The 10 Most Beautiful Beaches In Costa Rica
June 27, 2021
Costa Rica is known for its impressive coastline: carved out between jungle and ocean are endless beaches on both Caribbean and Pacific side. For someone who was mostly used to a calm Mediterranean Sea, I was so impressed by Costa Rica’s enormous tropical shores and vibrant ocean.
Whether you feel like surfing some crazy waves or you want to relax on a pristine white-sand beach surrounded by palm trees: Costa Rica has it all. I visited so many beaches while I was backpacking in Costa Rica, but if you are short on time, it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to go. Here are what I believe are the 10 most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica!
Best beaches on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica
1. PLAYA COCLES
I’ve heard locals mention that even though the Pacific side is more touristy, the best beaches are, in fact, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. When I saw Playa Cocles, it wasn’t hard to believe. I was immediately introduced to the magic of the Caribbean: jungle beaches with palm trees reaching all the way into the water, tropical birds soaring through the sky, a mysterious mist hanging over the water. Playa Cocles was my favourite beach out of all of them!
2. PLAYA CHIQUITA
Another gorgeous, white-sand beach with calm water that’s perfect for snorkelling or a bit of relaxed swimming. Playa Chiquita is a short drive (or a 30 min. bike ride) from Puerto Viejo town and has a very local, chill vibe! Expect people camping out with full-on BBQ equipment and reggea music blasting from their car.
3. PLAYA PUNTA UVA
These beach is unique in that it exists out of two parts. You can easily get from the first beach to the second one by following a small pathway through the jungle. I personally preferred the one furthest from Puerto Viejo, since it was a bit bigger and there was some shade to cool off in. Not all beaches in Costa Rica are the best for swimming, but both Playa Chiquita and Playa Punta Uva are great options!
Best beaches on the Pacific side of Costa Rica
4. PLAYA UVITA
One of the most unique beaches I’ve ever seen is undoubtedly Playa Uvita, which takes on the form of a whale’s tail. Coincidently (or not?), it’s also the exact place where you have a chance to spot humpback whales! Uvita is also home to the famous Envision festival, which attracts tourists from all over the world!
5. PLAYA MONTEZUMA
Montezuma is a laidback little hippie town in Puntarenas and one of my favourite beach towns in Costa Rica. Depending on the weather, the waves can get pretty crazy (watch out for rocks), but it’s definitely a fun ocean to play in. A little less convenient for a relaxed swim, but you can always opt for a bit of sunbathing or reading on the beach. If you’re lucky, you may even witness baby turtles being released into the ocean, since there’s a turtle hatchery nearby! It’s the cutest thing ever, for real.
Side note: Montezuma has a really long coast line with several beaches that you can explore. Not all of them are great for swimming, but it’s definitely worth a hike! You have a good chance of spotting monkeys too.
6. PLAYA SANTA TERESA
Santa Teresa has a gorgeous long beach that’s perfect for surfing or watching the sunset. It’s a bit busier than some of the deserted beaches you’ll find in Costa Rica, but there’s a really fun, social vibe as well. Perfect to find other backpackers to hang out with, grab some beers and relax in the sun!
7. PLAYA SAMARA
Playa Samara is a hidden treasure in the midst of Costa Rica’s wild jungles and rough ocean waves. It’s located in a bay, which makes that the water is calm and clear. Samara beach is definitely the best beach for swimming on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. There are still small waves, so it’s also perfect for those who want to learn how to surf. Lots of surfing schools in the neighbourhood offer a variety of lessons.
Bonus tip: Walk all the way to the end of the beach; it’s a long walk, but you’ll eventually reach a more secluded, even calmer beach with gorgeous greenish water!
8. PLAYA NEGRA
I feel like no one knows about Playa Negra except for some pro surfers who’re actively looking for their next epic surf break. Skipping it would be a shame though, because it’s a piece of untouched nature that’ll take your breath away. I’ve never seen an ocean that is so vibrant yet clear at the same time. I could see hundreds of fish while I was jumping over waves, it was truly a magical experience.
9. PLAYA TAMARINDO
Playa Tamarindo is for everyone who’s looking for a bit more ambience and enjoys a more crowded, touristy vibe. If you’re visiting during high season, there will be plenty of people around, but it can be a nice change from all of the off the grid places. Tamarindo is great to learn how to surf, meet people and party.
10. PLAYA CONCHAL
I didn’t have super high expectations of Playa Conchal, it just happened to be the closest beach to our Airbnb. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! Beautiful white sand, turquoise water, even cherry trees. A must-see on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast!
I hope this post gave you some inspiration on the best beaches to visit in Costa Rica. Have you ever visited any of these? Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments 🙂