Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Many vacationers love to travel to Costa Rica for its rain forests,  wildlife, Pura Vida culture, and especially for its beaches. You’ve probably heard of beautiful Costa Rica pink sand beaches. Here’s a look at some of the best beaches in Costa Rica, that promise you relaxation, beauty, and a chance to let go of all your cares.

Costa Rica is known for volcanoes, rain forests, amazing wildlife. But it is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Central America. Costa Rica’s commitment to preservation should ensure that these beautiful sand beaches stay pristine for years to come.

A bird taking flight at Palo Verde National Park -- a highlight of things to do in Costa Rica with kids.
You are sure to see Costa Rican majestic wildlife on the Palo Verde Boat Tour.

Some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica are located in the Guanacaste region on the Nicoya Peninsula, as well as the Caribbean Coast in the Puerto Viejo area.

The Guanacaste area beaches will be best accessed from Liberia airport. Manuel Antonio and the Caribbean coastal beaches will be best accessed from San Jose airport. There are puddle jumpers and charter flights that can make travel to some of the more remote areas much faster.

So, what is the best beach in Costa Rica? While that may be a matter of opinion and personal preference, we’ve got information on several of our favorites to help you narrow down your itinerary. We hope that this guide to Costa Rican beaches is a help in planning Costa Rica vacations for our readers!

Sunset on Playa Potrero Costa Rica.

Best Beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

The Guanacaste region and the Nicoya Peninsula are hubs for many of the best beaches in Costa Rica. From sunsets to sailing to turtles this area is beautiful and unique.

Tamarindo beach may be the best known of the beaches in Guanacaste region, but it isn’t one that we’ve included on our list. Here we are focusing on the best beaches in Costa Rica for families. But if you want nightlife and excellent restaurants, you could easily stay at one of the beaches below and go into Tamarindo for the evening.

views of the ocean from playa danta
The waves on Playa Danta are fun for kids to splash and jump or boogie board.

Playa Danta & Playa Danita

Playa Danta is home to the new luxury town of Las Catalinas. There is a paid parking lot on the edge of town. You walk through the town square to reach the beach area. There are a handful of benches just above the beach. But it is always a good idea to bring your own beach chairs. The town itself is worth a visit. There are restaurants for lunch, and even some shopping.

The waters off of Playa Danta are ideal for boogie boarding, stand up paddle boarding or ocean kayaking. Again, Pura Vida Ride in town can rent any of these to you. We rented boogie boards for the kids one day. But honestly the kids were just as happy building sand castles and jumping in the waves.

If you are up for a little hike, head over to Playa Danita. You might just have Danita beach to yourselves.

Conchal Beach

This is a favorite of the Costa Rica beaches on our list. Not only is Playa Conchal known for its beauty, but also for its peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. It’s no surprise why so many honeymooners flock to this beach.

One thing unique about Conchal is that it’s completely covered in millions of white and pink seashells. It’s a great beach for not only swimming but for snorkeling, jet skiing, fishing, and sailing. You’ll also find outstanding resorts nearby, which will make your stay even more special.

Iguanas are one animal that you will likely be able to spot near the beach in Costa Rica.

Flamingo Beach and Playa Potrero

Playa Flamingo also happens to be located in Guanacaste, and another stunning destination that offers secluded spots with pink and white sands you’ll find along the beach.

Many people enjoy water activities such as boating, sport fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The beach also has sunset cruises that will be a romantic evening for just the two of you.

If you are looking to stay directly on the beach, just a couple of kilometers to the north is Playa Potrero. We stayed here with our multi-gen family and loved that we could walk to beachfront restaurants for dinner. No high end hotels here, rather condos mostly manages by Krain Property Management. Potrero is also home to the Costa Rica Sailing Center, an experience you won’t want to miss.

Insider Tip: Costa Rica is a wonderful multi-gen vacation destination. We visited with three generations of our family. Here’s why and what to know about traveling to Costa Rica with extended family.

Montezuma Beach

Montezuma Beach may not have the best places for swimming, as there are tons of jagged rocks to watch out for, but the scenery and landscape offers a gorgeous beach setting.

At low tide, you can lay out in the tide pools, or continue heading south, where there are far more monkeys than people that you’ll find. If you’re visiting during the right months, the beach releases baby turtles to the sea every day at 4 p.m.

spectacular colors from a sunset cruise out of Playa Flamingo.

Ostional Beach

At first glance, you may not be impressed with the black sands of Ostional Beach. But looking again you’ll find that it’s a wildlife refuge for hundreds and hundreds of sea turtles.

