Discover your own tropical paradise

One of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica is to visit the beaches, and for good reason.

With easily accessible beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, there are so many beautiful options!

Did you know that by law all beaches in Costa Rica need to have public access? This means no beach is off limit to your exploration.

Now we just need to find the perfect one for you! 

Travel Tip

One of the coolest things you can experience in Costa Rica is seeing big momma sea turtles coming out of the ocean to lay their eggs and little babies making their way into the water for the first time.

You can experience this on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica.The best place on the Caribbean is in Tortuguero and on the Pacific, Ostional. 

You can find out more about seeing sea turtles with our guide to sea turtles in Costa Rica

Pacific or Caribbean beaches?

It can be difficult to decide between the Pacific or Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Both sides of the country are blessed with amazing beaches.

Most people tend to visit the Pacific coast because of the white sand beaches, good snorkeling, easily accessibility from the main airports, and countless beach options. However the Caribbean coast is also great. The Caribbean beaches tend to have a more raw feel to them. The sand is typically darker here.

Some of your decision should be based on weather. It is important to remember that the dry season on the Pacific runs from mid December until late April. The dry season on the Caribbean is between August and late November.

We created a guide to deciding between the Pacific and Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica to further help you plan.

pacific Beaches

Playa Blanca: Playa Blanca is the closest beach from the San Jose airport. It is located in a private resort, but there is a secret entrance for non resort guests. This is one of our favorite beaches in Costa Rica. 

Manuel Antonio: The beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park are amazing. Just imagine white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and monkeys running around. 

Playa Uvita: Uvita is home to the famous Costa Rican whale’s tail beach. You’ve got to check it out!

Playa Montezuma: You can walk for miles and miles on Montezuma beach. It is not the best for swimming, but it is great for spotting wildlife and enjoy nature. 

Playa Matapalo: There are actually two places called Playa Matapalo in Costa Rica. We especially like the one located next to Puerto Jiminez. It is so freaking pretty!

Playa Samara: Playa Samara has a relaxed hippie vibe. It is the perfect place for surfing, kayaking, or just relaxing!

Caribbean Beaches

– Cahuita National Park: Cahuita National Park is our favorite national park in Costa Rica. We love that the jungle paths run parallel to the beach. There are also plenty of picnic tables. It is the perfect place to bring a picnic and enjoy a day of hiking and swimming.

– Playa Punta Uva: Playa Punta Uva is located just south of the town of Puerto Viejo. This is one of the most picturesque beaches on the Caribbean coast.  

Playa Grande: Playa Grande is located just south of Playa Punta Uva. We love it because from here you can access the Manzanillo WIldlife refuge. There is also this old rusted boat on the beach which makes a cool photo backdrop.

Tortuguero National Park: The beach in Tortugueo stretches for miles and miles. It is great for walking and looking out for babe sea turtle hatchings.

For more great beach options check out the list of our 12 favorite beaches in Costa Rica

Travel Tip

One of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica is to have a relaxing afternoon at a beach bar. Nothing feels more like vacation then drinking a pina colada with the waves crashing behind you. 

Check out the guide to the best beach bars in Costa Rica (on both coasts) to help you find the perfect spot. 

Bocas del Toro Panama

Obviously Bocas del Toro, Panama is not in Costa Rica, but it is easily accessible from the lower Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Bocas del Toro is a series of islands that feel like literal beach paradise. If you plan on visiting the Caribbean coast and have a few extra days we definitely suggest visiting the many beautiful beaches here. 

Check out our guide to the Costa Rica/ Panama border crossing and the complete Bocas del Toro guide for more info on how to plan your visit. 

surfing in costa rica

Costa Rica is an amazing place to go surfing! The Pacific coast is filled with beaches for all skill levels. 

The most popular surf beaches are Tamarindo, Nosara, Samara, Santa Teresa, and Dominical. 

You can often rent a board for about $10 per day.If you would like to take surf lessons there are many companies in all the Costa Rican beach towns that offer lessons at a variety of price points for all skill levels. 

Jaco beach

Travel Tip

The sun in Costa Rica is crazy strong! Don’t forget that the country is located not too far from the Equator. 

The rating on the UV scale is always super high here.

It is best to always wear high SPF, a hat, and clothing that covers you whenin the sun.

You can find out more sun safety tips with our guide to the sun in Costa Rica.

family friendly beaches

Keep in mind that there are rip currents at several beaches in Costa Rica. A few beaches that we love for their calm waters arethe beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Hermosa (near Playas del Coco), and Playa Biesanz in Manuel Antonio.

Definitely ask at your hotel about the rip currents in the area before going too far into the water.

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