Costa Rica's Best Beaches

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Published: 03rd April 2015
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Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a world renowned beach destination. Every year, around 2 million tourist go to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons, including visiting one or more beaches. Each and every time someone asks us, which is the best beach; unfortunately, the answer is normally a question. What sort of a beach are you looking for? Do you want a large white sand beach, or do you like the natural black sand beaches? Do you want to be close to a beach village, or do you want to be secluded? In Costa Rica, the permutations of the number of beaches, and the amount of the available activities around the beach, could make this a difficult decision.

Best Surfing Beaches

1. Playa Jaco and Hermosa, Central Pacificplaya-hermosa-jaco-costa-rica
Undoubtedly, if you're a hard-core surfer, you can do no wrong visiting either Playa Jaco or Playa Hermosa, just a few minutes south. Jaco was once a sleepy beach town. However, its proximity to the airport and San Jose combined with excellent surf conditions make the town explode in growth in the past 15 years. There are two well known surf schools in Jaco called Third World Surf Camp and Jaco Surf School. If you simply can't bring your gear, there are many surf shops in town where you can purchase or rent gear. More advanced surfers usually go south to Playa Hermosa where there is more consistent high swells. Both Playa Hermosa and Jaco may have strong rip currents. There aren't any lifeguards, so you need to be a very good swimmer and seasoned surfer. If you might be just learning, it is possible to usually ask a surf instructor for taking you out when the waves are more tame. They normally know the rhythm of tides quite well.

Recommended Hotels in Playa Jaco:

Hotel Poseidon Avg. Nightly Rate From $69
La Palmera Hotel Avg. Nightly Rate From $39
Copacabana Hotel And Suites Avg. Nightly Rate From $79
Blue Palm Hotel Avg. Nightly Rate From $62

Recommended Hotels in Play Hermosa:

Hermosa Lofts Avg. Nightly Rate From $119
Marea Brava Avg. Nightly Rate From $133
Fuego Del Sol Avg. Nightly Rate From $85
2. Playa Tamarindo and Langosta, North Pacific

Although smaller sized than Jaco, Playa Tamarindo is a growing surf town located north in Guancaste.tamarindo-surfing The one common difference between Tamarindo and Jaco is the beach of Tamarindo is white sand and much cleaner. Tamrindo lacks nearly the busyness of Jaco, but there is a descent nightlife for younger people. There are two well known surf camps in town Witches Rock Surf Camp and the Tamarindo Surf School. There are also lots surf shops, restaurants and beach shopping in town. If you turn the local radio station 99.5 Radio Dos on Friday at happy hour, they feature a show from the bar in Witches Rock Surf Camp. (You can click that link and listen to it live from any place in the world over the internet!)

Recommended Hotels in Playa Tamarindo:

Best Western Tamarindo Avg. Nightly Rate From $76
Hotel Pasatiempo Avg. Nightly Rate From $70
Hotel Flores Avg. Nightly Rate From $65
Hotel Domus Kahuna Avg. Nightly Rate From $69
Hotel Mahayana Avg. Nightly Rate From $43
Hotel Luna Llena Avg. Nightly Rate From $75
Hotel Bula Bula Avg. Nightly Rate From $85
Recommend Hotels in Playa Langosta:

Sunset Inn Avg. Nightly Rate From $73

3. Playa Domincal, South Pacific

Playa Dominical is found a few hours south of Quepos and is a tad bit more secluded than Jaco or Tamarindo. playa-dominical-surfThe nearby town is called Uvita (Little Grape) adn offers restaurants and a very casual atmosphere. There are no nightclubs, casinos or high rise condominiums like Jaco. There is actually a small nightlife, but it is more tame than Tamarindo and Jaco. The beach starts at Rio Baru. It is rumored that Dominical is similar to Hermosa in that there are consistently high swells. There are several surf schools in town and all the gear you require can be rented or purchased. For newbies, there is even a beginner beach called Playa Dominicalcito just to the south, where the waves are small for novices.

Recommended Hotels in Dominical:

Villas Rio Mar Avg. Nightly Rate From $70 $63
La Tierra Divina Avg. Nightly Rate From $75
Villas Alturas Avg. Nightly Rate From $125
Kura Design Villas Avg. Nightly Rate From $220
Oxygen Jungle Villas Avg. Nightly Rate From $199
Best Beaches Near National Parks

Costa Rica has 28 National Parks and if you're looking for a beach close to, or even inside the park, then this is a must read. We recommend three parks: Manuel Antonio, Cahuita and Tortuguero. Each of these parks have hotels inside where can immerse yourself with natural biodiversity and the beach. Manuel Antonio is located on the central Pacific coast and about 3 hours from San Jose. Cahuita and Tortuguero are located on the Caribbean side and just about 4 to 6 hours from San Jose.

1. Playa Manuel Antonio

The beach in Manuel Antonio is an almost surreal expression of organic beauty. There are actually two beaches in the park. The first beach is located in front of the commercial zone where you have public parking, restaurants, supermarkets and souvenir shopping. The beach is very natural white sand and the surf is made for the beginner, as the swells are consistent, but not much larger than six feet. The second beach is at inside the national park.manuel-antonio-beach To get there you either need to take the hike through the canopy tour from the park entrance, or you can take a boat across and enter the park from behind. It is an absolute treat to take the nature hike from the park entrance and observe the tropical forest. It is sort of a surprise to walk down a slope of trail to discover the second, mores secluded beach, inside the rainforest. Here you are also certain to share the beach with white-faced monkeys who live in the trees.

