Costa Rica’s Best Beaches!
Literally, beaches in Costa Rica number in the thousands. Which are the, “best beaches in Costa Rica,” is — obviously
— a matter of opinion. But, it’s safe to assume that there are five things people look for in a beach. The first is a beautiful view. The second is great sand. Clean water is another important component of a great beach. The best beaches have easy and legal access. And finally, a great beach needs people!
Best Beaches in Costa Rica, Caribbean
There are fewer beaches on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica because north of Tortuguero, there is very little access. There are no roads on the northern Caribbean side and boat access on the rivers and through the marshes is limited. It is possible to access those beaches via the sea, but logistically it is still difficult.
That said, some of the most amazing beaches in Costa Rica are on the Caribbean side. Some of the best beaches in Costa Rica are between the port city of Limon and the Panamanian border.
If there is one place on the Caribbean you can’t miss it’s Cahuita. It’s one of the few places on the Caribbean side with exceptionally fine, champaign colored sand. The veiw of the Caribbean sea is fantastic in Cahuita. And, thogh low-key many of the best medium to high-end hotels and resorts on the Caribbean side are in Cahuita.
There is plenty to do in Cahuita and plenty to see.
The most popular beach town on the Caribbean side, Puerto Viejo has good beaches as well. It’s the people in Puerto Viejo, however, that make it such a great little town. A party atmosphere full of young people from all over the world, Puerto Viejo is most famous for its surfing. On any given day, there will be up to 100 surfers in the water. And there are restaurants and clubs that provide a perfect view of the action.
No matter what you want in a beach town, you can’t go wrong with Puerto Viejo.
The last beach town before Pananama in southern Caribbean Costa Rica, Manzanillo is a gem. While it doesn’t have the same quality of hotels as Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, the beach is spectacular. The beach runs for miles in both directions and there are no houses or buildings to fuss up the aesthetics. The sand is black and brown and soft and as fine as any you’ll find in Costa Rica. The hiking around Manzanillo is second to none.
The one restaurant, Maxi’s, is famous throughout Costa Rica. The red snapper at Maxi’s is second to none!
Best Pacific Beaches in Costa Rica
There are a number of famous resort towns in Costa Rica on the Pacific side that — while fun — don’t have the best beaches. Jaco and Dominical are two examples. While great little beach towns, they aren’t on the list of best beaches in Costa Rica. Both have nice views, plenty of people, good beach access, and clean water, but instead of soft sand the beaches are gravel.
The best beaches in Costa Rica on the Pacific side strung out on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast from Nicaragua to Panama.
Next to Manual Antonio National Park, Quepos might be Costa Rica’s most popular beach among Costa Ricans. Though there is a huge North American and European influence, Quepos has something for everyone. From some of the nicest hotels in the country to lodging for backpackers, Quepos has lodging for everyone. From the highest-end sushi bars to rice-and-beans “sodas,” whatever you have a hankering for, you can find in Quepos.
There are all kinds of activities to choose from in Quepos.
And the beaches are awesome! Soft sand, fantasic sunsets, views from high above the ocean, Quepos has it all.
The beaches around Puntarenas are fantastic, but what’s more, Puntarenas might be the coolest town in all of Coast Rica. With a European feeling to it, Puntarenas is like nothing else in Costa Rica. Exceptional hotels and resorts, wonderful food, and views that are extraordinary even for Costa Rica, Puntarenas is high-end Costa Rica.
Of the best beaches in Costa Rica, Tamarindo is the best. The western most point of Costa Rica, Tamarindo has better hotels, resorts, and restaurants than almost anywhere else in Costa Rica. Tamarindo has more to do as well. And, Tamarindo has prettier beaches and better views than all the rest of the best. The only problem with Tamarindo is that it’s a long drive from the rest of the great parts of Costa Rica.
Also on the Nicoya Peninsula, Samara has incredible water. The beaches are fantistic as well, but the water always seems crystal clear. Of the best beaches in Costa Rica, the water in Samara might be the closest to pure, crystal-clear, Pacific blue.
Drake and Golfito
If you are looking for nature and privacy and peace and quiet, Drake Bay and Golfito are amazing. If you want to see whales and dolphins and wildlife and birds and flowers and virgin coastal forest, Drake Bay and Golfito are impossible to top. Undeveloped and protected, the Nicoya Peninsula is simply gorgeous.
And if you’re going to go one or the other, make certain that — either way — you visit Corcovado National Park.