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Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, eco-tours, and adrenaline filled tours. With so many great options to choose from, here is a list of my favorite top beach towns in Costa Rica.

Whether you are going for vacation or looking to move, it is easy to get caught up in the “Pura Vida” laid back lifestyle and enjoy life at a slower pace.

Costa Rica has so much to offer, but how do you know what town is right for you? I have broken down my favorite top 8 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 destination beach town in Costa Rica for you,

Pura Vida.

Manual Antonio

White Faced Monkey

Best For Nature And Relaxation

Manual Antonio is a great peaceful beach town if you are looking to do more than just sit on a beautiful beach all day long.

It offers a stunning rugged National Rainforest Park that is walking distance from most locations. 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 hectors of protected land with plentiful hiking trails.

It is the perfect location for anyone that enjoys bird watching or is looking to add more rain forests to their holiday.

What To Do:

Most people come to Manual Antonio for their Nature Reserve and their bird watching. Be sure not to miss it!

How To Get There:

Manual Antonio is about 4 1/2 hours from SJO Airport. Tropical Shuttle has 2 shuttles daily from SJO for about $54 a person.

Sansa Airlines offers daily trips from SJO to Manual Antonio for about $100 person, just beware they have strict weight restrictions.

Local Bus Tracopa. From the airport take a taxi to the Tracopa Bus station for around $12, you can get a direct bus to Manual Antonio/Quepos for around $9.

Where To Eat:

$$$$ La Luna offers up a great dinner menu with great service.
$$$ Emilo’s Cafe has tasty meals with stunning ocean views and gives you a real tree house
$$ Manual Antonio Falafel Bar serving up some delicious food without breaking the bank.
$ La Cocina offers up some tasty local and vegetarian meals at a bargain.
Breakfast Cafe Milagro has been around over 20 years, with some of the best breakfast and coffee in Manual Antonio. Be sure to try their crêpes!
Sunset Ronny’s Place. Enjoy the sunset in their rancho style restaurant.
Family Mercato del Porto. Come out and make your own Pizza Pie!

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ Arenas del Mar Beach Front Hotel is perfect for a romantic couple getaway. Offering a small private hotel with an amazing infinity pool.
$$$ 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.
$ Torino Backpackers has private or shared rooms. It is nice, clean, and quiet.

Tamarindo

Tamarindo Sunset

Best For Beginner Surf Lessons And Night Life

With their stunning sunsets, plentiful restaurants, and several surf breaks for all levels, it’s hard not to put Tamarindo in the top 10.

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

After a long day of surfing, Tamarindo offers up some world-class restaurants and nightlife for all budgets. Tamarindo also has a wide range of accommodation ranging from 5-star luxury hotels to budget backpack hostels.

What To Do:

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

The oldest and best shop in Tamarindo is Iguana Surf so be sure to book a lesson. They guarantee you will stand up, no one is too young or too old to learn.

You can also check out my blog on the Top 10 Things to do in Tamarindo

How To Get There:

Tamarindo is just a quick hours drive from LIR airport. Tamarindo is small and easy to get around so you don’t need a car.  Tamarindo Shuttle offers door to door service for about $25 a person.

Local Bus: If you are a backpacker on a budget, there is a local bus from the airport to Tamarindo for around $3. It will take you about two and a half hours opposed to a one hour drive with the shuttle or if you rent a car.

 

Where To Eat:

$$$$ Pangas offers up some delicious fresh seafood dishes. Located right on the beach overlooking the estuary, it is the perfect place to come enjoy a nice meal with your feet in the sand.
$$$ Black Stallion Ranch is just on the outside of town with typical Costa Rican BBQ served family style. A great experience to come with family or friends and don’t worry, they will come to pick you up. Be sure to book in advance as they fill up.
$$ El Mercadito is a fresh new place that is changing the way we eat. It offers an outdoor food market with several different options so there is something for everyone, they even have a bar.
$ Las Palmas is just outside of Tamarindo, but worth the trip if you are looking for a more local feel.
Breakfast Grinds offers up some of the best prices in town. Come enjoy breakfast and watch the locals surf. Located right in the middle of town it is a must for your tamarindo bucket list.
Sunset  El Chirniguito has a great happy hour special and all the local expats come to enjoy the breathtaking, views at sunset.
Family Baulas has some of the best pizza I have had outside of Italy. They are tucked away in their own little oasis and have a playground for the kids to play on while the adults can enjoy a nice meal.

