Costa Rica is a great place to visit with its diverse landscape, wonderful weather, and amazing atmosphere.
In addition, the Central American country is well known for its surfing, with some of the most consistent and high-quality waves in the world.
Below you’ll find a list of the best beaches in Costa Rica, separated by the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean Coast.
The Pacific Coast is a much more popular place for tourists because it has better waves for surfing, more restaurants, bars, places to stay, and things to do than the Caribbean coast.
The Caribbean Coast is more undeveloped and not a ton of tourists visit this side of the country. You’ll find many more locals and a more authentic atmosphere.
With such an extensive coastline on both sides of the country, there are many beaches to choose from. This list will help you narrow down your options to help you choose the best beach in Costa Rica for you.
Pacific Coast or Caribbean Coast
Both sides of the country are great, but they’re very different. The Pacific side of Costa Rica will have more beaches with restaurants, bars, shops, and accommodations just off the beach. It’s much more developed with more tourism and opportunities.
The Caribbean side of the country has more towns and smaller villages than developed cities. The two sides of the country are great in their own way, just very different.
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway where you have the whole beach to yourself and nothing to do but listen to the waves crash and relax under the sun, then the Caribbean side is right for you.
If you want to hang on the beach, but still be able to meet new people, try out surfing, grab a drink on the water, and shop, you’ll love the Pacific Coast. It’s truly up to you depending on what you’re looking for.
Keep reading for the best beaches in Costa Rica broken out by the Pacific and Caribbean Coast:
The Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Most people who visit Costa Rica visit the left side of the country along the Pacific Coastline. The beaches here may have restaurants, bars, and accommodations just off the beach, as well as surfing lessons and other water activities, offered right on the beach.
1. Quepos Beach
Manuel Antonio Beach in Quepos is a very popular place to visit. Manual Antonio National Park is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica and it has a coastal rainforest full of wildlife.
There is so much to do in Manuel Antonio.
Inside the park, there is a lagoon with a sizeable crescent-shaped beach. It’s a beautiful private beach with strikingly turquoise blue water.
It’s an excellent place for swimming because the water is very calm. You will need to pay for entrance to the park and walk through the park to reach the beach, which takes about 30 minutes, but it’s worth it.
You’ll see many animals along the way, including monkeys and maybe even sloths. If you don’t want to visit the National Park, there is a great public beach just outside the park.
It’s a great place to swim, surf, and relax in the sand, with many restaurants along the beach to grab lunch or a drink.
2. Jaco Beach
Jaco is a carefree surfer’s beach town. The beach is incredible and a great place to surf. There are many restaurants and bars along the beach and shops and things to do in town.
Jaco Beach has a ton of activities to offer and also has a vibrant nightlife scene. Jaco is the place to be if you’re looking for a very developed beach area.
3. Tamarindo Beach
Located in the province of Guanacaste, the beach in Tamarindo is great for surfing. Along the Nicoya Peninsula, it has consistent year-round waves making it a super popular surf destination.
The town of Tamarindo is laid-back and very welcoming, making it the perfect place to lounge on the beach and try surfing.
Also, Tamarindo Beach has one of the best sunsets in the country, so be sure to enjoy the sun going down from your seat in the sand. Grabbing a drink and watching the sunset is one of the best things to do in Tamarindo.
4. Uvita Beach
Uvita Beach is located next to Marino Ballena National Park. This area is known as Costa Ballena, which stands for whale coast because the coast here is actually shaped like a whale tail and is also a great place to spot whales.
The national park protects 9 miles of the coastline and thousands of acres in the ocean, so there are a ton of whales, dolphins, and other sea life in this area.
You can walk along the whale tail when it’s low tide, which jets out pretty far into the ocean.
This is a great beach if you want to see wildlife and explore. You may even find sea turtles crossing into the ocean! Uvita Beach has a ton to do and see, so if that’s up your ally, this would be a great beach for you.
5. Nosara Beach
On the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara Beach is another great surfing beach. Honestly, you can surf anywhere, which is a huge plus in Costa Rica.
The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the blue zones of the world, an area where a large number of the population live to be over 100 years old.
The area has a wellness atmosphere and is very Zen. If you’re looking for a calm, relaxing beach, Nosara is the best beach for you.
