Costa Rica Beaches: The Best, Nicest & Most Beautiful Ones to Visit

Written by MJ Blanco
August 9, 2016

Costa Rica is a very blessed country. Its tropical position gives her a very gentle and comfortable weather, the possibility to enjoy different landscapes in just one day, and the opportunity to enjoy a great amount of sunny exquisite beaches… Yes, a lot of beaches!

If you look in a global map and pay attention to where is Costa Rica located, you probably will be surprised by how small the country looks, but also you will note that this small piece of land is located just in the middle of the continent, separating North America from South America. Along with 6 more countries, Costa Rica forms the Central American region.

Precisely, is this amazing location the one that allows the presence of a lot of magical and paradisiac beaches. Costa Rica has direct access to the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

This particularity is the one that permit the enjoyment of a multiplicity of colorful and unforgettable beaches.

Now, if you already had some vacations in Costa Rica you will agree with me when I say that we have very privileged beach locations. And if you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting the beaches of Costa Rica, then it is time to start planning your lifetime vacations to this exotic piece of land.

For both of you, I’m pretty sure this article will be very useful to know more about these tropical beaches and, why not, to find the next beach destination for your “travel bucket list”.

Here you have our top beaches and a brief explanation of each one, just to help you learn more about the destination:

Jacó Beach

Jacó Beach is the closest beach to the Central Valley and is one of the most visited coastal destinations in Costa Rica for both tourists and residents.

The beach consists in a 2.5 mile (4 km) strip which hosts world renowned surfing and an active nightlife. Similar to Costa Rica's metropolitan areas, this beach offers a lot services, such as a post office, health center, banks, stores, and some business centers.

Additionally, there are a great variety of surf shops, local and international restaurants, and hotels, either for those looking for more affordable prices as well as for those wishing to spend more luxurious vacations.

You can get here before driving for approximately less than two hours, departing from San José. You or your driver will surely drive taking one of this routes: the old Aguacate road, or the main highway in Escazú / Santa Ana.

It doesn’t make sense to take a charter or domestic flight, because due to the proximity to San José the nearest airstrip will be the one in Quepos… and you will have to drive for 2 hours; almost the same time departing from San José. That’s why I can suggest you to take a private or regular transfer to Jacó Beach by land. This is the best option to get there!

Among the activities that can be done here there are surfing, swimming, deep sea fishing, ATV tours, bicycle rentals, horseback excursions, crocodile safari, national parks and reserves, boat and kayak excursions, white-water rafting, canopy tours and popular places for night life. I assure you that you won’t be bored while spending your time in Jacó.  

In the surrounding areas, you will find another of the beaches near San José, Playa Herradura, at just 4.4 miles (7 km) north. This beach provides a more tranquil and relaxed environment than Jacó. Just another great Costa Rican beach to enjoy with your family and friends.

If you are looking for some nature experiences while staying near Jacó, you must know that the Carara Biological Reserve is located just 9.3 miles (15 km) north of Jacó.

Featuring several miles of trails open to visitors (some only with a tour group), it is a great place to view much of Costa Rica's wildlife amidst a tropical location. Early in the morning or around the sunset is often the best time to see the wealth of scarlet macaws that rest among the mangroves.

Here it is also possible to see white-faced monkeys, caiman, coatimundis, peccaries, and a wide variety of birds and insects. The reserve opens at 7 am and closes at 5 pm. 

Additionally, you will have the opportunity of being close to the Tárcoles River, the one which borders the park and flows into the Pacific Ocean. The river is an incredible place to witness the American crocodile close up. Boat tours are available to see the crocodiles… some of them grow to be several meters in length!

Punta Leona Wildlife Refuge is another natural spot where visitors have a good chance of being delighted by the surrounding wildlife. You can find it located along the drive north from Jacó towards the town of Tárcoles.

No matter where you will be staying at Jacó, its main road is plenty of varied restaurants and bars that can be a great option to your lunches or dinners, or even if after a long day relaxing or surfing at the beach. Here you can find also gelaterias, coffees, pharmacies, supermarkets, souvenir stores, and some clothing stores too.

It is not necessary to use vehicle to explore this street; all the businesses are walking distance from each other and you will have a lot of entertainment watching the whole offer Jacó has for your vacation.

If you are looking to visit Jacó, here you have a recommendation of hotels you can consider for your stay:

This is just a small list of recommendations, if you want to learn more about the hotels of the area you can click here.

