If you’re planning to visit paradise on your next vacation, you won’t get much closer than Costa Rica. This peaceful country in Latin America is a beacon for others to follow – especially when it comes to tourism. Many of its top destinations are big on sustainable tourism, and you can find some awesome places to stay, as well as visit.

While you can hike volcanoes, bike through the rainforest, and zipline across mangroves, the best thing is arguably the beaches in Costa Rica. No matter what you expect from a tropical paradise, you’ll find it in Costa Rica. With both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, it has a number of surfing destinations too. You can also enjoy wildlife watching – whether that’s birds or marine life. 

In this post, we’ll look at seven of the best beaches in Costa Rica. No matter your travel style or tastes, one of them will be perfect for a few days (or who knows, weeks), while on your adventure. We’ll take a look at the best beaches in Costa Rica, and where to stay and what to do when you’re there. Welcome to your essential Costa Rica travel companion! 

 

When to Go to beaches in Costa Rica

Most Romantic Place to Stay in Costa Rica for Couples
source: Simon Dannhauer (Shutterstock)

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April. This is the country’s dry season when the weather is at its finest and you’ll find many backpackers travelling through Cost Rica. The downside of visiting during their ‘summer’ is that prices for accommodation, travel, and tours are more expensive than the rest of the year. 

When it comes to beaches in Costa Rica, it’s a little more complicated. That’s because the weather on the country’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts is different. High season is the best time to visit the Pacific Coast; however, that’s between March and September on the Caribbean side. Unless you’re visiting Caribbean beaches, Costa Rica is best avoided in September and October, when heavy rain is common.

If you’re planning to combine beach visits with trips to the country’s rainforests, then June and July are a good time to visit. Rain showers are less frequent, and the country is bursting with beautiful green foliage – and you’ll be able to catch a tan during your beach time! 

 

Most Popular Beach in Costa Rica | Manuel Antonio Beach

Manuel Antonio

  • Who It’s For: Wildlife lovers who want to chill on the beach while spotting monkeys and birds in the jungle. 
  • Don’t Miss: Any opportunity to see endangered squirrel monkeys, white-faced monkeys, and sloths. With or without a guide! 

One of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio Beach is a tropical paradise that’s part of a national park. The beach in question is a 30-minute walk from the park’s entrance, but it’s well worth the hike through the jungle. Make sure to pack beach gear including your snorkel and swimsuit, as it’s the perfect place to explore the coral reefs. Several hiking trails lead away from the beach, so it’s good for active families and adventurers. 

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Apartamento Leon, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Apartamento Leon

With room for four guests, this is an excellent option for a small family or group of friends on their Manuel Antonio adventures! There’s a kitchen where you can whip up a feast.

 

Hostel Plinio, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Hostel Plinio

Fancy being woken up by the sounds of the jungle? Check out this awesome hostel in Manuel Antonio. It’s got a pool and restaurant to keep you busy while you’re on-site! 

 

Peace of Paradise, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Peace of Paradise

There are some pricey resort hotels near MA Beach in Costa Rica, but Peace of Paradise isn’t one of them. Instead, this colourful and welcoming place is an affordable option near the beach – you can even hire bikes here!

 

Beach Nest with Terrace, JapanBest Beach House for Couples – Beach Nest with Terrace

Travelling with your other half? This romantic beach home will give you the privacy you want without breaking the bank. 

 

Cathedral Point, Costa RicaCathedral Point

Take a hike along this peninsula, which juts out like a whale’s tail. It’s just a mile long, but the walk is a great opportunity to see flora and fauna without a guide, and there are several viewing platforms. [source: Stefan Neumann (Shutterstock)]

 

Marlin Restaurant

The closest place to eat near Manuel Antonio National Park, this spot on the beach is open all day and has a sea view dining area.

 

Zip Coaster, Costa RicaZip Coaster

The only zip coaster in Quepos, this is better than your average zip line thanks to the twists and turns along the way!  [image credit]

wildlife adventure, Costa Rica

Explore Manuel Antonio National Park

Come face to face with sloths, iguanas, and toucans on a wildlife adventure through Manuel Antonio National Park with a local guide.

