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Costa Rica's Beaches - Beach - Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coast are known for excellent surfing, relaxing and wildlife-watching, especially for spotting six of the world’s eight species of green sea turtles nesting and hatching. We have included some of Costa Rica’s best beaches below. If we are missing your favorite, please add it in or let us know at

Península de Nicoya – in northwest Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast is a large peninsula covered in resorts, white beaches, several small wildlife reserves and parksand isolated spots. While the roads are not all paved, transportation has recently been greatly improved by the new international airport in Liberia, located about an hour east of most of the resorts on the peninsula. Among the most popular beaches on this peninsula are:

  • Playa del Coco – Located 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the airport in LiberĂ­a, this beach is popular with Ticos. There is great scuba diving and sport fishing
  • Playa Tamarindo – This is a small community next to big, beautiful beach. Surfing, windsurfing, boat tours, snorkeling, diving , horseback riding, and visits to turtle nesting are among the main activities, punctuated by good accommodations and restaurants. There is an airstrip with regular flights to and from San JosĂ©. Playa Tamarindo is located two hours by car or bus from Liberia.
  • Montezuma is near the tip of the peninsula and is popular with the young, backpacker crowd. There are good beaches, friendly residents and a nearby nature reserve. Montezuma has a laid-back atmosphere and affordable prices.

The Parque Nacional Tortuguero (29,068 hecares,71,828 acres) is one of the most important Caribbean lowland rainforest breeding grounds of the green sea turtle. Of the eight species of marine turtle in the world, six nest in Costa Rica; and four nest in Tortuguero. Multi-day packages can easily be purchased in San José. The best tours are those by boat that lead you through the water channels to view the rainforest, ideal for wildlife viewing. You must pay a small admission fee to enter the national park.

Travelers are allowed to visit the nesting beaches at night and watch the turtles lay their eggs or observe the eggs hatching. However, camera flashes and flashlights are prohibited by law as they disturb the egg-laying process. The best seasons to visit the beaches are from April 1 to May 31. Nesting occurs from late July to late August. Guides must accompany visitors to the viewing areas. There are also other wildlife viewing opportunities and bird watching. There are more than 400 speices of bird in the area including the frigatebird and royal tern.

The small village of Tortuguero at the northern end of the national park, is a great stop when visiting the park. The residents make a living from turtles and tourism and have developed an eco-friendly balance with their small green neighbors. Instead of harvesting the turtles or building up the beach areas in a way that could harm the reproductive cycle, the people exploit the tourism niche that the turtles create. The center of this little village has an information kiosk with natural history, cultural history, geography and climate of the region.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is one of the Costa Rica’s best Caribbean beaches. Not to be confused with Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, this beach town has a strong influence from local Bribri indigenous culture. There are several cultural tours thatlet you visit indigenous reserves and the town of Yorkin.

Puerto Viejo is well-exposed to the sea and encourages shoreside strolling and partying. This is a premier surfers’ destination, with the country’s biggest and most powerful waves. There is a reef nearby which makes for excellent snorkeling, especially when the waves drop from September to October. surfing is best from December to early march.

Península de Oso y Golfo Dulce – A thumb-shaped peninsula jutting in the the southern edge of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, the Península de Oso and the Golfo Dulce is the greatest remaing portion of Central America’s Pacific Coastal Rainforest, preserved in the Parque Nacional Corcovado. The peninsula can be reached by boat via the Río Sierpe or by ferry across the Golfo Dulce to Puerto Jiménez, the peninsula’s principal town. There is also a daily ferry service from Golifito to the small dock in Puerto Jiménez. Regular bus service runs to and from from San José.

Jacó – Located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, Jacó is popular with josefinos (residents of San José), surfers and young travelers looking for a lively party weekend. Hotels and restaurants are spread along the road that parallels the lovely beach, set just 2 km off the coastal highway. Jacó is a popular surf spot with rolling waves and an annual tournament in August at Playa Hermosa, 5 km south.

The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It has beautiful forest-backed tropical beaches, mangrove swamps, rocky headlands with ocean and island views, and a diverse variety of fauna and flora. It is one of the most popular, and smallest, national parks in Costa Rica.This has led to some interesting problems – some of the wildlife is almost tame – and the national park service has created strict regulations on numbers of tourists allowed to enter the park (600daily) and the park’s hours (it is closed on Mondays). To avoid the crowds, try to arrive early in the morning, from Tuesday - Thursday.

Hiking is one of the major highlights in the national park. Trails lead to three beaches within an hour’s walk. There are over 350 bird species along with other animals monkeys, sloths, agoutis, armadillos, croatis, lizards, snakes, iguanas and raccoons. Other activities include mountain biking, canopy tours, canyoning, deep-sea fishing and even quad biking.


Here are other activities in and around Costa Rica that may be of interest: Playa Blanca, Cahuita Swimming and Playa Negra.

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