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(Beach) Playa Hermosa - Jacó

Before start talking about this Costa Rican beach it is important to mention that the country has two beaches named Hermosa.

One located in the Guanacaste province, and this one located in Puntarenas at just 6 mile (10 Km) south from Jacó. This destination is a quieter section of black sand beach.   

The place is very appreciated by beach goers and surfers alike. The beach offers one of the best and most consistent surf breaks in the world, but I must warn you: the currents here are very strong and it is not recommended for swimming, even if you know how to swim.

The waves in Hermosa are only recommended for expert surfers, because they can reach as high as 13 feet. On the contrary, in Jacó Beach both, beginners and experienced surfers, can have some fun practicing surfing.

Here in Hermosa Beach you will find several economical surf board rental shops, so you don’t have to be worried if you haven’t your own surfing equipment.

This location is where the ISA World Surfing Games, thanks to the ideal conditions of the beach, related to proximity, weather, and waves.

The contest literally brings hundreds of experienced surfers from all over the globe, a very important input for the region. When you come here you will definitely fall in love with this beach, this is one of the nicest beaches in Costa Rica!   

And, if you are wondering which is the best time to practice Surf in Hermosa I have to say you that it is from April to November, when the tide is rising and is normally high. As a reference, one of its most well-known breaks is located in front of a large tree known as “El Almendro” or the Almond tree.

Here is also located the Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge, is the place chosen by Olive Ridley sea turtles, here is where they come ashore to nest every year.

If a hotel with an undisturbed location is what you are looking for your vacations, this place is going to be highly recommended.

And, if you get tired of surfing, Hermosa Beach is the perfect getaway for spending a day under the sun in some hammocks or under an umbrella, with a good book, great company, and family or friends in a very tranquil environment.

A plus for Hermosa and Jacó beaches is the fact of being two of the most recognized beaches near San José. Here you can easily find restaurants and bars just in front of the beach, if you want to enjoy a delicious meal with a breathtaking view.

Also, you can find some bathroom and shower rentals for a low rate, ideal to remove the sand before departing to your next adventure.

At the main entrance of Herradura you can find the Plaza Herradura shopping center featuring a big supermarket “Automercado” (this place is used also as a reference point for travelers), a Subway, clothing stores, ice cream shop, coffee shop, the BAC San Jose bank, and a variety of international restaurants.

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Tamarindo Beach

This beach was once a very quiet fishing hamlet and surfing spot but, during the last years, Tamarindo has evolved to be the most developed, attractive, and accessible tourist town of the region.

Tamarindo is located on the central west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, which allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views and provides a laidback vibe –very characteristic of the region-, despite the ongoing and recent development of the area.

Tamarindo, as a regional hub, offers a lot of lodging possibilities for visitors of every budget. Additionally, the area has a wide range of extensive services to be enjoyed; some of them are the sport fishing, snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, and horseback riding alongside the beach.

If you are wondering how to get there, then the Tamarindo airstrip will ease the way you get there from different parts of the country. The Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia, is also very close to Tamarindo at approximately 31 miles or 50 kilometers, which turns into a great option for visitors coming directly from international flights.

Only separated from Tamarindo by the Matapalo river can be found the Playa Grande beach, a place where surfing is ideal, regardless of skill level. This region hosts several international surf competitions, and visitors seeking for luxurious accommodations can find various options for their lodging.

The Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge comprises 1000 acres (400 ha) of amazing protected forest, including many estuaries and mangroves. Some tours arranged in the area can show the visitors the dazzling flora and fauna of Tamarindo.

At the North side of the town you can found the Marino Las Baulas National Park, a place where visitors will have the opportunity to spot the leatherback turtle come ashore to lay the eggs.

Very close are located the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and the Barra Honda National Park, both great opportunities to explore the Costa Rican wildlife.

The extensive development of the region has influenced the apparition of elements of foreign culture, from modern cafés to cozy restaurants, always maintaining the traditional Costa Rican culture.

A great combination of two worlds! Tourists enjoy the variety of elements of their own cultures perfectly mixed with the local traditions.

Travelers can find different options for dining; Tamarindo’s great cuisine vary from local seafood to international dishes with the best quality and adjustable to all kind of budgets.

There are small shops there, so you can find products and local ingredients if you are staying at a place that requires your own preparation of the food. A great chance to experience a Costa Rican meal homemade!

