My 10 Favorite Costa Rica Beaches

Awhile back I stumbled upon a Travel + Leisure article that included two of Costa Rica’s beaches in their list of the “32” best beaches on earth. The two that made the list are Playa Montezuma at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and Playa Grande on Guanacaste’s “gold coast.”

While those two are certainly nice beaches, I am not sure why they were chosen to represent Costa Rica as opposed to many others that I believe could (or should) have been chosen.

So, I decided to put in my own 2-cents with the following list of my favorite 10 Costa Rica beaches…

Southern Caribbean Beaches

Cahuita National Park – the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica certainly has some of Costa Rica’s most scenic beaches and Cahuita National Park is definitely one of them. It is a long stretch of white sand, crystal clear and calm water, with a great hiking trail loaded with flora and fauna.

Mazanillo-Gandoca – I have written before (most notably in my eBook) about this place. It is at the point where the southern Caribbean coastal road ends. It is private wildlife refuge with some of the most fantastic beach landscapes you can find anywhere. There are countless coves where you can generally have a beach all to yourself. The refuge is also great for hiking with a ton of biodiversity.

Southern Pacific Beaches

Playa Hermosa (the one south of Dominical) – this is my favorite beach to go to that is close to where I live in Perez Zeledon. It is a long and (at low tide) wide beach that is great for walking, biking, sunning and, especially, surfing. Located between Dominical and Uvita.

Marina Ballena National Park – This is where you will find the famous “whale’s-tail” formation. It is basically a rocky sand-bar that fans out to form what looks like a whale’s tail. That is quite ironic since the open waters where it is located are some of the best in the world for spotting migrating humpback whales. Best to always go at low tide to be able to hike out to the end of the whale’s tail.

Cabo Matapalo & Playa Pan Dulce – These two are located on the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula. It is not that easy to get to, but if you can make it there, well worth it. It is a great place to visit if you happen to be spending a few nights at the Lapa Rios Eco-lodge.

Central Pacific Beaches

Manuel Antonio National Park – How can you have a best beaches in Costa Rica list and not include this place? It is one of the most visited national parks in the country and is a veritable “natural zoo” with an extraordinary amount of wildlife. It also includes several spectacular white sand beaches.

Playa Blanca – this is a gorgeous crystal white sand beach that is located inside the Punta Leona Resort. It is consistently rated as one of the cleanest beaches in the country.

Nicoya Peninsula Beaches

Playa Samara – one of Costa Rica’s widest beaches. Samara is a happening little beach town and, unlike Jaco, this place also has a really great beach to boot. Well worth a visit.

Playa Guiones – Surfer’s paradise, hand’s down, but also just a really gorgeous beach.

And finally, drum roll please, the one on the T+L list that I would also include is…

Playa Montezuma – Okay, I will admit T+L got it right with this place. Truly one of Costa Rica’s best beaches and coolest little beach communities. I love Monte-fuma!

I just couldn’t sit by and allow only two of Costa Rica’s great beaches to get recognized over all the others. Even with my list of 10 above, there are many more that are worth visiting.

Let’s face it, Costa Rica has some of the best coastal real estate on the planet. Thankfully, unlike most places in the world, here the beaches are generally not for sale.

Scott Bowers

I’ve been a resident of Costa Rica for the past 15 years. I first arrived in 2001 to broker the deal that sold one of the country’s premier private universities to a U.S. publicly-held education company. For the past decade I’ve been arranging eco-intensive Costa Rica vacation tours to locations throughout the country, as well as Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia. I’ve also worked with many of the indigenous tribes in Costa Rica, helping them sell their arts and crafts and keep their cultures alive. My most recent project, in addition to joining the Coldwell Banker Dominical Realty team, is to bring the joy of growing your own food with hydroponic gardening to homes throughout Costa Rica. In a former life, prior to becoming an expat in Costa Rica, I practiced tax and corporate transactional law in the Carolinas. I also have extensive experience as a business valuation consultant and mergers and acquisitions advisor to companies in a wide variety of industries. My wife and I have seven grown children between us. I love exploring the nature of Costa Rica and I am a life-long surfer. I’ve been a blogger about all things Costa Rica for the past decade and I’ve published one popular eBook entitled 100 Cool Things to do in Costa Rica. Credentials… - Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Campbell University School of Law - LL.M in Taxation, with distinction, from Georgetown University School of Law - M.B.A. from University of South Carolina - Chartered Financial Analyst - Former Certified Business Appraiser from the Institute of Business Appraisers - Former Licensed Real Estate Broker in N.C. and S.C.