Costa Rica Beaches
Click bottom photo to see more Costa Rica beaches
Finally a look at Costa Rica beaches. This is in Manuel Antonio National Park, on the Pacific side of the country. Photo by Timurk.
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Rica has year-round warm water and plenty of broad, deserted
on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts - but don't expect them
all to be coated in soft, white, manicured sand, nor gently lapped
by azure waters.
For starters many beaches wear hard, black volcanic sand coats
which reach magma temperatures in the midday sun.
Next, even beaches bordered by hotels aren't manicured as staff are not in the habit of
clearing up the flotsam on their doorstep - and if it's near a
village locals can be depressingly thoughtless with their trash
- so watch where you step.
And finally the waters on both sides of the country can conceal
wild rips (currents) and are often rough.
the plus side the climate is hot, the hotels are often appealing yet low cost,
the beaches are bereft of pay-parasols, the surfing is excellent
and the waters are not crammed with curl-hoggers. Locals are
pleasant, food is reasonable and non-marine activities abundant:
jungle walks, horse riding, canopy tours, wildlife safaris to
national parks, mountain biking, quad biking, white-water rafting,
hot springs, volcano explorations and more...
Costa Rica Surf:
A world-class surf hotspot, Costa Rica's two coasts both offers
terrific point breaks, beach breaks and perfect lefts and rights.
The Caribbean side's surf season is short and limited mainly
to after-effects of tropical storms between August and December,
but swells can be huge. The Pacific side, however, offers more
consistent waves with the big stuff appearing April-October
and smaller but cleaner waves for the rest of the year.
Costa Rica's top surf beaches are arguably:
Hermosa Beach, Playa
Grande, Pavones, Witches Rock, Salsa Brava, Dominical, Santa
Teresa, Mal Pais, Negra Beach, Junquillal Beach and Avellana
Some domestic airlines do not accept boards as baggage due to
weight or size so check beforehand. Many surfers hire cars (tough
ones as some roads are in seriously bad shape!) instead but
bring their own soft racks and straps as these are not supplied.
Boards are usually rentable in towns adjacent to good surf,
though many visitors bring their own.
Costa Rica's Playa del Coco
(Coconut Beach), on the Pacific side of the country.
(playas), north to south, starting with the Pacific side on
the Nicoya Peninsula - which begins about 4 hours from San José
(*= good surf):
Grande, North Pacific, big and clean, due to conservationists
rather than caring locals as leatherback turtles nest here.
Roads are poor in this area so access can be hard work, but
there are some interesting wildlife parks around.
Playa del Coco (aka Coco Beach,
pictured above) is a bit short of spectacular sand but is relatively
easy to get to and has a lively village nearby.
*Tamarindo Beach (pictured next
page), North Pacific, one of the best surf and windsurfing spots,
with good town facilities.
Flamingo Beach (pictured next page),
North Pacific, a big stretch of white sand with good accommodation
possibilities nearby and unusually trash-conscious local people.
*Samara Beach (pictured next page),
North Pacific, is very pretty, user-friendly and also offers
jungle walks, reef snorkelling, horse rentals, sport fishing
and flying fox (zipline) canopy tours.
Ostional sports a massive beach
where 500,000 turtles lay their eggs from August to November.
*Santa Teresa Beach, one of Costa
Rica's top surf spots where swells peak from May to December.
Surf can be too big for amateurs but the large white/grey sandy
beach is pleasant and varied activities are available, including
horse riding, jungle hiking, sport fishing, Spanish classes
and canopy tours.
Pais, on the SE tip of the Nicoya peninsula and 150km
west of San José has a pretty, quiet, rock and sand beach,
with few visitors some good bars and places to stay as well
as plenty of activity possibilities - Sports fishing, scuba
and snorkelling, kite surfing, walking, horse riding and biking
trails for a start.
Montezuma, on the end of the Nicoya
Peninsula, is something of a neo-hippie destination, with attractive
beaches tho' deeply unattractive rips, and lots of partying
in the evening among dozens of bars and clubs.
Manuel Antonio, Central Pacific, is a convenient mix of
nature reserve and beaches and not too far from San José.
Costa Rica has upmarket holiday resorts too! More Costa Rica Beaches Pictures.
*Jaco Beach, Central Pacific, overdeveloped
but relaxed, with plenty of accommodation, activities, a clean
tho' black sand beach 3km long; facilities are excellent and
moderate surf is generally up but beware rips (strong currents).
*Playa Hermosa (NOT the other Hermosa Beach
in Guancaste!) is 5km south of Jaco and offers superb surfing,
but not for amateurs or regular swimmers, with waves
up to 4m (best April-November). August in Playa Hermosa means
The Quicksilver International Surf Championship. There is little
accommodation in Hermosa so many surfers stay in Jaco.
Golfito, near Corcovado NP is a
great base for sport fishing (best November-May, the dry season),
Eco Lodges and gateway to less developed, back-packer type paradise
beaches in the southwest such as black sand
Playa Zancudo (Mosquito Beach!) and Pavones.
*Pavones Beach, South Pacific,
black sand, tropical forest and some of the world's longest
wave rides (3 minutes on a good day in the best season from
April-October!) but a very small community offering
basic accommodation, a rocky beach and not much else. Pavones
is a long way south, 400kms from san José.
Tortuguero, Caribbean, a major
turtle nesting area.
*Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Caribbean,
terrific waves near the town but the best beach - Punta Uva
- is the furthest away.
Cahuita in the SE Caribbean is
famous for its Creole culture, coral reef and fine sandy beaches,
with a wildlife park nearby.
Costa Rica is, need we say, fairly undeveloped and will not offer
the level of marine supervision that places like USA and Australia
provide, such as lifeguards, boat and ferry load or equipment
guidelines, safe swimming areas or current (rip) information,
so it will be up to you to assess the dangers of any water you
may enter or boat you may board. Foreign visitors have drowned
off Matapalo due to the rips and en route from Tortuguero -
Puerto Limon due to rough seas and a reckless captain