Recommended Hotels In Manuel Antonio

La Mariposa Hotel Avg. Nightly Rate From $175 $149
Hotel Parador Resort And Spa Avg. Nightly Rate From $380 $190 . Save 50%!!!
Hotel San Bada Avg. Nightly Rate From $240 $156 . Save 35%!!!
Inn On The Park Avg. Nightly Rate From $107
Hotel California - Manuel Antonio Avg. Nightly Rate From $93
Hotel Costa Verde Avg. Nightly Rate From $116
The Falls Resort at Manuel Antonio Avg. Nightly Rate From $105
Si Como No Resort, Spa and Wildlife Refuge Avg. Nightly Rate From $236
2. Playa Negra near Cahuita

If you are considering a more relaxed, Afro-Caribbean theme, go to Playa Negra near Cahuita National Park. Playa Negra is just north of the park entrance, you may also notice the blue flag at the beach which states bandera azul ecolůgica. This implies the beach passes the top ecological standard. This is a beach where you could take relaxing swims in itís calm waters, or learn surfing in the gentles swells. You can also swim out to the coral reef to snorkel and capture underwater pictures of undersea marine biodiversity. Visitors which come between March and June normally will be able to watch the sea turtle nesting grounds.playa-negra-bandera-azul

Recommended Hotels in Playa Negra:

VIP Hotel Playa Negra
Cabinas Caribe La Luna
Coral Hill Bungalows

3. Playa Tortuguero

Tortuguero National Park is one of Costa Ricaís largest national parks with 46,000 acres of natural biodiversity including wetlands, mangrove forests, beaches and rainforests. It is one of Costa Ricaís most remote parks, which is only accessible by a water taxi which leaves from La Pavona on a regular basis. Once you are in the park, you can explore the park by boat, kyak or by foot. The park is an eco-tourists dream as you can observe 11 or 12 Costa Rican natural habitats.playa-tortuguero-cr Ofcourse, as the name implies, you can even see all four of six varieties of sea turtles native to Costa Rica including leatherback, loggerneck, green and hawksbill sea turtles.

Recommended Hotels in Playa Tortuguero:

Tortuguero Lodge and Resort
El Icaco B and B
Rainforest Adventure Lodge

Beaches with Nightlife

1. Playa Jaco

Jaco Beach has exploded in the past 15 years to become a large thriving beach town, with a nightlife that could be compared to a miniature Las Vegas. There arenít as many neon lights or tall hotels, but the town is the life of partying, gambling and sex tourism. If you're a single adult, and seeking to misbehave, you virtually have no limits. The town is also full of younger folks from the US, Canada and Europe. Most of them come to surf and party in the bars, night clubs and discos, which often stay open until sun rise.jaco-at-night

Recommended Hotels in Playa Jaco:

Hotel Poseidon
Copacobana Suites (Adult)
Morganís Cove
Best Western Jaco
Blue Palm Hotel
Canciones Del Mar (Now Hotel Del Rey Jaco)
Hotel Club Del Mar
2. Playa Tamarindo

Playa Tamarindo continues to grow from being a sleepy beach town and fishing village to the a town with the third largest nightlife scene. Of course, you are still located to great eco-tourist activies and parks. The town is still renowned for surfing. But, the evening has taken on a life of its own. The night scene is not as crazy as Jaco, but there is something for everyone on virtually every night of the week. Since Tamarindo is close to many other beaches and towns in Guanacaste. Frequently, there is a steady mix of travellers form outside of Tamarindo who come to town to consume and dance the night away. While some of the bars have remained rustic, some of the newer bars are more upscale with modern disco lighting systems and flat screen high definition TVs on the walls.tamarindo-at-night

Recommend Hotels in Tamarindo:

Tamardindo Diria Beach and Golf Resort
Hotel Capitan Suizo
Barcelo Langosta Beach
Best Western Tamarindo
Hotel Arco Iris
Hotel el Jardin Eden
Hotel Flores
Hotel Domus Kahuna
Hotel Pasatiempo
Cala Luna Boutique Hotel
15 Love Bed and Breakfast
Tamarindo Yam
Hotel Luna Llena
Hotel Pueblo Dorado
Hotel Blua Blua
Sunset Inn

3. Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo boasts Costa Ricaís third largest nightlife destination. It definitely maintains a rustic, roots rock reggae beat and rhythm, with Reggae music on almost every street corner. Ten years ago, there was just one or two bars that would stay open past dark, now there are probably a dozen and they feature not only Reggae. In some bars, they regularly have live music from Caribbean styled Calypso to Rhythm and Blues. puerto-viejo-reggae-band

Recommended Hotels in Puerto Viejo:

Hotel Cariblue
La Cameleon
Playa Chiquita Lodge
Totem Hotel and Resort

For the best guide to nightlife in Costa Rica, visit:

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