21 Costa Rica Beaches

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Set between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a land of volcanoes, jungles, oceans and sensational beaches. Easily accessible and blessed with warm waters, the beaches of Costa Rica differ depending on where you are in the country.

Along the Nicoya Peninsula in the north, you can find many of the country’s most idyllic and pristine white sandy beaches. Further down south, the beaches tend to be framed by rugged coves and a more tropical and verdant backdrop. While on the Caribbean side, Costa Rica’s beaches are, by and large, quintessential palm tree-lined paradises. You’ll find fantastic places to swim, surf, sunbathe, or simply relax wherever you go. Here are the best beaches in Costa Rica to inspire your next visit.

Costa Rica Beaches

20 Best Beaches In Costa Rica

1- Whale’s Tail

costa rica beaches sexy model in yoga pose
For sun, sand, sea and relaxation, these Costa Rica beaches has it all.

Located in the southern part of Costa Rica, within the Marino Ballena National Park, Whale’s Tail is arguably Costa Rica’s most famous coastal area.

Flanked by Uvita Beach and Hermosa Beach, this stunning peninsula leads out to a flat top where both beaches extend and curve for about two miles on either side.

One of the most photographed sites in Costa Rica, this whale tail shaped sandbar is best seen via an aerial flyover.

If you would prefer to keep your feet on the ground, however, both beaches are lovely places to walk or sunbathe.

Should you visit here between August and October, or December to April, you may even spot humpback whales or even nesting sea turtles.

2- Nacascolo Beach

costa rica caribbean beaches nascascolo beach and lush forest
Nacascolo Beach is a lovely strip of beach in Costa Rica to escape to.

Nacascolo Beach is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Set on the exclusive Papagayo Peninsula, this stunning stretch of sand sits between the Andaz Papagayo Resort and the Four Seasons Resort.

The water here is protected, so it’s calm enough to swim, snorkel, stand-up paddleboard or kayak.

You can kayak over to nearby Nacascolo from the Andaz resort if you feel adventurous.

It will take less than an hour to do so, and once you reach that destination, you might be lucky enough to be the only one there.

3- Ostional Beach

boat moored byy the beach at sunset tarcoles
Looking for some amazing Costa Rica beaches? There are so many to choose from you’ll need months to see them all.

Comprising black volcanic sand, Ostional Beach has to be one of the most dramatic beaches in Costa Rica.

Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, within the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, this beach is not also a fantastic beach to photograph; it is also a superb beach to see nesting sea turtles as well.

Those who love wildlife should consider a guided night tour between July and October to see the arribada or mass annual sea turtle nesting.

It is an awe-inspiring sight that is the highlight of any visit to Costa Rica.

4- Manuel Antonio Beach

cost rica best beaches manuel antonio national park aerial view with blue sky
Manuel Antonio National Park is home to some pristine beaches in Costa Rica.

Manuel Antonio Beach is another of Costa Rica’s most popular beach destinations.

Bordering the Manuel Antonio National Park, a lush coastal rainforest that teems with wildlife, it will take you about half an hour from the park’s entrance to reach the beach.

Once you are there, you will be rewarded with some of the country’s most tranquil and pristine stretches of sand.

A lovely spot to swim, there is also a gorgeous coral seascape to explore via snorkelling.

For those wanting to explore the rainforest, several trails will lead you through a terrain where monkeys freely roam to other beach areas within the park.

5- Santa Teresa

costa rica surfing beaches santa teresa surfer at dusk
If you’re into surfing then head to Santa Teresa beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.

Santa Teresa is another fabulous beach on the Nicoya Peninsula.

This spectacular two-mile-long stretch of golden beach is very popular with surfers near Montezuma due to its fabulous offshore breaks.

A perfect place to watch the sunset, the beach is also great for walking and sunbathing.

You can even see tidal pools filled with sea anemones and colourful fish during low tide.

It’s close to two other decent beaches – Playa Cobano in the north and Playa Carmen in the south.

An excellent selection of restaurants in the vicinity dishes up a terrific range of cuisines.

For more beaches around the world read:

6- Malpais Beach

South of Guanacaste on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Malpais Beach is another good surfing beach.

It is also a haven for yoga enthusiasts who regularly come down to the shoreline to practice their Utkatasanas, Trikonasanas and other such moves.

The extended stretch of white sand is interspersed with rocky tidal pools.