 

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ Located right on the beach and the center of town the Diria is one of the oldest hotels in Tamarindo. You can’t get a better location!
$$$ Iguana Surf Condos are right in the center of town and a block away from the beach. They offer several different sizes so you are sure to find what you are looking for.
$$ Hotel Laguna del Cocodrillo is a small boutique hotel located on the beach with most restaurants just a 10-minute walk away.
$ Oveja Negra is great for backpackers. It has friendly staff and the community pool is great for meeting people.

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 spots to catch some good waves and enjoy great food. Originally a remote quiet fishing village, Santa Teresa has grown to 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.

What To Do:

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.

How To Get There:

Driving: I highly recommend renting a car if you want to explore the Nicoya Peninsula, there is a lot to see and everything is spread out. The drive itself is about 4 hours from either LIR or SJO, and you are going to want a 4×4 vehicle.

There is also a shuttle service from San Jose to Santa Teresa that will take you the whole way there.

Bus: If you are on a budget then take the bus to Puntarenas. From Puntarenas take the Southen 70 minute ferry, to Paquera which departs about 6 times a day. From Paquera Santa Teresa is about a 1.5-hour shuttle or bus ride.

The fastest option would be to fly from SJO to Tambor on Sansa Airlines. From there you can take a 45 min taxi for around $40.

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.
Breakfast The Bakery has the best breakfast and coffee in Santa Teresa.
Sunset Banana Beach Restaurant is well known for its beautiful sunsets and its special happy hour prices. It offers up some great friendly atmosphere and has live music every night. Just be sure to bring cash as they do not accept credit card.
Family Located right on the beach, Habaneros has a wide range of food that everyone can enjoy, including delicious fresh margaritas for the adults to enjoy.

 

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ If you are wanting a quiet place to stay Lua Villas is just out of town and has luxury villas that will make you not want to leave the resort.
$$$  If you are looking for elegant rooms, a nice pool, and a great location, Zula Inn has all of them at an affordable price.
$$ If you want a great location at a low price EcoPacific Lodge has affordable rooms in the heart of Santa Teresa. It is still a good idea to rent a bike in Santa Teresa if you don’t have a car as everything is spread out.
$ If you are a solo traveler or just looking for a cheap bed, Jungle Hostel offers up a great atmosphere at a low price. They are also walking distance to the beach.

 

Nosara

Nosara Beach Yoga

Best For Yoga And Surf

Nosara is often overlooked when planning a trip to Costa Rica, but is a great place for those looking to get away, enjoy some yoga, and surf.

It is a great location to recharge your batteries, enjoy a quiet vacation, and escape from the hectic world back home.

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.

What To Do:

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:

The easiest way to get to Nosara is to fly into LIR airport and rent a car. It is about a 2.5-hour drive from the airport and it is beautiful. Some to the roads are not paved and can be pretty bumpy, especially in the rainy season from May- October.

Depending on the tides, there might some river crossings you will have to go through. Be careful before you drive through them, depending on the tides they can be too deep. Some cars have been known to get stuck or swept away.

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are shuttles to Nosara that leave twice daily from Liberia.

Bus: Unfortunately there is no local bus at the moment to Nosara

 

Where To Eat:

$$$$ Luna Azul is serving up some great meals with amazing views.
$$$ El Chivo has the best fish tacos in town. If you like spice, thenyou have to try their jalapeño margarita.
$$ If you have been looking for a good burger while you were in Costa Rica you can’t miss Burgers and Beers. After living in Costa Rica for 6 years I haven’t found a better burger.
$ Don’t be fooled by the price, Rosi’s Soda Tica is offering up some of the best local cuisines in Nosara. Open all day long they have the best Gallo Pinto in town for breakfast.
Breakfast If you are looking for a hardy breakfast without breaking the bank Nosara’s Bagel House has more than just bagels for breakfast. Be sure to try their waffles as well.
Sunset If you want to go where the locals go to watch the sunset then check out Bar Olga’s. Located on the beach, it is the perfect spot to camp out and watch the sunset while enjoying some ice cold beers.
Family Spot Not only offering up cheap food the whole family can enjoy 10pies has swings as chairs that your kids will be sure to enjoy.