 

 

fun and educational private night tour

Go On a Night Tour

See the nocturnal beasts that call this place home with a fun and educational private night tour through the park.

 

 

 

see the birds of Manuel Antonio

Bird Watching

Not bothered about the sloths, monkeys, and reptiles? Well, grab your binoculars to see the birds of Manuel Antonio with a local birder.

 

 

Best Beach for Swimming in Costa Rica | Conchal Beach

Conchal Beach, Costa Rica
source: TheVolcanicRoad (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: If you want to swim and snorkel without being disturbed by surfers, Playa Conchal is the place to do it. 
  • Don’t Miss:  The incredible sunsets from the beach.

One of the less busy beaches on Playa Guanacaste, the calm blue waters make this a swimmers’ and snorkelers’ paradise! You won’t need to head out too far to see coral reefs and marine life at this picturesque beach in Costa Rica. There’s a trade-off for the natural feel though: there’s only one hotel close by, and it’s quite expensive. However, we’d say it’s worth it to experience an unspoiled, beautiful beach. 

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Pequeno apartamento en Brasilito, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Pequeño apartamento en Brasilito

This beachfront apartment comes with everything you need for your stay. Fifteen minutes from Playa Conchal, you’ll have a bed, a kitchen, and one hell of a view!

 

 

Hotel Brasilito, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Hotel Brasilito

In nearby Brasilito, you have this small hostel which also offers easy access to the busier Playa Brasilito. There’s a bar with a very long happy hour should you want to meet fellow travellers!

 

Conchal Hotel, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Conchal Hotel

This three-star hotel is an elegant choice in nearby Brasilito. When you wake up, choose between heading straight for your free breakfast at the Papaya Restaurant or a dip in the outdoor pool.

 

Brasilito Beach House, Costa RicaBest Beach House – Brasilito Beach House

The architecture of this wooden house matches the beauty of the beaches surrounding it. Ideal for a small group of friends or family – who wouldn’t want to come home to this?! 

Bar Imperial

Head to the nearby Westin Hotel’s bar for a cocktail or beer with a view of the beach. 

 

Conchal Adventures Costa RicaConchal Adventures Costa Rica

Get your fix for things to do in the area by going on a trip with Conchal Adventures. [image credit]

 

 

La Casita del PescadoLa Casita del Pescado

Westin Hotel a bit too upmarket? Check out this beachfront restaurant nearby and watch the sunset with a plate of freshly caught seafood!  [image credit]

ATV tourAdventure Activities

Don’t just stop at the beach, see the mountains too! And what way could be more fun than with an ATV tour

 

 

Learn how to make itJoin a Cooking Class

Did you enjoy the food you’ve tried in Guanacaste? Learn how to make it and impress your family and friends when you get back home.

 

horseback rideGo Horseback Riding

Learn about life on a Costa Rican farm and take a horseback ride through the gorgeous countryside. 

The Best Travel Backpack?!

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

 

Most Beautiful Beach in Costa Rica | Samara Beach

Samara Beach
source: underworld (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: Discovering this gorgeous tropical beach will delight any traveller who loves to get off the beaten track. 
  • Don’t Miss: Kayaking out to the deserted Isla Chora nearby. You will be astounded by the birdlife! 

One of Costa Rica’s prettiest hidden gems, Playa Samara has seen an increase in popularity in recent years – but it’s still enough of a secret to feel special. Get to the powder white sands here while you can. The small town of Samara is a great place for a slice of authentic Costa Rican beach life too. It has plenty of restaurants and shops without feeling too touristy. Head to Samara Beach in Costa Rica while it stays like this! 

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Birds Nest Cabin Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Bird’s Nest Cabin

This wooden cabin is just a short walk from Playa Samara. Your local hosts will be more than happy to give you advice on the best things to do and see in the area! 

 

Matilori, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Matilori

A sociable hostel with a choice of dorms and privates, whip up something to eat and meet other travellers in one of two communal kitchens.

 

Cabanas Lamaite, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Cabañas Lamaite

Boasting a swimming pool, this Cabana Hotel is a great choice if you don’t mind spending a little more without breaking the bank. Free parking is useful for those on a road trip. 