This beach is on the wild side and slightly off the beaten track.

If you need a quiet place to get away from everyone, this beach is a great option.

7- Playa Hermosa

best costa rica beaches playa hermosa sunset
One of the best surf beaches in Costa Rica is Playa Hermosa.

Not to be confused with the beach that shares its name on the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Hermosa is one of Costa Rica’s best surfing spots.

Situated near Jaco, the beach is flanked by stately palm trees and a range of impressive hotel accommodation options.

The waves are always huge, especially at mid to high tide, and create some notable breaks, including The Curve, Terrazas, Backyard and Tulin/Tusubres.

The massive swell makes for quite the spectacle to watch and photograph if you are not surfing yourself.

Aside from surfing, this is also a lovely beach to stroll.

8- Tamarindo Beach

best beaches in costa rica palm tree and waves at sunset
Looking for the best beaches in Costa Rica? Check them out here.

Yet another awesome surfing beach, Tamarindo Beach graces the oceanfront of the town that shares its name.

A lively beach backed by plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels, the soft, golden sand is also suitable for walking and sunbathing.

Swimming and kayaking are popular activities, while the overall vibe is laid-back and relaxed.

9- Dominical Beach

best beaches costa rica playa dominical waves
Another popular Pacific beach in Costa Rica for surfing is Playa Dominical.

Over on the South Pacific Coast, Dominical Beach is a funky surf town that is a little off the beaten path.

Providing excellent swell, which draws an international crowd of surfers, it is also the only beach in Costa Rica that offers a year-round lifeguard program.

A popular backpacking haunt, the town has several excellent basic accommodation options and some lovely restaurants.

Surrounded by mountains, the beach is a lovely spot to while away a low-key and relaxed afternoon.

10- Esterillos Oeste Beach

tarcoles beach costa rica birds
Another beach not far from Jaco is Tarcoles Beach.

A short drive from Jaco, Esterillos Oeste Beach is the epitome of a hidden gem.

The long stretch of black sand is framed by a row of palm trees and a handful of beach hut restaurants.

This quaint beach is the perfect place to clear your mind.

A decent spot for fishing, the wide beach also offers plenty of space to throw down a beach towel and set up for a day of reading, sunbathing and relaxation.

The azure water is suitable for paddling in, while the soft sand seems to massage your feet as you walk on it.

11- Conchal Beach

If you are looking for an idyllic white beach to go to, then the beautiful shoreline of Conchal Beach is where you should head.

Located in Guanacaste, this quiet crescent beach is unique because it is made up of crushed tiny seashells.

For this reason, it is not the best beach to walk on barefoot.

However, as the water is very clear and the waves tend to be calmer, it is great for swimming and snorkelling.

The beach backs onto the all-inclusive Westin Playa Conchal Resort and a selection of other rental properties.

As it is accessed by a walkway leading from a parking lot, it has a pleasantly tranquil and isolated feel.

12- Montezuma Beach

beaches costa rica Montezuma Beach houses and trees in the distance
Another of the beaches in Costa Rica you will love is Montezuma Beach.

Backed by lush jungle, Montezuma Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Situated close to its southernmost tip, it features a dramatic, expansive coastline of gently swaying palm trees, grey and brown sand and rocky outcrops that are replete with tidal pools.

A relatively small beach by Costa Rican standards, Montezuma Beach has a relaxed and laid-back vibe and a distinctly local feel.

Montezuma is not the best beach for swimming, but if you just want to chill out and forget about the rest of the world, it is absolutely perfect.

13- Samara Beach

costa rica beaches samara beach woman wearing straw hat standing under the palms
Escape to one of the best beaches in Costa Rica at Samara Beach.

Samara Beach is undoubtedly one of the best family beaches in Costa Rica.

Shielded by an island off the Pacific Coast, this long, stunning beach on the Nicoya Peninsula wraps around a horseshoe bay.

As it is protected, its calm waters are a haven for recreational activities like scuba diving, fishing, snorkelling and kayaking.

Its extended stretch also means that this beach is seldom overcrowded despite being popular.

14- Playa Carrillo

Beaches in Costa Rica Playa Carrillo blue sky, flat sand and palms
If it’s a tranquil beach to escape to that you’re after, there are many Costa Rica beaches that fit the bill such as Playa Carrillo.

