 

Playa Punta Uva is regularly called one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, with soft sand, crystal clear turquoise water, and lush green surroundings. The beach is located south of Puerto Viejo, perfectly balancing the convenience of being close to a town that’s popular with tourists, while being far enough away to see relatively few visitors. 

Sandy shores with jungle in the background at Playa Punta Uva in Costa Rica

If you’re not great at just chilling on the sand (*raises hand*), there’s plenty of things to do on Playa Punta Uva, including swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. 

In fact, you don’t have to swim too far offshore to reach the beach’s colorful coral reef, teeming with vibrant marine life. For example, it’s not unusual to see parrot fish, giant eels, puffer fish, reef sharks, and turtles here. Better yet, Playa Punta Uva has been designated as a “Blue Flag” beach, a prestigious certification given by the Foundation for Environmental Education to different places or companies that meet its sustainability and safety standards—so, hopefully, the beach’s lively coral reef will be around for us to enjoy for years and years to come. 

Parrotfish in the Caribbean Sea

You also don’t need to worry about schlepping your own gear here—you’ll find plenty of vendors renting out kayaks and snorkeling equipment at reasonable prices.

While you can find decent weather here year round, you can enjoy the driest weather and the best water visibility for snorkeling in September.

Recommended by Tom of Trekking the Dream

16. Playa Tortuguero

  • Located here in Tortuguero, Limon (about two and a half hours east of San Jose)
  • Facilities: None.
  • Where to stay near Playa Tortuguero: Hotel Serendipity is just steps away from Playa Tortuguero and offers friendly staff, impeccably clean rooms with balconies (and air conditioning!), and an onsite restaurant serving up delicious Caribbean food.

Located in Tortuguero National Park, Tortuguero Beach is long, sandy, and rimmed by thick vegetation. It also happens to be blissfully isolated from the rest of the country—in fact, it can only be reached by boat from La Pavona, or by plane.

Tourists walking along Tortugeuero Beach in Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica

Tortuguero is definitely not your typical beach in Costa Rica where you kick back and relax—the waves here are quite rough and there’s even been a few shark attacks reported here. So definitely not the best beach in Costa Rica for swimming! 

Instead, Tortuguero is known as a nesting point for various kinds of turtles. Between July and October every year, turtles reach the beach to lay their eggs and a few weeks later these eggs hatch and tiny turtles can be seen making their way to the ocean. If you’re visiting during that time, be sure to join a tour, like this one or this one, where a knowledgeable guide will help scout out turtles nesting on the beach—it’s a magical experience to see!

Turtles crawling along the black sand beach in Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica
Recommended by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World

I hope that gives you a bit better of an idea of where to head to enjoy the best beaches in Costa Rica- there’s so many to choose from! Do you have any questions about these beaches? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading our post! Check out our latest stories here and follow us on Instagram (@UprootedTraveler), YouTube, or on Facebook to see what we’re up to next!

Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Leave a Comment

Want to work with us?

Ask us any questions