One of the reasons why Costa Rica has turned into the beloved country it is today is due to the plethora of beautiful and exquisite beaches. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts are home to some of the most dazzling beaches in Central America that visitors fall absolutely head over heels for.
So if you’re looking to make good use of your swimsuit and sunglasses to partake in the beach bum life, here is our list of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Kick off your shoes, sit back and relax. Let these beautiful beaches take your breath away!
The Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Beaches Map
Here is a map of all the beaches in this post to help plan your trip!
Manuel Antonio National Park Beach – Playa Manuel Antonio & Espadilla
Famous for its lush rain forests and pristine beaches, any talk of the best beaches in Costa Rica inevitably involves Manuel Antonio National Park. Despite being so touristic, you can still find a spot to yourself on one of the many beautiful beaches. Playa Espadilla Norte is the most popular with many activities available such as surfing, parasailing and jet skiing. Playa Espadilla Sur has a gorgeous view of Norte and the hill.
Playa Manuel Antonio is the main beach inside the national park that most people visit, but Puerto Escondido and Gemelas are equally as stunning and you can hike to all these spots in a day. Any beach at Manuel Antonio National Park is sure to leave you in awe as they all have whiteish sand and bright blue waters.
There aren’t any hotels right on the beach but many are close like the Jungle Beach Hotel which is near Playa Espadilla. If you stay on the hill, many hotels have spectacular views of the beaches and the park such as Hotel La Mariposa and Parador. Both are luxury hotels and have the best views!
Santa Teresa (Puntarenas) – Playa Carmen, Banana Beach
Santa Teresa exemplifies a rugged Costa Rican beach town, surrounded by the lush forest of the southern Nicoya tip. You can watch colorful, dramatic sunsets on the beach, walk the long shore of white sand and take a surf lesson or yoga session.
Since Santa Teresa has not achieved the level of development as its northern Guanacaste neighbors, you can still escape to a mellow beach town that retains a pure Costa Rican vibe. Explore the neighboring beaches like Mal Pais, Banana Beach, Playa Carmen and Playa Hermosa.
Playa Cocles (Limon)
Of all the beaches on the Caribbean coast, Playa Cocles has risen among the ranks as one of the most beautiful. If you’ve ever wanted that idyllic Caribbean postcard picture of a tropical beach, Cocles is the one to go to.
Fall in love with tall swaying palm trees, coral reefs and the many trails parallel to the shore.
The beaches inside Cahuita National Park, Playa Blanca and Playa Vargas have one of the biggest coral reefs in the country. These two are some of the most undeveloped beaches in the area, meaning visitors can enjoy palm trees, gentle waters and handful of wildlife all to themselves.
Playa Conchal (Guanacaste)
Playa Conchal is normally the first beach people think of when they hear about the best beaches in Costa Rica. This spectacular beach in Guanacaste has one peculiar characteristic that makes it so beloved: it has shells instead of sand. The shore is made up of millions of little pieces of sparkling white shells, gently kissed by baby blue waters.
Despite its popularity, Conchal isn’t overrun with developments and commercial businesses. The only major establishment is the Westin Conchal, tucked behind the trees on the beach. This all-inclusive gives you the most convenient access to Conchal so you can step out from your room and be on the beach in a matter of minutes.
Playa Flamingo (Guanacaste)
Flamingo is another whiteish sand beach that’s near Conchal. It is world famous for fishing but the mile long, crescent shaped beach is what lures visitors. Some of the best water activities can be found in Flamingo including sport fishing, diving, boating and snorkeling.
Its location has made it easier for developers to create luxury condos and resorts around the marina so if you’re not into hostels or backpacking, Flamingo offers only high end amenities. You can find luxury hotels like the Flamingo Beach Resort that have awesome views of the marina and beach.
It’s one of the very rare pink sand beaches in Costa Rica. During a few times of the year, the sand turns a pinkish hue which is why it’s called Flamingo Beach.
Playa Uvita (Puntarenas)
Located in Marino Ballena National Park, Playa Uvita is part of the famous Whale’s Tail in Costa Rica. At low tide, the rocky shore in a form of a whale’s tail can be seen and you can walk all the way to the tip.
This beach is very long and has great sunsets. It’s in the national park so you have to pay the entrance fee but it’s well worth it.
Playa Samara (Guanacaste)
Samara is one of our favorite beaches down in the southern part of Guancaste. It doesn’t have as white of sand but it’s easygoing Tico vibe and long scenic coastline puts it on our list of best beaches in Costa Rica. This laid back beach has plenty of land and water activities to enjoy including a nearby island with great snorkeling.
But the thing that we love the most about Playa Samara? The sunsets with those palm trees!
It’s also less touristic than its neighbors up north so it’s a nice escape when we want to get away from the crowds. There is a high end hotel, the Hotel Villas Playa Samara and the new that is right on the beach but it still doesn’t feel as touristy or commercialized as the other luxury/all inclusive resorts.
Playa Tamarindo (Guanacaste)
Though Tamarindo is incredibly touristic, it is still a lovely beach. It’s a surfing beach but its vast shore, surrounding green forest and neighboring estuary make it to our list. It has tan sand and during dry season, very bright blue waters.
Sunsets in Tamarindo are said to be the best in the country as you get a full view of the sun going down. It’s fun to see surfers catching waves with the sunset as the back drop and during rainy season, it is so beautiful with green forests and the estuary.
Playa Platanares (Osa Peninsula)
This secluded beach close to Puerto Jimenez has dark sand and glittering blue waters and is often deserted. From the beach you can see Piedras Blancas National Park and Golfo Dulce.
With calm waves, this beach is perfect for boogie boarding and stand up paddle boarding. It’s also great for wildlife watching with any scarlet macaws and toucans around. There’s a great chance you may have this long stretch of beach all to yourself, as the Osa Peninsula is not as touristic as Guanacaste.
If you’re an early riser, Platanares has lovely sunrises. Stay at Iguana Lodge to see the sunrise from your room, as the bright purple, orange and red colors slowly emerge through the palm trees.
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There you go, our list of the 10 best beaches in Costa Rica. Of course everyone has their own opinion and there are dozens hidden ones that are equally or more beautiful, but these ones make it to our list!
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