Esterillos Este is a small beach town located in the province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. It has stunning beach views, farms where you’ll find cows grazing, palm tree-lined streets, and quaint restaurants and hotels.
Esterillos Este is not your typical tourist town; it’s more of a slow-paced, kick-back, and relax local beach town. It may not have all the bells and whistles that larger cities and towns have, like a dozen restaurants, shopping, and other establishments, but it’s the perfect place to unwind and retreat from everyday life.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the best things to do in the Esterillos area, including some day trips within an hour or two from the beach town.
Top Things to do in Esterillos, Costa Rica
1. Head to the Beach
Probably the most obvious thing to do is head to the beach. Esterillos is located on the water with tons of coastline to explore.
Pick a spot and relax for the day. However, there can be strong riptides, so make sure you watch for warning signs and stay in more populated areas for your safety.
Nearby Jaco is much more populated but has fewer riptides and good waves for surfing. Sit under the sun, body surf, and relax while listening to the sound of crashing waves among the turquoise blue water.
2. Monkey Tour
Go on a monkey tour and watch a monkey eat right out of your hand. Monkey Tour Chino is a great option. You’ll ride through the mangroves by boat and you’ll get to search for monkeys, iguanas, and other animals.
The guide will give you bananas to feed the monkeys, and they may even jump on your head and shoulders.
It’s a memorable experience to see a monkey up close and personal. The tour costs $50 a person and lasts for 90 minutes.
You can also kayak through the mangroves if you choose to. The tour is located about 35 to 40 minutes from Esterillos Este. There are other monkey tour companies in the area as well.
3. Visit Jaco
Jaco is a large beach town 20 minutes from Esterillos Este. It’s known for its fantastic surf conditions and bustling nightlife.
It has gray sand beaches with perfect waves. Head to Jaco for the day and be sure to rent a surfboard or take surfing lessons because Jaco is known for its stellar waves.
Also, make sure to check out Jaco Walk which is an outdoor shopping area. There are also a ton more restaurants and shops across the street from the water. Jaco has so much to do you’ll never get bored here.
4. Go on a Catamaran Tour
While in Costa Rica, be sure to get out on the water. With the coves, cliffs, small islands, and the mountainous backdrop of Costa Rica, it’s truly a sight to see.
Trade the beautiful ocean views for views of the country from the water for an unforgettable experience. There are many different boat tours, but this Planet Dolphin catamaran tour is a great option.
It lasts 3.5 hours and ends with watching the sunset on the boat. It costs $80 for each adult and includes snorkeling, two slides, dinner, and all you can drink so it’s a steal.
You’ll sail along the shore of Manuel Antonio National Park and may even see dolphins, whales, and other wildlife. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Esterillos to Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, where the catamaran is located. You’re in for a real good time.
5. Take surfing lessons
While in one of the best surfing regions in the world you must surf. If you’re a seasoned surfer, rent a board and get out there and enjoy the endless perfect waves.
If you’re new or a beginner to the sport, consider taking a surf lesson. Prices can vary but usually cost somewhere between $50 to $65 for an hour lesson.
You may be put with a small group of other beginner surfers. A group of 5 or fewer is perfect for giving you a chance to catch your breath in between rides and learn from watching others.
You won’t have to search hard for surf lessons; you can find tents dotted along many beaches with a sign that reads ‘surf lessons.’
Look for this, and you’ve found your surf lessons. The beach in Quepos just outside of Manuel Antonio National Park offers surf lessons and costs $65 for an hour per person. Tons of places in Jaco also provide surf lessons, and in Esterillos Este, many of the hotels offer lessons.
6. Visit a waterfall
There are some mind-blowing waterfalls near Esterillos Este. While you can travel to a waterfall yourself by driving and/or hiking, going on a tour simplifies the process.
The waterfall is about an hour and 20 minutes from Esterillos. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are some of the most popular in the southern pacific region of Costa Rica. They’re located in a canyon 26 feet wide, with one waterfall free-falling at 148 feet and the other falling from 65 feet high.
There are also pools of water for swimming at the bottom. In addition, you can hike and even horseback ride to the waterfall.
