Top 10 Best Beach Towns In Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, eco-tours, and adrenaline-filled tours. With so many great options to choose from it’s hard to know where to go.

So if you are considering Costa Rica for your next vacation, you have already made a wise choice. Next step is deciding on where to go from this list of popular beach towns.

It is easy to get caught up in the “Pura Vida” laid-back lifestyle and enjoy life at a slower pace in Costa Rica at one of these beach towns.

Costa Rica has so much to offer, but how do you know what beach town is right for you?

After spending 6 years living in Tamarindo I spent my fair amount of time traveling around Costa Rica. Although I am biased toward Tamarindo, I narrowed down my favorite top beach towns in Costa Rica; what they are best for, where to eat, and where to stay.

Hopefully, this guide will help you find the perfect beach town in Costa Rica for your vacation.

Pura Vida.

Top Activities To Do in Costa Rica

  • Ziplining- Costa Rica is full of places to zipline, be sure to take advantage
  • Surf Lessons – You can’t come to Costa Rica without learning to surf
  • Sunset Cruise – A day filled with sunshine, snorkeling, and an open bar. Always a good time!

Best Beach Towns In Costa Rica To Visit

1. Manuel Antonio

White Faced Monkey

Best For Nature And Relaxation

Manuel Antonio is a great peaceful small beach town on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It is a great spot for active nature lovers.

It offers a stunning rugged National Rainforest Park that is within walking distance from the beach town and most hotels.

Visiting the park you will see the endangered white-faced monkeys, toucans, three-toed sloths, and a wide range of birds.

The park features 680 hectares of protected land with plentiful hiking trails.

It is the perfect location for anyone who enjoys bird watching or likes trekking through the jungle to try and find wildlife.

The park is also located directly on the beach.

I loved my time here due to the fact that I was directly on the beach. It is a peaceful escape, and full of white-faced monkeys that you don’t see everywhere in Costa Rica.

Top Tips For Manuel Antonio

Most people visit Manuel Antonio for its Nature Reserve and their bird watching, but it has so much more to offer than just that.

There are loads of things to do in Manuel Antonio it is easy not to get bored.

It is a great spot to stop off for a few days or camp out for your whole stay in Costa Rica.

Making it one of my favorite beach towns in Costa Rica. Once you arrive here you will understand why.

How To Get There

Local BusI don’t usually recommend this option, but if you are short on cash.$12 pp7 Hours
Rent a CarThis is the fastest and cheapest option$50 day3 Hours
ShuttleTropical Shuttle runs from SJO 2 x a day$54 pp5 Hours
FlyThere is a small airport in Manuel Antonio, if you are short on time you can fly from SJO$1501 Hour

Where To Eat

Stay Here

$$$ Hotel Plaza Yara is tucked away off the beachfront and feels like you are escaping the city and running away to the jungle.


$$ Hotel Serenity is offering up some nice rooms for a super cheap price.

2. Tamarindo

Tamarindo Sunset

Best For Beginner Surf Lessons And Night Life

Tamarindo is one of the best beach towns in Costa Rica because of its stunning sunsets, plentiful restaurants, and several surf breaks for all levels.

I’m not just saying that because that is where I lived, but this beach town has something special about it. Especially this sunsets.

Tamarindo offers up a great and easy surf break, perfect for those wanting to learn, but also have more advanced breaks for the more experienced surfers.

After a long day of surfing, Tamarindo offers some world-class restaurants and nightlife for all budgets.

This beach town also has a wide range of accommodations ranging from 5-star luxury hotels to budget backpack hostels.

It is also close to some amazing beaches worth taking day trips to. Click here to find out more.

Top Tips For Tamarindo

Tamarindo is great for the many tours it offers, but it is best known for its beaches which are perfect for learning to surf.

If you have ever thought about learning to surf but have made 100 excuses why you can’t learn? It is time to put all those behind and learn to surf. Tamarindo is the perfect spot to learn to surf due to its warm water, gentle waves and sandy bottom.

No vacation to Tamarindo is complete without taking a lesson. It’s pretty much guaranteed here that if you don’t stand you don’t pay.

Besides surfing, there are a ton of more things to do in Tamarindo.

