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!
Best Beaches in Costa Rica 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 La Mansion Inn. Both are luxury hotels and have amazing views!
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.
During certain times of the year, waves are big enough that you can surf. The sand is soft with plenty of palm trees around to lay down a towel and soak up the sun and if you walk to the south end of the beach where the river is, you can find a spot all to yourself!
The beaches inside Cahuita National Park, Playa Blanca and Playa Vargas have one of the biggest coral reefs in the country and are two stunning white sand beaches.
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. Keep your eyes open because it’s common to see white face monkeys, iguanas and sloths in the trees!
We recommend taking a guided hike of the national park since there is so much wildlife. There’s a nice path that runs parallel to the beach all throughout the national park and you can walk just a portion of it as the entire trail is 8.3 kilometers.
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. Since the beach is so big, you’ll feel like you’re the only one there!
Waves are fairly gentle so you can swim or go stand up paddle boarding.
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.
Punta Uva and Playa Arrecife (Limon)
Punta Uva is actually the point between Playa Punta Uva and Playa Arrecife and there is a short trail where you can walk around the point for amazing views. Both beaches are gorgeous but we love Playa Arrecife.
With a long line of palm trees, bright turquoise water and soft white sand, it’s perfect for hanging up a hammock for a lazy beach day. Waves at Playa Punta Uva are a bit rough for swimming but there is a section of the beach called “sloth point” where you can see families of sloth snoozing in the palm trees!
Playa San Juanillo (Guanacaste)
Playa San Juanilo is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica in our opinion. Two white sand beaches come together (kind of like Manuel Antonio) and you can walk up to the point where they meet for beautiful views.
Waves are soft for swimming and the water is a clear blue. This is a very unknown beach in Costa Rica and requires a 4×4 to get there but it’s so worth it. There is no big town around and it’s in a non-touristy area of Guanacaste so if you want to escape the crowds at Tamarindo, take a day trip to San Juanillo.
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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!
Read about the best beaches in Guanacaste, our favorite black sand beaches and our favorite white sand beaches. If you’re planning the ultimate beach vacation, make sure to check out our beach vacation packing post
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