Tamarindo offers various bars and discos where you can go for a drink and have lots of fun dancing with your friends. Just to mention some of them, you can taste a great pizza at La Baula Pizzeria or La Esquina, sushi at Bamboo Sushi Club, great cuts of meat at Flying Bull or Long Boards BBQ; you can also find burgers, wings, Mexican food, Italian cuisine, shrimps, and local cuisine.

You can walk along the main road and surely you will see the variety option, the hardest part will be choosing what to eat!

Some hotels you can book in Tamarindo and the surroundings are the ones as follow:

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Conchal Beach

Playa Conchal receives its name due to the composition of the sand. It is composed of millions of tiny shells that rustle beneath your feet. The imposing beach is surrounded by its turquoise waters and it is located next to Playa Brasilito.

This is a great place for snorkeling with an array of tropical fish, or swimming in the clear and peaceful waters.

Playa Conchal is located in Guanacaste, one of the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. Guanacaste is a full of stunning beaches and luxury, and also has incredible bird watching opportunities.

Conchal is blessed with radiantly sunny days, perfect for those looking for great sunbathing and for some relaxed time in the sand. While staying here you will surely enjoy unforgettable sunsets, a perfect way to end a day plenty of fun.

Among the Guanacaste beaches, Playa Conchal is a gem. This beach is one of the only few Pacific Coast beaches that features crystal clear water, very similar to the beaches alongside the Caribbean.

Here, in the Playa Conchal area, it is easy to create an unforgettable Costa Rica beach vacation. Besides the swimming and snorkeling, visitors in Playa Conchal can enjoy watersports, deep sea fishing excursions, golf courts, hiking trips to the nearby nature reserves or national parks.

The neighboring town of Brasilito is within walking distance from the beaches of Conchal and Brasilito, and here visitors will find an array of affordable hotels, typical and international restaurants, and great bars.

Additionally, very close to Playa Conchal the community of Playa Flamingo can be found, with its palm-lined and white sand beaches, this town provides a small assortment of hotels and classy food establishments. 

Some of the highly recommended places to eat while staying by the area are Papaya Restaurant and La Casita del Pescado both offering seafood specialties.

Also you can find great food options in Tiki’s Seaside Grill, Agua y Sal, Soda El Coco, El Forno, and Ander’s Restaurant. Variety of options ideal for all tastes and all kind of budgets.

If you decide to spend your vacation in this gorgeous area we highly recommend you these hotels Reserva Conchal and Westin Playa Conchal.  Bahía del Sol hotel is located at approximately 7 kilometers from Conchal, and is a great option too.

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Samara Beach

The breathtaking coastal village of Samara is considered a real paradise on the Western shore of the Nicoya Peninsula. Samara is also known as one of the prettiest and safest beaches of Costa Rica.

That’s why this is considered as one of the most preferred beaches among locals and also foreigners. The beach is composed by wonderful white sand contrasting the aquamarine waters of the Ocean. Here, you can find a lot of tropical plant life as well as living coral, encompassing Samara's 3-mile (5 km) coastline.  

Samara is an ideal place for those looking for rest and relaxation; even when it is almost a universal characteristic of the Nicoya Peninsula, the beach keeps the vibe which allows a quiet and tranquil scenery for some relaxed vacations.

The village offers several services such as stores, restaurants and bars, hotels, and some discos just for the great town's nightlife. Even Mel Gibson have his own property close to Samara.

One of the most popular activities off the coast is sport fishing, as it is snorkeling and scuba diving around the coral environments too. A short one-mile (2 km) walk down the beach will bring visitors to Matapalo hamlet, a good place to do some snorkeling. If you are a “nature lover” you must know that for birdwatchers, Chora Island -located just off the coast-, is home to swaths of avian fauna that can easily be watched from a kayak or a little boat.

Additionally, the swimming conditions in the calm waters of Samara are at an ideal warm temperature, allowing tourists to have fun while spending a great time in the Sea.

The transportation to the region is much better now, due to the construction of the paved Road 150, the one which runs south from Nicoya.

Travelling by air is also an option available from a small airstrip just outside of the town. From San Jose or Liberia, planes will fly to Nosara and then to Samara. Daily buses also run from Nicoya, Liberia, and San Jose. You can ask also for private transfers to get there.

Other things to do in the area are yoga sessions and horseback riding alongside the gorgeous beach. The white sand beach is the perfect place to relax with a book or run wild with the kids, offering a fabulous setting for any beachside activity you could dream of. Offshore, a coral reef rewards snorkelers with active, beautiful marine life.

