Not far from the most popular beaches in Guanacaste are two spectacular under the radar beach areas: Playa Real and Bahia de los Piratas. We love visiting these beaches when we feel like going on an adventure and escaping the crowds.
If you rented a 4×4 and want to explore Guanacaste, you have to visit this area. Read our guide for more information!
Playa Real and Bahia de los Piratas Beach map (Bay of the Pirates)
Playa Real and Playa Bahia de los Piratas are 74 kilometers (46 miles) and a 1 and a half hour drive from Liberia Airport. They are located in the Guanacaste province, 45 minutes from the popular Tamarindo beach town and Playa Conchal.
How to Get There
You can find Playa Real and Playa Bahia de los Piratas on Google Maps and Waze. We recommend to use those apps for GPS to find the beaches.
It is necessary to have a 4wd to get to Playa Real and Bahia de los Piratas. The road is bumpy, narrow and is rough going in and out. Especially necessary in peak rainy season months of September and October. The last 8 kilometers (5 miles) or so is a pot hole riddled dirt path that gets very muddy when it rains.
There is a parking area at the beach. No fee but it’s not 100% secure so don’t leave valuables and roll up your windows.
Playa Real is not only a beautiful beach but also a turting nesting site. Although they are not part of a private reserve, Bahia de los Piratas and Playa Real are clean and pristine. During the day, visitors can swim, relax, walk and sunbathe. It has soft sand and lots of trees for shade.
Swimming or Snorkeling?
The waves at these beaches are really nice for swimming, even for young families. Lots of calm and sheltered waves and areas. The only thing is that this beach is a bit rocky at some parts so just be careful.
As for snorkeling at Playa Real and Bahia de los Piratas, you can go snorkeling towards the southern side of the beach. Usually there are tropical fish around the rocks.
In low tide, you can go out to the island that has a small cave. Water shoes highly recommended!
None really. Bring food, beer, snacks, water, cooler, towels and sunscreen. When we visited, there was a local with a really small snack stand, not sure if they’re always there. No bathrooms that we saw.
Here are some photos of Playa Real and Playa Bahia de los Piratas. We visited beginning of August so the surrounding forestry was very lush and green. It was a Sunday so there were many local families enjoying the beach with a few tourists here and there.
If you visit during dry season (January – April), the forestry will not be green like when we went. During those months, the weather is very dry so the trees and forest turn yellow.
What Else to Know About Bahia de los Piratas and Playa Real
- There is a hotel called Hotel Bahia de los Piratas but we don’t recommend staying there. It’s old, needs maintenance and in 2019, I am not sure if anyone is running it.
- This beach is best as a day trip from Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo or surrounding areas but if you want to stay at Bahia de los Piratas, you can find some vacation rentals on Airbnb or VRBO. It’s a very quiet area, nice for a peaceful beach vacation.
- You need a car (4wd) to get to this beach. And if you stay in this area, renting a car is absolutely necessary.
- We have heard of some people taking a guided tour of the beach at night to see turtles but we don’t know of any certified operators who do this.
- Since it is a turtle nesting beach, please make sure to collect your garbage, don’t leave a mess, don’t make bonfires or bring dogs to the beach. No vehicles are allowed on the beach either. Someone told us camping is not allowed either.
- If you walk over to the next beach to the south (left when facing the water), there is a really small beautiful beach. It is rocky and not that nice for swimming but we took our dogs there and there was no one at that beach.
Read about other beaches like this one!
Playa Cabuyal: White sand beach in the Gulf of Papagayo (Guanacaste)
Playa Chiquita: Small, turquoise water, rocky and white sand beach in the Caribbean South (Limon province)
Playa Rajada: Gorgeous white sand, clear water beach up in the Salinas Bay/La Cruz area (Guanacaste province)
Playa Mina: Another beautiful white sand beach in the area near Conchal (Guanacaste province)
Playa Calzon de Pobre: Small, white sand beach with calm waves near Playas del Coco (Guanacaste province)