 

Casa Bea La Cassetta, Costa RicaBest Tiny House – Casa Bea La Cassetta

The tiny house craze has reached Costa Rica! This lovely blue apartment is the perfect place for a couple to stay on Samara Beach.

Mama GuiMama Gui

This flamboyant restaurant serves food from across Europe in a NYC setting, all made with local ingredients.  [image credit]

 

 

Samara Deep Sea Fishing, Costa RicaSamara Deep Sea Fishing

Whether you want to practice fishing or just take a tour out onto the ocean, this is the place to do it. [image credit]

 

 

Microbar SamaraMicrobar Samara

Sample the local beers with a view of the beach. Life could be worse!  [image credit]

wild macawsFind Macawas

Get up close and personal with wild macaws at nearby Punta Islita.

 

 

kayakGo Kayaking

Take a kayak out to Isla Chora to see the birds. You can even have a go at snorkelling!

 

 

scenic tourTake a Tour

Enjoy a scenic tour of the Samara Coast, where you’ll hopefully come face to face with dolphins! 

 

Best Beach for Surfing in Costa Rica | Jaco Beach

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
source: Barsuk (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: Surfers and backpackers will have Jaco Beach near the top of their Costa Rica itinerary. 
  • Don’t Miss: Jaco’s awesome nightlife. 

Right in the centre of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Jaco is perfect for surfing and partying. When you’re not lounging on the beach or catching a wave, head to one of the legendary beach clubs – you’ll feel like a movie star pulling up a cabana and sipping on superb cocktails. Fancy a day away from the sands? There are several waterfalls in the area, so why not visit them on a jeep safari with a local company? This spot is one of our favourite beaches in Costa Rica and after your visit, you’ll feel the same!

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Beach Loft with AC, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Beach Loft with AC

A cute and inexpensive beach loft, this is part of one of Jaco’s best surf camps. You’ve access to a garden when you take a break from the waves! 

 

Room2Board Hostel and Surf School, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Room2Board Hostel and Surf School

If you’re looking to have a go at surfing for the first time, you won’t find any hostel in Costa Rica better than this one! Oh, and it’s a lot of fun too! 

 

Hotel Ibiza, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Hotel Ibiza

A romantic spot, Hotel Ibiza is literally just steps from the beach. If that’s not enough, it also offers water sports facilities and bike hire! 

 

Shipping Containers by Jaco Beach, Costa RicaBest Tiny House – Shipping Containers by Jaco Beach

These industrial units make for a cool and comfy place to stay in Jaco. And something out of the box is just what you go to Airbnb for, right?!

Tsunami RestaurantTsunami Restaurant

Craving your sushi fix while in Central America? Look no further than Tsunami Restaurant.  [image credit]

 

 

Jaco Blu Beach Club Costa RicaJaco Blu Beach Club

Beach bar by day, nightclub after dark – a good time can be had here no matter what the clock says! [image credit]

 

 

Miro Mountain Viewpoint

This secluded mountaintop viewpoint gives a panoramic vista of Jaco from the south end of the beach. A great place to watch the sunset! 

Jeep safari tour, Costa RicaExplore the Waterfalls

Head inland to Jaco’s waterfalls on this Jeep safari tour.

 

 

 

night safariGo On a Night Safari

Ditch the traditional nightlife of bars and clubs for frogs and tarantulas. This night safari will be unforgettable, and you won’t have a hangover! 

 

 

Jaco Pool PartyHead To a Pool Party

Enjoy some day drinking and see what you can win at the competitions of the Jaco Pool Party.

 

Quietest Beach in Costa Rica | Santa Teresa Beach

Santa Teresa Beach, Costa Rica
source: Juhku (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: Adventurous travellers who are willing to make the effort will be rewarded with their very own slice of paradise. 
  • Don’t Miss: The surfing at Santa Teresa Beach – with the uncrowded waters, it’s a great place to learn.

Santa Teresa is another of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. While most tourists flock to Tamarindo and Jaco, only the bravest and most adventurous bother with Santa Teresa – but what a reward it is! Surrounded by tropical jungle, this strip of white sand is perfect for snorkelling and swimming, and there are several hiking trails nearby, making it a must-visit beach in Costa Rica. Throw in two amazing surf spots – Suck Rock and La Lora – and it’s hard to see why there aren’t more people here. No complaints, though!