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ When luxury meets location you get the Gilded Iguana. Just a quick walk to the beach and located in the center of town, they have new and modern rooms that are comfortable and classy.
$$$ If you are looking for a Bed and Breakfast with stunning ocean views, the Villa Mango B & B is perfect for you. They even have an incredible pool you won’t want to leave.
$$ Green Sanctuary Hotel offers top-notch hotel amenities at a price even a backpacker can afford.
$ One of the best hostels I have stayed in since Costa Rica has been Selina Nosara. Stunning rooms with hardwood floors and amazing pool where it is easy to meet fellow solo travels. It worth the price.

Cahuita

Three toed sloth in tree

Best For Seeing Sloths

Cahuita is a small town that barely anyone talks about when coming to Costa Rica. It is easily overlooked by the neighboring town of Puerto Viejo.

It is a sleepy village, when I was there it had only one small street with a handful of restaurants. But the accommodation was cheap and right on the beach with hammocks overlooking the crystal clear blue waters of the Caribbean.

It was also a close walk to the Cahuita National Park where where you can see sloths. If you are looking to relax for a few days, this is the place for you.

What To Do:

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 airport as Cahuita is on the Caribbean side in the South. If you are renting a car, it is about a 3.5-hour drive from the airport.

If you don’t want to rent a car there is a shuttle that leaves from San Jose twice a day for around $50.

There is also a local bus you can take from San Jose that will cost around $10. They have about 6 different buses a day and the total journey takes about 5 hours.

 

Where To Eat:

$$$ Come for their views and delicious cocktails, and stay for their food. Sobre Las Olas has delicious seafood and you have to try their calamari.
$$ You can’t go to Cahuita without eating at the Reggae Bar at least one time. Serving up local Caribbean Costa Rican dishes, you will get a feel of what it’s like to be on the Caribbean side.
$ Soda Kawe is the place to eat in Cahuita if you want to get a cheap good local meal
Breakfast If you are looking for a good cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast, Aroma is where you want to be.
Sunset Since you are on the East coast of Costa Rica, you are not going to see the breathtaking sunsets that you will find on the West. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great happy hour spot to enjoy the end of your day.

Where To Sleep:

$$$ If you are looking for a place a step up from a budget hotel, Hotel Boutique La Casa de Flores offers a nice hotel in the center of town with a relaxing pool.
$$ Located right on the beach Cabinas Arrecife also has a pool and is an affordable place to stay.
$ Whether you are a solo traveler or just looking to save some money on accommodation, Secret Garden offers up cheap dorm-style rooms and private.

 

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo Beach

Best For Budget Backpackers And Party

Puerto Viejo is a popular town among backpackers on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Known for its cheap prices and nightlife, it is easy to see why backpackers are drawn here. It is easily one of those towns that are hard to leave.

It also makes for a nice stop for those who are backpacking down to Bocas del Torro in Panama, because it is close to the border.

What To Do:

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

How To Get There:

The best way to get to Puerto Viejo is to fly into SJO airport. If you are renting a car, it is about a 3.5-hour drive from the airport. If you don’t want to rent a car, there is a shuttle that leaves from San Jose twice a day for around $50. There is also a local bus you can take from San Jose that will cost around $10. There are about 6 different buses a day and the total journey takes about 5 hours.

 

Where To Eat:

$$$$ If you are looking for a delicious meal and great ambiance then be sure to book a reservation at  La Pecora Nera.
$$$ If you are looking for some delicious Caribbean food you have to check out La Nena. They have best Caribbean lobster in town, this place is a cannot miss.
$$ Great, tasty, and cheap food with ocean views, Tasty Waves is offering up great burgers, tacos, and cheap drinks. You can’t go wrong.
$ Soda Riquisimo has some delicious local cuisine at affordable prices. Be sure to try their prawn curry.
Breakfast The best breakfast I found in town was definitely Cafe Rico. They have a hearty breakfast at affordable prices.
Sunset Puerto Pirata Beach is the perfect spot to end your day and enjoy a nice smoothie or beer.
Family Right on the beach and offering the best pizza in town, Amimodo is my top pick to bring the whole family.

