Skip to Content

15 Best Beaches in Costa Rica (Top Spots Ranked!)

15 Best Beaches in Costa Rica (Top Spots Ranked!)

Looking for the best beaches in Costa Rica? Blessed with rich wildlife, verdant rainforests, and gregarious locals, Costa Rica is living proof of paradise on earth. While there’s plenty to admire on land, the stunning shores of this biodiverse Central American destination make it globally renowned. 

This topographically-blessed Latin country features coastlines that run thousands of miles. Whether you’re lazing by the Pacific’s golden beaches or gawking over the candy-colored corals of the Caribbean, the country offers something for every water-loving traveler. 

Tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean shorelines, beach-goers can choose between untouched shorelines, bustling mega beach resorts, and everything in between.

From surfing on big breaks to spying on a nest of sea turtles to staying solitary at sundown with a margarita on hand, Costa Rica offers plenty of options to all travelers.

Since Costa Rica is known for its spectacular beaches, consider exploring the following beaches to make your journey memorable. 

Map of Beaches in Costa Rica

Before we get to the top beaches in Costa Rica, take a quick peek at this map to see where they are in relation to the rest of the country.

Map of Beaches in Costa Rica

List of the Top Beaches in Costa Rica

With 800 miles of coastline and 300 beaches, where do you go?

To help you build your itinerary, we’ve whittled down the choices to 15, according to online reviews and our own personal experiences. Here are the best beaches in Costa Rica ranked:

15. Playa Hermosa Beach

Playa Hermosa Beach Overview

Playa Hermosa is one of the best beaches in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. The beauty and peaceful charm make this gorgeous beach a perfect place to relax. 

Backed by palm trees and multiple decent places to stay, Hermosa Beach is one of the premier surfing destinations in Costa Rica.

This 2 km long grey sand beach is encircled by ridges of volcanic rock and tropical forests. The lush surroundings and idyllic beauty of the beach make it an ideal family spot for all to enjoy. 

This beach offers various water activities, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, sport fishing, and sunset catamaran tours. 

Also, the beach offers multiple accommodation choices, including Hermosa Beach HouseHermosa Wave C1, and Ola Bonita BeachFront Apart Hotel. Browse these options to choose a perfect hotel to ensure a comfortable stay.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica

14. Playa Flamingo Beach 

Playa Flamingo Beach Overview

Well-known for its small sandy cover, Playa Flamingo is one of the stunning white sand beaches. The beach is located in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. It provides tourists with spectacular sea views or scenery. 

Flamingo is famous for its soft waves that are perfect for swimming. Since there are plenty of trees, you get enough space to relax in the shade after swimming or walking. 

The fine sand and tranquil waters of Playa Flamingo guarantee hours of fun and peace, regardless of your taste. 

The northern section of Flamingo Beach is usually crowded. The reason is easy access to and from nearby accommodations, including the Margaritaville Beach Resort and condos. 

The refreshing ocean waves and tranquil feel of this beautiful beach will ensure a great time on the beach.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

13. Playa Cocolito Beach 

Playa Cocolito Beach

Located just before El Chorro Waterfall, Playa Cocolito is another name on the list of best beaches in Costa Rica. Visiting Cocolito also offers a great chance to explore El Chorro Waterfall. Coming down a cliff, the water of this waterfall directly hits the rocks and then goes into the ocean. 

Featuring sparkling blue water, this white-sand beach is absolutely stunning. Though Playa Cocolito offers swimming areas, the high beach waves can get hard to swim through due to winds, especially in January and February. 

Playa Cocolito Beach is the perfect spot to relax, cool off, and chill. Book your stay at properties like Tango Mar Beachfront Boutique Hotel & Villas to make the most out of your visit to Cocolito Beach.

12. Playa Samara Beach 

Tourist in Playa Samara Beach

Playa Samara Beach can be an excellent pick for those who want a relaxing time on the beach. Boasting beautiful sunsets, long sandy stretches, and parking spaces, this beach doesn’t have much crowd, making it ideal for families. 