How To Get There

  • It is best to fly into LIR airport
Local BusI don’t recommend this option, but if you’re short on cash$4 pp2.5 hours
Rent a CarYou don’t need a car in Tamarindo, but if planning on road trip it is probably best to start from the airport$50 day1 hour
ShuttleTamarindo Shuttle picks you up and drops you off at your hotel$301.5 hours

Where To Eat

  • $$$$ –  Pangas offers up some delicious fresh seafood dishes, right on the beach
  • $$$ – El Chirniguito great for happy hour
  • $$ – El Mercadito is an upscale food court, with live music and a bar boat
  • $ – Las Palmas is just outside of Tamarindo, but worth the trip if you are looking for a more local feel

Stay Here

$$$ Capitan Suizo is a nice hotel right on the beach just outside of town. It is paradise tucked away in Tamarindo.


$$ Hotel Laguna del Cocodrillo is a small boutique hotel located on the beach with most restaurants just a 10-minute walk away.


3. Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Sunset

Best For Intermediate Surfers And Laid Back Vibes

Located on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, Santa Teresa is one of my favorite beach towns to catch some good waves and enjoy great food. It has more of a boho vibe to it.

Originally a remote quiet fishing village, Santa Teresa has grown to be a top tourist destination.

Offering a good central location on the Nicoya Peninsula it is a good place to camp out and enjoy the “Pura Vida” lifestyle.

This is why it makes the list of the best beach towns in Costa Rica.

Santa Teresa is another hot spot with ex-pats and extended travelers.

The town is not as easy to walk around as Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio, so it is a good idea to rent a bike here if you don’t plan on renting a car.

I love coming here, renting a bike and cruising around town. It’s got a more laid back atmosphere to it, so don’t come here and expect crazy nightlife.

Top Tips For Santa Teresa

Check out the Waterfalls in Montezuma, surf, or relax on the beach watching the surfers.

You will love the chilled-out vibes on the Peninsula.

Learn to Surf with a week-long Surf Camp
It is best to fly into SJO airport

How To Get There

 Bus & FerryTake the public bus from downtown San Jose$12 7 hours
Rent a CarBest option in my opinion, travel on your own time$504.5 hours
Shuttle & FerryTropical Tours is great if you don’t want to rent a car$655.5 hours
Fly & TaxiFrom SJO to Tambor on Sansa Airlines and take a 45-minute taxi.$2001.5 hours

Where To Eat

  • $$$$ –   Nectar at Florablanca knows how to make your dining experience remarkably memorable.
  • $$$ – Casa Del Mar Steak House is serving up some delicious steaks and fresh seafood at prices that won’t break the bank.
  • $$ – Taco Corner has the best tacos in town at affordable prices.
  • $ –  Soda Tiquicia has the best local cuisines in town.

Stay Here

$$$$ Lua Villas is a quiet place just out of town and has luxury villas that will make you not want to leave the resort.


$$$ Zula Inn has elegant rooms, a nice pool, and a great location, all of them at an affordable price.

4. Nosara

Nosara Beach Yoga

Best For Yoga And Surf

Nosara is often overlooked when planning a trip to Costa Rica but is a great beach town for those looking to get away, enjoy some yoga, and surf. But besides that Nosara has plenty to do.

It is a great location to recharge your batteries. Enjoy a quiet vacation, and escape from the hectic world back home with a relaxing trip to Nosara.

It has nice long beaches which makes it great to for non-crowded surf breaks.

There are also several different yoga studios and health retreats to choose from.

Whenever I am in Nosara, I am always sure to take a yoga class.

Top Tips For Nosara

Be sure to take a yoga class. If you are a surfer enjoy the surf breaks or just enjoy the peace Nosara has to offer.

How To Get There

  • It is best to fly into LIR airport
BusUnfortunately, there is no public bus N/AN/A
Rent a Car A really good option as it is hard to get around here$50 day2 hours
ShuttleTropical Shuttle offers service from most beach towns$45 pp3 hours
FlyGreat if you are short on time.$150 pp1 hour

Where To Eat

Stay Here

$$$$ Gilded Iguana is located in the center of town, they have new and modern rooms that are comfortable and classy


$$$ Villa Mango B & B is perfect for you. They even have an incredible pool you won’t want to leave

5. Cahuita


Best Beach Town for Seeing Sloths

Cahuita is a small town that barely anyone talks about when coming to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

It is easily overlooked by the neighboring party town of Puerto Viejo.

