One of the most treasured beaches in Costa Rica, Conchal, has one unique characteristic which makes it so special: white shells instead of sand. For this reason, it is always on the list of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Visitors make a dedicated trip to Guanacaste specifically to see this beach, it is that incredible!
If you’re planning on visiting Conchal, check out our tips for visiting below to find out how to get there, where to stay and what to do in our guide.
This post was updated March 2019. There is a new way to get to Conchal as they don’t allow cars to drive there via Brasilito beach anymore. Check the directions section for more information.
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Playa Conchal Costa Rica map
How to Get to Conchal Beach
Driving directions from Liberia Airport
When you exit the airport, drive back onto the airport boulevard and take a right onto the main road. Continue until you see the signs for Playa Tamarindo, Flamingo and Grande, around thirty to forty minutes.
You’ll pass another town called Belen and turn right at the gas station. Continue for about another 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) and turn until you reach another town called Huacas. Drive a little past the main intersection (Tamarindo to the left) and turn right at the next main intersection. Keep going on this road until you reach Brasilito and you will drive past a small bridge.
You can find directions on Waze or Google Maps. It is best to put Brasilito as your destination though.
New Conchal Parking Lot
They have now closed the beach access via Brasilito to Conchal for cars. If you’re staying at the Westin, Resersva Conchal or W, you have an exclusive access to Conchal beach. For the public, there is only one way to get to Conchal and it’s by walking across Brasilito beach. You have two options:
Option 1: Park your car in Brasilito town and walk. There is no secure parking lot, it is just street parking.
Option 2: Park your car in the secured lot right outside Brasilito town and take the shuttle to Brasilito. You will still need to walk across the beach to get to Conchal but this parking is free, secure with cameras, a security guard and there are bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.
The bus from the parking lot to Brasilito comes every half an hour or whenever there are people. If you arrive after or before the half hour, the guard can call the shuttle for you.
The parking lot is open from 6 AM to 6 PM to the public. On the way to Brasilito, look for the Ebais clinic with 3 big generator tube things out on the street on the right hand side. The parking lot is right after this building. If you reach the Alamo office, you’ve gone too far.
Conchal is one of the most visited beaches in Costa Rica and it can get very crowded on the weekends. And since the Westin Resort is on the beach, you will find a lot of local vendors trying to sell souvenirs and offer tours. But that doesn’t deter from the breathtaking beauty of Conchal!
As soon as you step onto the shore you’ll be delighted to see that the sand is actually composed of tiny pieces of sparkling white shells.
The glimmering colorful shells are a perfect accompaniment to the warm turquoise waters and this is why Conchal is one of the most beloved beaches in Costa Rica. You can’t find other beaches like this one and both locals and tourists fall in love at first sight.
Conchal’s waves are not that calm though so be careful if you have little ones. The waves do get pretty strong! We have also even seen a manta ray jump on a girl who was swimming in the water so keep an eye out!
The north end of the beach has a ton of shells as you can see in the photo. The further south you go, the less shells you see. Conchal used to have a lot more shells many years ago but people kept taking them. So please, leave only footprints and take only memories when you visit Conchal!
If you walk towards the south end of the beach, you’ll see a small estuary. Reserva Conchal protects the mangroves, estuaries and dry tropical forest.
Things to Know About Conchal
This beach gets incredibly packed on weekends during December – April, Christmas and Easter. If it gets too crowded, walk down towards the estuary towards the part of the beach called Puerto Viejo. It’s mostly locals who go there because there are no more shells at that end but it’s way less crowded.
Now that they have closed the beach access, they have also prohibited street vendors and peddlers on the beach. Before, they were all over the beach and pushy. It has a much nicer atmosphere now that they stopped letting peddlers through.
Best time to visit
You can visit Conchal beach any time of the year. We personally love the shoulder months as it’s very green with less people. When high season rolls around (December-April), the beach can get jam packed on the weekends. When we visited in November, we practically had the whole beach to ourselves and it was gorgeous!
Conchal, Costa Rica Weather
Since Conchal is in Guanacaste, one of the hottest and driest provinces in Costa Rica, it is sunny and hot there all year long. It follows the typical tropical dry and rainy season patterns with December – April as the dry season and May – November as the rainy season.
