Costa Rica is a Central American paradise, famous for its unspoiled beaches, diverse landscapes, and abundant wildlife. The country is blessed with two coastlines fronting the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Whether you're looking for some waves along the Nicoya Peninsula or want to go sunbathing with sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica has a beach for you.
Beaches in Costa Rica are as diverse as its countryside, and the sheer choice is what attracts most visitors. There's picture-perfect tropical golden sands and swaying palm trees, or unique volcanic black sand beaches. There's over 300 beaches along the Pacific Coast alone, ranging from active stretches with watersports galore, to secluded slices of paradise.
Costa Rica’s abundant sandy beaches means there’s an endless range of possibilities for your beach vacation. All beaches in Costa Rica are public, so there’s no stretch of sand that’s off-limits. Here are some of the best.
Playa Guiones, in the western part of Costa Rica, is famous for its huge Pacific waves. Experienced surfers can head straight for the breakers, while surf schools provide lessons for beginners. The area is also important for wildlife, with a large nesting site for turtles close by.
Tamarindo is a great choice if you're looking to get off your feet. Rent an umbrella and lounge chair and spend the day people watching or sipping cocktails. Las Baulas National Marine Park and its leatherback sea turtles are nearby if you feel like stretching your legs.
Over on Costa Rica's eastern coast is Cahuita, where the volcanic black sand beach provides a brilliant contrast to the country’s mostly white, sandy stretches. The gentle waves here are perfect for snorkeling among the coral reefs. After getting out of the water, discover the area's distinct Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine.
Make the walk through Manuel Antonio National Park to get to its beaches, and you'll be richly rewarded. Surrounded by rainforest, with lots of monkeys, iguanas, and tropical birds, Manuel Antonio is a fantastic spot for some snorkeling, or to catch the sunset.
Reached only by boat or plane, this secluded beach is known for its tranquility. Take the trail along the water's edge here to see the nesting sites of sea turtles before you lay out on the sand. Or head out in a kayak to see the beach from a different perspective.
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the drier months between December and April. Expect an average of six hours of sunshine, so pack plenty of sunscreen. Bring sturdy walking shoes or sandals, and pick up local maps for treks to the secluded spots.