Cahuita is a sleepy village. When I was there was only one small street with a handful of restaurants, not much has changed.

Despite this, there are still plenty of things to do in Cahuita.

Accommodation here is cheap, especially for Costa Rica.

You can stay right on the beach with hammocks overlooking the crystal-clear blue waters of the Caribbean.

The town is also a close walk to the Cahuita National Park where you can see sloths.

If you are looking to relax for a few days, this is the beautiful beach town is for you.

It is also home to one of the best black sand beaches in Costa Rica.

I loved my time here and really appreciated the untoached vibe it had, especially compared to the other cities like Tamarindo and Jaco.

Top Tips For Cahuita

You must check out their local national park where you are likely to see sloths.

They also have a sloth sanctuary where you can learn everything you want to know about them.

How To Get There:

  • It is best to fly into SJO
BusThere are 6 different buses leaving from San Jose daily$10 pp5 hours
Rent a CarCahuita is small you won’t need a car unless you are road tripping$50 day3.5 hours
ShuttleCaribe Shuttles leaves 2x from San Jose$45 pp4 hours
FlySadly this is not an optionN/AN/A

Where To Eat

  • $$$ – Sobre Las Olas has delicious seafood and you have to try their calamari
  • $$ – Reggae Bar everyone eats here, they have the best Caribbean Costa Rican dishes
  • $ – Soda Kawe is the place to eat in Cahuita if you want to get a cheap good local meal

Stay Here

$$$ Hotel Boutique La Casa de Flores offers a nice hotel in the center of town with a relaxing pool.


$$  Cabinas Arrecife is an affordable place to stay with a pool and close to town

6. Puerto Viejo

Best Beach Town in Costa Rica for Backpackers And Party

Puerto Viejo is a popular town among backpackers on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

It’s known for its cheap prices and nightlife, so it is easy to see why backpackers are drawn here.

Puerto Viejo is one of those towns that are hard to leave.

Here you will find fire dancers, travelers selling jewelry, and hippies from all over the world.

It is a unique place that attracts unique visitors.

I enjoyed the nightlife and party vibes this town had to offer, but I wouldn’t stay long here, unless you are looking for a cheap town with cheap nightlife.

Top Tips For Puerto Viejo

Go to the beach, enjoy the Caribbean vibes, and see the nightlife.

How To Get There

  • It is best to fly into SJO
BusThere are 6 buses that leave from San Jose daily$105 hours
Great way to see Costa Rica$50 day3.5 hours
ShuttleCaribe Shuttle has 2x daily shuttles departing from San Jose$50 pp4.5 hours
FlyUnfortunately its not an optionN/AN/A

Where To Eat

  • $$$$ – La Pecora Nera Great for a delicious meal and great ambiance just be sure to book a table
  • $$$ – La Nena has the best Caribbean lobster in town
  • $$ – Tasty Waves is offering up great burgers, tacos, and cheap drinks. You can’t go wrong
  • $ –  Soda Riquisimo has some delicious local cuisine. Be sure to try their prawn curry.

Stay Here

$$$$ Satta Lodge is creating a new and relaxing experience with their adult only lodge. Tucked away in the jungle, you can enjoy a relaxing massage and sit by the pool all day long.


$$$ Finca Chica is a rustic hotel that makes it feel like you are staying in a tree house vibe.

7. Uvita

Uvita Beach View

Best For Waterfalls And Whale Watching

Uvita is not the easiest place to get to, but it is worth the trip.

It has beautiful white sand beaches with waves for all surfing abilities.

Also offers stunning waterfalls just outside of town. Uvita is great for those travelers looking for a peaceful beach town but also want a little adventure.

It is a small town, so if you are looking for nightlife this might not be the place for you.

Uvita is also home to the Envision festival which comes down once a year.