The temperature can get up to the mid 90s (35 C) in March and April which are the hottest months. The rainiest months are October and November and gets quite humid during those months. During dry season, the surrounding mountains turn yellow and very dry. In rainy season, it turns a very deep green and it is so beautiful to see the bright turquoise water and glittering white shore surrounded by a lush forest.
Playa Conchal Costa Rica Hotels
The only hotels actually on Conchal are the W Costa Rica – Reserva Conchal and The Westin Conchal Resort & Spa. The Westin in an all-inclusive resort, the W is not. There is also the Reserva Conchal that has houses and apartment rentals.
Here are a couple of other options:
- Hotel Brasilito
- Boutique hotel right on Playa Brasilito, only a short walk away. Offers oceanfront rooms starting at $79.
- Hotel Conchal
- 12 room boutique hotel with garden and pool views, also just a short walk away from the beach. Rooms start at $60
You can also consider staying in Potrero or Brasilito town as there are more options for hotels, inns and vacation rentals.
Things to do at Conchal, Costa Rica
You can go snorkeling at Conchal but the waves are a bit strong and the only place to snorkel at the beach is on the north end right when you get to the beach from Brasilito. This is also where there are the most shells.
You can rent snorkel gear on the beach for $20 (last time I checked). The snorkeling isn’t amazing but you can see some small colorful fish. If you’re lucky, you might see a manta ray. But if you want better snorkeling, it is best to go on the sailing tours.
You will find a lot of locals on the beach offering jet ski rentals. You can negotiate a price and go on a tour or jet ski on your own.
We’ve also gotten massages on the beach before. You’ll see quite a few massage stands set up and it’s pretty cheap! Last time we went, it was $30 for an hour.
Take a horseback riding tour or an ATV tour around Conchal and nearby beaches. They’ll go around the beaches and up to some very nice view points.
The Catalinas Islands are not too far from Conchal and they are one of the best places to scuba dive in Guanacaste. Go on a one or two tank dive from Conchal. Most companies depart from Flamingo but can pick up in Conchal such as Scuba Dive Potrero or Costa Rica Diving Center.
Go on a deep sea fishing trip from Conchal to catch jackets, snappers and more. The nearby Flamingo beach has a world class marina where you can go off shore fishing.
To see beautiful views of the coast, go on a catamaran sailing tour. They offer mornings (better for snorkeling) or afternoon ones (sunset tours). Panache in Potrero is a really good one.
For private tours, Life is Better at Sea is a very nice one for snorkeling and fishing.
Tamarindo/Avellana/Grande Surf Lessons
Since Conchal is so close to many excellent surfing beaches, you can take a surf lesson at any of them. Tamarindo is the most popular one for beginner surfers but Grande and Avellana are also great for intermediate surfers.
Best Conchal Day Trips
Conchal beach is in an excellent location in Guanacaste, perfect for a home base. There are fun things to do in the area and many day tours available. People who stay at the Westin resort do day excursions from there.
Some of our favorite day tours from Conchal are Diamante Eco Adventure Park, Guachipelin adventure tour, Ostional Wildlife Refuge, boating in Playas del Coco, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Arenal Volcano and Monteverde day tours, Nicaragua one day tour, Rio Celeste, Catarata Llanos de Cortes and visiting nearby beaches like Tamarindo, Langosta, Avellenas, Mina, Brasilito, Potrero, Flamingo, Danta and Las Catalinas.
You can even take a scenic Costa Rica helicopter tour and see Guanacaste from above!
You can read more about things to do in Conchal here.
If you want to explore some less touristy beaches in the area, check out
See what Conchal looks like in our 360 video! (Move your cursor around in the video and watch in HD). You will see how to get there by car, the viewpoint that we walked up to and the beach. This video was taken in February 2017 so everything looks very dry and you cannot drive to the beach anymore.
Want to read about other beaches in Costa Rica? Here you go!
Flamingo: An upscale beach community very close to Conchal, has a large marina, great scuba diving and fishing
Jaco: A booming surfing beach town only 1.5 hours from San Jose. The most developed beach town in Costa Rica
Mal Pais: Small fishing village in Nicoya Peninsula near Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa: The booming surfing town in the Nicoya Peninsula
Playa Cabuyal: A local favorite white sand beach in the Gulf of Papagayo
Playa Prieta: Small local beach near Las Catalinas near Flamingo
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