Another great waterfall is Catarata El Salto de Gamalotillo near Parrita, about 30 minutes off the main highway and about 45 minutes from Esterillos.
There are tons of hiking trails surrounding the waterfall and a place to swim. It’s more well known among locals, so it’s less touristy than the Nauyaca Waterfalls.
The hiking trail to the waterfall takes about one and a half hours and is moderate. The cost to visit is 3,500 colones for non-residents and 2,500 for residents. Children cost 50% less than adults. 3,500 colones is just over $5.
7. Go Horsebackriding
There are many opportunities to horseback ride in the area. As previously mentioned, you can horseback ride to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, but there are also options in Esterillos Este.
Magical Horseback ride is a farm just 5 to 10 minutes away, depending on where you are in Esterillos that offers horseback rides on the beach.
There are also several other companies that offer horseback riding in the area, and you can even enjoy a ride during sunset. Encantada Hotel will bring you on a sunset horse ride for $65 per person.
8. Beach Yoga
To truly relax, consider trying yoga. Encantada Hotel offers beach yoga every morning at 9 am and occasional sunset classes at 4:30. Classes cost $10 per person and include a mat and juice after the class.
9. Los Suenos Adventure Park
Located about 40 minutes from Esterillos, Los Suenos Adventure Park offers zip lining, ATV riding through the jungle, horseback riding, visits to a waterfall, and more. Pick your adventure or purchase a package that will allow you to do more than one activity. The choice and fun are in your hands!
10. Go Fishing
Consider going fishing or even deep sea fishing while in Costa Rica. If you love the quiet, relaxing act of fishing, this is perfect for you.
You may even be able to catch a fish and have it cooked for you at a local restaurant in town.
11. Crocodile Tour
Be mind blown by the crocodiles in Costa Rica. Consider Jose’s Crocodile River Tour, which will take you by boat through the Tarcoles River to see crocodiles and other wild animals up close and personal.
Get ready to spot exotic birds, iguanas, lizards, and of course, crocodiles. Enjoy the rainforest and mangrove views along the way and prepare to be amazed.
Day Trips from Esterillos Este
There are also tons of day trips in the Esterillos Este area if you want to get out and explore a different part of the country. Keep reading to find some of the best places to visit within an hour or two drive from the small beach town.
12. Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited park in Costa Rica. It’s a great place to see monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife. The beaches are amazing so bring your bathing suit.
There are tons of walking trails throughout the park that will lead you to the beach, a waterfall, and on the search for monkeys and other animals.
The park sells out quickly so be sure to purchase your tickets at least a few days in advance.
13. Carara National Park
Carara National Park is the transition point between the coastal rainforest and the tropical dry forest. Because of its unique location, it has diverse plants and animals.
It’s one of the best places for bird watching and a great place to walk around and enjoy the scenery. The park is about a 50-minute drive from Esterillos Este.
14. Check out Quepos
Quepos is a great beach town to explore. This is where Manuel Antonio National Park is located. The beach in Quepos is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches on the southern Pacific coast.
The beach has a small bay surrounding it with cliffs to the left and a small island out in the middle.
There are also several restaurants right across from the beach. So grab a drink and a bite to eat amongst the fantastic ocean views.
Here you can take surfing lessons, horseback rides, and shop. You’re also within walking distance of the national park entrance.
Many more things are worth mentioning because Costa Rica has such a vast and diverse landscape to explore.
So go out there and make your own adventure while in Esterillos Este. This list is an excellent place to start, but there are so many more things to see it would be impossible to list them all.
So we’ll leave you to imagine the rest and start dreaming of a Costa Rica vacation.
Esterillos Este is the most romantic little surf town. It’s absolutely worth the visit. There is one small strip mall with restaurants, a supermarket, and small shopping opportunities, and other than that, there are some restaurants and hotels along the water.
This is absolutely the spot if you’re looking to get away in a relaxing, sanctuary-like environment. You’ll be more relaxed than you ever have before.
Esterillos Este is considered one of the region’s best-kept secrets, and rightfully so, it’s beautiful. The most prominent word that comes to mind when thinking of Esterillos Este is “tranquil.”
Best Places to Stay in Esterillos