It’s no secret that Costa Rica’s popularity has absolutely exploded over the last decade or so. While this has turned some places into touristy, westernized hubs for expats and backpackers, that doesn’t mean that Costa Rica has lost all of its aesthetic appeal just yet. Both the Caribbean and Pacific side offer breathtaking beaches to suit any type of travelers. So beach bunnies, surf bums, and solitude-seekers alike get excited:
9 Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica
Many backpackers cram into Puerto Viejo’s small strip of ‘beach’, unaware that this pristine gem of sand and surf is just a short bike ride away. Playa Cocles is a paradise for surfers and yogis, or anyone looking to escape the crowds. Most serious surfers use Playa Cocles as a base for chasing the world-renowned Salsa Bravo wave, a swell worthy of even the most experienced surfers.
There’s not much happening around Playa Grande, but that’s part of the beach’s charm. Come here for its surf, the stunning sunsets, or a chance to see the leatherback turtles that nest upon its shores. We chose the latter, and after staying up to the wee hours of the morning, we were able to catch a glimpse of a mother as she laid and buried her eggs—a truly spectacular site.
Playa Tamarindo is just the next beach up from Playa Grande. It’s actually possible to walk between the two beaches in 35 minutes or so, though you’ll have to pay 500 colones to a local boatman to take you across the crock-infested river. Tamarindo is excessively touristy. If you’re looking for a party beach and plenty of nightlife, then this is the perfect spot for you. Alternatively, choose dawn or dusk for a bit more beach to yourself.
We can’t sing Santa Teresa’s praises enough. The town itself is the perfect balance of off-the-beaten-path, while still having great restaurants and plenty of attractions. We found this beach to be one of the most beautiful we visited in all of Costa Rica.
If you want to escape it all, then this is the beach for you. There might be a playful White Capuchin Monkey or pair of Red Macaws to distract you from your solitude, but that’s honestly about it. This secluded beach is located off the property of Blue Osa on the Osa Peninsula—a truly magical place. We’ll be writing extensively on Blue Osa in the upcoming weeks and the one-of-a-kind experience we had there.
Playas del Coco
At first, this beach didn’t take our breath away like some of the others we visited. There’s a small boardwalk and quite a bit of development around the beach, which of course takes away from its remoteness. However, as soon as we saw our first sunset, we understood the area’s appeal. Playa del Cocos is also a great place to use as a base for boating or kayaking to nearby secret coves. Our friends at My Tan Feet are experts on the area (and Costa Rica); we recommend their site as a wonderful resource to anyone headed to the country!
Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park is a must-see for anyone on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. If you’re not up for a whole hike, there’s a beautiful beach at the park’s entrance in the town of Cahuita. Fee is by donation—you’ll quickly notice it’s put to good use to keep the area pristine. Throughout the National Park are strips of white sand and hidden beaches, the perfect spot to bring a picnic and go for a dip.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado is still very much the Wild, Wild West of Costa Rica. The beach is part of the national park, and thus only accessible with a park permit. The untouched paradise is just about as remote as it gets, and a perfect place to spot crocodiles, macaws, and monkeys, as well as a variety of birds and plants endemic to the park itself.
Samara is one of our favorite beach towns in Costa Rica. The town itself has managed to maintain a slow and sleepy feel, despite the regular flow of tourists it receives. Expect long strips of sandy beaches and gentle, lapping waves. Globetrotter Girls first recommended us to Samara, and we’re so happy we took the time to visit. For more practical information on the beach town, be sure to check out their site!
We hope these pictures wet your appetite for more Costa Rica goodness! In the upcoming weeks we’ll be sharing additional tips and tricks about the area attractions around these beaches—and more!
Which beach looks the most beautiful to you? What do you look for in a beach escape? Where’s the most beautiful beach you’ve been to?
Yes, we can see that Costa Rica has many lovely beaches! Santa Teresa sounds like our kind of beach. But Cahuita National Park looks like a pretty place to plop down one’s towel too :-).
Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Get curry happy at this Whistler Indian restaurant
Santa Teresa was one of our favorites because of the surf and yoga atmosphere associated with it. Very fun :-)
I would love to see them all!! Not too keen on the croc infested river one though :)
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…Roatan Month 16 Roundup
You’re not too far away, you should hop down to Costa Rica if you get the chance. Although where you are sounds beautiful as well :-)
It’s very difficult to choose between these paradises, can I see them all please?
Franca recently posted…Five Things I’m Beginning To Miss From Home
Luckily Costa Rica isn’t very big so if you’ve got a couple of weeks you might be able to fit them all in ;-)
They all look lovely. If I had to pick only one: Santa Teresa – as it seems to be your top pick.
Rhonda Albom recently posted…Celebrating Yacht Racing, On-Line Friends, Hiking, and Storytelling
Good choice ;-)
I haven’t gotten these inviting images out of my head, so today when I put together a bucket list, Costa Rica is on it.
Rhonda Albom recently posted…What Does A Maori Chief Look Like? WW and a Bucket List
Great beaches, but which is closest to San Jose?
Alex Watson recently posted…3 Ways To Get Airport Lounge Access Through Credit Card Perks – The Credit Cards
Because San Jose is situated in the center of the country they are all about equidistant (except Corcovado which took us about 10 hours to get to by bus.) Your best bang for your buck would be to head northwest to the Nicoya Peninsula.
Wow these are beautiful pictures! There looks like there is hardly a soul to be seen on them, perfection :-)
Rob @ Hungry Escapades recently posted…Our First Week in Mexico – banishing The Hulk!
We timed our trip pretty well to check out Costa Rica just as the rainy season was finishing but high season wasn’t in full swing quite yet. No rain and no crowds :-)
Lovely beaches – the Cahuita National Park would be my pick.
Rachel M recently posted…Temple Point Resort
Really interesting to see you list. I am totally agree with your 9 beaches, my favorite is Santa Teresa Costa Rica. I have had the opportunity to visit like 20 beaches in Costa Rica, I would like to add to your list Guiones Beach and Avellanas.
Daniel Ore recently posted…Hotel in Santa Teresa Beach Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a lovely memory for us. We visited about 20 years ago before the tourist explosion. Such a simple, beautiful place to be. We ate fish in a little restaurant on the beach that was just a tent. Long wooden tables where visitors and locals sat together with the sandy beach as our floor. A rope with blankets thrown over it was the wall between the kitchen and dining area. Great times!
J.Q. Rose recently posted…The Bucket List Blog Hop, This Week, Giveaways
Playa Zancudo is amazing. You can walk for an hour on the beach and count the people you have seen on one hand. I’ve been many places in this world and the beach house in Zancudo is as good as it gets.