Giada Hotel can be found here and becomes a great choice for your stay in the area.

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Nosara & Guiones Beach

Nosara's beach town of Guiones is a delightful region with lucrative real estate, vibrant flora and fauna, and a world-class white sand beach.

The town has a sizeable population of ex-pats and retired people; even though, the place presents no shortage of accommodations. Many of the accommodations that can be found here are private, very luxurious, and immersed into the natural beauty of the zone.

Lacking a unified town, the area of Nosara is spread out and provides a very relaxed setting. Here, visitors will find a quiet and secluded community in which to enjoy the natural surroundings.

Guiones beach is considered to be one of the country's better surfing destinations, both for beginners and for advanced surfers. However, surfers are not the only visitors enjoying this paradisiac beach. The place is also a great spot for swimming and sunbathing in the sand.

If you want to travel to Nosara and Guiones, the 22-mile (35 km) road from Nicoya requires a four-wheel drive vehicle (especially during the rainy season) and it lacks proper signage.

As an alternative, there are bus services leaving daily from Nicoya; it takes about 2.5 hours to complete the journey if you use this mean of transportation. There is also a daily bus that leaves from San Jose.

It is also possible to take some flights to Nosara; it are offered both from San Jose and Liberia. (After Nosara, the planes continue south to Samara.)

Real estate in Guiones has been very developed during the last decade, and there are relatively few budget hotels in the area. Although there exists a variety of options, the accommodations generally favor visitors searching comfort and luxury. The north area of Guiones, -the actual town of Nosara-, as well as its airstrip, are located a few miles away from the beach.

This quiet and tropical place deep in the Pacific jungles of Costa Rica, offers different options for dining out. If you are looking for a traditional experience with the local cuisine at great price you can ask for Rosi’s Soda Tica and go there to enjoy delicious casados and meals.

You can also visit the Marlin Bill’s Restaurant. If you are looking for some fast food, maybe your ideal place will be Burgers and Beers, this is a must stop in the town!

Looking for something more specialized? Then visit Tibidabo and let your palate be delighted by the great tastes of the Mediterranean cuisine. Fusion 506 is a well-known option if you are looking for fusion cuisine combining both local and international ingredients in one delicious dish.

Other great options there are: La Luna Restaurant, Beach Dog Café, El Manglar Restaurant (at the Olas Verdes hotel), and Robin’s Café, Restaurant & Ice Cream.

Here you can stay in the Harmony hotel, a real great option for your vacation in Costa Rica. The hotel’s restaurant is also a great option for dining.

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Santa Teresa Beach

This beach is considered as a surfer's paradise; indeed, the surf here is truly exceptional. Santa Teresa provides consistent and impressive waves all year round. That’s why the beach is known as one of the best Costa Rica surfing beaches, a must-visit destination!

The tranquil beach town of Malpais is Santa Teresa's sleepy neighbor, and it is located 4 miles (6.5 km) north of Cabo Blanco National Park. As another reference, Malpais beach sits at the southwestern peak of the Nicoya Peninsula, opposite to Montezuma.

The flourishing surf village of Santa Teresa offers to its visitors a lot of great options to enjoy great international cuisine, relaxed swimming, sunbathing alongside its precious sands, daily yoga classes, year round surf, and cool nightlife.

This place is an excellent spot to enjoy and discover the amazing natural surroundings amid peace and relaxation. The perfect getaway for your Costa Rica vacation. Famous people such as Tom Brady & Gisele have their own vacation house in Santa Teresa.

As part of the relaxed vibe of the area, the villages of Santa Teresa and Malpais offer relatively few tour services. This is a place to be relaxed, not so much to seek for adventure. However, there are some canopy tours available, and there is also possible to take horseback rides along the beach.

And, if you are wondering how Santa Teresa is, then you must know that the place is characterized by its soft and sandy beaches, as well as for its consistent surf breakings. On the other hand, Malpais alternates between long stretches of sand and large patches of rock, bordered by a green jungle at the shore. Both of them considered as one of the prettiest beaches in Costa Rica.

The beach is very appreciated by locals and also by foreigners and famous people. Just to mention an example of it, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady spent their family vacation in Costa Rica, where they practiced some surfing.

The couple has visited Costa Rica several times for practice this sport, they said they love country’s waves and the warm beach. During this time in Santa Teresa, the family also did some horseback riding; apparently, the family had a blast… as their Instagram and Snapchat accounts showed to all of us.

