The 6 Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica

A tranquil beach in Costa Rica, considered one of Latin America's safest locales
Playitas Beach in Manuel Antonio

Travelers flock to Costa Rica for its flora, fauna, and, of course, beaches. Thanks to its two distinct coastlines, a visitor could return to the country year after year and still uncover something new on every trip. Whether you’re hoping to catch some waves, go deep-sea fishing, or practice your downward dog in the sand, you’ll want to check out these six amazing beach towns in Costa Rica.

 

1. Jacó

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort
Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort

An easy drive from the capital of San José, Jacó is a relaxed beach town well-known for its carefree surfer vibe and nightlife. It’s also a gateway to the Carara National Park, home to crocodiles and scarlet macaws. Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, a sprawling beachfront property that features a lush golf course, has partnered with Costas Verdes, a Costa Rica-based non-profit, in an effort to rebuild the mangroves and reintroduce wildlife to the beachfront.

Jacó Hotel Pick:

2. Nosara


The Tranquility Suite at Costa Rica Yoga Spa

If you’re seeking an “Eat Pray Love” vibe, Nosara is your spot. Located in the Guanacaste Province, this town is home to many yoga retreats as well as pristine coastlines teeming with howler monkeys, colorful birds, and other fauna. Don’t expect high-class luxury here, but there are few better places for getting your “om” on.

Nosara Hotel Pick:

3. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is often sunny during the rainy season.
La Sula Sea Lounge at Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is set on Costa Rica’s under-visited Caribbean coastline, about a four-hour drive from San José. The beach is largely untouched, making it a great refuge for spotting some of the country’s unique wildlife away from the crowds. It’s also a quick drive across the border into Panama, where you can access some stunning landscapes, like Bocas del Toro.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca Hotel Pick:

4. Manuel Antonio

Playitas Beach in Manuel Antonio/Oyster
Playitas Beach in Manuel Antonio

There’s a reason why Manuel Antonio crops up on every list of Costa Rica’s best beaches: It’s just that beautiful. Set within the eponymous national park, the town is home to a mix of luxury and laid-back resorts where it’s not unusual to be woken up by a rare squirrel monkey. In addition to the predictable surf lessons and yoga classes, adventurous visitors can try zip-lining or whitewater rafting on the Rio Naranjo. (If relaxing by the pool is more your thing, book a room at the Instagram-worthy Makanda by the Sea.)

Manuel Antonio Hotel Pick:

5. Playas del Coco

The Pool at Villa Buena Onda
The Pool at Villa Buena Onda

Playas del Coco is the largest beach town in the Gulf of Papagayo. Popular among American expats, the town is more touristy than some of the others on this list, but its proximity to the airport in Liberia and incredible sport fishing and deep-sea diving opportunities make it worth a visit for the active set. With loads of affordable hotels, it’s a good choice for the budget-minded traveler.

Playas del Coco Hotel Pick:

6. Montezuma

Beach at Ylang Ylang Beach Resort
Beach at Ylang Ylang Beach Resort

While many beaches in Costa Rica feature dark sand, Montezuma, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, has a long golden stretch called Playa Montezuma. The town, once a sleepy fishing village, is popular with bohemian types and is home to Romelia Wildlife Reserve, a turtle sanctuary and hatchery. You can also hike to a set of scenic waterfalls that are surrounded by natural pools, which are perfect for swimming and picnicking.

Montezuma Hotel Pick:

What to Bring: Reef Safe Sunscreen

Keep your skin and our oceans safe simultaneously with a reef safe sunscreen option on your Costa Rican adventure.

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