The province of Guanacaste is full of amazing beaches and it’s one of the best places in Costa Rica for a beach vacation. Even though Guanacaste is touristy, you can still find plenty of undiscovered beaches. Many are boat access only or require a 4×4 which makes it all the more special!
Here is one of our all time favorite beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Bonita. It’s a gorgeous white sand beach with turquoise water which we randomly found when driving. We got lost and ended up at this beach! It’s one of my favorite memories of Costa Rica and it’s still one of our favorite beaches in the country.
***This post was first published in 2013. There may be some construction going on.***
Playa Bonita Costa Rica
That day we were heading to the Hotel Occidental Grand Papagayo beach (Playa Buena), we decided to drive a little bit further. It was about 1 km NW on a pretty crappy road and when we got to the end, we saw a security guard with run down buildings behind him.
We asked him what this property was and he told us it used to be a hotel and that there was actually a beach down at the bottom of the cliff. He gave us permission to go and off we went, not knowing what to expect. We learned that this property used to be a hotel named Costa Blanca but they demolished it when it went out of business.
On the way down to the beach, we saw nothing but trees and glimpses of the water and heard nothing but birds and the ocean. This is what I really like about this beach. There is nothing around besides trees, cliffs, the sound of the ocean and wildlife.
After passing this viewpoint (150 meters), you will find a path to your right side. Walk down the hill and you will find yourself stumbling onto a gorgeous beach. Also, at the entrance of the path you can walk out over the cliff and get a breathtaking panoramic view of the ocean.
As soon as you step in the white sand, you can tell that not many people go there. Your feet sinks in the sand a little bit but it’s so soft it just hugs your feet. You will find a lot of hermit crabs and howler monkeys around and the view is spectacular.
The water is very clear and if you go a little deeper you will be able to see sting rays, octopus and different kind of fish. We met a man who was harpoon fishing and he caught 3 octopuses and a bunch of huge lobsters. He told us this is one of the best spots to hunt for these animals.
This beach is not very big and the waves are so calm! It basically feels like a huge pool with warm water. It’s perfect for bathing and snorkeling and the bottom is not rocky at all.
There are lots of trees around so it’s perfect to lay down a towel and take a nap, sunbathe or read a book. If you want to come really prepared, you can bring a hammock and just swing to the sounds of nature.
During low tide, you can walk to the neighboring beach on the rocks and swim in the tide pools.
How to Get There
We discovered that there are two ways to get to the entrance of the beach but I don’t suggest taking the road when you see the first sign for Playa Arenilla, Buena and Panama. It was obviously built before the main road since it goes through the mountains and is very dangerous (tons of curves) especially when it rains.
Instead, take the left when you see the second sign for Playa Arenilla, Bonita and Panama. This is usually the first beach we take our family and friends to and is one of our favorites when we don’t want to be around a lot of people at the beach.
Since there is now construction going on at the beach, you have to park at the entrance and then walk down. There is usually a guard and last time we went, we had to pay him 1000 colones to park and have him “watch” the car.
Nope! It is off a paved road so a 4×4 or 4wd is not required. You can get there with a sedan, like we did.
None right now but it will change when the hotel is done.
Read about more beaches in Costa Rica here!
Some other beaches similar to this one in the Gulf of Papagayo are Playa Penca and Playa Calzon de Pobre which has similar characteristics and it’s right next to Penca. Another similar beach in the area is Playa Cabuyal.
We went to Playa Bonita today. Construction on the road above is ongoing. The stairway and path are very degraded and it’s easy to slide on the rocks and fall. If you go, wear shoes with treads and be careful. Also, there is netting and barbed wire restricting going off the path. The beach is quite lovely and we saw only a few of people there in the couple of hours we spent.
I don’t know if there is other access but it would be great if there was. Given the property is being built up, I doubt the owners or anyone will repair the path.
Is it possible to kayak along the shore from playa panama to this beach? On google maps it seems doable but it’s hard to judge distances!
What is the risk of someone stealing a Kayak and getting it back up the slope do you think?
You could if you are comfortable and able, just make sure it’s not too windy. I can’t say for sure how long it is but you would need to kayak from Panama beach, across Hermosa bay and onto the other side, I’d say it’s a few miles? I would say the risk or someone stealing the kayak is pretty low, not many people would have to lug it up the slope and it’d be really noticable.
WOW! You weren’t kidding about the Stairway to Heaven at Play Bonita…. what a sweet spot… gosh I wonder whatever happened to that old hotel ? Casa Blanca….How old could it have been? and to have been destroyed… Nice Beach was just there.. the waves were crashing in at about 6′ so I declined a swim… Nice Tip.. Thank you.
Haha the stairs are quite a bit but worth it! The hotel went out of business and they demolished it a few years. Now they’re building a new one sadly.
Hi! is there a way to get to this beach using taxi? if we are staying in playa hermosa but aren’t renting a car, is this a realistic visit for us? it seems incredible!
You can tell the taxi to take you to the Occidental Grand Papagayo hotel and walk about half a mile on the road to the entrance.
Lee Anne Dillon says
The reason you do not see tourists is because the security guard will not let them in!! In our very limited Spanish we told the security guard we would like to go down to the beach. He refused to let us go and just pointed down the road. I even showed him your directions and the pictures of the beach. We were very disappointed to not be able to experience this beach.
Unfortunately, they are building a huge resort on the beach so they may not be letting people in. However, all beaches in Costa Rica are public so he should have to let you in no matter what. Before when I wrote this post back in 2012, we used to walk down to the beach without a problem and there wasn’t even a guard. Now because they’re building the resort, it’s changed. Sorry you couldn’t visit the beach! Next time you may have to slip him a 1000 or 2000 colones.
My friend and I are traveling to Playa del Coco in May, we are in love with the sounds of this beach and are hoping to pay a visit on one of our off days from scuba diving. Was wondering if this beach is still accessible for the public to go? We are always looking for secret places to go and to try new things. I hope its okay that a couple of quiet young tourists spend the day in this little sanctuary!!
In Costa Rica all the beaches are public, there is not such thing as a “Private Beach” and off course you and your friends can go and enjoy this beautiful beach 🙂 Please let us know if we can help on anything.
Erin in Costa Rica says
This is my fave beach in all of Costa Rica. It was supposed to be a secret that only locals knew about, but I guess if someone bought the property and is building another hotel, it is going to change things anyway. Too bad. I guess we will have to find another… pura vida
by yeison says
Yes, I’m sure that once that new resort is built it won’t be too much of a secret anymore. We’ll have to keep searching for a new one! This one will always be my favorite though.