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Jane's Safari Tent, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Jane’s Safari Tent

Looking for a romantic alternative to the standard hotel? This safari tent might just do it. It’s also great for two friends travelling together! 

 

Casa del Mar Surf Destiny, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Casa del Mar Surf Destiny

Just 50 metres from Santa Teresa Beach, this hostel boasts an open garden kitchen and a wood-fired restaurant. 

 

Hotel Meli Melo, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Hotel Meli Melo

This budget hotel gives you the privacy of your own room, but there are also features including a shared kitchen and tropical gardens. 

 

The Banyan Tree House, Costa RicaBest Tree House – The Banyan Tree House

When you’re staying in the jungle, you may as well go the whole hog and stay in a treehouse in Costa Rica. Here’s one that won’t break the bank; it offers an experience that’ll stay with you forever! 

Restaurante Al Chile Viola, Costa RicaRestaurante Al Chile Viola

Your evening meal is sorted at this excellent seafood restaurant in the centre of town. [image credit]

 

 

Zwart CafeZwart Cafe

Take a break and catch up with a piece of work or your latest book at Zwart Cafe. [image credit]

 

 

Pranamar Villas

A gorgeous open-air space and one of the best places to practice yoga in Santa Teresa.

first surf lessonsLearn To Surf

Take your first surf lessons at the nearby beach of Playa Hermosa.

 

 

animal sanctuaryVisit The Wildlife

Get up close and personal with deer, bears, and more endemic Costa Rican wildlife at an animal sanctuary

 

 

mountain bikingGo Mountain Biking

Head over to Montezuma and go on one of the most exhilarating adventures there is – mountain biking! 

 

Best Party Beach in Costa Rica | Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Costa Rica
source: SL-Photography (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: Backpackers and flashpackers looking for lively nightlife and lazy days on the beach will be delighted with Tamarindo.
  • Don’t Miss: The sea turtle nesting season in nearby Las Baulas National Park. 

Another of Guanacaste’s epic beaches, make a beeline for Tamarindo if you fancy dancing the night away as it’s one of the best party beaches in Costa Rica. It’s not just great for nightlife though – it’s also a haven for beginner surfers. With a perfect break just off the coast, it’s ideal for catching your first waves. You also have Las Baulas National Park on your doorstep. If you’re visiting between October and February, you’re likely to see nesting sea turtles.

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Pipe House by the beach, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Pipe House by the beach

These unique pods make for one of the coolest places to stay in Tamarindo. There’s a wooden jungle gym where you can keep fit, too.

 

La Botella de Leche, Costa RicaBest Hostel – La Botella de Leche

“The Milk Bottle” is a hip hostel in Tamarindo for flashpackers at a backpacker price. There are board games that you can play with those you meet in the swimming pool!

 

Hotel Palapa, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Hotel Palapa

You won’t find a better base in Tamarindo than Hotel La Palapa. It’s right on the beach, and you can cool off in the shade in one of the huge hammocks! 

 

Family Tipi in Glamping Surf Camp, Costa RicaBest Tipi – Family Tipi in Glamping Surf Camp

Don’t want the restrictions of a hotel room? This family tipi will allow you to truly connect with nature, with a little bit of luxury thrown into the mix! 

El Be Club RestaurantEl Be Club Restaurant

No matter the time of day, there’s always something going on at the awesome El Be Club. [image credit]

 

 

Waffle Monkey, Costa RicaWaffle Monkey

Digital nomads can use the free Wi-Fi to send off emails over a cappuccino or a mocha. [image credit]

 

 

Las Baulas National Marine ParkLas Baulas National Marine Park

One of the most important leatherback turtle nesting sites in the world! [source: chrisontour84 (Shutterstock)]

local surf expertGo Surfing

Catch your first waves with the supervision of a local surf expert

 

 

turtle watching tourCheck Out The Turtles

Take a turtle watching tour at one of the most important nesting sites in Costa Rica. 

 

 

scuba divingScuba Dive

Go scuba diving and come face to face with the world’s largest fish – the gentle giant that is the whale shark! 

