With two large coastlines framed by lush jungle, Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in the world. Bordered by Panama, Nicaragua, the Caribbean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a biodiverse land full of nature, peace, and adventure.
With golden sands, epic colorful sunsets, crystal-clear waters, and A-frame barrels, Costa Rica has an abundance of natural beauty and beaches to choose from. Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot to soak up the rays, go snorkeling, or hit the surf, here are eight of the best Costa Rica beaches.
1 • Playa Manuel Antonio
This postcard-worthy beach has white sands bordered by swaying palms, green mangroves, and clear blue seas. Dip your toes in the tide pools or go snorkel and discover the marine life. Playa Manuel Antonio is known as one of the best beaches for swimming in Costa Rica. It can get pretty busy, so make sure to get there early if you want to snag a prime spot.
2 • Playa Biesanz
If you’re seeking for a more tranquil setting away from the crowds, head to the colored sands of Playa Biesanz. Located between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, this secluded hideaway is framed by exotic greenery and towering cliffs. Go early in the day to maximize your time in the sun, as the cliffs cast shadows across the beach in the afternoon.
3 • Playa Dominical
Located south of Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Dominical is one of the most popular Costa Rica beaches for surfers. With a decent north-east swell, this beach break can hold serious size without closing out. Get closer to the river mouth of Rio Baru if you’re looking for consistent hollow barrels. If you aren’t looking to surf in Costa Rica, you can just chill out on the sand and enjoy the backdrop of abundant greenery.
4 • Playa Hermosa
Located on the northern coast of Costa Rica near Mal Pais, Playa Hermosa is a wide and long golden sand beach without any crowds. The north side has a right-hand point break for surfers of all skill levels, just watch out for the rocks as the tide gets lower. If you’d like to stay at Playa Hermosa, Shaka Beach Retreat is a beautiful boutique surf and yoga retreat a few minutes walk from the beach.
5 • Playa Flamingo
If you’re seeking an upmarket family-friendly environment, check out Playa Flamingo on the northern coast of Costa Rica (north of Playa Conchal). Here you will find calm seas where you can fish, snorkel, or scuba dive. The beach is framed by high-end restaurants and exclusive homes where you can enjoy the stunning sunset.
6 • Playa Pelada
To the north of Nosara lies Playa Pelada, often described as one of the best and most beautiful Costa Rica beaches in the Guanacaste area. The bay is quite sheltered, the ocean is calm and it’s the perfect place for a laid-back beach day.
7 • Playa Conchal
North of Tamarindo, Playa Conchal has beautiful white sands that pop the color of the ocean. While there’s a big hotel nearby, the beach still feels like a hidden gem because the trees lining the beach shelter it from the hotel. Bask in the sunshine, take a swim or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters.
If you plan to spend some time around Tamarindo, check out our Local’s Guide to Tamarindo.
8 • Playa Guiones
Located in the small boho town of Nosara, Playa Guiones is a popular surf destination. Easterly swells bring fun, rippable peaks all along the beach. There are also lots of wildlife and adventure options in the area. Go fishing, hiking, horseback riding, or do some yoga and kick back on the sand.