Whilst there are certainly plenty of countries all over the world that boast wonderful beaches, few serve up the kind of spectacular choice that Costa Rica does. The country’s most glorious beaches offer something for every beach-bum visitor, whether they’re heading here with kids in tow, to soak up the rays in a plush resort, learn to surf, stand-up paddle or just have as many chances of a refreshing soak as possible. We hear you! The country’s extensive coastline – all 800 miles of it – makes a seaside getaway supremely easy. You can spend days lost in its pristine forests, hiking its awesome volcanoes or whitewater rafting its rivers, before settling in to one of the many beachside villages dotted along both the Pacific and Caribbean coast.
The most spectacular beaches in Costa Rica are well renowned but, in this guide, we wanted to take you a little off the beaten path. Just to prove the point that you can come here, go way off the tourist path and still find a myriad of jaw-dropping beaches not many have even heard of.
Here are a few of the most glorious beaches in Costa Rica we love to retreat to for a peaceful weekend of soaking up the rays and frolicking in the seas.
Pin them on your map!
Playa Rajada, Guanacaste
One of the country’s most startling and clean beaches, Rajada is a haven of absolute tranquility. Outside of busy holiday periods, you’ll find this beach desolate and inspiring, ideal for those craving a stint of complete tranquility. Even at its busiest, though, Rajada could never be overcrowded – it’s too remote and too unknown to attract that kind of crowd. Right on the north-western tip of Guanacaste, Rajada is just a few swim strokes away from the border with Nicaragua and although it’s really easy to reach (especially if you arrive at the Liberia Airport) most tourists simply don’t make the effort. Which is precisely why you should. Local campers head over on weekends to pitch a tent and spend a couple of relaxing days, anticipating the nightly sunset, which is just out of this world.
Playa Tambor, Puntarenas
Right in the heart of Ballena Bay in the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Tambor is favoured by active honeymooning couples. The beach is a tranquil hidden secret although nearby, you’ll find a wealth of fun stuff to see and do so you can extend your stay for many days. As the name suggests, the bay is favored by migrating whales who used to head here during the dry season to mate and rest in between long journeys. Unfortunately, the whales don’t drop in as often or as in large pods as they once used to, although occasional sightings are still common. The town of Tambor boasts a few accommodation options and is a really chilled-out spot to while away a day or two. Quaint fishing villages, incredible rain forests and a wealth of wildlife await you in this southern end of Nicoya, making Tambor a wonderful reward for a whirlwind trip through the wilds of Costa Rica. A small airport at Tambor can help you cut travel time if you’re on a short Costa Rica adventure vacation.
Playa Manzanillo, Puntarenas
Just around the western corner of Nicoya, a short drive from Tambor, is Playa Manzanillo, on one of the most unspoiled corners of the country. Swaying palm trees kiss the crystal seas here, with a nearby lagoon also offering plenty of snorkeling chances. Being out of the way and somewhat hard to reach (not really but enough to hold back large resort developers) has guaranteed this beach is visited by a select number of dedicated beach lovers, those who love their nature pristine and undisturbed.
Playa Santa Teresa, Puntarenas
Manzanillo’s southern neighbor, Santa Teresa, is just as stunning yet the ease of access comes with an increase in crowds. Still, this is Costa Rica’s quiet side, the one many never get to see, so fellow beach-visitors here are limited nonetheless. With added infrastructure, though, comes the chance for morning yoga classes, surf lessons and all the mod-cons many enjoy on a day out at the beach. Santa Teresa is a wonderfully long stretch of beach ideal for really long walks and, being on the westernmost coast of the country, also a superlative sunset soaking spot. Seaside restaurants, a relaxed vibe and super friendly locals make this a very addictive beach to visit, so be warned!
Playa Mantas, Puntarenas
Not every unknown gem is in a remote spot that may be lovely but boasts no infrastructure at all. Take Mantas, for example, a sparkling gem of a beach with a charming little village boasting all-inclusive lodges and boutique hotels. We love this beach because you can reach it easily from San Jose, is perfect for swimming with kids (lots of fun rock pools in which to play) and has enough mod-cons so you can stay a few nights without having to move on due to lack of restaurants or whatnot. The rocky shores, however, make Mantas seem quite wild and untamed (which it is) and offers a wonderful balance between Crusoe-escape and 5* luxury.
Playa Minas, Guanacaste
The lack of anything man-made makes Minas (or Zapotillal) a fabulously rewarding beach to visit. What a difference from its built-up neighbors! Granted, the unpaved track that leads here certainly keeps the crowds at bay and, to be honest, is reason enough to rent a 4WD in Costa Rica. The turquoise water is crystal clear here and swimming is simply divine. Plenty of trees offer ample shade so you can pack a picnic basket and just spend the whole day here if you wish. This is Costa Rica paradise!
Playa Pelada, Guanacaste
As far as ‘postcard-pretty’ beaches go, Pelada is right up there with the best of them. Crescent shaped white-sand beach, framed by verdant forests on one side and sapphire seas on the other. A swoon worthy sight that’s definitely worth the drive, Pelada would have to be the most spectacular beach you can visit in Nosara. Spend a day tucked in the shade of the big palm trees, tackling the small waves and enjoying refreshing swims. There are no services here at all which spells great news for those who love their beaches au naturel.
Playa Isla Tortuga, Puntarenas
We admit it’s a bit cheeky to include a beach on a remote island but hey, given Isla Tortuga can be easily reached by boat in just a couple of hours, why miss out on this starting beauty?! Floating off the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Isla Tortuga is unadulterated paradise, the kind you envisage when you’re dreaming of Cost Rica beach adventures. The water here is a thousand shades of turquoise, perfectly clear, warm and immensely inviting, the sand white and sparkling, the forest lush and emerald – Isla Tortuga is a beach dream personified.
Playa Samara, Guanacaste
Those travelling with bubs will want to check out Samara, one of our favorite hidden gems in Costa Rica. The town is large enough to offer a few accommodation choices and restaurants yet small enough to make it feel remote and undiscovered – a perfect end to any Costa Rica vacations. With calm seas, gentle waves, a few choice activities and plenty of trees to string a hammock, not to mention drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, Samara is, without a doubt, one of the most glorious beaches in all of Costa Rica.
At Costa Rica Rios, we’ve perfected the art of off-the-tourist-radar’ adventures, taking intrepid guests on the journey of a lifetime in some of the least-known – but most rewarding – corners of the country. We love incorporating a little of everything on our adventure tours, including beach days, forest days and thrill-seeking days. Ready to discover the REAL Costa Rica? Then contact us today.