12 Most Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica 12 Most Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica

12 Most Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica

Surfing hotspots, unique tidal pools, hanging palm trees, and white sand, Costa Rica ticks all the boxes when it comes to beaches. Whether you’re an advanced surfer looking for the best swell or a wildlife enthusiast looking to relax, swim, and observe nature, there’s a beach for every kind of traveler. This Costa Rica beaches guide includes those that are remote and closer to the main towns (plus information on the best time of year to visit). Grab your coconut and enjoy all the best beaches in Costa Rica!

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Discovering Costa Rica’s beaches is one of the best things to do in this mesmerizing country. The ocean is part of life here, with locals always respecting and honoring the marine life and wildlife that live in or near the sea.

tropical beach costa rica

There’s nowhere quite like it, where surfers are shredding waves while iguanas roam freely on the sand and parrots fly overhead. Make sure to visit these best beaches in Costa Rica as part of your 7-day itinerary or 2-week Costa Rica itinerary.

1. Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo (Best Beach in Costa Rica!)

Costa Rica is known for its exceptional beaches, but Punta Uva is one of the most beautiful of them all. The soft white sand is bordered by picturesque hanging palm trees and the clearest blue ocean. Please note that the beach is split into two parts, with this place being the best.

puerto viejo best things to do punta uva beach

Its untouched ‘desert island style’ feel results from very few people and strict Costa Rican laws prohibiting building on the beach. This wonderful Costa Rica beach is the perfect place to relax and get some beautiful photos of your very own paradise!

  • Season: The Caribbean side of Costa Rica has a different dry season. February – April and August – October are the driest months of the year here.
  • Crowds: Quiet and untouched. 
sloth costa rica

2. Manzanillo Beach, Puerto Viejo

Manzanillo Beach is the true local’s beach; it’s a place where families and friends gather at the weekend to enjoy nature and one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. You won’t find hordes of tourists here, only white sand, blue sea, and hanging palm trees. Spend a few hours relaxing and swimming off the shore, or hire snorkel gear to take advantage of the reef.

beautiful beach costa rica

Once you’re done, there are plenty of cute shops and restaurants nearby. Alternatively, walk into the town of Manzanillo or the nearby national park. On the other side of the Manzanillo National Park, you’ll discover the border of Panama!

  • Season: The Caribbean side of Costa Rica has a different dry season. February – April and August – October are the driest months of the year here.
  • Crowds: Busy with locals in the evenings and weekends.
shipwreck puerto viejo Manzanillo beach

3. Marino Ballena National Park, Uvita

Marino Ballena National Park is home to the extraordinary ‘whale tail’ beach: a 600-meter wide passage of sand in the shape of the tail of a whale! This remarkable occurrence happens at low tide, when the sea stretches back, allowing two sand beaches to meet and form this unique shape.

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As you’ll be walking on the beach itself, you won’t be able to see the shape from the ground. However, if you have a drone, use it to capture some amazing footage of your trip.

uvita costa rica Marino Ballena National Park

As a beautiful coincidence, this area is also the best Costa Rica beach for spotting humpback whales in the wild. If this is a must-do on your Costa Rica itinerary, make sure to choose the correct season (January – March OR July – October).

  • Season: January – March OR July – October for whale watching. The driest months are late November – April.
  • Crowds: Quiet. Making up a huge area of the national park, you might not see anyone on the beach all day! Be aware that at the weekends it can be busier.
best beaches uvita costa rica

4. Rocas de Amancio, Dominical (Uvita)

Rocas de Amancio is another local gem and one of the most unique Costa Rica beaches. Situated by the town of Dominical (a small, hippy town 15 minutes from Uvita), this secret spot is the perfect place to come at sunset as you watch the sky turn orange against a backdrop of palm trees.

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uvita costa rica beautiful beach

The wildness of this beach is what makes it really special; at low tide, there is a large rock that you can climb, and at high tide, you can watch the waves crash around it.

  • Season: The driest months are late November – April.
  • Crowds: Quiet. The remoteness means there are very few people; it’s mainly known by the locals and not tourists.
costa rica beautiful beaches

5. Playa Linda, Matapalo

Close to Dominical (15 minutes), you’ll also find the beautiful Playa Linda. Situated off a dirt track, this beach is incredibly remote, meaning that you’ll find very few people on your arrival. Playa Linda is also super long, eventually joining with Playa Matapalo to form one endless long stretch of beach along the coastline.

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Because of its length, it’s a great spot to go on long hikes, runs, or enjoy horseriding. Most people, though, come here for the waves as a few surf schools are sitting on the dark sand beach. For an off-the-beaten-track experience, Playa Linda really is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica!

  • Season: The driest months are late November – April.
  • Crowds: Barely any, it never feels like you’re sharing the beach because of its length. It’s also away from most tourist destinations.
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12 Most Beautiful Beaches in Costa Rica

6. Espadilla Sur Beach, Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the world! Apart from the luscious jungle and exotic wildlife, you’ll also find protected beaches inside the park itself. One of these beaches is Espadilla Sur, a pristine white sand beach where iguanas roam freely, and the sounds of monkeys can be heard from the bordering forest. It’s the perfect place to take a refreshing swim after your 20-minute hike through the park.