Options for dining here are varied and you will surely be delighted by the offer of Santa Teresa’s best restaurants and sodas. Here you have some ideas of places to visit during your vacation. If you are looking for Japanese food, then a great option will be Koji’s located very close to the Flor Blanca hotel, a must visiting hotel we highly recommend. Reservations are preferable at Koji’s.

For a relaxed noon with your family or friends, you can visit these cafés: Mary’s Restaurant at the far end of Malpaís village; Zwart Café with a variety of dishes in its menu and a bookstore there too. For pizzas or burgers visit Burger Rancho or Pizzeria Playa Carmen, located at the beach with the same name.

To enjoy more traditional and Central American food you can visit Caracolas at the front of the beach in Malpaís, it is the lone soda on the end of the coast. For seafood visit Brisas del Mar, and if looking for a great option for international cuisine then you can try the Papaya Lounge in Moana Lodge.  

Santa Teresa and Malpais are accessible by road via Highway 160 or, if you prefer, you can take the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera or Naranjo Beach, and then a bus ride or driving the rest of the way. Flights to the nearby town of Tambor are also available via San Jose and Liberia.

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Montezuma Beach

Montezuma is located on the southeastern cusp of the Nicoya Peninsula, and beach’s huge natural beauty ranges from mangroves and estuaries to dense tropical forest. This is a favorite place for youths and surfers mainly, due to its laidback bohemian vibe. An ideal place to spend some days away from the noise and stress of the city.

Nestled amidst a varied landscape, Montezuma has a unique culture. The area is a favorite spot for jovial visitors looking to have some relaxed party when the sun goes down. At night, the town turns into a more vibrant place, locals and visitors take advantage of this time to rejuvenate from a full day of activities under the sun.

Despite it is such a small town, the nightlife here is exceptional, featuring several small bars and clubs to dance and spend a great time with friends. Additionally, Montezuma has a remarkable variety of restaurants with exquisite cuisine.

Here, diners can find a lot of different options, great for all tastes! Vegetarian and gluten free visitors will find a wide variety of options; we strongly recommend you to ask for the Mediterranean options available, they are a truly delight for the senses. There is also possible to taste the typical Costa Rican food

Playa Grande (or Grande Beach) is considered as the doorstep of Montezuma and is where many visitors go to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Surfing here is generally good, a good option if you want to practice this sport and be surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Nevertheless, the rip tide currents in Playa Grande can be quite strong, so you must be cautious. Alongside the coast, it is possible to found some tide pools formed around rocky locations. Just outside the town you will find a gorgeous 80-foot waterfall with excellent swimming holes. Yes, that is the magic of the Guanacaste beaches. And as if that were not enough, visitors can found several nearby places with warm natural springs.

Enjoying the amazing views and the delicious waters of Montezuma? Then try the local restaurants… you will feel in heaven! Here you have some dining options to visit and enjoy. You can try the Clandestina Restaurant, the Vaca Loca one of the place’s most popular dining venues.

For healthy food you may visit Café Orgánico or El Sano Banano, the last one featuring a great vegetarian and delicious menu.

Soda Montesol will offer you the best “casado” of the region at a convenient price, the ideal place to go after swimming in the clear waters or exploring the rainforests and the area. Soda La Naranja will serve you traditional Costa Rican food at a very affordable price, alongside with seafood options and vegetarian dishes too.

Wanting a romantic getaway? Cocolores Restaurant is a good option due to the closeness to the beach (it is a beachfront restaurant). The place offer delicious food with music in the background and great sunset views. Ideal for those looking for romance in intimate candle-lit dinners.

All kind of visitors would like and enjoy Montezuma’s magic vibe!

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Manuel Antonio Beach & National Park

This outstanding beach is set high above the charming Manuel Antonio National Park. The area boasts world-class views and beaches.

You will definitely love this place! There are plenty accommodation options, and that’s why you can find here some of the country's most inspired lodging options for your stay.

To get there you have different options to choose from. The access to the area is possible along the Coastal Highway 34 from either the North or South. If you choose to arrive by land, then you will have the chance to see how the pronounced steep cliffs along the way crash into the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

If you don’t want to drive or to use the land transportation, then there is also a domestic airstrip in Quepos, just 7km away from the heart of Manuel Antonio.

White sandy beaches, sparkling blue water, and the smell of the fresh ocean breeze are just three things that will leave you breathless; and what about imagine it all from the rocking chair on your patio or right next to the sea. We guarantee that all your worries and stress will disappear since the very beginning of your stay. 

