With two oceans...
and nearly 850 miles of shoreline, Costa Rica offers an astonishing variety of beach possibilities.
There are white sand beaches and black sand beaches, sheltered lagoons and world-class surf, beaches with people and beaches with wildlife, upscale resorts and rustic cabins, beaches accessible by air or highway and beaches only accessible by sea or river.
The only trick is in finding just the right beach for you.
Surf? Try Playa Grande, Tamarindo, or Cahuita. Or test the "salsa" at Puerto Viejo.
Gentle swimming? Samara or Manuel Antonio - or the beaches at Punta Uvita far south of Puerto Viejo.
Snorkeling? Some at Manuel Antonio, but best is at Puerto Viejo
Fishing? All Pacific beaches. Sportsfishing operates out of Quepos, Flamingo, Tamarindo, Guanamar, Punta Leona.
Fun and night life? Tamarindo, Flamingo, Punta Leona, Manuel Antonio, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo
Turtles? Playa Grande and Nosara. Or take an excursion north from Cahuita to Tortuguero National Park (in season only).
Rain Forest? Punta Leona, Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, or head south to the Osa Peninsula.
Wilderness? Cabanas Escondidas near Dominical - or head south to the wonders of the Osa Peninsula. (See Wilderness Lodges)
Natural splendor? Everywhere!
Flamingo - Brilliant white sand beach in Guanacaste between two scenic headlands makes one of the most beautiful stretches of the Pacific Coast. Two large hotels maintain U.S. quality services and a thriving marina offers sport fishing, diving, coastal cruises. Amenities and atmosphere of international resort. Recommended: Hotel Flamingo Marina
Playa Grande - A long beach with a strong surf and one of the great nature attractions of Costa Rica: the nesting place of the giant leatherback turtle. Hotel Las Tortugas was designed to minimize disturbance of the turtles and the owners are ardent conservationists. Playa Grande is a place to enjoy splendid isolation, pristine beach trails, tide pools, exploring a mangrove estuary. Recommended: Villa Las Baulas.
Tamarindo - Light sand beach of Guanacaste Province known for superb fishing and surfing and also recently awarded 100% on the Bandera Azul survey for beach cleanliness. Local tour operators provide access to watersports (including scuba) and horseback riding. Community maintains a lively mix of tico, gringo, and European styles. Recommended: Tamarindo Diria, Villa Alegre,Bella Vista, Sueno del Mar, Capitan Suizo, el Milagro.
Nosara - Light sand beaches, a scenic point, a small biological reserve, and English-speaking residents make this one of the most congenial beaches for many travelers. Ostional wildlife refuge is one of the few nesting areas of the olive ridley turtles. Recommended: Lagarta Lodge, Rancho Suizo
Samara - A calm bay fronted by a soft, light sand beach with a gentle slope makes this one of the most popular beaches for Costa Rican families. Villas Playa Samara is set apart from the village at one end of the bay and offers a complete range of water sports activities. Recommended: Villas Playa Samara
Guanamar - This is a rare find: a deluxe hotel in a secluded paradise. Hotel Guananar is situated on a circular bay edged by white sand, no other habitation in sight. The water is calm, ocean swimming good, and boating excellent. Guanamar offers sportfishing, horseback riding, gourmet food, and “romantic sunset walks”.
Punta Leona - A beautiful white sand beach on a private reserve less than two hours by road from San Jose makes Punta Leona one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets. Formerly an exclusive private club for Costa Ricans, Punta Leona preserved its unspoiled beauty while nearby beaches were overdeveloped. Open today to the touring public, it offers some of the best facilities in the country including swimming pools, volleyball, disco, scuba, fishing, and guided tours to nearby Carara Biological Reserve.
Manuel Antonio - Popular national park on the central Pacific coast offering white sand beaches, rugged seascapes, rain forest, and plentiful wildlife. Easy swimming on the sheltered third beach, surfing off the first and second beach, and snorkeling in the “turtle traps.” Also available: sea kayaking, sport fishing, and horseback riding. Recommended: Villas Nicolas, Casitas Eclipse, La Quinta, Costa Verde, Karahe, Vela Bar.
Dominical - South of the small fishing town of Dominical the Pacific Coast breaks into rugged points and small crescent beaches fringed by dense rain forest. Here two Californians have built a rustic hideaway that evokes a Taoist retreat. Cabins are open, facing the ocean. No electricity, but an entire rain forest for your backyard and the ocean at your doorstep. Cabinas Escondidas
Cahuita - The Caribbean is a different world with reggae rhythms, and West Indian culture. Cahuita offers Costa Rica’s first marine park, protecting a barrier reef, white beaches, and beach forest. The seaside park also offers a wealth of fauna and flora and some of the easiest birdwatching in the country. Accommodations at the Atlantida Lodge across from a black sand beach are simple, but comfortable with ceiling fans, hot water, and complimentary 24-hour coffee.
Puerto Viejo - The far southern Caribbean offers beautiful white and black sand beaches with coral formations that frequently touch the shore for the easiest snorkeling. Dense rain forest and mangrove estuaries offer a superb habitat for birds and small wildlife. A mix of African, Latino, and Bri Bri Indian culture make this one of the most interesting regions of the country. Recommended: Villas del Caribe (ocean-front 2-bedroom apartments with kitchenette), Almonds & Corals (tent camp)
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