When it comes to beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, all of them seem very touristic. There is no doubt that they are lovely beaches and they do become touristic for that reason.
However, where there is one touristy place in Costa Rica, there are equally as many under the radar places. Or at least that is what I believe after traveling and living in Costa Rica for nearly 5 years. We live near one of the most popular and touristic beaches in the country,Tamarindo but we’ve explored the area enough to know where to go when we want to escape the crowds and we just found our new favorite beach getaway.
So if you’re a beach lover who isn’t quite into beach bumming with large crowds and want to experience a Costa Rica less populated, here is one beach you have to put on your list, Playa San Juanillo. It’s a stunning beach that is unlike any other in Costa Rica!
Playa San Juanillo Map
Playa San Juanillo is in southern Guanacaste, very close to Ostional.
We left from our place near Playa Tamarindo and it took about 1.5 hours (but it felt like more). It is highly recommended to have a 4×4 for this route as a good chunk of it is on an unpaved, very pot holey and hilly road.
There are 2 routes you can go. One has more paved road than the other but the paved road route is longer. The difference is not too great, but it is nicer to drive on paved roads!
The paved road goes through 27 de Abril and the other goes past Hacienda Pinilla. If you’re coming from Tamarindo like us, we went by way of Hacienda Pinilla so turn right off the main road towards Avellanas. You’ll continue all the way down past Negra and turn left towards Ostional. From this turn, it’s a very bumpy road and continue on this road to Playa Lagarto and finally Playa San Juanillo.
Playa San Juanillo Beach
You’ll drive through a very small town and end up at what looks like the road to nowhere. But instead, you end up at a gorgeous beach! There isn’t really a designated parking lot but find a nice spot under the trees and be careful as it’s easy to get stuck in the sand. We had to pull someone out who got stuck and the sand wasn’t even that deep.
This beach isn’t huge but it’s absolutely lovely. And the reason for that is that there are actually two beaches that come together as one!
As you can see, there are some boats on the left side. San Juanillo is a tiny, sleepy fishing village and the locals are determined to keep it that way. You’ll see graffiti saying “No Marina” and signs about keeping the beach clean. The locals know that they have a special gem and want to make sure it stays as pristine and pure as possible.
There aren’t any facilities like bathrooms or changing rooms but there are plenty of trees to hang up a hammock or have a picnic under. We saw a good mix of locals and foreigners when we visited and there were barely 10 people!
The waves are not too strong so you can swim and the water is crystal clear, though not great for snorkeling. There is a little hill at the end of where the beaches meet and there is a short path to walk up for stunning view.
For the best view of the two beaches, you must go in high tide. The first time we visited this beach was in low tide and though it was still beautiful, it’s way more incredible at high tide when you can see the water of both beaches coming up. Otherwise, all you see are rocks.
As you can see, it looks like there’s nobody on the beach! And when it came sunset time, there was only one other family and one couple enjoying it with us.
See what Playa San Juanillo looks like in our 360 video! Just move your cursor around in the video.
We also have an aerial video for you to enjoy!
Things to Know About Visiting Playa San Juanillo
- No bathrooms or changing rooms.
- Please pick up your garbage, there aren’t too many trash cans around.
- Be careful with your valuables, there aren’t any parking guards so don’t leave your stuff in your car.
- It’s a small beach. No camping allowed.
- There are a couple of sodas and local restaurants in town.
- 4×4 highly recommended.
- It’s not super far from Ostional so you can visit both. Or if you’re staying in Ostional, you can make a day trip to Playa San Juanillo
- High tide is best to visit.
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Read about other beaches in Costa Rica!