Around 50 minutes from NDA (Nosara Domestic Airport) and 2 hours from LIR (Liberia Guanacaste International Airport), Playa Samara can be accessed easily without any hassle. Featuring light tan sand and several palm trees, the beach attracts all types of visitors. 

Samara Beach is known for various water activities, such as snorkeling, kayaking, sportfishing, and scuba diving.  In addition, Hotel Belvedere Playa Samara Costa RicaLocanda Samara Beach, and Hotel Giada are some of the exclusive properties. With a range of amenities and room options, these hotels are some of the top choices for travelers. 

Moreover, if you want to experience life below the water surface, this is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for exploring some underwater wildlife.

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

11. Dominical Beach 

Dominical Beach Scenery

Offering a breathtaking view of natural attractions and lush mountains, Dominical Beach is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Situated off the beaten route on the South Pacific coast, this beach is known for its consistent waves, making it the best spot for surfers. 

Stretching around 2.5 miles, Dominical is a long beach with deep blue water, dark rocky sand, and a rocky shore. It is surrounded by various accommodations to ensure tourists’ comfort. From hotels to lodges to vacation rentals to camping sites, you will find lots of options to spend your nights. 

Explore Cool Vibes Beach HostelRio Lindo Resort, and Hotel Tropical Sands Dominical to pick a place that suits your needs and budget. 

Though this is not the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, it offers spectacular sunset views. If you’re in the town, it is suggested to take a walk around Dominical Beach to enjoy striking sunsets. 

Moreover, Dominical Beach is an inviting attraction with a year-round lifeguard program. Featuring a super chill vibe, this is the best place to have a great time with family or friends.

10. Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Santa Teresa is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica, located near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. This place is perfect for those looking for a balance of natural beauty and a laid-back hippie vibe. 

The stunning white sand and consistent surf attract backpackers year after year. Offshore, travelers can enjoy luxury accommodations, modern-day amenities, bustling nightlife, and restaurants. 

The waves on this beach are faster and more powerful, making it an excellent choice for experienced surfers looking for a good swell. If you’re a yoga lover, visit Pranamar Villa to get a good stretch of yoga to relax. Experienced yoga practitioners come here to offer yoga classes. 

You can also taste your way around the town’s traditional sodas, vegetarian cafes, fine-dining restos, and burger joints. Check out this surfing lesson in Santa Teresa to ride the waves with a pro.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

9. Nosara

Nosara, Costa Rica

Travelers looking for a respite from city life can soul-search in Nosara, Costa Rica’s wellness capital.

This health-centered, environmentally-conscious ex-pat beach community attracts surfers, yogis, and nature lovers from different parts of the world. 

Nosara is composed of three beaches: Pelada Beach, Garza Beach, and Guiones Beach. No matter your location, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate.

You can book a room at the Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort or The Harmony Hotel. These two wellness-oriented accommodations of Nosara offer spa treatment, yoga surf retreats, and sustainably-sourced gourmet dishes.

Take a relaxing stroll along the expansive Playa Guiones. This is Nosara’s 3 km long main beach that features year-round waves, a great beginner spot. If you’re looking for something more laid back, take a dip in the tidal pools of Playa Pelada. 

Get your fix of fauna at the Nosara Biological Reserve. It features 270 animal species, including bats, monkeys, iguanas, armadillos, and various birds.

Among the best things to do in Nosara is join a guided kayak expedition and bird-watching tour.

8. Playa Montezuma

Playa Montezuma, Costa Rica

Laid-back Playa Montezuma is a must-visit with its trendy bohemian vibe and hipster appeal. This gorgeous beach at the eastern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is a favorite spot for budget travelers.

Right smack at the center is a small trendy town flocked by funky backpackers, surfers, artists, and Experienced, all contributing to the beach’s liberal vibe. In the afternoon, arts and crafts galleries feature artisans selling their wares, while at night, especially at Chico’s Bar, the beach thrives with life.