 

Best Beach for Wildlife in Costa Rica | Tortuguero Beach

Tortuguero Beach, Costa Rica
source: Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia (Shutterstock)
  • Who It’s For: Those who make it to Tortuguero Beach can see tapirs, ocelots, and manatees in the National Park of the same name!
  • Don’t Miss: A guided safari – you will see a lot more when it comes to wildlife when accompanied by an expert pair of eyes! 

The only beach on this list on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, Tortuguero is part of a national park that has an endless wealth of wildlife watching opportunities. It’s tricky to get to Tortuguero Beach and getting around the area isn’t easy either; you can only access this beach by boat from Limon or a flight from San Jose! It’s well worth the effort though. Accommodation can be expensive, so look into multi-day tours where everything is included. 

Where to StayWhere to GoWhat to Do

Casa Los Chilamates, Costa RicaBest Airbnb – Casa Los Chilamates

Enjoy your own space in the jungle with this bright and beautiful house! 

 

Aracari Garden Hostel, Costa RicaBest Hostel – Aracari Garden Hostel

One of the cheapest places to stay in Tortuguero, this small hostel has a range of rooms suitable for all budgets. There’s a common area and kitchen – great if you’re travelling solo.

 

Los Amigos Jungle Hotel Tortuguero, Costa RicaBest Hotel – Los Amigos Jungle Hotel Tortuguero

With a pool and views of the Tortuguero River, you’re surrounded by water here. Some rooms have a terrace or a patio! 

 

Rainforest Cabin, Costa RicaBest Hut – Rainforest Cabin

If you want to be close to the entrance of the national park, this is the place to stay. You can also enjoy a chocolate tour from your host! 

Tortuguero National Park, Costa RicaTortuguero National Park

To see all the fascinating flora and fauna of the area. 

 

 

 

Dorling Bakery

Open from 5 am. Pick up some baked snacks to keep you going on a day hike through the national park. 

 

Budda Cafe, Costa RicaBudda Cafe

Enjoy tasty food and a drink after an exciting day in the national park. [image credit]

3-day adventure from San Jose3 Day Adventure Tour

One day in Tortuguero will feel rushed. However, a 3-day adventure from San Jose will help you see a lot more. 

 

 

some time with themVisit The Turtles

Tortuguero is named after the “tortugas” (turtles) that live here. It’d be rude to come here and not spend some time with them!

 

 

nocturnal animalsExplore at Night

Seeing Tortuguero during the day is only half the story. There are loads of nocturnal animals too – but who says you have to miss them?!

 

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before: you need it.

As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling! Presenting The Broke Backpacker’s top recommendation: World Nomads!

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

world nomads insurance banner

 

Costa Rica Packing List

AR Security Belt

1. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.

 

 2.Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!

 

AR microfibre towel

3. Microfibre TowelIt’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

 

Headlamp4. Headtorch: Every backpacker should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must. Currently, I’m using the Petzl Actik Core rechargeable headlamp – an awesome piece of kit! Because it’s USB chargeable I never have to buy earth polluting batteries.

 

Hammock for backpackers5.HammockTaking a tent backpacking is not always practical but hammocks are lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy (chicks dig hammocks) and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere. Right now, I’m rocking an Active Roots parachute hammock – it’s light, colourful and tough.

 

Active Roots Toiletry Bag6. Toiletry Bag: I always travel with a hanging toiletry bag as it’s a super efficient way to organise your bathroom stuff. Well worth having, whether you are hanging it from a tree whilst camping, or a hook in a wall, it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.

 

Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Now that you know more about Costa Rica’s beaches, you’ll probably have an idea about which one is the most suitable for you. Remember what we’ve seen – with Manuel Antonio National Park, you’ve not only got a gorgeous white sand beach on your doorstep but also acres of pristine rainforest perfect for wildlife watching. 

Tamarindo is a place where you can let loose and soak up the awesome nightlife, while Tortuguero gives you a chance to get off the beaten track for a tan and a spot of turtle watching. We’ve left no stone unturned in finding the best beaches in Costa Rica; all that’s left is for you to decide which one you’re going to visit first. 

Be sure to leave some time in Costa Rica to hike volcanoes, sample exquisite farm-to-table restaurants, and indulge in the county’s pura vida. We hope you have a great time! 

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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