When you live in Costa Rica, you are never far from the ocean. The country’s Caribbean coast is only 220 kilometers (135 kilometers) long, whereas its Pacific coast, which includes two main peninsulas: the developed Nicoya Peninsula to the north and the more rural Osa Peninsula to the south, is several hundred kilometers (kilometers) longer. Countless magnificent beaches may be found on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, respectively. The best beaches in Costa Rica can be found on both coasts.
Mangroves are a type of natural vegetation found in coastal marshes throughout the tropics that grows naturally. There are five different types of mangroves in Costa Rica, and they cover large swaths of both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Costa Rica’s coastline, with the exception of these mangrove wetlands, is primarily composed of broad beaches – often made of dark volcanic sand – that are broken by low-lying rocks and a scattering of offshore islands.
Additionally, Costa Rica is home to a number of minor coral reefs along its Pacific coast, as well as one important coral reef on its Caribbean coast, located at Cahuita. Unfortunately, deforestation has raised silt levels in Costa Rica’s coastal waters in recent years, putting virtually all of the country’s reefs at risk. Reef-building corals can only thrive in clear water, therefore deforestation has put almost all of the country’s reefs at risk.
Although development pressures are increasing in the country, Costa Rica is working hard to maintain its position as one of the world’s greenest countries, enacting formal moratoriums on new construction and conducting a heightened inspection of planned projects along the country’s coastline.
The settlement of Nicoya, located on the peninsula that bears its name on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, serves as a gateway to the comparatively secluded Nosara Beach, which is popular with tourists seeking a more relaxed alternative to the high-octane tourist scene further north. The lovely Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones, two long white-sand beaches flanked by shaded trees and tendrils of green sea grape edging the tideline, are the main attractions here. Surfing, swimming, and watching stunning sunsets are all available on the beach’s numerous kilometers of immaculate sand. Yoga on the beach is also available.
2. Punta Uva
It is located to the east of the town of Puerto Viejo, on the idyllic Punta Uva beach, which is often regarded as the nicest and most easily accessible beach on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The transparent, azure water laps softly against the palm-fringed sands, and the air and sea temperatures appear to have remained at an exquisite 27°C (80°F) throughout the day. This beach also has some of the best snorkeling on the island, thanks to a healthy reef that is only a few metres offshore and within easy swimming reach. In addition, it is the only Caribbean beach from which you can see the sunset, as the beach is really facing westward rather than eastward.
Located a short drive from Punta Uva or a leisurely hour’s walk along the sands, Manzanillo is a sleepy fishing community with an immense golden sandy beach lined with palm trees and a charming harbor. In the early morning and late afternoon, coral reefs offshore provide a natural harbor, resulting in water that is as calm as a lake – excellent for swimming and surfing. The rapid beach break waves are especially popular with surfers, who like riding them.
Locals sit at garden tables and chairs made of painted concrete, children play in the sea, and children play soccer on the flat sands of the beach, while elderly folks converse calmly under the shelter of the trees. Nothing much happens here on Sundays, save for the arrival of busloads of day-trippers from Limón who come to see the sights. This is Costa Rica at its most laid-back and carefree.
4. Playa Montezuma
The bohemian resort town of Montezuma, located on the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, provides a series of eccentric hotels, fashionable restaurants, and cantinas on the seaside. The accommodations and dining options here range from basic to upscale, and the beach is world-renowned for its beauty. Wide, sandy beaches with crystal-clear water may be found to the north of the city. The currents in the first two of rocky bays are fierce, but Playa Grande is a safe place to go swimming. A lovely route leads north for 6 kilometers (4 miles) to a magnificent waterfall that cascades into a pool directly on the shore, where visitors can swim. Surf crashes on volcanic rock to the south, while a short climb up a river brings you to another waterfall with a bathing pool to the north. Avoid the urge to jump in — there have been a number of accidents involving young males who have dived headfirst into the rocky pool in the past several years.
5. Manuel Antonio
The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, has three long strands of exquisite white sand, which are bordered by jungle and the water, as well as 7 square kilometers (3 square miles) of woodland. The beaches are clean and broad, and they are bordered by towering cliffs that are covered in dense jungle vegetation. Playa Manuel Antonio is the most beautiful and safest beach in Costa Rica, and it is also the most popular for swimming. Try to visit during the week if at all feasible, as the beaches can become very crowded on weekends.
Early in the morning is the best time to visit because fewer tourists have arrived and animal sightings are more common. It is highly recommended that you hire a qualified naturalist guide at the park’s entry to maximize your chances of seeing wildlife, which includes sloths, capuchin monkeys, and a wide variety of bird species in the area.
6. Playa Tamarindo
It is a surfer’s paradise, with up to eight outstanding surfing areas on the northern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Playa Tamarindo, on the northern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, is also known for its slew of chic restaurants and vibrant nightlife scene. The village of Tamarindo still has some reasonably priced hotel options, but the lush and gorgeous Hotel Capitán Suizo is the most luxury in town and benefits from its great location right on the beach at the village’s southern end, making it the most luxurious in town. Several foreign eating options are available in town, but for a more peaceful evening, take a 5-minute boat journey across the Tamarindo estuary to Playa Grande. Playa Grande is well known for its surfing waves during the day, but at night, it serves as a major leatherback turtle nesting site, and the beach itself is protected. .
7. Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa, on the Pacific coast of Guanacaste Province, is a dazzling half-moon inlet with calm surf that is ideal for swimming. A beautiful, family-friendly beach with warm, safe water for swimming and sunset cruises is a great place to spend the day. It still has plenty of charm, as well as several outstanding local restaurants and hotels, despite some large-scale construction towards the northern end of the beach. As a prominent diving destination, it is home to several high-quality operations, including the long-established Sirenas Diving Costa Rica, which has a boat docked in the nearby Playa del Cocos harbor.
The country of Costa Rica is beautiful enough to visit but the beaches are a must-see.