Here, in the several beaches located between the town and the national park, visitors can enjoy the wide variety of activities such as swimming, visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park to do some hiking there, surfing, jet skiing, or simply get some relaxation while watching a vibrant sunset.

Manuel Antonio is one of only two places in Costa Rica where you can see all four types of monkey; spider, howler, white faced and the actually endangered squirrel monkey. Some of them can be spotted from the window of your hotel. The area is also a prime destination for those who want to watch sloths in their natural environment. They can be found both in and outside of the national park.

Manuel Antonio has blossomed into the most popular Costa Rican beach destination. A great variety of lodging options, as well as excellent cuisine available, and vibrant nightlife make this place the ideal destination for your next unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica.

We recommend you to always keep an eye on your valuables while standing at the beach or the surroundings. Regarding this, please do not feed the animals you see on your way. They are used to interact with humans, but giving them “human food” is a way to hurt them.  

Here you have a brief list with some selected hotels for your Costa Rica vacations:

Dining out in Manuel Antonio will not be a difficult task due to the great variety of places to enjoy in Manuel Antonio or in the neighbor town, Quepos. The crowd of international visitors has brought a considerable amount of international cuisines ranging from Italian to Japanese, along with the traditional Costa Rican dishes.

You won’t be lost, the majority of places are located very close from the other, and locals can bring you directions too. Here you have a selection of restaurants and cafés, if you want to eat out of your hotel.

You can try Falafel Bar as a great option for healthy meals or vegetarians. El Patio de Café Milagro has great food but you have to take into consideration that they have a limited menu, so you may want to watch it first. Emilio’s Café will delight your senses with a great selection of desserts and great coffee and teas.

Claro Que Si –the restaurant of the Si Como No hotel- is a good option for dining with good views and amazing food options. Just in front the beach you will find a good selection of traditional and local restaurants, the perfect option after some swimming and sunbathing.

The beach features a great amount of pizzerias at different budgets, bars and discos perfect for nightlife, and restaurants or local sodas just to try the best of the Pacific.

The closest town, Quepos, will offer more small restaurants and cafeterias and bars, being a great option if you want to go farther. Just, take into consideration that if you are staying at Manuel Antonio you may need a vehicle or ask for the hotel’s transportation to get there.

Quepos offer any shop imaginable: pharmacies, stores, supermarkets, ice cream shops, souvenir shops, and other useful places to make more comfortable your stay.

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Cahuita Beach

This village is a laid back and vibrant little spot that shows the unique Costa Rica’s Creole culture, thanks to its Afro-Caribbean heritage. Cahuita is located at just 27 miles (43 km) south of Puerto Limon, you can get there by driving down the Highway 36 along the Caribbean coast. If you are already visiting the Limon province, then this is a “must see” place for you.

This beach destination is home to approximately 4,000 or so residents, mainly of them are Jamaican descents. In the very beginning, the region started to be composed thanks to the massive importation of cheap labor at the turn of the century; most of them were exploited to work for the banana plantations.

Nowadays, Cahuita is a reflection of years of interesting history. Here, the vast majority of residents speak an Africanized-Creole English, but you can communicate without problem, as they speak good English and, of course, Spanish.

Just to help you understand the absolutely positive vibe of this village, Cahuita is a mix amongst the young and free-spirited inhabitants and those who are simply looking for an easy and relaxed life. If you are looking something like this, then this beach in Costa Rica is your perfect option.

Cahuita began to emerge from its seclusion helped by the construction of the highway to Puerto Limón from San José and Highway 36. Few years later, this event has opened up the region to the tourism industry, something that the town has largely accepted.

Negra Beach (Playa Negra) beach is located in the surroundings, named this way due to its black-sand, the beach offers a pleasant atmosphere and good options for swimming. Another beach can be enjoyed at the East of the town, a white-sand one, located within Cahuita National Park.

Both beaches are host to offshore activity including scuba diving and snorkeling tours. The coral reef between the two beaches is home to abundant marine wildlife, and it is considered one of Costa Rica's finest places to appreciate the Sea fauna.

Cahuita beach serves as a gateway to the Cahuita National Park to its South, and here is where tourism services are considerably wide-ranging. You can ask for our tours; there are some offered to the national park, and the equipment, guides, and boats are available for adventurous visitors seeking for open water activities.