During the rainy season, a week before the new moon, sea turtles lay their eggs and bury them in the sands of Ostional.

Around 45 to 54 days from then, the tiny sea turtles make their way for the waves. The most sea turtles that came to shore was recorded in 1995, where around 500,000 females came ashore.

You’ll be excited to know that even though it’s a beach run by turtles, there are still plenty of activities for you and your family to do. You can go horseback riding, surfing, sailing, and hiking.

Playa Guiones and Playa Nosara, known for surfing, are easily accessed from Ostional.

Ostional beach is a nesting ground for sea turtles like this Olive Ridley. Photo courtesy Canva.

Playa Negra

Looking for a beach where you can escape the crowds? Located south of Tamarindo, at Playa Negra, you’ll notice right away the incredible black sands, and waves that make it suitable for surfing.

Especially for its right-hand barrel and swells that are consistent throughout most of the year. This beautiful beach destination is one you’ll want to walk barefoot along the seashore.

playa samara ome of the best beaches in costa rica
Beautiful Playa Samara know for excellent swimming in the shallow waters.

Playa Samara

Visitors love Playa Samara, especially around sunset, and the soft breeze that gently sways through the countless palm trees. It’s a great beach for families and has plenty of water sports and other exciting activities to enjoy.

Snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, water skiing, and swimming are the activities vacationers enjoy doing there.

We won’t lie when we tell you that this beach can become extremely busy. That’s because it’s a tourist area. You’ll also find a variety of restaurants and shops situated in town.

One beach that we’ll throw in as a freebie, is located close by Playa Samara. If peace and quiet are what you’re looking for, then this is it. At Carrillo Beach, it’s much more secluded, while providing a more intimate beach visit for you and your family.

Playa San Juanillo

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful beach destinations in Costa Rica, Playa San Juanillo should be added to your list. The clear blue waters and seashore lined with palm trees and other tropical trees provide epic views in every direction.

It’s not a big beach, but visitors enjoy paddleboarding, snorkeling, swimming and picnicking are among the best things to do there. You’ll want to plan your visit around high tide, where there are two sandy shores. If not, it becomes extremely rocky.

Playa Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a tiny beach town located on the Nicoya Peninsula, that is popular with surfers. This beautiful white sandy beach located on the Pacific coast, coupled with fantastic swells have made this Costa Rican beach town become a popular destination in recent years. As a bonus, the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is located a very short distance away from Santa Teresa beach.

Manuel Antonio offers the best of both the beach and wildlife.

Manuel Antonio National Park

It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention Manuel Antonio Beach when compiling the best beaches in Costa Rica. This paradise is located in Manuel Antonio National Park, which has 3 other beaches for you to explore (Puerto Escondido, Gemelas, and Espadilla).

This white sand beach has turquoise blue waters and surrounding green rainforests. Chances are, you may spot several white-faced monkeys among them.

There’s great hiking trails, kayaking, parasailing, and snorkeling that you’ll discover at this beach.

Insider Tip: While Costa Rica’s beaches are jaw dropping, so are the rain forests. Be sure to add La Fortuna and the Arenal area to your Costa Rica itinerary!

Best Beaches on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is less developed than the Pacific side, and can make for a beach vacation that includes wildlife and adventure.

The beaches of the Puerto Viejo area are more, remote and secluded than the Guanacaste area.

Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo

Punta Uva is a quiet beach town just a few kilometers from Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. This area is special for a couple of reasons. It is located within the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, so is a fantastic area to see wildlife. And, the beach boasts a coral reef that you can actually swim out to making it ideal for snorkeling.

Uvita Beach, Puntarenas

When you’re visiting Uvita Beach in Marino Ballena National Park, at low tide you’ll notice that part of the rocky shores forms a whale’s tail. This is appropriate, as it also happens to be the best spot in Costa Rica to watch Humpback Whales (Whale tours).

The beach may not have white sand, but the mountains and lush green scenery easily make up for that. The waves are gentle along this beach, making it perfect for families looking for an easygoing atmosphere. It’s also an excellent snorkeling destination, with clear waters and reefs that flourish with tropical fish.

What do you think the top beach towns in Costa Rica are?

These are several of the best beaches that you’ll encounter on your trip to Costa Rica, each that offers beauty, relaxation and plenty of activities for the whole family. Which of these beaches are you thinking about visiting soon?

If you’ve visited one of these or another beach that wasn’t on our list, tell us about your experience and what you would recommend to a first-time visitor.

Where Else in Costa Rica Do You Need to Visit

While in Costa Rica be sure to also visit the rain forest to see exotic wildlife, and one of the volcanoes for their relaxing hot springs.

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

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