 

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ If you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing place to stay in Puerto Viejo, Satta Lodge is creating a new and relaxing experience with their adult only lodge. Tucked away in the jungle, you can enjoy a relaxing massage and sit by the pool all day long.
$$$ If you are looking for a rustic tree house vibe you will want to stay at Finca Chica. Providing nice, clean, and  peaceful rooms, it will be easy to remember you are in Costa Rica
$$ If you are looking for a private room in a hostel or you just don’t want to stay in a party hostel then Kalunai Hostel offers cheap private rooms, relaxing hammocks and you won’t have to worry about the noise.
$ Rocking J’s is the place to be in Puerto Viejo. They not only offer shared beds in their dormitory, but you can also rent a tent or a hammock for the night. It is a party hostel. If you are looking for a quiet place to stay, you might want to avoid it.

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 beaches with waves for all surfing abilities.

It 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.

What To Do:

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

How To Get There:

Getting to Uvita is not the easiest. The best way is to fly into SJO airport. From there either rent a car and make the 4-hour journey yourself, or take a private shuttle for around $55 a person, or local bus for about $12. Just be aware that if you take the local bus it probably will take longer as they make frequent stops.

 

Where To Eat:

$$$$ If you are looking for a romantic dinner or just some tasty food, Las Velas is a great place for good food and a romantic candlelight setting
$$$ Offering up some great Asian inspired dishes, House of Ginger is not what you would expect to find in Costa Rica, but is defiantly worth checking out
$$ If you are looking for fresh seafood you have to check out Los Almendors. They have a fresh catch of the day at cheap prices.
$ The best local spot in town has to be Soda Ranchito Dona Maria, they make the best gallo pinto. You have to try it.
Breakfast If you are looking for the best coffee and breakfast in town, be sure to check out Sibu Cafe. They also serve up some pretty good dinner items as well.
Sunset If you want amazing views for the sunset in Uvita you have to check out Gusto Italian. Overlooking the water, it is a perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Family With a great outdoor area for the kids to run around and a variety of food, Mosaic is the best place to take the family

 

Where To Sleep:

$$$$ If you have never tried glamping before you need to check out Manoas. They take glamping to another level. Imagine a 5-star hotel meets camping. Enjoy the outdoors in luxury.
$$$ If you are looking for a location close to the waterfalls, Vista Celestial offers up beautiful rooms and luxury service. They also have a swim-up bar.
$$ Forest Lodge is offering up some great rooms and some great prices.
$ Futterby Hostel is one of my favorite hostels in Costa Rica because of their uniquely themed rooms. Stay in a shared dorm in a tree house or book a private cabana. They are truly unique and worth checking out even if you don’t stay there.

 

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

What To Do:

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

How To Get There:

Playa Conchal is just a quick hour drive from LIR airport. I recommend renting a car if you are staying here. There are not many restaurants that are walking distance. However, if you enjoy staying and eating at the resort then you won’t need one.

Another way to get to Playa Conchal is by shuttle service from the airport that will take you straight to your hotel. I highly recommend Tamarindo Shuttle. You can normally get an airport shuttle for about $25 a person. If you are a backpacker and on a budget, this is not the place to come.

 

Where To Eat:

$$$ Some of the best Italian food in Costa Rica has been at Angelina’s, they offer some great pizza, pasta, and dessert. Their restaurant is also stunning, you can’t miss this place if you are staying in conchal.
$$$ If you are looking for a fun and unique experience I highly recommend Black Stallion Ranch. Just on the outside of town they have a typical Costa Rican BBQ served family style. A great experience to come with family or friends. Meet some fellow travelers and don’t worry if you don’t have a car they will come pick you up. Be sure to book in advance as they fill up.
Sunset Just a quick 5-minute drive away, Coco Loco is a favorite spot for locals to come out and watch the sunset while enjoying 241 drinks. Probably some of the best sunsets I’ve seen have been from this spot.
Family Mar Vista is a great spot to come spend the day if you are looking for a change from the resort. Located high above sea level they have stunning views with an infinity pool.

 

Where To Sleep:

$$$$$ The Brand new W resort just opened up in Playa Conchal with stunning pools and quick access to the beach. Great place to bring the family where the adults can relax and the kids can play.
$$$$ Reserva Conchal was the first and only resort in the area for a while, they offer a huge campus with many different styles of rooms from hotels rooms to villas. You are sure to find what you are looking for

 

With so many epic beach towns in Costa Rica, you can’t go wrong. Before you go be sure to check out my blog post on What to pack for Costa Rica.

Disclosure: There may be some affiliate links in this article and I may receive commissions for purchases made through these links. This is at no extra cost to you and helps keep this site running
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