Guanacaste has lots of beaches to offer and depending on your sense of adventure can be the best way to get you and your furry best friend the exercise we all need. Apart from the usual dog walking items needed, make sure you and your furry friends have do/the following:
- Collar and current phone number on an ID tag. This will make sure Fido can be safely returned to you if they bolt while you chase your dog chasing whatever it’s chasing
- Their favorite leash – in our experience, we take a quick scan on arrival to see any possible distractions such as other dogs, joggers, cyclists, families having a picnic, wildlife etc and if all appears safe then we let them roam free. Also great to have that leash around at all times in case of having to intervene for any dog fights / or dangerous situations that could occur for your own pooch or others
- Check the tide schedule of any beach you are planning to visit – low tide can be best to keep space from any distractions such as horses and not-so-friendly dog people
- A towel(s) in the car for cleaning off that damp furry skin and for any unexpected messes
- Clean fresh water – after your dog enjoying the ocean and in the heat – they will be desperate for something fresh much like yourself
- Poop bags to pick up any messes – you would not want to step in it either!
- And lastly watch out for horses and some people. As friendly as you think your dog is some folks will lash out probably because they are afraid and worry about getting bit so if you see a man with a stick, probably best to keep them under leash until they have passed.
We made a list of what we think are the best beaches to go and walk your pooch, starting north and making our way south (and using the intersection (El Cruce) in the town of Huacas as a pinpoint) all these beaches can be reached within 40 minutes give or take depending on weather and traffic.
Playa Dante and Dantita (19 km, Ruta 180 to 911 then north thru Potrero)
This beach is close to the community of Las Catalinas and we usually park just north of the paved lot, down and to the left of the main road. Dependent on your arrival time there may be a charge for parking. The path splits and you can head upward for an impressive switchback path with some fantastic views. The path is quite steep so have good shoes and be thankful for the free work out. If you prefer to stay at sea level go straight on to Playa Dante. We often head upward and over to Dantita and come back around the point (low tide only) to Dante. Takes about an hour to do the loop and it is quiet, with us often the only ones there. With fine sand and some rocks along the shore this walk is manageable with awesome scenery.
Playa Flamingo (9 km, Ruta 180)
This is one of the nicest beaches and busiest at times. Parking is easy when quiet and right on the beach so no hiking here. Just park and walk. Not much shade if walking the beach so be prepared for lots of sun. Of course, if you’re staying to play in the waves, you can rent a tent or nab a spot under the few trees the beach does offer.
Brasilito North (6 km, Ruta 180 then straight at Patagonia Del Mar)
This beach reminds me of a smaller version of the famous whale tail on Playa Manuel Antonio. At low tide Loros Island is reachable for you and the pups if you are comfortable with shallow water crossings. The beach is long and narrow and connects to Playa Punta De Pelencho to the north so extended walks are possible if desired. We have often encountered other dogs on this beach, but you can see each other coming a long way away. The parking is easy as the town has single areas with the grass cut back to park on the dunes. It’s often popular with families on Sundays but quieter on weekdays. The beach has a bit of a tilted angle, but otherwise lovely.
Conchal, Puerto Viejo (10.1 km, Ruta 933 then head north out of Matapalo)
The beach has marked trees letting you know these are the infamous Manchineel tree with its tiny green crab apple like fruit. These trees are often found on the beach from Florida around the gulf coast down into Central and South America. Keep your distance and do not touch any part of the tree, leaves included and definitely do not eat the fruit. Parking is cheap at the family run property and gets busier as the day gets on. The water is calm most days so it’s great to go out for a swim with the dogs. Best sand in Costa Rica too! Like many of our favorite beaches it has an estuary that we make sure the dogs avoid mostly during the wet season so to steer clear of wildlife. Lots of time to leash the pups up before getting close so no need to fret. A bonus is the howler monkeys are often eating the tree blossoms right above your head so keep an eye out.
Playa Minus (10.7 km, Ruta 933 then head north out of Matapalo, turn left to the west at Condor Heights- Villas La Paz, right turn to north about 2 kms along the road to Playa Real)
This is a hidden gem with lots of tree shade, soft white sand, parking right next to the beach and calm accessible water most days, as it is a tucked-away-bay that used to have a mining port on the south side. The beach is not big, but great for dogs to swim and stay cool during the heat of the day. This beach is harder to find but can still be crowded on holidays. We have seen humpback whales and spotted rays in the bay while standing on the beach.
Playa Real (11.3 km, Ruta 933 then head north out of Matapalo, turn left to the west at Condor Heights- Villas La Paz)
This is great because you can park and head north onto Playa Nombre De Jesus which is a long narrow sandy strip or head south around the small bays to Playa Roble with its point accessible at low tide. The rocks are somewhat tricky to walk on like slippery bowling balls so take your time if walking out to the other side of the rock formation. Amazing view and one of our favorite spots to safely walk around the jutting rock tower to gaze out on to the Pacific. Be mindful of the tide and waves, but the beaches are flat and easy to navigate with their soft sand. We stay close to the water to avoid the tree line just in case the dreaded poisonous apple trees are present. Be aware not to continue south to Playa Honda as its a designated turtle nesting beach. Really every beach is home to wildlife so obey the rules if signs posted “don’t allow dogs” on the beach.
Playa Tamarindo (13.9 km, Ruta 155).
The busiest beach on the list, but vast during low tide so lots of space to keep the pups behaving well. This beach offers a nice gradual shoreline for easy access to the water – the dogs love it! Tamarindo is full of people exercising on land and in the water so if you have a dog that likes to chase and ankle bite, it is not ideal. That being said this is the best beach to socialize your dog as most are just there to run in the sun and have fun like the rest of us. Parking is for a fee unless you can get there early.
Playa Langosta (14.7 km, Ruta 155 thru Tamarindo)
This is a nice spot to walk and enjoy watching the surf to the north and across the estuary to the south. Narrow at high tide but fun at low tide with all of its tidal pools. The beach is a combo of white sand with lava rock formations and always has folks walking dogs so be prepared for being social with families wanting to pet the pups. Another dog friendly community that asks you pick up after your pet and gives out free poop bags next to the garbage bins at the top of each beach access path. Very convenient.
Playa Avellanas (22.2 km, Ruta 152 then southwest thru Pinilla)
This beach is popular for surfing and has a wooden walkway built over the dried mangrove so best to keep your dog on leash until you reach the beach. Another vast expanse of golden sand so you can walk for miles along the flat surface darting in and out of the waves to keep cool as there is not a lot of shade close to the water. Sunset is breath taking as the Pacific seems to go on forever. The road to Avellanas is getting better with each and every year we visit but can still shake the best of our car with that washboard effect so take it easy and enjoy the scenery along the way.
Playa Junquillal (38.1 km, Ruta 155 to 152 to 160 to 928)
This beach is like Playa Avellanas, but with long, sweeping, coffee colored sand extending for miles. The dark sand can be somewhat hotter later in the day, but surprisingly soothing to your bare feet in the wee hours of the morning. Be mindful of hot sand on the paws. Parking is right next to the beach under towering Royal Palm trees that line the beach as far as the eye can see. At times we are the only car parked when we arrive at 6 am with only a few other dog walking folks easily seen in the distance.
So, I hope this helps you choose your next beach location to take your favorite four legged friends, always remember to take care of the beach and each other.
Signing off Carlos Undercover.