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Costa Rica is a beautiful, rainforested country in Central America known for its expansive coastline of picturesque beaches. It’s a hotspot for adventurous travelers who want to surf, zip line or go ATVing, while travelers looking for a flop and drop destination will find plenty of beachfront resorts to escape the bustle of everyday life. Costa Rica’s white-sand beaches along the Caribbean and Pacific coastline are often untouched and pristine, further highlighting the country’s “pura vida” lifestyle. Grab your sunscreen and flip flops and visit one of these top beaches in Costa Rica.
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If you’re looking for a laid-back beach experience, head to Guanacaste’s Playa Conchal. Lay a towel out and enjoy the turquoise water views or grab some snorkel gear and discover its coral and underwater treasures. Dotted with tiny seashells that have washed up ashore, a quiet walk along the shoreline will have you forgetting all about your stressors back home. To stay within walking distance, book a room at Westin Resort & Spa Playa Conchal to enjoy its multiple pools, restaurants and 18-hole golf course.
Playa Manzanillo is a picture-perfect beach located just above the Panamanian border on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast. Known for its vibrant coral reefs and seaside tropical rainforest, the palm-fringed beach offers a more remote location, which means it’s less frequented by beachgoers. Grab snorkel gear or hop in a kayak and explore the area, as its gentle waves make it easy to spot manatees and dolphins. For a unique stay, book a night at Faith Glamping Dome Costa Rica for a chance to sleep under the stars in a luxury dome tent with a queen-size bed, air conditioning and private deck with ocean views.
Visiting Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica, nestled within the wildlife-filled rainforest landscapes in Manuel Antonio National Park. To reach the beach entrance you’ll have to hike around 30 minutes from the park’s entrance, but nature lovers often say it’s worth it to soak up the stunning Pacific Ocean water views and snorkel in its waters. To observe families of swinging monkeys, walk through the rainforested trails to other beaches as well. Hotel Vela Bar is an adults-only retreat just five minutes from the beach.
A popular surfing and wellness destination, Nosara is located on the Nicoya Peninsula. You’ll find three beaches that merge together: Garza Beach, Guiones Beach and Pelada Beach. Yogis and health-conscious travelers flock to this destination to enjoy its laid-back vibes, beachfront bars and taco shacks. Guiones offers consistent surf throughout the year, while Pelada is great for swimming and at Garza you can watch the fishermen reel in their fresh catch each morning. Stay in a bungalow or villa at Harmony Hotel in Guiones, which also has an outdoor pool, spa and yoga studio.
Are you an animal lover? Costa Ballena is the spot to be from August to October and December to April when you can spot humpback whales migrating, while Marino Ballena National Park welcomes sea turtles from May to November. Uvita Beach and Hermosa Beach border the island’s famous “Whale’s Tail”, a whale’s tail-shaped sandbar. Spend your days sunbathing, whale watching or snorkeling the colorful coral reef. Book a one-bedroom villa at the adults-only Oxygen Jungle Villas for ocean views and access to an infinity pool.
If you’re a surfer, there’s no doubt that Tamarindo should be your itinerary for a trip to Costa Rica. This popular surf town offers the perfect breaks for beginner surfers, while those who prefer to bask in the sunshine will discover a palm-fringed golden stretch of sand to enjoy as well as quaint fish shacks and beach shops. A three-minute walk from the beach, Ten North Tamarindo Beach Hotel has one-bedroom apartments and can arrange surf lessons, scuba diving and sunset cruises. JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa is also a top pick for honeymooners and couples nearby.
Playa Montezuma is set at the tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, nestled next to a lush jungle. Divers can explore the three known shipwrecks in the area, while hikers will find trails that lead to an 80-foot waterfall with swimming holes and natural springs. While swimming at the beach is challenging due to the rocky terrain, make sure to watch the tide pools emerge when the tide is low. The is full of budget-friendly accommodations such as The Nomadic Hotel, while The Gilded Iguana is a beachfront property with a surf school and outdoor pool.
Located in the Guanacaste region, Playa Flamingo is an iconic stretch of sand that gets its name from the pinkish white color. Kick back and watch a sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean from this postcard-worthy beach, then rest your head at one of the nearby hotels set on the cliffsides overlooking the bays. Families love the oceanfront Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo with its luxury rooms, inviting spa, swim-up bars and multiple restaurants.
Have you got the little ones in tow? Samara Beach is a popular choice for families. The long beach is protected by an island off the Pacific Coast and wraps around a horseshoe bay, which means there’s plenty of room for you to stretch out on the sand. With its calm waters, it’s easy to spend a day snorkeling and kayaking, while those looking to catch their own dinner can sign up for sport-fishing excursions. Hotel Belvedere is a budget-friendly option near the beach with family-friendly apartments that include full kitchens.
Set within Ostional Wildlife Refuge on the Nicoya Peninsula, Ostional Beach is known for being home to a collection of olive ridley sea turtles. If you love seeing wildlife, put this beach on your must-see list, particularly between July and October during nesting season. You can sign up for a night tour to watch the turtles nesting, which happens between four and 10 times a year. Stay in a bungalow at nearby Hotel Luna Azul for the best chances of seeing the big “arribadas” and enjoy oceanfront dining from its restaurant.
Located on the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, Punta Uva Beach is a quiet stretch of gorgeous white-sand beach. It’s set within the Gandoca-Manzanilla Wildlife Refuge, backed by a lush jungle home to local wildlife such as monkeys, sloths and colorful bird species. A top snorkeling destination, you can explore the coral reefs located just offshore, while families with kids can make a splash in the calm waters and gentle waves. Stay in a luxury bungalow at Hotel Aguas Claras near Playa Chiquita for an outdoor pool and wellness center.
A string of beaches just south of Guanacaste in the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa combined with Malpais Beach, Carmen Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manzanillo Beach back up the little beach towns of Santa Teresa and Malpais. If you’re looking for a place to go off-the-beaten-path away from tourist crowds, then this area is your best bet. You’ll find secluded beach spots with excellent surf with nothing but untouched natural beauty surrounding you. Retreat to Otro Lado Lodge for a quiet getaway with spacious suites.