Those wanting a quiet beach free from the cacophony of noise that bars, restaurants and hotels bring should consider a visit to Carrillo Beach.

One of the Nicoya Peninsula’s most sedate beaches, there is nothing in the way of development here – just sand, palm trees and water.

The beach is quite broad and the waves are pretty calm, so it’s a good spot for swimming and walking.

It’s also close enough to livelier beaches like Samara Beach, in case you start to yearn for conveniences or amenities.

15- San Juanillo Beach

best beaches in costa rica for families San Juanillo Beach
One of the beaches of Costa Rica that is a hidden gem is San Juanillo.

Somewhere that largely flies under the radar is the magnificent San Juanillo Beach.

Situated on the Pacific Coast, just north of Nosara, this small beach consists of two beaches that merge at a sandy point.

A place largely ignored by tourists, the calm and clear water is perfect for swimming.

It is also a fantastic beach for shell hunting and has plenty of shady spots to escape to when the sun’s heat gets a bit too strong.

16- Nosara Beach

costa rica beaches garza beach dolphin leaping high out of the water
A dolphin leaping out of the water is one of the sights you might see from Garza Beach in Costa Rica.

Nosara Beach is a major landmark in the coastal town of Nosara.

Known for being a fabulous wellness destination, this charming beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula actually incorporates the coming together of three beaches – Garza Beach, Guiones Beach, and Pelada Beach.

Each of which provides different types of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, surfing and relaxing.

Although popular, it’s never too busy here.

The beach town also accommodates plenty of excellent food options for when you get hungry.

17- Jaco Beach

beaches in costa rica jaco beach
One of the best beaches in Costa Rica for families is Jaco Beach.

Another popular family beach, Playa Jaco consists of a flat, wide, crescent shape of black greyish sand that unfurls for around 2.5 miles along the bay.

The water is warm, calm and shallow, so pretty good for swimming, especially for young children.

It is also a lovely beach to walk on, especially at sunset when the colours are spectacular.

Located on the Pacific Coast, the beach town also provides a good mix of shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and other amenities.

So it is a perfect place to base yourselves for a few days.

18- Punta Uva Beach

Punta Uva Beach in Costa Rica lush palm forest and strip of sand
One of the Costa Rica Caribbean beaches to tick off your to-visit list is Punta Uva Beach.

Nestled on the Southern Caribbean Coast, Punta Uva Beach is a fantastic beach to visit.

Picturesque to the nth degree, this becalmed white sandy beach is framed by thick jungle from the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.

Many different animal species like monkeys, birds and sloths can be seen.

The beach comprises a narrow strip that is largely undeveloped.

It features clear, calm waters and a colourful coral reef just offshore that renders it a terrific place to snorkel.

Another significant aspect of this beach is that it is very photogenic. So you will want to take lots of snaps of it for your Instagram.

19- Manzanillo Beach

best surf beaches in costa rica Manzanillo Beach
For iconic scenery and a feeling of escaping to paradise, Manzanillo Beach is one of the beaches in Costa Rica to try.

With stunning turquoise waters and a remote, off-the-beaten-path feel, the idyllic white sandy Manzanillo Beach is an exceptional place to go.

Known for its fabulous coral reefs and lush tropical seaside rainforest, this is a beautiful and generally less crowded beach to explore by kayak, scuba diving, snorkelling or walking.

20- Flamingo Beach

tropical beaches costa rica
The beaches of Costa Rica are tropical paradises waiting to be discovered.

Just to the north of Conchal Beach lies Flamingo Beach.

So-called because of its gorgeous pinkish-white sand colour, this beach is unique in Costa Rica as most others consist of a dark brown or black colour.

It is a perfect beach for swimming and rarely crowded, which is surprising considering it showcases incredible sunsets.

Backed by cliffsides that overlook the inlets and bays of the Pacific Ocean, this is for sure one of the most romantic beaches in Costa Rica.

21- Playa Ocotal

costa rica beach playa ocotal el coco
Another of the fantastic beaches in Costa Rica is Playa Ocotal el Coco, which is on one of the more developed strips of coastline in the country.

Also read:

Previous articleBest Time To Visit Colorado
Next article20 Things To Do In Eureka
spencer samaroo
Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. A thalassophile who was afflicted with wanderlust from a young age, he has visited over 40 countries in the world. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations. Specialising in writing about beach destinations around the world, he would probably bleed sand if you cut his arm open