Esterillos, Costa Rica -2023 Visitors Guide
Esterillos Costa Rica is a small beach village made up of three sections that are perfect for relaxing
The Esterillos Costa Rica Vibes
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.
Background Info About Esterillos Costa Rica
Nearest International Airport
Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose
Popular Things to Do
relaxing on the beach, surfing, day trips
Best Way to Get Around
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
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Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).
We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.
We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Map Of Esterillos
Esterillos is located in the Central Pacific part of the country just south of Jaco and north of the Quepos/ Manuel Antonio area.
The Three Parts of Esterillos
Esterillos is divided into three sections that are connected by the main road. The three sections are:
This is the western part of Esterillos, located closest to the main highway. Esterillos Oeste offers a more residential and laid-back atmosphere.
It’s a quieter area with fewer amenities and accommodations compared to other parts of Esterillos.
If you’re looking for a peaceful and secluded beach experience, this area might be suitable for you.
Esterillos Centro is the central part of Esterillos, located between Esterillos Oeste and Esterillos Este. This area has a very similar feel to it as Esterillos Oeste.
It’s relatively quiet and tranquil.
Esterillos Este is the eastern part of Esterillos, closer to Playa Bejuco.
This area has a slightly more developed tourist infrastructure compared to Esterillos Oeste and Centro.
It offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, vacation rentals, and beachfront resorts.
Esterillos Este might be a good choice if you prefer having more amenities and convenience within closer proximity.
Flights to Costa Rica
The easiest way of getting to Esterillos is by flying into the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose
For flight booking we suggest Skyscanner.
They are our go-to flight booking site for great rates.
Driving to Esterillos
We suggest renting 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. 🙂
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You do not need to rent a 4×4 for this route. The roads are all paved.
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Private Shuttle to Esterillos
If you would like a private shuttle to Esterillos, we suggest our favorite local company Adobe Transfers. Their experienced drivers can take you from anywhere in the country to your hotel in Esterillos.
Public Bus to Esterillos Costa Rica
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.
Domestic Flights to Esterillos
Another option is to fly from San Jose to Quepos on a domestic flight.
From Quepos you can rent a car or take a taxi to Esterillos.
Transportation In Esterillos
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.
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Esterillos Costa Rica Weather
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.
Things to Do in Esterillos Costa Rica
Walk on the Beaches
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.
Take a Beach Horseback Ride
Esterillos Este is a nice spot for a horseback ride. Along the way your guide may point out wildlife including toucans and sloths.
Take a Day Trip to Manuel Antonio National Park
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.
Take a Mangrove Kayak Tour
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.
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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.
Esterillos Costa Rica Hotels
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.
Vacation Rentals in Esterillos
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.
Vista De Sirena – A luxury 9 bedroom home that can sleep up to 25 guests. This is multiple condos that can be rented all together. It would be perfect for several families. or a group of friends who want privacy, but also want to be able to all gather together.
Luxury Vacation Home – A nice modern home with a private pool. It has 3 bedrooms and can sleep 8 guests. This home is not located directly on the beach, but personally I kind of like the secluded jungle vibe.
Paradise Found – A 3 bedroom/ 3 bath home that can sleep up to 8 guests. This home is rustic and secluded. It has a private pool and is located just in front of the beach.
Beautiful Beach Front Home – A 3 bedroom/ 4 bath home that sleeps six guests. This beachfront home also has a small private pool.
Esterillos Travel Tips
Be careful when swimming. There are some parts of this beach that can have strong undertow. If you are concerned, definitely ask at your hotel.
They can direct you to the safest places to swim.
Packing for Esterillos Costa Rica
For Esterillos most of your packing can consist of beach clothes. It seems like nothing ever dries here due to the humidity so pack lightweight wrinkle free clothing when possible.
Also, when the sun goes down the mosquitos can be really bad here, so definitely load up on the bug spray.
Check out our Esterillos Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials.
Esterillos Costa Rica FAQ
Which part of Esterillos is best to stay in?
All three areas are nice. If you would like a bit more infrastructure, Esterillos Este is likely the best option for you.
Is it safe to swim at Esterillos beach in Costa Rica?
This area is known for rip currents. I do not suggest swimming here. Instead, you can walk in the waves. If you would like to swim, ask at your hotel for their suggestions before going in the water.
Is Esterillos Costa Rica worth visiting?
This depends on your preferences. If you’re looking for a laid-back beach getaway away from the crowds, Esterillos could be a charming destination. However, if you prefer more developed tourist areas, you may want to consider Manuel Antonio or Jaco.
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You Might Also Like Visiting
Manuel Antonio: A beach town that is home to Costa Rica’s most popular national park
Hermosa: A relaxed surfing village with big waves
Jaco: A bustling beach town with a vibrant nightlife scene
….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Central Pacific Coast for more ideas of places to visit in this area.