Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in Central America, famous for their turquoise water, colorful sand, and lush coastlines. Depending on the location, tourists can choose from secluded fishing villages, bohemian surf towns, or lively party spots. Luckily, Costa Rica’s 800 miles of coastline offers something special for everyone.
As Guanacaste’s largest coastal town, Tamarindo is a great place to visit for lively nightlife and Pacific surf. The town is known for its large white sand beach and proximity to conservation areas. For this reason, Tamarindo is a great place to experience a variety of outdoor activities- from paddle boarding to snorkeling. Recently, Tamarindo has also become a popular global hub for remote workers from Europe and North America. Boutique shops, delicious restaurants, and an active social scene make Tamarindo an ideal destination for travellers looking to settle down.
A number of other quiet fishing communities exist along Guanacaste’s coastline. These beaches offer visitors a laid back experience away from bustling crowds. Playa Hermosa, Playa Flamingos, Playa Langosta, Playa de Coco, Playa Panama, and Playa Grande are all popular destinations among vacationers. Each of these beaches offers a different experience for visitors, ranging from calm turquoise waters to pink sand coastlines.
Located two hours from San Jose, Jaco is a beach town known for its party and business atmosphere. The town’s beach, Playa Jaco, is the main draw for tourists and the closest beach from Costa Rica’s capital. Despite a large amount of Tico visitors on weekends and holidays, Playa Jaco remains a remarkably well kept beach that is perfect for a morning walk or cycling. Jaco’s main streets are dotted with palm trees, surfside hotels, boutique shops, and an enormous selection of restaurants and bars. For those interested in nature, Jaco also offers a variety of ecotourism activities. Travellers can visit a local wildlife centre, take an aerial tram ride through the rainforest, go ziplining, or hop on a crocodile boat tour. Many foreign residents choose to make Jaco their home, thanks to its convenient location and large number of activities.
This small fishing and agricultural community has become an open secret among many Costa Rican visitors and residents. Known for its quiet atmosphere and secluded location, Bejuco is a hidden gem among the Central Pacific coastline. Enjoy traditional Costa Rican cuisine, walk on the golden-sand beach, and hangout with the local surf crowd. Due to the town’s winding gravel and dirt roads, horseback riding has become a popular pastime among visitors.
Located near the town of Jaco, Playa Hermosa is a small community with world-renowned surfing. Playa Hermosa is mostly home to local Costa Ricans, with a few restaurants, hotels, bars, and resorts. From April to November Playa Hermosa has some of the best waves for surfing in Costa Rica. In fact, during the month of August professional surfers from all around the world come to Playa Hermosa to compete in the Quicksilver International Surf Championship. During this period waves can grow up to 13 feet high, creating an exciting experience for both the surf participants and beach spectators. For those looking to encounter Costa Rica’s famous surf culture, Playa Hermosa is a great place for a quick stay or day trip.
Beautiful rainforests and mountainous landscapes surround the small town of Dominical. Frequently compared to Playa Manuel Antonio, Dominical also offers a great mix of lush rainforest and scenic beaches. Throughout the year, Dominical is home to a dedicated surfing community and international surf competitions. Due to the presence of enormous waves and strong riptides, travellers looking to swim during their visit should head to the calmer beach of Playa Dominicalito. Dominical is a great example of a pleasant Costa Rican town, consisting of dirt roads that are lined with small shops, restaurants, and bars. For day trips, visitors can enjoy wildlife observation at nearby National Parks or try a canopy tour of the Costa Rican jungle.
Uvita is one of the fastest growing towns in the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica, and for good reason. A beautiful beach, calm water for swimming, and an annual Humpback whale migration make this town a great place to stay. Uvita has a wide variety of amenities and services, including a grocery store, pharmacy, bank, and small shops. Most hotels and hostels are located on the hillside overlooking the ocean. Travellers often come to this area to visit the Marino Ballena National Park, which is a great place to view dolphins and whales during their mating season. Other attractions include the Uvita and Pavon Waterfalls, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
Drake Bay is a beach down located in the Osa Peninsula that can be reached via boat or by road. if you’ll plan to drive down, you’ll want to make sure you have a heavy duty 4×4 and it is not the middle of the rainy season! Drake Bay is a magical place as the Osa Peninsula is one of the most bio-diverse areas of the planet. Those who take the time to adventure down to this corner of the world will be much rewarded by the sites of pure paradise!
Located a short distance from the city of Limon, Puerto Viejo has grown over recent years to become a popular destination among backpackers and surfers on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Puerto Viejo offers visitors a unique blend of Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and indigenous Bri-Bri cultures. One of the biggest draws for surfers to the area is Puerto Viejo’s Salsa Brava, which is a barrel wave that can reach nearly 12 feet high. Unfortunately, swimming in this area is not ideal as waters are rough and have a strong undercurrent. Luckily there are lots of other activities in the area. Travellers can opt to go horseback riding, snorkelling, mountain biking, and kayaking in the surrounding jungles and coastline. The town of Puerto Viejo also offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and reasonably priced accommodation for visitors.
Considered a hidden gem on the Caribbean coast, Cahuita is an idyllic town known for its relaxed vibe, Afro Caribbean culture, and white sand beaches. The town of Cahuita is quite small, comprising a couple of blocks and less than 10,000 people. However, visitors are drawn to this area due to the amazing swimming and diving opportunities in the Cahuita’s clear turquoise waters. Cahuita National Park is a jungle and marine park that encompasses some of the caribbean coast’s most gorgeous coral reefs and marine life. Tourists also have the fantastic opportunity to take indigenous led tours, which feature members of the Bri-Bri and Kekoldi tribes demonstrating traditional chocolate making or guiding wildlife observation. For tourists seeking a culturally unique experience among Costa Rica’s beautiful coastline, Cahuita is an ideal destination.
Even smaller than Cahuita, Manzanillo is a fishing village located next to Puerto Viejo in the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Travelers that stay in this area can bask on a white sand beach or enjoy the water through popular swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving experiences. In the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, nature lovers have the opportunity to spot jaguars, sloths, turtles, and even the endangered Harpy Eagle. The Wildlife Refuge is also favorite among birdwatchers thanks to over 360 species of birds identified. In town, visitors can shop at the local seafood and fresh produce markets or head to a restaurant specializing in local cuisine, such as jerk chicken. Manzanillo is much quieter than neighboring Puerto Viejo, and most foreigners in this area are seniors and retirees. For this reason, Manzanillo is most popular as a day trip or for long-term foreign residents.
Also located near Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva is a quiet fishing village consisting of a few dirt roads, restaurants, and hotels. The town’s main draw is its white sand beach, turquoise water, and relaxing atmosphere. For travelers looking to get away from Puerto Viejo’s busy party scene, Punta Uva is a great place to rejuvenate among some of the Caribbean coast’s most beautiful landscapes. Visitors can choose from a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and hiking. There is also a dive certification centre located in the town of Punta Uva for those looking to learn more about scuba diving.
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