6. Flamingo Beach
As the name suggests, Flamingo Beach has a bit of a pink hue to it during the year. The sand is powdery white, but it turns very light pink at different points throughout the year.
Flamingo Beach is located in a small town in the province of Guanacaste. It’s not overly touristy, so you’ll enjoy laid-back vibes without tons of crowds on the beach.
With nearby mountains, the landscape is stunning, so if you’re looking for amazing views, this is the best beach for you. Find out when Flamingo Beach turns the color of a Flamingo and visit during this time. You won’t be disappointed.
7. Esterillos Beach
Esterillos Beach is not very far from places like Jaco and Quepos, making it perfect if you want to experience the larger cities but stay in a smaller, local town.
The beach in Esterillos has small boutique-style accommodations and restaurants. Fields and rainforest line the beach, so it’s very beautiful.
It’s the perfect place to stay and enjoy a slow-paced, relaxing vacation, yet you’re still near many activities.
|Pro Tip: These are some of the best places to stay while in Esterillos|
The Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is much more barren than the Pacific Coast. Not a ton of tourists visit the right side of the country. As a result, you’ll find fewer hotels and accommodations, tour opportunities, and fewer restaurants and bars. There are some cities on the Caribbean Coast, but not as many options as the Pacific side has.
The huge plus about the Caribbean side is that you can often have entire beaches to yourself with maybe a few stragglers at most. If you’re looking for a beach to lounge on and don’t need a ton of bells and whistles, you will enjoy the Caribbean coast. You’ll surely find many deserted beaches you can relax on all day.
8. Punta Uva Beach
In the province of Limon, the beach in Punta Uva is in a small fishing village next to Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
It’s a quiet and calm beach with a jungle behind it where you may spot birds, monkeys, and sloths.
There is a coral reef just offshore, so if you’re looking for a good place for offshore snorkeling or scuba diving, this is the best beach for you.
The water is calm, making it great for families too. The powdery white beach is surrounded by nature, creating a serene environment to enjoy and explore.
9. Cocles Beach
Cocles Beach is named after the small village, Cocles, in the province of Limon. It has some of the best surfing on the Caribean Coast.
The remote town doesn’t have a ton of commercialization, so it’s super authentic and uncrowded. This is the best beach for you if you’re looking for a local and less developed town.
Enjoy the palm tree-lined beach and have the whole beach to yourself while you listen to the sound of the ocean.
10. Blanca Beach
Located in Cahuita National Park, Playa Blanca is the park’s prettiest beach. This national park is located in southeastern Costa Rica near the border of Panama.
Right off playa Blanca is one of the largest coral reefs in Costa Rica, so it’s a great spot for offshore snorkeling.
If you’re looking for a beach where you can explore and snorkel, this is the best option as it has some of the best snorkeling in Costa Rica.
Since it’s in the national park, it’s not as crowded, so you may even enjoy a vacant beach. You’ll also see animals in the trees just off the beach, like monkeys, iguanas, and sloths. So relax on the beach, walk through the national park, and explore the area.
11. Tortuguero Beach
Located in Tortuguero National Park, playa Tortuguero is a well-preserved and stunning beach.
The beach stands for “turtle region” and is a great place to spot turtle nests and see baby sea turtles journey into the ocean.
It’s not your typical beach for relaxing and lounging, but this is the best beach if you love turtles. February, March, and April are the best months for seeing this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
12. Chiquita Beach
Chiquita Beach is a small village, so there aren’t many establishments. You will find a few hotels and businesses, but it’s not very developed.
If this is what you’re going for, it’s perfect. You can enjoy offshore snorkeling, and it’s a great place to swim with its natural bays and clear waters. The beach is secluded, and there aren’t many tourists in the area, so get ready to have a ton of beach to yourself.
Costa Rica is a gorgeous country to visit. It has a diverse landscape from beaches, to mountains, to jungles, to volcanoes.
If you love exploring the outdoors, you’ll love this Central American country. Whether you’re up for an adventure or want to spend a week lounging on the beach, you can have it all here.
With some of the best beaches in the world, there’s no question why Costa Rica made your bucket list!
That’s it. We hope you enjoyed this article on the best beaches in Costa Rica. Do you have a favorite beach that isn’t mentioned on this list? Say so in the comments below.