Finding The Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Being a fairly small country, both coasts are generally easily accessible within a single day. About 80% of the country’s coastline lies on the Pacific side, with the other 20% along the Caribbean coast. World-class beaches are found on both coasts and never too far away. Follow along as we take a look at the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Manuel Antonio, which can be found in the Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast, is one of the most popular beaches not only in Costa Rica but in the world, and for a good reason. In 2019 it was voted #22 on the list of Best Beaches in the World by TripAdvisor users.
Getting to the beach requires a 30-minute hike through the coastal rainforest, which offers its own experience. Birds, monkeys, iguanas, and countless other species of plants and animals can be seen before you even get to the beach. Once on the beach, you will be greeted with warm and calm waters, which are perfect for snorkeling and exploring the various corals and sea life in the area.
A few hours north, we will find Tamarindo Beach. The larger waves here are not as swimmer-friendly, but they create a great environment for surfing and other water sports. The waves here are sized just right so that the beginner surfer will be able to learn, and the intermediate surfer shouldn’t be bored. Langosta Beach is nearby and a good option if Tamarindo gets a little too crowded for your liking.
A little bit south of Tamarindo is the small beach town of Samara. Samara beach offers beautiful fine white sand and lots of wildlife. Its location in the bay helps keep the water calm and clear which creates a wonderful experience when snorkeling and diving. Bird watchers will enjoy taking a kayak out near the uninhabited island in the bay, which boasts tons of undisturbed birdlife, making this one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Jaco Beach is found on the Pacific coast, about two hours away from San Jose by car or bus, the town of Jaco and its beach are very popular options. Jaco Beach delivers large waves all year long so it is not the most family-friendly beach for young swimmers, but surfers will love it. There is a bus that will take you to the beach if you decide to stay in the town of Jaco which has an exciting restaurant scene and nightlife. Jaco is a popular option for those who want to work remotely while in Costa Rica due to its stronger infrastructure and proximity to San Jose.
Playa Blanca & Playa Vargas
On the Caribbean coast in the Cahuita National Park, you will find Playa Blanca and Playa Vargas. Here you will find some of the best coral reefs in the country for snorkeling. Similar to Playa Manuel Antonio, they involve a walk through the jungle and offer a taste of the jungle wildlife just steps away from the underwater world of the reef.
Puerto Viejo Town
Puerto Viejo town and its beach are very popular with backpackers and digital nomads. Beautiful coral for snorkeling, live reggae music in the warm Caribbean air, and cheap and simple food make this an easy choice for those wanting to relax at one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Playa Chiquita is located near Puerto Viejo, and its name, which means “little beach,” is very fitting. This small beach is easily missed from the road due to an unmarked entrance that goes through a small area of the jungle. The shield of the jungle creates a secluded paradise that is often sparsely occupied, if not totally empty, during the slower traveling months; this beach is perfect for those living in Costa Rica who want to escape the tourist scene.
Costa Rica offers countless beaches worth visiting, and their relatively close proximity to one another makes it easy to visit several on the same trip. There are plenty more worth seeing, but this list should point you in the right direction toward relaxation, adventure, nature, culture, nightlife, and fun. Whether on holiday or living in the country, take some time to tour the best beaches in Costa Rica.