Esterillos consists of three small beach villages (Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Central, and Esterillos Este) which are all connected by the main highway on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
There is not a whole lot to do in Esterillos besides enjoying the expansive beaches, but that is definitely part of the appeal.
Esterillos follows the same weather patterns as the other beach towns in the area.
It is typically very hot and rain-free from late December until the end of April.
From May until mid-August, expect hot and humid weather with a daily afternoon thunderstorm. These tend to roll in around 2pm and last for a few hours.
From mid-August until the end of December the weather is kind of up in the air. Some days may be complete washouts and on some days you might have perfect weather.
Cheapest Option: If you are only going to Esterillos and not planning on traveling to other places, the bus from San Jose to Quepos is your cheapest option.
The public bus will only cost you about $10 dollars and runs several times a day. It’s not the most comfortable and if it’s full you could be left standing for the whole ride, but hey, it’s cheap!
You can check out the full bus schedule here. As your destination put in “Quepos”. I am not positive if Esterillos has its own stop. You may just need to ask the driver to stop on the main road at Esterillos. They are always happy to do this.
Most Comfortable Option: If you have a small group, the most comfortable option is hiring a private shuttle.
We are big fans of Adobe Transfers and they are more than happy to stop along the drive so you can check out all the crocodiles at Rio Tarcoles or other viewpoints.
You can get get a price quote from Adobe Transfers here.
Most Flexible Option:
You could also rent a car and drive yourself. The highway from San Jose to Esterillos is a well-maintained highway. You should have no issues if you are a somewhat experienced driver.
Keep in mind that the first highway is a toll road. You need to pay with cash, but they do accept dollars if you don’t have colones.
We usually pay with a $10 bill and the change (in colones) is enough to pay for the rest of the tolls.
About an hour into your drive you will cross over a river called Rio Tarcoles which is usually lined with people. Pull your car over and walk back onto the bridge to check it out. You’ll see huge crocodiles below waiting for a tasty meal. 🙂
You do not need to rent a 4×4 for this route. The roads are all paved.
We suggest renting a car if you plan on traveling to other places and want the flexibility of not having depend on tours.
We suggest booking your rental car with Adobe. They are the most trustworthy company in this country (in our opinion) and we have partnered with them to get a 10% discount for you on your rental car. You can find out more here.
You will likely want a car while in Esterillos because there is not a whole lot to do and restaurants are somewhat spread out.
If you would like to take a bus or shuttle to Esterillos and then rent a car for a few days, that is possible. If you rent with Adobe, just input “Jaco” as your pick up location. In the comment section state that you are staying in Esterillos. They will happily deliver your car for a small fee.
There are several nice beaches along Esterillos that make for a good walk. I like this area because the sand is usually packed down and the many almond trees make a great backdrop.
Just be aware that you often can’t cross from one beach to the next due to wide river mouths and rocky outcrops.
Esterillos Este is a nice spot for a horseback ride. Along the way your guide may point out wildlife including toucans and sloths.
Drive about forty minutes south of Esterillos and you can visit Manuel Antonio National Park. This is the most popular national park in the country and a great place to see tons of wildlife. Check out our full Manuel Antonio National Park guide for more info.
Esterillos is located just north of Isla Damas, which is a popular place for mangrove tours. We personally love kayak tours here, but there are also regular boat tour options as well.
Head north to Playa Hermosa for some top notch surfing and plenty of places to take lessons or rent boards.
Encantada Ocean Cottages – A luxury boutique hotel located directly on the beach. The attention to all details here is on point.
Palm Coast Luxury Rentals – A great place to stay with a family or group. Each condominium can sleep up to six guests. There is a pool on site for all guests to use.
Alma del Pacifico Hotel & Spa – A perfect family friendly or couples destination located directly on the beach. We like this spot because they have an excellent spa.
Hotel Delfin Playa Bejuco – A nice hotel with oceanfront views. Breakfast is included and there is a pool on the property for guests to use.
La Dolce Vita – These small beachfront apartments are perfect for people who would like the option if doing their own cooking. Each apartment has a small kitchen and access to a shared pool.
Hotel Playa Bejuco – This is a great place to stay just south of Esterillos. All of the rooms are nice, the staff and service are excellent, and the property is amazing. There is a nice pool on site and breakfast is included.
The Spot – The best spot to stay if you are looking for a very budget-friendly option. The rooms are simple, but all rooms have private bathrooms and there is a shared kitchen. Plus, you can’t beat the prices here.
For being such a small area, Esterillos has an unusually great selection of restaurants.
Los Almendros Restaurant – A great place for a variety of foods (mostly Asian and Costa Rican) in a casual atmosphere. I like their pad thai.
Restaurante La Rioja – A nice atmosphere and great food. The seafood plate for two people is a bit pricey but amazing!
El Chiringuito – If you are a shellfish lover this is the place to get that. We have never had something that we didn’t like here.
Alma Restaurant – The perfect dinner spot with a beach view. I highly suggest getting something from the “Sea” section of their menu. All seafood and fish here is fresh and delicious.
Jardines Cafe Emma – A great place for breakfast or lunch. All meals are pretty standard, but everything is always fresh and tasty.
Pizzeria & Restaurante El Mana – Although the word “pizza” is in the name, I personally suggest skipping the pizza and instead getting some fresh fish or seafood. I’m partial to the ceviche that is served in a coconut.
– If you have an early morning flight out of the country or get in late at night, stay in Alajuela. People tend to think that finding a place in San Jose is better, it isn’t. The traffic around San Jose can be a nightmare and you will find cheaper places to stay in downtown Alajuela. From downtown Alajuela, it is only a five to ten-minute drive to the airport.
– Alajuela is mostly safe, but don’t walk around the downtown area late at night and always limit the amount of cash that you carry on you. The most common crimes are petty thefts.
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