The 10 Best Beaches in Costa Rica

by Alyssa Daniells
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Meaning “Rich Coast,” Costa Rica is home to an abundance of beautiful beaches. Our Travel Experts share their favourite playas, plus their recommendations on where to stay during your Costa Rica beach vacation. 

In the tourism industry, “pristine” is used to describe beaches more often than it should be, but in Costa Rica, where 25% of the land is ecologically protected and conserved, the adjective fits. Most sun-seekers visit its stunning Pacific Coast, studded with idyllic sandy stretches and sapphire blue coves.

Ready to experience Pura Vida for yourself? Whether it’s slathering on sunscreen and lounging, or waxing up a surfboard to catch world-class waves, Costa Rica gifts its lucky guests with the perfect beach holiday.

Costa Rica’s Top 10 Beaches

1. Manuel Antonio Beach

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Where is it? 3 hours from San Jose, 15 minutes from Quepos

30 minutes from Manuel Antonio National Park’s entrance, admiring wildlife along the way make it worth the hike- particularly with the playful monkeys. Although one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica, magical Manuel Antonio’s beach still feels secluded.

2. Playa Langosta

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Where is it? 1.5 hours from Liberia

This sprawling Guanacaste beach is quieter than its neighbour, the popular Playa Tamarindo. Situated close to the lively town, its surf conditions are ideal for beginners as well as seasoned surfers. Beaches in this area tend to have darker, volcanic sands.

3. Conchal Beach

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Where is it? 1.5 hours from Liberia

Nestled on Costa Rica’s glorious Gold Coast, Playa Conchal has pale, soft sand and ideal snorkelling conditions.

4. Flamingo Beach

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Where is it? 1 hour from Liberia

You won’t find this playa’s eponymous birds here. Instead, it’s named after the pink-hued sand. Beautiful pinks sunsets are also worth coming for, or staying for after a day of swimming and relaxing.

5. Dominical Beach

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Where is it? 3.5 hours from San Jose, 40 minutes from Quepos

Playa Dominical is a destination for surfers around the world. Surrounded by restaurants and palm trees, this is a perfect spot for people watching, or admiring Mother Nature.

6. Santa Teresa

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Where is it? 25 minutes from Manzanillo

Soft sand and hard bodies are hallmarks of this beautiful beach, attracting yoga and surf enthusiasts from around the world.

7. Costa Ballena (Whale Coast)

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Where is it? 55 minutes from Quepos

An aerial of view of this coastal park reveals a whale tail shaped sandbar. Coincidentally, this is also where humpback whales come to breach every year from August through October, and December through April.

From May to November, sea turtles flock here to nest as well. Ask your Flight Centre travel expert to book a whale watching tour if you visit Costa Rica during these months.

8. Samara Beach

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Where is it? 0 minutes from Samara

Protected by an island off the Pacific Coast, beautiful Samara Beach is excellent for families. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, it wraps around the bay dispering the crows that assemble on the weekend. Kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving, and sportfishing are nice activities in the calm waters off Samara Beach.

9. Nosara Beach

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Where is it? 2 hours from Tamarindo, 50 minutes from Samara

A hot surf and wellness destination, Nosara is where you can catch waves, sun rays or the attention of a cute surfer. Its privileged position gifts visitors with panoramic ocean and palm forest views, and even if you’re enjoying some alone time, a tropical bird might keep you company.

10. Pelada Beach

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Where is it? 50 minutes from Samara

Secluded, crescent-shaped Playa Pelada has pale sand, gentle surf and a vibe that makes you want to kick back and bask in the warm sunshine, cooling off with a dip in sparkling, sapphire surf.

Where to Stay Near Costa Rica’s Best Beaches: Expert Recommendations

Online reviews are a dime a dozen, but expertise is priceless! Here are our Travel Experts’ top picks for hotels and resorts in Costa Rica for your beach getaway.

Best San Jose Hotels

  • Hotel Presidente
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Cariari San Jose Costa Rica
  • Real Intercontinental San Jose
  • Hilton Garden Inn San Jose La Sabana
  • Hyatt Place San Jose Pinares

Best Liberia Hotels

  • Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica
  • Dreams Las Mareas
  • Secrets Papagayo
  • Occidental Tamarindo
  • Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo
  • Occidental Papagayo Adults Only
  • Westin Golf Resort & Spa Reserva Conchal
  • W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal
  • Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo Resort
  • Bahia Del Sol Beach Front Hotel and Suites

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Best Manzanillo Hotels

  • Holiday Inn Express Manzanillo

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Best Quepos Hotels

  • Parador Resort and Spa
  • Si Como No
  • The Preserve at Los Altos

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Best Tamarindo Hotels

  • Bahia del Sol
  • Hotel Tamarindo Diria
  • Occidental Tamarindo
  • Esplendor Tamarindo

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Best Samara Hotel

  • Hotel Giada

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Top 10 Beaches in Costa Rica

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