Costa Rica Beaches

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 spot is off-limit to your exploration.

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

Pacific or Caribbean Coast Beaches

It can be difficult to decide between Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and the Caribbean coast for beaches.

Both sides of the country are blessed with beautiful landscapes.

Most people tend to visit the Pacific coast however, the Caribbean coast is also great. 

Check out our guide to choosing between the Pacific and Caribbean for more info. 

Pacific Coast Beaches

The Pacific coast is blessed with white sand beaches, good snorkeling, easy accessibility from the main airports, and your choice of many small or larger beach towns.

The dry season on this side of the country runs from mid-December until late April.

A few of our favorite Pacific beaches are: 

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. 

Playa Montezuma: You can walk for miles and miles on Montezuma beach located on the Nicoya Peninsula. 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 Jimenez. It is so freaking pretty!

Playa Flamingo: Flamingo is located in the Guanacaste region. It is one of the most popular beaches in the country due to its bright white sand. This area of the country is also great for scuba diving.

jimenez

One of the nicest beaches in Costa Rica is actually on an island.

If you find yourself in Jaco, Santa Teresa, or Montezuma we suggest taking a day tour to Isla Tortuga

It’s seriously beautiful and will give you the chance to do some snorkeling and beach exploration.

manzanillo

Caribbean Coast Beaches

The Caribbean beaches tend to have a more raw feel to them. The sand is typically darker here. 

We like this area for a more relaxed feel and typically there are less tourists.

The dry season here runs from late July until about December. 

A few of our favorite beaches are: 

– 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.

National Parks with Beaches

On both the Pacific and Caribbean coast there are national parks and reserves that offer beach access. 

These places make great fun filled day trips that combine hiking and swimming.

Here are some of our favorites…

Manuel antonio National Park

Located in the town of Manuel Antonio (near Quepos), this is the most popular national park in the country. 

There are hiking trails for all physical levels, calm waters for swimming, a waterfall, and TONS of wildlife.

Just note that the park is closed on Tuesday’s.

Check out our Manuel Antonio National Park guide for all the details. 

manuel antonio from drone

Cahuita National Park

This park is located in the relaxed beach town of Cahuita on the Caribbean coast. 

This is a great place to spend a full day. The main trail runs parallel to the beach, which means that whenever you need a break from hiking you can easily hop in the water.

There are also picnic tables if you would like to bring lunch and make a full day of it. 

Check out the Cahuita National Park guide for info on planning your trip. 

Ostional National Park

Ostional is a long beach located just north of Nosara. It is not the best spot for swimming, but instead it has a different appeal…turtles. Thousands of turtles.

If you have the chance to experience this phenomenon known as the arribada, don’t miss it. It is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

You can find out how to visit Ostional with our Ostional beach guide

ostional
TORTUGUERO

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is located in the remote village of Tortuguero on the northern Caribbean coast. 

It is only possible to access this town by plane or boat.

The national park consists of protected river waterways, hiking trails, and undisturbed beaches that are a common turtle nesting site.

Find out how to visit with our Tortuguero National Park guide

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park is located on the southernmost tip of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast. 

This park is home to approximately 5% of the world’s biodiversity. 

To visit here it is required that you access the park with a certified guide.

You can find more about planning your visit with our Corcovado National Park guide

corcovado
uvita

Marino Ballena National Park

This national park consists of the beach area in Uvita. 

This is a popular whale watching and snorkeling area. 

However the main draw is the interesting phenomenon during low tide in which the beach resembles a giant whale’s tail.

Find out how to visit with the Marino Ballena guide.  

Curu Reserve

Curu Reserve is an area with plenty of hiking trails located near the town of Paquera. 

We like this spot because it always seems somewhat empty. Most tourists don’t venture here, but they should because it is beautiful!

Find out how to visit with our Curu guide

curu reserve
cabo blanco

Cabo Blanco Reserve

Cabo Blanco is located on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula between Montezuma and Santa Teresa.

The hike to the beach is intense, but it is worth it for this beautiful remote beach at the end.

We suggest only taking on this hike if you are in good physical shape.

Find out how to plan your trip with our Cabo Blanco guide

 

What to Pack for the beach

Packing for the beach in Costa Rica might be a bit different than packing for the beach near your home.

Here your main concern should be sun protection rather than getting as much sun as possible. 

We like long sleeve UV protecting shirts for in the water, dry bags to keep things from getting wet, and hard soled flip flops that can get wet.