Manuel Antonio Beach
  • Season: December – April for dry and sunny days
  • Crowds: Remote and tranquil. At the weekend, locals come to enjoy the beach, so be aware that it can get a little busier.

7. Espadilla Norte Beach, Manuel Antonio

Espadilla Norte Beach is Manuel Antonio’s main beach, which sits outside the parameters of the national park. This means you won’t need a ticket to enter, but it can be a little bit busier for this reason.

things to do manuel antonio Espadilla Beach

Even though it’s not protected, this Costa Rica beach is beautifully preserved, and you’ll still have the opportunity to witness iguanas and other animals living in the area. It’s also an excellent spot for surfing, especially for beginners who can book lessons at nearby surf schools.

  • Season: December – April for dry and sunny days
  • Crowds: A little bit busier than Espadilla Sur, but not enough to prevent animals from coming on to the beach
best time to visit costa rica manuel antonio

8. Esterillos Beach, Jaco

Not far from the lively towns of Jaco and Manuel Antonio are the Esterillos beaches, a collection of beaches (east, west, and central) that makeup one long stretch of brown sand. The dark color of the sand is beautifully complemented by the bold green forest and the deep blue ocean surrounding it.

best beaches costa rica

This beach is mainly known as a hotspot for surfing, with larger waves and strong riptides. Because of this, it’s not great for swimming, but it’s the perfect place to watch the action on the ocean—for example, surfers catching the first wave of the day or the fishermen coming back with their haul.

There are also a lot of rocks on this beach, making it a great place to explore tidal pools filled with small fish, crabs, and other sea creatures.

  • Season: December – April for dry, sunny days.
  • Crowds: Relatively quiet, mostly locals relaxing.
best beaches in costa rica

9. Playa Herradura, Jaco

Playa Herradura might not be your typical white sand beach, but it’s one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for swimming and its livelier atmosphere. The small beach has lots of great restaurants where you can relax and have a drink or some food. Plus, there are other activities on offer like paddleboarding or horseback riding.

The best thing about Playa Herradura, though, is the sunsets! There’s nothing quite like walking under the pink and orange sky as you glimpse parrots, or even sloths, in the neighboring trees.

  • Season: December – April for dry, sunny days.
  • Crowds: Not busy apart from the weekends, walk on a little further down, and you can find some secluded spots.
best beaches costa rica

10. Playa Mar Azul, Santa Teresa

Playa Mar Azul is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for tidepools, filled with exciting rocks and pools that are home to some beautiful sea life. Hire a bike and cycle 15 minutes out of Santa Teresa towards Mal Pais.

Once you get there, sit in the pools and admire the views, or look out for the diversity of marine life (watch out for sea urchins!). Make sure to visit at low tide as this is the only time you’ll get to see the different levels and shapes of the pools. Check the tide here.

  • Season: Year-round surf, but the driest months are December – April.
  • Crowds: Quiet as it’s a little harder to get to than the other Santa Teresa beaches
santa teresa things to do Mal Pais Tide Pools

11. Playa Manzanillo, Santa Teresa

Playa Manzanillo is a beautiful Costa Rica beach about a 30-minutes drive from Santa Teresa. Because of its remote location, it’s the perfect place to do a horseback riding experience, galloping along the shoreline with only the sound of hooves hitting the sand and the wind in your hair. Read about our horseback riding experience in Santa Teresa.

santa teresa costa rica horse riding

Because of the beach’s remoteness, it’s calm and peaceful, meaning there is a high chance you’ll be here completely alone. This makes the experience even more special.

  • Season: Year-round surf, but the driest months are December – April.
  • Crowds: Almost no one. Choose the right time, and you can feel like the only person in the world on this beautiful Costa Rica beach!

12. Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa

Known for its constant swell all year round, Santa Teresa is famous for surfing for all abilities. In between Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, discover Playa Carmen, which has big rolling waves perfect for the more advanced surfer. Even if you’re not advanced, it’s a fun place to come and watch the surfers paddle out and catch their waves—a real show of skill! As it’s a little out of town, it’s more scenic and less busy than the main Santa Teresa beaches.

santa teresa playa carmen
  • Season: Year-round surf, but the driest months are December to April.
  • Crowds: Can get busy at prime surfing times. Visit at sunrise to see the beach at its quietest.
santa teresa beach
04/11/2023 https://www.saltinourhair.com/costa-rica/best-beaches-costa-rica/
Blog comments (2)

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  • Vince

    This ranking is ridiculous. I can name you at least 15 beautiful beaches than those above.
    Some of which are much less touristy, even deserted.
    In addition you mention 3 beaches that are next to each other in (Santa Teresa).
    For this classification to be a little correct, you would have had to travel a little more in Costa Rica.
    The correct title would be:
    “The 12 Most beautiful beaches we’ve seen in Costa Rica”

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Vince, feel free to share them with your fellow travelers in the comments here. 🤗 Most of our readers are aware that these guides are all written based on our own travel experiences.

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