The Top 5 Beaches in Costa Rica

The Top 5 Beaches in Costa Rica

When you dream of a vacation (or living) in the tropics, often the first thing you imagine is the coastline. Long sandy stretches of palms swaying in the sea breezes. The waves gently lapping the shore. Playing in the surf or donning a mask and exploring the colorful submerged world. Yes, it is easy to talk about beaches, but it is definitely not so easy to pick the top five.

Costa Rica’s beaches all have different personalities—bustling to deserted. With sands that run the gambit from black volcanic to golden to white. Levels of surf vary from professional surfing swells to gentle protected coves. Despite being a small country (about the size of West Virginia) with a relatively small coastline of 801 miles on the Pacific and Caribbean, Costa Rica has a beach to suit your desires. Here are our top five and a bonus sixth.

1. Manzanillo

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is a good four hours’ drive from the capital of San Jose and the least developed region of the country. If you take the coastal highway (it’s really just a two-lane road) south of Limon, toward Panama, you come to the end of the road in the settlement of Manzanillo.

ManzanilloManzanilloThe beach at Manzanillo is perfect for nature-lovers.

The beach at Manzanillo is perfect for nature-lovers. The sand is a beautiful golden-white and the waters are gentle. Just to the south is Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, where you can find a series of coves lined with overhanging palm trees. Pick one and set up for a day of sunbathing and snorkeling in the crystal-clear water. The undersea world here is amazing.

There are a few small hostels and cabinas in the area, or you can stay in the main town of Puerto Viejo, a 25 minute drive north, with a much better variety of accommodation, dining, and entertainment.

2. Dominical

Dominical, on the southern Pacific coast, is a fishing village turned surfing hot spot that attracts a distinctly bohemian crowd. Despite its popularity on the backpacker circuit, it’s still pretty low key.

DominicalDominicalSurfers and bohemians will love Dominical.

The narrow beach road is lined with small hotels and open-air restaurants serving up ceviche and fish tacos—and cold Imperial beer, a popular pastime on a hot and humid day. Which happens most days in this part of the country.

The nearby lush jungle hills provide a spectacular backdrop along this part of the coast. Here you can spot exotic wildlife like toucans, monkeys, and sloths or take a seat and watch the action as surfers take on some of the best waves in the country. You can also browse among the wares of the artisans set up in the shade along the beach.

3. Playa Biesanz

Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s most visited beach destination, with the national park of the same name drawing sold-out crowds most days. As a result, this destination on the central Pacific can get crowded, especially during high season from December to April.

Playa BiesanzPlaya BiesanzPlaya Biesanz offers solitude close to the tourist areas.

As an off-the-beaten-path alternative, you can check out Playa Biesanz, which is just to the north of the popular beaches. Follow the little sign off the main road by the Hotel Parador. There’s a gap in the fence; walk down about 15 minutes and you’ll come across a stunningly beautiful white-sand beach in a cove lined with tree-covered cliffs.

During the week and in low season, you might only share the beach with howler monkeys and two-toed sloths who are attracted to the tropical almond trees that grow at the beach.

Get Your Free Costa Rica Report Here:

Learn more about Costa Rica and other countries in our daily postcard e-letter. Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you a FREE REPORT – Why Are Americans Still Flocking to Costa Rica.

This special guide covers real estate, retirement and more in Costa Rica and is yours free when you sign up for our IL postcards below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *