Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

The Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is home to some of the best beaches in the country. This area is located in the Puntarenas Province.

This is the country’s most popular beach area, mostly due to how close it is to the San Jose International Airport.

It is known for mostly calm waters on the beaches, visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park, and plenty of adventure options.

The Central Pacific Coast Costa Rica at a Glance

Nearest International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela

Popular Things to Do

visit Manuel Antonio National Park, go surfing, take a catamaran tour

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, day tours with transportation

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April

Main Language

Spanish. Most people in tourism speak English


Costa Rica Colones, but USD is widely accepted


110v/60 (the same as the US)

Central Pacific of Costa Rica

central pacific coast costa rica map

Central Pacific Coastal Towns


Jaco Costa Rica

Jaco is one of the most popular beach destinations in Costa Rica due to how close it is to the San Jose airport.

Within 1.5 hours of leaving the airport, you can be relaxing on this Central Pacific coast beach.
Jaco is great for beach walking, surfing, enjoying plenty of delicious restaurants, nightlife, and more!

manuel antonio from drone

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica is home to Manuel Antonio National Park. This is the most visited national park in Costa Rica due to its trails that are good for most physical levels and its abundance of wildlife.

There is a central downtown area near the national park with some shops and restaurants across from Manuel Antonio Beach. 



Herradura bay is a small area that mainly consists of luxury resorts.

It is a good spot to stay if you want to be close to all the action of the Jaco area, but want a more peaceful and luxurious experience.

You will have trouble finding budget-friendly options here. 

hermosa view costa rica


Playa Hermosa in the Puntarenas Province is the place to stay if surfing is your jam and you want to be close enough to the craziness of Jaco, but have a more peaceful stay.

This is a great jumping-off point for tons of fun Pacific Coast adventures.



Esterillos consists of three small beach villages (Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Central, and Esterillos Este).

These are all connected by the main highway on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. 



The town of Quepos is a somewhat bustling spot on the Central Pacific coast. It serves as a gateway to Manuel Antonio.

It is not exactly charming, but it is the perfect jumping-off point for tons of activities. We like the hilly areas surrounding Quepos for beautiful views and tons of wildlife.



Puntarenas, Costa Rica is not exactly a place I would suggest seeking out as a tourist destination. 

It is basically a small city that is somewhat run down and dirty, but I will say, it still has its charms.

The Central Pacific Weather

The dry season and main tourism season in Costa Rica is from late December until late April. During this time of year you can expect crowds and higher prices in this area. 

This especially applies to the more popular beach town like Jaco and Manuel Antonio.

From May until August prices go down a bit, the crowds go home, and the weather turns somewhat rainy.

You can expect afternoon rainstorms to last about one to two hours. 

Rarely will there be a full day of rain.

From August until December prices usually get even lower. At this time of year, you are more likely to experience rainy days.

The temperature year-round is usually in the upper 80°F (around 30°C) during the day and dips to about  65° F (19°C) at night.

Year-round the sun rises between 5:15 and 5:45am and sets between 5:30 and 6:00pm. 

Things to Do in The Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

  1. Explore Manuel Antonio National Park and enjoy its beautiful beaches and diverse wildlife.
  2. Take a surfing lesson in Hermosa, known for its great waves and surf culture.
  3. Embark on a mangrove tour in Damas Island to observe the unique ecosystem and wildlife.
  4. Visit Carara National Park to spot scarlet macaws and other exotic bird species
  5. Experience a thrilling zip-line canopy tour through the rainforest near Jaco.
  6. Take a crocodile tour on the Tarcoles River and observe these impressive reptiles up close.
  7. Relax on the beautiful beaches of Playa Hermosa or Playa Dominical.
  8. Go sport fishing in the Pacific Ocean and try to catch marlin, sailfish, or tuna
  9. Take a boat tour to Isla Tortuga and enjoy snorkeling, beach time, and exploring the island.
  10. Experience the thrill of white-water rafting on the Naranjo or Savegre rivers.
  11. Take a horseback riding tour along the coast or through the rainforest.
  12. Enjoy a sunset catamaran cruise with snorkeling and dolphin watching.
Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
jaco costa rica parrots
esterillos beach

The Central Pacific Transportation

There are multiple transportation options to get to and around in The Central Pacific region.

We usually suggest renting a car because it will give you the most flexibility in getting around between locations and it will allow you to explore more on your own.

You can book your rental car with a 10% discount plus other great perks here. 

However, if you are planning on staying at a resort or plan to mostly take day tours with transportation included, it is most likely not necessary to rent a car. 

In this situation, you could opt for a private shuttle.

You can book your private shuttle with our favorite shuttle company here

If you are on a tight budget, the public bus is always an option. Here is the best place for the bus schedule.  

manuel antonio costa rica view

Is the Central Pacific Coast Worth Visiting?

Yes, the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is definitely worth visiting. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The Central Pacific coast is home to beautiful beaches with golden sand and clear turquoise waters. Playa Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Blanca are just a few examples of the stunning coastal destinations you can explore.
  • Costa Rica is known for its incredible biodiversity, and the Central Pacific coast is no exception. You can encounter a wide variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, scarlet macaws, and marine species like dolphins and sea turtles.
  • The region is home to renowned national parks such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Carara National Park. These protected areas offer opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and immersing yourself in nature.
  • The Central Pacific coast is a hub for adventure activities. You can enjoy surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, zip-lining, white-water rafting, and more. The region offers options for both thrill-seekers and those looking for a more relaxed vacation.
  • The Central Pacific coast is easily accessible from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. It is a relatively short drive from the city, making it convenient for travelers looking to explore coastal beauty without extensive travel.
  • The coastal towns in the region, such as Jaco and Quepos, offer a lively atmosphere with a range of accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife options. You can immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the laid-back beach lifestyle.

You Might Also Like Visiting

The Southern Pacific Coast: Also referred to as the Osa Peninsula, this is an area of raw coastal beauty, wildlife, and Corcovado National Park.

The Caribbean Coast: The Caribbean Coast has a completely different feel than the Pacific Coast. There is a strong Afro-Caribbean culture here.

The Guanacaste Province: A popular beach area and home to Costa Rica’s other international airport. There are several nice resorts here.

….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Destination Guide page for more ideas of places to visit.