Looking for the best Costa Rica beaches for a warm-weather getaway? You’ve come to the right place.
Costa Rica has long been named one of the best places to visit for a beach vacation, and there’s no guessing why. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines of this Central American gem are chock full of long stretches of white, golden, or black sand beaches.
So, whether you are looking for the best beaches in Costa Rica for swimming, surfing or simply soaking up the sun, this guide has got you covered to make planning your epic Costa Rica itinerary that much easier.
Guiones Beach (Nosara)
Located in the laid-back expat community of Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula, Guiones Beach offers a 4.5-mile stretch of sand and one the most consistent and friendly surf breaks in the country.
Book a week at a cozy hotel in Nosara set back in the rainforest and fill your days with sunset walks along the beach – a truly magical moment.
Santa Teresa Beach
Santa Teresa Beach, on the Nicoya Peninsula, is a dual delight. It’s a top-ranking spot among the best beaches in Costa Rica for surfing, thanks to its long, curling waves. But if hitting the surf breaks is not your cup of tea, you can also find a unique swimming experience at the Malpais tidal pools.
When not soaking up the sun or relaxing by the pool at your low-key accommodation in Santa Teresa, try out one of the many trendy cafes and restaurants lining the beach town’s main drag.
Tortuga Island Beach
Accessible only by boat, Tortuga Island Beach offers a different kind of Costa Rican beach experience. It’s among the best Costa Rica beaches for swimming, thanks to its calm, crystal-clear waters. Snorkeling is a must here, with vibrant coral reefs just a short swim from the shore.
When finished with water activities, the island offers hiking trails that provide panoramic views of the surrounding sea.
Located near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Montezuma Beach is a unique blend of natural beauty and bohemian backpacker culture. It’s one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for those who love adventure, thanks to the nearby Montezuma waterfalls and natural swimming pools formed by the river.
The beach has strong waves, making it more suited for experienced swimmers and surfers.
Hermosa Beach (Puntarenas)
Situated in the Guanacaste province on the Pacific coastline, Hermosa Beach is a quieter alternative to its bustling neighbor Santa Teresa. This beach is one of the best in Costa Rica for swimming, with its calm, shallow waters making it a great beach day with the kids.
The beach stretches over one mile, offering plenty of space for beach games like volleyball or an evening stroll. Snorkeling near the rocky volcanic outcrops reveals a variety of colorful fish.
San Juanillo Beach (Guanacaste)
San Juanillo, located north of Nosara, makes for a tranquil day trip to the beach. Unlike other more crowded spots, San Juanillo offers dual bays with calm, shallow waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
The attached small village offers delicious local Costa Rican cuisine for your mid-day lunch break.
Located in the Nicoya Peninsula, Ostional Beach offers one of the world’s most important nesting sites for Olive Ridley sea turtles.
While it isn’t one of Costa Rica’s best beaches for swimming due to strong currents, the main attraction here is the opportunity to witness the arribadas or mass nesting events.
Manuel Antonio Beach
Nestled within Manuel Antonio National Park with paid entry, this beach offers calm, shallow waters and is one of the best Costa Rica beaches for those who like to tip their toe in the water.
Manuel Antonio Beach is where monkeys and sloths are frequently sighted in the surrounding rainforest. The park also offers hiking trails that lead to beautiful viewpoints, making it a multifaceted beach experience.
Uvita Beach (Costa Ballena’s Whale Tale)
Located in Marino Ballena National Park, Uvita Beach has become famous for its sandbar shaped like a whale tail. Uvita Beach is among the best beaches in Costa Rica for swimming, with its calm waters protected from the Pacific Ocean current.
The beach is also a hub for Cano Island day trips for snorkeling and scuba diving. And if you are looking for the best spot in Costa Rica for whale watching, this is it.
Playa Cocles (Puerto Viejo)
Situated near the laid-back town of Puerto Viejo and surrounded by exotic jungle, Playa Cocles offers a playful Caribbean vibe. Known for its golden sand and strong waves, it is a popular spot for surfers seeking a challenge.
However, if you happen to be traveling to Costa Rica with your family, rest assured there are also lifeguards on duty, making it one of the safer beaches in Costa Rica for swimming.
Playa Negra (Puerto Viejo)
Just a short drive from Puerto Viejo, Playa Negra features striking black sand from volcanic activity.
Taking a horseback ride is the most popular activity that Playa Negra offers, but do not be fooled because you can find some very swimmable calm waters here for an ideal day for your family. It is also generally less crowded.
Located near the border with Panama, Manzanillo Beach is part of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
The nearby mangroves offer kayaking opportunities, and the dense jungle is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts looking to spot exotic birds and animals. The Manzanillo Beach coral reefs offer excellent snorkeling and diving.
Best Costa Rica Beaches Final Thoughts
And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the best beaches in Costa Rica, each with its own unique charm and offerings. Whether you are looking to surf, swim, or bask in natural beauty, Costa Rica has a beach for you.
This article was written by Haley Blackall and published by Our Woven Journey.