With over 763 miles of coastline, Costa Rica has a multitude of little beach towns with unique characteristics and cultures. The following are what we believe to be the nine best beach towns in Costa Rica.
One of the largest and most popular beach and surf towns in Costa Rica is Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region. Shops, tour operators, and restaurants are only a short walk from the beach. Most everything in the beach town of Tamarindo can be explored on foot. If you’re interested in surfing while in Costa Rica, this is the place to do it – for beginners or experienced surfers. You can arrange a beginner surf lesson from town or talk with a Costa Rica Expert about arranging a lesson in advance. Many of the Tamarindo hotels are a short walk or taxi ride away. There are also many other beaches to discover from Tamarindo. It’s quite popular to rent a bicycle and explore Tamarindo and the surrounding area at your leisure.
Related: 8 Best Tamarindo Hotels & Resorts
Backed by mountainous rainforest on the South Pacific Coast, Dominical is a smaller beach and surf town than Tamarindo. The area boasts many deserted beaches begging to be discovered such as Dominicalito, Playa Hermosa, and those within Ballena Marine National Park further south. Enjoy the laid-back charm of the South Pacific in a region a bit off the beaten path.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Situated on the less-frequented Southern Caribbean Coast, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has an off-grid laid-back island style. Rainforest, beaches, Caribbean food, music, and culture make Puerto Viejo a magnet for adventurous travelers.
Related: 9 Best Costa Rica Caribbean Hotels
Manuel Antonio Village
One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is high on most traveler’s lists. It’s a winning combination of rainforest, beaches, and wildlife that’s hard to beat. Plus, it’s only a three-hour drive from San Jose international airport. he town of Quepos is recognized as the gateway to the little village outside Manuel Antonio National Park. You will pass through it to reach the park. The mountainous cliff spanning between the two is where many of the lodging options lie.
Tortuguero is a small beach town on the Northern Caribbean Coast known for its labyrinth of jungle canals and wildlife. This isn’t your typical lay-out-by-the-beach sort of town. People come to Tortuguero for safari-style excursions in hopes of seeing the famous sea turtle nestings or jungle wildlife like caimans, monkeys, and bird species in the brackish inland waterways. There are no roads in Tortuguero. It is accessible only by small plane or boat. To reach the little town from lodges, you’ll likely need to take a small boat – arranged in advance by your chosen lodge or a Costa Rica Expert.
Related: 4 Best Tortuguero Lodges
Playas Del Coco
The 1.8-mile stretch of Playa del Coco is situated on the Gulf of Papagayo, only 30 minutes from Liberia international airport. It’s the largest beach town on the gulf with calm, protected waters – perfect for families! The pace of life is refreshingly slow from this beautiful beach town. Grab some fresh local fruit from a street vendor, relax, and enjoy the scenery!
Related: 5 Best Papagayo Hotels & Resorts
Situated on the Nicoya Peninsula, the village of Nosara is an off-grid yoga and surf beach town several miles inland from the shoreline. The beaches of Nosara include Ostional Beach, the smaller Pelada Beach, and Guiones Beach. Ostional Beach is the second largest nesting site in the world for olive ridley sea turtles. Guiones Beach has earned a reputation for its pretty consistent beach break among surfers and bodyboarders. Pelada Beach is a short, sheltered half-moon bay with white sand backed by mangroves. At either end of the Pelada, low tide reveals rocky tide pools. With its laid-back atmosphere and emphasis on health, it’s easy to see why this region has been dubbed a blue zone, where residents commonly live beyond the age of 100 years old.
The small beach town of Montezuma is located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. This gold-sand beach was once a little fishing village. Visitors can enjoy surfing, waterfalls and a laid-back atmosphere during their stay.
About 2 hours drive from Liberia international airport, Samara is located on the Nicoya Peninsula. This off-the-beaten-path beach town offers a laid-back beach vibe with cute boutiques, a nice selection of restaurants and sodas, and a variety of tours and activities like surfing. biking, horseback riding, sea kayaking, and more. Discover Samara Beach and the neighboring Carillo Beach (5 miles south) and Buena Vista Beach and Barrigona Beach (south of Samara).
About an hour and a half from San Jose international airport, Jaco is one of the most well-known surf, beach, and party towns in Costa Rica. The main strip is full of restaurants and shops. Nearby, travelers can access the rainforest at Carara National Park or visit neighboring beaches like Herradura and Hermosa.
Related: 6 Best Jaco & Central Pacific Hotels
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