The Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an outdoor-enthusiast’s paradise. Here you’ll find beaches, jungles, volcanoes, and a little bit of everything all mixed up together in a country that’s actually slightly smaller than the US state of West Virginia or the country of Croatia!

If you’re headed to Costa Rica to check out the beaches, though, you may feel a little overwhelmed for choice—nestled between the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica has literally hundreds of beaches.

Here are some of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Jaco Beach is a Surfer’s Paradise

Jaco is the closest beach to the Costa Rican capital city, San José, but it’s also a surfer’s paradise. Actually, the International Quiksilver Championships are held in nearby Playa Hermosa every year. Or if you’re looking for something a little more quiet, head a few miles north to Playa Herradura.

 

But there are many activities you can partake in with Jaco as your main base—there are frequent tours from Jaco to go deep-sea fishing, boating, white-water rafting, ATV-ing, or horseback riding, or you can take part in canopy tours or crocodile safaris. Whatever your interests and however much time you have in Costa Rica, Jaco can be a great choice due to its convenience and range of activities.

Check out what people are saying about Jaco, and other beaches in Costa Rica, on Trip Advisor here!

Visit Tamarindo to Experience Costa Rica’s Pura Vida

Also located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, you have Tamarindo. As with Jaco, this beach is located within easy distance of San José, and there’s plenty of surfing or other activities available in the area. So why include Tamarindo on this list, if it’s very similar to Jaco? The thing is, Jaco has a tendency to get a bit touristy, especially at certain times of the year. Tamarindo, though, keeps a native Costa Rican charm that is unrivaled in many other beach towns around Costa Rica.

Have you ever heard the saying pura vida? This saying literally translates from Spanish as “pure life”, but it has really come to symbolize Costa Rica’s laidback attitude towards life. And there are few places that exhibit the pura vida mentality quite like Tamarindo. Relax and enjoy yourself in this oasis of calm.

For more Costa Rican idioms, be sure to check out the Costa Rica Idioms app—but make sure you install a VPN on your iPhone or other device first, to make sure you’re protecting your personal information while you travel

Chck out Cahuita for Afro-Creole Heritage

If you’re looking for a truly local feel, though, look no further than Cahuita. This town, of mostly Jamaican ancestry, shows a true display of Afro-Creole heritage. Although not the best place for surfers, this beach definitely has lots to offer for swimmers and loungers, and the zesty Creole food is absolutely phenomenal.

Located right on the doorstep of Cahuita National Park, there are plenty of other activities for you to enjoy too—but with beaches galore and food aplenty, you might find that lazing in the sun is all you want to do here anyway!

Tortuguero is the Best Beach for a Sea Turtle Experience

Maybe you’re not just headed to the beach for sun and fun but would rather check out some interesting and unique ecosystems during your trip. In that case, head to the Caribbean side, and specifically Tortuguero. This town, located within a national park, is home to an eclectic range of vegetation and wildlife.

 

But actually, you’ve probably heard of Tortuguero—it’s one of the best breeding grounds of the Green Sea Turtle. It’s also home to many different species of monkeys, birds, and other animals. You have plenty of activities to choose from here—kayaking and zip-lining are popular, among others—but make sure you take your camera out with you, whatever you do, as you’re likely to see all sorts of special species.

Playa Gandoca is Best for Snorkeling 

Also located on the Caribbean coast, you have Playa Gandoca. This town is located within a national park as well, and although it doesn’t offer nearly as many activities as some of the other parts of Costa Rica, the snorkeling is some of the best in the whole country. Beyond that, a visit to Playa Gandoca is one of your best bets at seeing exotic wildlife: the beaches back right up to jungles that are home to sloths, iguanas, and more. Even if you stay at the beach, you have the chance to see dolphins or manatees.

Costa Rica has become an ever-more-popular travel destination, and there’s a reason for that—there are some superb beaches, interesting wildlife, and great fun to be had no matter where you go in this small country. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do besides the beaches, but the beaches are a fantastic place to start! Do your research and pick the beach that best suits your interests (or maybe just close your eyes and throw a dart at the map!) and see what Costa Rica has to offer you.