The Best Costa Rican Beaches

The Best Costa Rican Beaches

Costa Rica’s miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastlines are a beach lover’s dream. Whether you body surf, take in the rays or dance in the sand, these are the best beaches in Costa Rica for you.

The 1,016km of Pacific coastline of Costa Rica is eternally different as it twists and turns around gulfs, peninsulas and many little coves. Rugged, rocky headlands alternate with traditional white and black sand beaches and palm trees to provide an illusion of a tropical paradise along some portions.

Strong tidal motion offers an ideal habitat for waterbirds as well as visually dramatic smashing surf (perfect for surfers) (perfect for surfers). Inland, the landscapes of the Pacific lowlands are equally dramatic, ranging from dry deciduous woods and open cattle country in the north, to lush, spectacular tropical rainforests in the south. Monotonous in comparison, the Caribbean shoreline runs a straight 212km along a low, flat plain that is inundated with saline lagoons and waterlogged woodlands. A lack of strong tides allows plants to grow right over the water’s edge along coastal sloughs, creating walls of green vegetation.

Costa Rica has its fair share of Cancún-style party beaches, which attract plenty of foreign tourists and a rising number of resident expats. If you are not in the mood to get your drink on and dance in the sand until morning, Costa Rica is also home to many of wilderness beaches where you will only have to share your spot with a few passing hermit crabs.

Whether you are keen to body surf in the pounding spray, or just spend your days soaking up the rays, Costa Rica is a beach lover’s dream.

Playa Tamarindo

Known in most circles as Playa Tamagringo, this increasingly rich and touristy beach location is home to the country’s hottest ocean-side night venues. Sure, Tamarindo is not the most genuine spot in Costa Rica, but it can surely be a lot of fun if you go with the appropriate mindset.

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Playa Negra

As its name implies, this much-loved beach near the reggae-fueled town of Cahuita is covered with dark black sand that glows on a sunny day. Although the beach might get scorching around midday, you are never far from the blue waves of the Caribbean Sea.

Mal País and Santa Teresa

Hugging the tip of the Nicoya peninsula, these two beach communities are surely not the easiest places to get. However, it is worth risking the bumpy roads and clouds of dust for the chance to surf along a magnificent stretch of wilderness-backed beach.


Few sites in Costa Rica draw as vast a legion of enthusiasts as Montezuma, which is a classic backpacker paradise near the southern end of the Nicoya peninsula. However, you will not feel like one of the masses as there are kilometers of empty wilderness beaches to explore.

Playa Conchal

Arguably the most gorgeous beach in Costa Rica, modest yet never understated Conchal is covered with a light sprinkling of crushed seashells edging sparkling water full of potential gifts.


Literally at the end of the road on the Caribbean coast, this lovely beach village fronts a postcard-perfect beach of powder white sand. Rent a pushbike from neighboring Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and cycle till you hear the crashing waves.