Envision was started by the same guy who created Burning Man. It was designed to be a smaller version of Burning Man, with a tropical Costa Rican twist.

If you have always wanted to do Burning Man, but couldn’t get tickets, envision is a great alternative.

I love coming to Uvita, because you have freezing cold waterfalls just minutes from the beach. I also enjoyed coming for Envision festival, but if you want to truly enjoy Uvita try to come when it’s not so busy.

Top Tips For Uvita

Try canyoning, rent a board and go surfing, or do a whale-watching tour.

There are plenty of things to do in Uvita.

How To Get There

  • It is best to fly into SJO
BusThere are several options for local buses leaving daily$126 hours
Rent a CarA great option for Uvita$50 day4 hours
ShuttleMorning Collective has 2x shuttles a day from San Jose$55 pp4.5 hours
FlySansa has 2x flights daily from SJO$150 pp1 hour

Where To Eat

Stay Here

$$$$ Manoas Take glamping to another level. Imagine a 5-star hotel meets glamping. 


$$$ Vista Celestial offers up beautiful rooms and luxury services and also have a swim-up bar.

8. Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal Beach

Best For Kid-Friendly Beaches

Playa Conchal, or Shell Beach in English, is by far the prettiest white sand beach in Costa Rica.

Its tame waters don’t make it attractive for surfers, but it is a swim-friendly beach.

Perfect for kids to play in the water as you don’t have to worry about rip tides. This is a great spot to visit in Costa Rica

It is also a perfect beach to sit, relax, and enjoy all the beauty it has to offer.

This is the perfect relaxing beach, which is why it is on the list of the best beach towns in Costa Rica.

Conchal is pretty quiet, but be sure to check out the neighboring town of Flamingo Beach, one of the best beach towns nearby.

When I was living in Costa Rica, we would come here when we wanted a quiet day by the beach. This beach is so beautiful and not crowded, it is a great escape from bigger beach towns.

Top Tips For Conchal

Book some adventure tours or just hang out at the resort the whole time.

How To Get There

  • It is best to fly into LIR
BusThere is a public bus from LIR, but I wouldn’t recommend it$8 pp2.5 hours
Rent a Car Great option as Conchal is not easy to walk around$50 day1 hour
ShuttleTamarindo Shuttle offers direct shuttle service from LIR$45 pp1.5 hours
FlyYou can fly into Tamarindo, but time-wise it doesn’t make senseN/AN/A

Where To Eat

  • $$$ – Angelina’s has the best Italian food in Costa Rica, no joke.
  • $$$ – Black Stallion has a unique experience bringing farm-to-table Costa Rica style. It is a MUST!
  • $$ – Coco Loco is a great spot with cheap food right on the beach

Stay Here

$$$$ The W resort has stunning pools and quick access to the beach. A great family option


$$$$ Reserva Conchal Is a great spot if you never want to leave. More of a resort.

9. Samara

Samara Beach Front, Palma Trees

Best For Relaxing Vacation

Samara is a beautiful beach town in Costa Rica that is often overlooked by tourists, keeping it a hidden gem.

It is a quiet small village that not only has amazing surf nearby but also has a stunning beach lined with palm trees.

It is off the beaten path and still has a lot of Costa Rican charm that has been lost in some other part of Costa Rica.

Samara is a great place to camp out with a great travel book, surf, visit with sea turtles and reconnect with yourself.

I love coming here because it is off the beaten path and the surf is not crowded. It also is very Tico, meaning it hasn’t been overrun with tourists.

Top Tips For Samara

Samara is a great spot to come for the more advanced surfers.

There are plenty of great non-crowded waves all around the area.

It is also great for animal lovers as most of the beaches are protected for sea turtles.

This means there is not much built up on the beaches, as the lights discourage the turtles from coming and nesting.

There is plenty of volunteer work with the sea turtles if you feel like doing a good deed on your vacation.