Cahuita’s delicious cuisine is renowned as some of the best in the country. Food here has the typical Caribbean flavor and it is quite different from the other traditional food in Costa Rica. In comparison, Afro-Caribbean food is a fusion of different European cuisine and is characterized by dishes such as jerk—seasoned meats—and curried chicken, dishes prepared with coconut milk and species. Seafood dishes can be found in every corner. You must ask for them!

As a recommendation, you can take into consideration these places: Sobre Las Olas offering great seafood, El Girasol featuring Italian cuisine, Pizzeria Cahuita with good pasta and authentic pizzas. Caribbean Coconut, El Cangrejo Loco de Cahuita, Café Cahuita, Kawe –ideal for lunch-, Restaurant Tipico Cahuita serving authentic Caribbean and Cahuita food and beers.

Reggae is a local bar with great beach vibe and an ideal place to eat or drink a beer or a cocktail. Coco’s Bar & Restaurante is a good place for delicious food at a reasonable price. Coral Reef, La Fe Bumbata, Caribbean Breeze, and Beach Bar are other spicy and delicious options to enjoy while staying at this paradisiac Caribbean place.

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Tortuguero National Park, Beach & Canals

The Caribbean coast of the country is also home of the precious town of Tortuguero and the national park named as the same way. To get there, you must know that there are no roads leading to Tortuguero; it is most commonly accessed by the river in a boat trip on one of the canals of Tortuguero.

Another option to reach the village is by taking a short plane ride departing from San Jose. The village itself is small strip of land with a collection of colorful houses, gift shops, mini supermarkets, other public services, and lots of wildlife to be observed and enjoyed.

Even when Tortuguero is a relatively small town at the sea’s shore, the place offers a variety of activities to choose from. Spending some days here will totally amaze you. One of the most awesome experiences you can live in Costa Rica is the visit to the nesting beaches at night with a guide, just to watch the turtles laying eggs in the sand or the eggs hatching.

Almost every hotel in the area includes a guided visit to the town of Tortuguero and other visits to the canals. Going around in small boats with great visibility will allow visitors to take memorable photographs of the wildlife and the landscape.  You can also rent a canoe or Kayak and go exploring by yourself on one of the canals.

Likewise, taking this tour you will be able to spot creatures such as lizards, caimans, different kind of birds, crocodiles, monkeys and, if you are lucky, other mammals.

The park also offers some trails great for bird watching and for having a relaxing and entertaining hike. There is also a canopy tour, you can enjoy a different view of the tropical rainforest. Swimming in the ocean is not recommended due to the dangerous currents.

The Tortuguero National Park is one of the most varied and complete parks cause visitors can experience the lush rainforests as well as long stretches of beach, mangroves, and wide open canals. Besides, the park is one of the most important breeding grounds for the Green Sea Turtle. The wildlife here diverse and rich with great populations of monkeys, birds and fish.

Here you have a list of selected accommodations, to help you choose the lodge that fits more into your budget and vacation plans:

Dining out here maybe be a little difficult, that’s why the most common way of packages include the full board meals in their rates.

But, if you want a more traditional experience, during the visit to the Tortuguero town you can find local supermarkets as well as local sodas to try one of the typical dishes, and other shops.

You need the boat ride to get there, this is very important to take into consideration.

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Puerto Viejo Beach

Puerto Viejo in the Caribbean of Costa Rica is well known for its laidback vibe and is also famous for its surfing waves. The village is conformed for a variety of cultural influences; it is composed of a mix of Afro-Caribbean, Bribri, and Costa Rican cultures. 

A mere 11 miles (18 km) from Cahuita, this beach is accessible by land following the Highway 36 or by simply walking south, along the beach.

Recently, the town has become a much visited place, loved by tourists due to its cultural richness, its stunning white-sand beaches, the tropical vegetation and its closeness to national parks. 

This enhance visitor’s possibilities to enjoy wildlife and relaxation surrounded by stunning views and nature.

Here it is possible to do a lot of varied activities and tours. Caribbean food is also well served in this beach town, a lot of seafood, vegetarian options, and traditional meals can be found at accessible prices and in a variety of places, just to satisfy all kinds of expectations.

From restaurants to small local sodas there is a wide range of options to select.

Just to mention some places to enjoy dining, here you have a small selection: Lizard King Café features a great menu with a variety of delicious food in it, Café Rico at the center of Puerto Viejo a nice place surrounded by lush vegetation and with the possibility to spot animals that came as visitors.