There’s never a dull moment at Playa Montezuma. Take a snorkeling tour to Tortuga Island or explore both land and sea by renting a sea kayak or a bicycle.

The new Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary is always looking for volunteers who could help care for wildlife or build more animal habitats.

There’s a 20-minute waterfall hike south of Montezuma, where you can explore three waterfalls. 

Also, El Pargo FelizHouse Ocean53, and Hotel Amor de Mar are some nearby hotels that offer a stunning ocean view. 

See RelatedBest Activities in Costa Rica

7. Playa Manzanillo

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Are you looking for a Costa Rica beach for families? Just 12 kilometers away from Puerto Viejo is Playa Manzanillo. This secluded palm-fringed beach boasts a unique feel and tranquil atmosphere. 

Manzanillo’s main draw is its pristine beach with a stretch of sand. Here, visitors can truly unwind away from groups of people.

This is a great beach for families with kids looking for a swimming spot. The beach features calm waves, thanks to a large rock jetty that prevents large waves from reaching the shore. 

It’s best to swim during high tide, as the rocky seafloor may be slightly uncomfortable when the tide is low. Venture farther into the sea via snorkeling or diving, and you’ll find vibrant coral reefs and marine fauna.

Take a break from the waters and explore Tico to experience small-town Costa Rican life. The area has a range of restaurants where you can sit back and enjoy a drink or your favorite food.

Book a room at Manzanillo Beach to make the most of your visit to Playa Manzanillo. 

See RelatedCheap Places to Travel

6. Ostional

Ostional

Ostional Beach is known for its crystal clear waters and protected wildlife. Travelers will most likely brush shoulders with the locals (endearingly called Ticos) who live a slow and humble life in this paradise. 

The spectacular scenery and friendly locals are great reasons to visit this beach. However, sea turtles who visit the coast each year to lay their eggs are real celebrities of Ostional. 

Ostional is home to the well-loved but endangered Olive Ridley turtle.  Turtle activity peaks during the cooler months of June and December, but this spot is so popular among turtles that you’ll most likely see them almost any time of the year!

Once done spying on sea turtles, it’s time for some water adventure. Surfing is a popular activity. But if you’re afraid of getting caught in rip currents, you can try snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or scuba diving

Also, Boutique Hotel Luna Azul is one of the best hotels near Ostional Beach, with an outdoor pool and panoramic views. 

See Related: Next Vacay Review

5. Tamarindo

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Playa Tamarindo is a spectacular beach located on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. If you’re looking for a modern Costa Rican beach experience, this tourist hotspot features all the modern conveniences travelers may desire.

From hotels to condominiums to shops to upscale restaurants, Tamarindo Beach offers everything to fulfill every taste. This bustling beach is famous among fishermen who flock to its waters for sailfish, marlin, giant tuna, and other species.

Visitors can snorkel, scuba dive, jet ski, windsurf, sail surf, or go on beach cruises. Tamarindo waters are consistent and not too harsh, great for surfers of all skill levels. For wildlife, you can swing by any of the nearby lagoons. There are also a few spots where you can spy on Giant Leatherback Turtles.

At night, the beach teems with life. Head to La Barra for salsa dancing or hob-nob with the younger crowd at Pacifica.  While modern in appeal, Tamarindo features no shortage of Costa Rican culture, especially in traditional local markets. You can find various authentic Costa Rican goods there. 

Also, Casa Sueca – At the Beach and Hotel Mahayana are the best places to stay in Tamarindo. Book a tour and shuttle to get in and out of Tamarindo comfortably!

4. Costa Ballena

Costa Ballena, Costa Rica

Stretches 21 miles across three towns, including Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal, Costa Ballena Beach deserves a spot in the list of best beaches in Costa Rica.

Also called Whale’s Tail, this incredible beach has everything Costa Rica prides itself on: thriving wildlife and picturesque nature sceneries.