How To Get There:

Best to fly into LIR

Local BusGet the bus from Liberia bus station leaves once a day$15 pp5 Hours
Rent a CarThis is the fastest and cheapest option$50 day2 Hours
ShuttleTropical Shuttle runs from LIR 2 x a day$54 pp2.5 Hours
FlyUnfortunately, there is not an airport in Samara at the moment    –     –

Where to Eat:

  • $$$$ – Mamagui – Excellent food for the price you pay
  • $$$ – Gusto – Great place to watch the sunset, right on the water
  • $$ – Lo Que Hay – Another choice right on the beach that shouldn’t be missed.
  • $ – Soda Colochos – Awesome local dishes, should check out even if not on a budget

Stay Here

$$$  Locanda Great bungalows right on the beach


$$ Good Life Lodge Awesome boutique hotel close to the beach 

10. Montezuma

Montezuma, Costa Rica

Best For Hiking

This is another sleepy Costa Rican beach town that you might want to think of adding to your list.

You will not only find great beaches here but also amazing waterfalls.

Montezuma is a great place to come if you are you up for exploring and hiking.

It typically gets more rain than other places in Costa Rica, so tends to stay green throughout the year.

Montezuma is a beautiful small Costa Rican town with amazing uncrowded beaches.

A great place to come and relax.

However, if you are looking for nightlife you might want to skip this one. As it is more for laidback travelers.

I will always remember this town from the time I got lost hiking to the waterfall. If you do decide to hike to the waterfalls here, be sure to stay on the path. lols

Top Tips For Montezuma

Montezuma is very laid back. It is a great town for hiking waterfalls, surfing empty waves and relaxing.

How To Get There:

Best to fly into LIR and avoid the ferry.

Local BusThere is no direct option for this. So I would avoid it     –    –
Rent a CarThis is probably the best option$50 day3.5 Hours
ShuttleTropical Shuttle runs from LIR 2 x a day$54 pp5 Hours
FlySansa airlines flies into Tambor  $1501 hour

Where to Eat:

  • $$$$ – Ylang Ylang – Amazing food with a stunning location right on the beach
  • $$$ –  El Avion – This is an actual plane turned into a restaurant in the trees. This is a must!
  • $$ – Tierra y Fuego – The best wood fired pizzas in town
  • $ – Soda Palmeras – The best local soda in town

Stay Here

$$$$  Hotel Nya Enjoy the sounds of the jungle without sacrificing comfort or closeness to the beach


$$ Hotel Horizontes  Amazing pool, service, and cleanliness all for a great price.  

Tips For Traveling To Costa Rica

Traveling to Costa Rica can be alife changing experience. It is such a beautiful country and has so much more to offer than just the beach. If you have the time, be sure to check out other areas of Costa Rica including Arenal and the Cloud forests.

  • Be sure to travel with plenty of bug-repellent wipes and bands. I love to travel with these as I can put them in my carry-on and not have to check luggage.
  • Costa Rica is full of nature. Be sure to take advantage of the Eco Tours they have to offer
  • USD or US dollars is widely accepted in most tourist towns
  • Driving in Costa Rica can be confusing as there aren’t many road signs or names. If you plan on renting a car in Costa Rica be sure to have an international SIM card so you can use GPS on your phone

Conclusions On The Best Beach Towns In Costa Rica

With so many epic beach towns in Costa Rica, you can’t go wrong.

Just book your ticket and Pack your bags for Costa Rica.

Also if you are looking for the Perfect 10-day itinerary to cover all of Costa Rica

Thank you for reading this article on the best beach towns in Costa Rica.

Which side of Costa Rica has the better beaches?

The Pacific side of Costa Rica has the more popular beaches, whereas the Caribbean side has more remote beaches. Both sides are equally as pretty, but it just depends on what you are looking for. If you want to surf, stick to the Pacific side.

Is Costa Rica or Mexico safer?

Costa Rica tends to be safer than Mexico, but it all depends on where you travel to within each country. Usually, tourist locations tend to be safer than the bigger cities in both countries.

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10 Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica

4 thoughts on “Top 10 Best Beach Towns In Costa Rica”

  1. Costa Rica is one of our family’s favorite destinations. The sloths at Manuel Antonio were a highlight of our trip. You included so much information that will be helpful for first time and repeat travelers.

    1. Peter Pan Traveler

      Yes! Go and visit one of the best beach towns in Costa Rica mentioned on this list. You won’t be disappointed.

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