Bread and Chocolate has become a landmark café in the town, locals and visitors enjoy there the breakfasts and lunches, as well as the incredible good desserts. It is important to take into account that it is cash only. Café Viejo, Amimodo, Veronica’s Place, and Soda Lidia are good options too.

You and your stomach won’t regret your visit to this magical land.

Puerto Viejo is a very great option for some relaxed vacations in the Caribbean. Take a look of our selected hotels in this region:

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Manzanillo Beach

This is a flourishing comer of tourism, due to the fact that is coming into its own not long ago and its small size.

This tiny village overlooks a stunning white-sand beach that makes its way to the blue green waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered one of the prettiest beaches in Costa Rica.

Snorkeling is an excellent option of something to do here, although the ocean is a bit rocky. It is particularly great in the nearby lagoon, which is protected by a rocky reef with abundant exotic marine fauna.

Due to this rocky conditions it is not highly recommended to swim here.    

If you want to experience something truly inspiring, then exploring the unspoiled beaches of the north of Manzanillo is one of the main attractions here. 

The isolated beaches of the area don’t have road access nor a single house or building, what makes the walk in a very relaxed and introspective one, just to enjoy quietly the views, the breeze, and the sounds of the waves.  

Visitors with four-wheel drive vehicles may drive to the secluded beach, however, the drive to get there turns in something almost impossible during the rainy season; particularly from September to November, when rains are at their heaviest.

A small number of accommodations are available to tourists, and bars and restaurants can be counted on one hand. But, it is also part of the adventure. Once here, you will know that your trip was worth it!

Manzanillo is accessible by land at barely 4 hours driving from San Jose. The place is located at the South point of the famous Cahuita National Park, and is the last town at the south of the paradisiac Puerto Viejo.

As Manzanillo is at the end of the coastal road, after the village there are only a few dirt trails that lead straight to the rainforests found in the region.

Just as recommendations you can taste Maxi’s Restaurant to enjoy a fully Caribbean food and great seafood and Cool & Calm Café located directly across from Manzanillo’s western beachfront.

We suggest Almonds & Corals hotel if you are visiting this beach. You won’t be disappointed.

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Uvita Beach

Wanting a less crowded beach vacation in Costa Rica? Then Uvita may be the ideal location. Located at 11 miles (17 km) south of Dominical alongside the coastal Highway 34 (or Costanera Sur as is known by the locals). This tropical village has a cozy charm in an unspoiled and serene atmosphere.

Going for a long walk along the beach’s coast is a beloved activity for all the visitors here.  The calm waters of Uvita are excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving and diving offshore. 

When the tide goes down make sure to visit Punta Uvita to the south of the town.

During the months of May to October it may be possible to witness the Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles coming ashore to nest. 

The protected area of Marino Ballena National Park, located at the south, is a very great place to watch this occur. Here it is even possible to watch the majestic Humpback whales in their migration through the waters just offshore.

This magical event normally occurs between the months of December and April.

Playa Uvita is a great white sand beach, another perfect spot for those who like swimming and surfing. If you are staying here, then you can take optional tours as the Kayaks through the mangroves and estuaries near the town of Uvita. 

There are many gorgeous waterfalls in the surroundings, some of which have been described by visitors as being the best ones in the whole country. You must come and check them to have your own opinion! Other fun options to do are horseback riding, scuba diving, snorkeling and hiking.

Here it is a brief summary of the most visited Costa Rica beaches, just to help you during your process of deciding which of them fits better into your vacation plans.

We can provide several vacation packages to Costa Rica that are already set, but if you prefer, we can accommodate your options to make a more customized itinerary for your family vacation or your adventurous or romantic getaway.

Visit RoadShack to enjoy real good vegetarian and vegan options, their specialty are the gourmet sandwiches and salads. Ballena Bistro offers rustic and contemporary fusion cuisine using local and fresh ingredients. The restaurant is located in a pretty barn-like building called Goathouse 169 on the kilometer 169 on the coastal highway between Uvita and Ojochal. 

Sibu Cafeteria & Chocolate is a must stop place due to its delicious coffee and desserts. There are many pizzerias too, at very affordable prices, just to adjust to each one of the visitor’s budgets. Typical food can be found here too, in places such as Soda Ranchito Dona Maria or at Restaurante Las Esferas. Jungle Blue Restaurant, Carlito’s Restsaurant, Los Laureles Bar, and Restaurante La Casona are other fantastic options for dining out while exploring the lush landscapes of Uvita.

Costa Rica Beaches Map

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