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Top 10 Beach Towns In Costa Rica

Costa Rica Beach Sunset
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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 a 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 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.

Top 10 Best Beach Towns Costa Rica

1. Manuel Antonio

White Faced Monkey

Best For Nature And Relaxation

Manuel 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 within walking distance from the 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 that enjoys bird watching or likes trekking through the jungle to try and find wildlife.

The park is also located directly on the beach.

What To Do

Most people visit Manuel Antonio for their 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.

How To Get There
Local Bus I don’t usually recommend this option, but if you are short on cash. $12 pp 7 Hours
Rent a Car This is the fastest and cheapest option $50 day 3 Hours
Shuttle Tropical Shuttle runs from SJO 2 x a day $54 pp 5 Hours
Fly There is a small airport in Manuel Antonio, if you are short on time you can fly from SJO $150 1 Hour
Eat Here

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.

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 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.

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.

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 Bus I don’t recommend this option, but if you’re short on cash $4 pp 2.5 hours
Rent a Car You don’t need a car in Tamarindo, but if planning on road tripping it is probably best to start from the airport $50 day 1 hour
Shuttle Tamarindo Shuttle picks you up and drops you off at your hotel $30 1.5 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 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. 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.

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.

Learn to Surf with a week-long Surf Camp
It is best to fly into SJO airportHow To Get There
 Bus & Ferry Take the local bus from downtown San Jose $12  7 hours
Rent a Car Best option in my opinion, travel on your own time $50 4.5 hours
Shuttle & Ferry Tropical Tours is great if you don’t want to rent a car $65 5.5 hours
Fly & Taxi From SJO to Tambor on Sansa Airlines and take a 45-minute taxi. $200 1.5 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 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 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.

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
  • It is best to fly into LIR airport
Bus Unfortunately, there is no local bus  N/A N/A
Rent a Car  A really good options as it is hard to get around here $50 day 2 hours
Shuttle Tropical Shuttle offers service from most beach towns $45 pp 3 hours
Fly Great if you are short on time. $150 pp 1 hour
Where To Eat

Stay Here

$$$$ Gilded Iguana 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

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

Accommodation here is cheap and 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 place for you.

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

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
Bus There are 6 different buses leaving from San Jose daily $10 pp 5 hours
Rent a Car Cahuita is small you won’t need a car unless you are road tripping $50 day 3.5 hours
Shuttle Caribe Shuttles leaves 2x from San Jose $45 pp 4 hours
Fly Sadly this is not an option N/A N/A
Where To Eat
  • $$$ – Sobre Las Olas has delicious seafood and you have to try their calamari
  • $$ – Reggae Bar everyone eats at the 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

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.

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.

What To Do

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

How To Get There
  • It is best to fly into SJO
Bus There are 6 buses that leave from San Jose daily $10 5 hours
Great way to see Costa Rica $50 day 3.5 hours
Shuttle Caribe Shuttle has 2x daily shuttles departing from San Jose $50 pp 4.5 hours
Fly Unfortunately its not an option N/A N/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 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.

Uvita is also home to the Envision festival that 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.

What To Do

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

How To Get There
  • It is best to fly into SJO
Bus There several options for local buses leaving daily $12 6 hours
Rent a Car A great option for Uvita $50 day 4 hours
Shuttle Morning Collective has 2x shuttles a day from San Jose $55 pp 4.5 hours
Fly Sansa has 2x flights daily from SJO $150 pp 1 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 service the 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. 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.

What To Do

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
Bus There is a local bus from LIR, but I wouldn’t recommend it $8 pp 2.5 hours
Rent a Car  Great option as Conchal is not easy to walk around $50 day 1 hour
Shuttle Tamarindo Shuttle offers direct shuttle service from LIR $45 pp 1.5 hours
Fly You can fly into Tamarindo, but time-wise it doesn’t make sense N/A N/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
  • $$ – 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 re-connect with yourself.

What To Do:

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 Bus Get the local bus from Liberia bus station leaves once a day $15 pp 5 Hours
Rent a Car This is the fastest and cheapest option $50 day 2 Hours
Shuttle Tropical Shuttle runs from LIR 2 x a day $54 pp 2.5 Hours
Fly Unfortunately, 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. Full of not only great beaches but also amazing waterfalls. Montezuma is a great place to come if you are not only looking for sitting on the beach all day, but you also want to get some exercise with some hikes.

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.

How To Get There:

Best to fly into LIR and avoid the ferry.

Local Bus There is no direct option for this. So I would avoid it      –     –
Rent a Car This is probably the best option $50 day 3.5 Hours
Shuttle Tropical Shuttle runs from LIR 2 x a day $54 pp 5 Hours
Fly Sansa airlines flies into Tambor   $150 1 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 food 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.  

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

Before you pack your bags and jump on that plane. Be sure you haven’t forgotten to add any of these items to your Packing list 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.

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10 Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica

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