Renowned for being one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, it should come as no surprise that Costa Rica is blessed with beautiful and unblemished beaches on both its Pacific and Caribbean coastlines.
With an untouched and unspoiled vibe, the nation’s beaches are jaw-dropping; rainforests and jungle-coated hills border their golden sands on one side, and glittering turquoise waters on the other.
In addition to the wonderful scenery, there are plenty of great surfing spots to be found, and an abundance of watersports on offer in Costa Rica. If you’re interested in seeing some adorable wildlife, a number of its beaches are nesting sites for sea turtles.
10. Playa Guiones
Stretching for seven kilometers along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, Playa Guiones’ dazzling white sands are perfect for kicking back and relaxing on, while its powerful waves make it a great place to surf.
Very much off the beaten path, Playa Guiones is delightfully undeveloped, so it is ideal for visitors in search of a peaceful holiday. There are very few restaurants and hotels here; consequently, there is a very laid back feel about the town.
While the scenery is riveting, Playa Guiones is located not too far away from Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is worth a visit during hatching season when thousands of baby sea turtles coat the beaches, all working hard to make it to the ocean for the first time.
9. Playa Montezuma
Nicknamed ‘monte fuma’ due to its sizeable hippie population, Playa Montezuma is a favorite spot amongst backpackers because of its chilled out vibe and beautiful beach.
Surrounded by pristine rainforest, the beach has some great trails and treks for visitors to enjoy. If you brave the lush trails and head into the rainforest, you’ll find some delightful waterfalls hidden away amidst the undergrowth which are well worth checking out. These make for a refreshing break from the beach, and a chance to rinse off the salt and sand.
Playa Montezuma is rightfully becoming more well-known due to the fantastic scuba diving on offer in the welcoming waters that border the beach. As well as brightly colored coral reefs and shimmering shoals of fish, there are three shipwrecks for divers to explore – alongside a host of other impressive dive sites.
8. Playa Samara
Protected by the beautiful bay surrounding it, Samara Beach’s tranquil waters are a great place to enjoy some watersports in peace and safety. Perfect for swimming, kayaking or snorkeling, the bay boasts some lovely marine life, and there are many great dive spots waiting just offshore.
Its secluded location on the Nicoya Peninsula means that Samara Beach is very much off the beaten path, although this is slowly changing as word spreads about its beautiful beach, welcoming waters and delightful scenery.
Despite this, there are lots of shops, restaurants, and hotels to choose from, and there is a definite family vibe about the place. Sunsets here are particularly delightful; hanging out at one of the beach bars while watching the sun dip beneath the horizon is the perfect way to end another day in paradise.
7. Tortuguero Beach
Lying alongside the Caribbean Sea, Tortuguero will set your heart racing with all the incredible natural wonders it boasts, and you really will feel as if you’re in paradise.
While it is certainly a challenge to get there, as it is located in the depths of a remote national park of the same name, the wildlife and scenery are almost without comparison. Tapirs, crocodiles, monkeys and more can all be found in the rainforest that threatens to spill out over the beach. If you visit during the right season, you can watch thousands of sea turtles hatch along Tortuguero.
This idyllic setting does come at a price; the restaurants and hotels are decidedly more expensive due to the remote location, and to get to the pristine beach, you need to take a boat or flight from Puerto Limon.
6. Playa Grande
Sometimes going by the name of Salinas, Playa Grande – as its name indicates – is a large beach that lies on the shores of the wild and wonderful Marino Las Baulas National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline.
As it is a protected region, the beach is pristine. You won’t find hordes of tourists and piles of rubbish here. It is also a nesting site for leatherback turtles. While visitors can view the turtles in their natural habitat, during the nesting season, the beach is heavily guarded by policemen, who keep an eye on this unique species.
With some of the best surf spots in the country, Playa Grande is definitely worth visiting to test your skills on the rolling waves. Tamarindo is just a stone’s throw away if you want to check out another of Costa Rica’s best beaches.
5. Playa Santa Teresa
Home to as many surfers as it is yoga enthusiasts, Playa Santa Teresa is just as laidback and relaxed as you imagine, and its secluded nature only adds to the peaceful vibe.
Although it is quite undeveloped in comparison with some of the other beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Santa Teresa still has a good selection of restaurants and hotels for you to choose from, and there are a surprising number of lively bars at which you can drink the night away.
Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, the beach’s golden sands are perfect for chilling out on. If you are feeling a little more active, you can always hit the waves for a surf lesson or chill out with a yoga class.
4. Playa Dominical
If you’re after breathtaking scenery, Dominical Beach may just be the place for you. Its white sands threaten to be engulfed by the rainforest-coated hills that tumble down towards the surf.
While the dramatic scene is undoubtedly a large part of its appeal, Dominical Beach is also one of the best places to go surfing in the country; the waves that pound away at the shore are huge. It is also worth going on a jungle trek while staying at the beach. Amongst the nearby national parks, you can find some lovely waterfalls.
For the moment, Dominical thankfully remains off of the beaten path. As such, there is not much in the way of bars, restaurants or hotels, and the ones you can find are often quite basic. This does, however, lend a delightfully laidback and unpretentious feel to the place.
3. Tamarindo Beach
Whether you’re after sea, sand and surf, nightlife or nature, Tamarindo has it all. It comes as no surprise that this is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country.
The town itself is a lively place, with lots of bars, restaurants, and hotels catering to all budgets. Because so many people visit Tamarindo, it features some of the most happening nightlife on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
With the beautiful Marino Las Baulas National Park bordering the beach, there is some very picturesque nature for visitors to explore. Tamarindo itself looks as if it has been taken out of a travel catalog.
With some of the best surf spots in the country, there is definitely a surfer-vibe here, and many people come to learn how to handle the waves like a pro.
2. Playa Flamingo
Located in the northwest of Costa Rica, the gorgeous beach of Playa Flamingo is stunning and is so named because its sand is a delightful pinky-white color.
More refined than many other beach towns in Costa Rica, Playa Flamingo has lots of upmarket hotels and resorts for visitors to enjoy. As they are situated on a cliffside overlooking the Pacific, the sunsets here are particularly memorable.
Interspersed among the palms that crowd the beachfront are a number of fantastic hotels, which you can head to after a lazy day spent lounging amidst the stunning scenery. With its laidback vibe, Playa Flamingo is a lovely place to spend some time; its welcoming waters make it the perfect place to go swimming or snorkeling.
1. Playa Manuel Antonio
With towering palm trees overlooking its alluring golden sands and shimmering turquoise waters, Manuel Antonio is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, and consequently, one of its most popular.
The beach lies inside Manuel Antonio National Park on the country’s Pacific Ocean coastline. There are loads of lovely trails that snake their way into the dense jungle for visitors to enjoy. While exploring the incredible scenery, guests can catch a glimpse of some of the howler monkeys, iguanas and colorful birds that inhabit the rainforest.
There are lots of bars, restaurants, cafes, and hotels in nearby Quepos town, which is located just outside of the national park. As such, Manuel Antonio offers the best of both worlds; you can immerse yourself in nature before returning to the comfort of your hotel.
Very much untouched and unspoiled, the beach is picture-perfect to behold. With abundant marine life lying just offshore, it is also a great place to go scuba diving.