Verdant nature reserves, postcard-perfect waterfalls, and winding jungle hikes add to the character of Costa Ballena beach. The green mountains serving as spectacular backdrops to the magnificent coastline make this beach unique. 

Explore this rolling beach, and you’ll find multiple boutique hotels, including Playaballena Spa Hotel, and upscale restaurants with breathtaking views.

Named after the glorious whales that migrate to its waters every year, whale watching is a popular tourist attraction. Head to the Ballena Marine National Park to spy on humpback whales and several types of manta rays, sharks, and dolphins.

Costa Ballena waters are the perfect playground for diving, surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling. Other activities include canopy tours, tree-climbing, and sport fishing.

See RelatedBest Travel Shorts

3. Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

Playa Conchal is a gorgeous pink sand beach in Costa Rica. Just 1 km South of Brasilito, this palm-fringed beach is often rated as one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Named after the billions of shells (conchas) that wash up on the shore, Playa Conchal’s shallow waters feature a vibrant turquoise that gradually turns into a deeper foam green.

Tourists will encounter thick groups of tourists, vendors, and locals during the peak season. Stroll further south, and you’ll come across more spectacular sights. Travelers can enjoy various water activities, such as snorkeling, jet-skiing, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking. 

Looking for a place to relax nearby Conchal? Head to the upscale Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa for first-class lodging by the beach. This resort offers a day pass for non-resident visitors who would like to access its multiple amenities.

Just a short walk away is the town of Brasilito and the community of Playa Flamingo. Here, you will find an array of affordable hotels, bars, and restaurants.

See RelatedOne-Week Costa Rica Itinerary

2. Punta Uva

Punta Uva

Punta Uva’s splendid natural sites, thriving fauna, and its gold sand make it one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. To get to this small seaside fishing area, you need to follow a winding dirt road south of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast.

You will pass through a thick jungle, several eco-lodges, and restaurants before you get to the spectacular Punta Uva.  Most of Playa Punta Uva is located within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, offering opportunities to view sloths, monkeys, and birds.

The beach features quiet waters, making it one of the best swimming beaches in Costa Rica for kids.  After lazing by the beach, there are tons of things to do. Snorkeling or scuba diving offers incredible views of marine wildlife and vibrant coral reefs. You can also kayak along Playa Punta Uva to spy on toucans, monkeys, sloths, turtles, and birds.

Though there are multiple options, Bungalows Punta Uva Inn is a typical villa in Punta Uva to ensure luxury accommodation. 

See RelatedTravel Hacking 101

1. Manuel Antonio

Birds Eye View of an island and the Sea

No other beach in Costa Rica deserves the top 1 spot more than Manuel Antonio. Situated on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and flocked by over 140,000 visitors annually, Manuel Antonio National Park features a stunning beach worthy of this list.

The rich biodiversity and wealth of activities make this beach a top attraction among tourists.  Manuel Antonio Beach is known for its spectacular scenery. This is a great place to swim, surf, or snorkel.

Adventure seekers can encounter abundant wildlife, including squirrels, capuchins, sloths, agoutis, and iguanas, in Manuel Antonio National Park. They can also hike along the Manuel Antonio Trails to spy on more elusive rainforest animals. 

Remember that only 600 visitors can visit Manuel Antonio at any given time. So, if you’re planning to visit Manuel Antonio during peak seasons like December, come early in the morning. 

Want to test your limits with rafting? Book a water rafting tour to see the sites and tap your adrenaline.

Looking for a place to stay? Selina Manuel Antonio and Waterfront Hotel Verde Mar are exclusive hotels in Manuel Antonio Beach with high-end amenities.  

FAQs

Which part of Costa Rica has the best beaches?

The best beaches of Costa Rica are located in the southern Caribbean and northwest Costa Rica.

Which part has the best beaches for swimming in Costa Rica?

The Caribbean coast has the best swimming beaches in Costa Rica. One perfect example is Playa Punta Uva – one of Costa Rica’s famous swimming beaches.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!