Whether you want to go zip-lining through rain forests, sleep in a hammock amongst wildlife, or simply lay out on the beach, Costa Rica offers it all. The small Central American country is a popular tourist destination for the many land and water activities available, and focus on environmental sustainability. With both luxurious villas to basic bungalows, there are accommodations to fit any budget. We’ve visisted dozens and dozens of hotels in Costa Rica to see how they stack up against the competition — from the rooms to the pools to the food. Check out our picks for top oceanfront properties in Costa Rica and start planning your next getaway!
Tulemar Bungalow & Villas manages to combine the privacy of bungalow living and the convenience of full hotel services, without any sense of pretension. There are 45 luxury residences spread out on a 33-acre resort that includes private access to Tulemar Beach, which has one of the only beach-facing restaurants in Manuel Antonio. Rooms range from homey, but older, Bungalows with floor-to-ceiling windows to over-the-top Casa Las Nubes with gasp-inducing architecture and a semi-indoor infinity-edge pool. All units come with free Wi-Fi and a personal concierge. Buena Vista del Sol serves up food and drinks near one of the four infinity-edge pools, but breakfast isn't included with the price of a room. This is one of the best, and most popular, options in the area.
Arenas del Mar is proof that staying at an eco-resort doesn't mean roughing it: Its 38 contemporary rooms are among the nicest in Manuel Antonio, its restaurant is excellent, and its public spaces embody rustic luxury. The property's lush rainforest, two beautiful white-sand beaches on site -- a rarity in the area -- and diverse wildlife allow guests to truly connect with the nature that the resort's design so painstakingly preserved. But the 11-acre property is steep, so you'll need to call for a hotel golf cart to go just about anywhere.
Easily among the most luxurious resorts in Central America, The Four Seasons is as close to perfection as it gets. With two beautiful beaches, ocean views from each one of the sumptuous rooms -- decorated in materials including wood, bamboo, and stone -- and an 18-hole golf course, the resort makes it possible for guests to spend their whole vacation on-site. Those who do choose to explore beyond Peninsula Papagayo should note that the roads inGuanacaste are in poor condition.
This ultra-remote, rustic luxe hideaway is worth the bumpy, two-and-a-half hour drive from Liberia Airport. Therooms aren't as impressive as those at larger luxury resorts in the region, but the unparalleled views, stunning infinitypool, and ruggedly beautiful (if rocky) beach more than compensate. Plus, this is a hotel with a heart: Punta Islita is environmentally friendly, and gives back to the local community.
The 14-room Hotel Banana Azul is one of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca's smaller properties. The upper-middle-range hotel is tucked away along the Costa Rican town's popular surf beach, Playa Negra, just a five-minute drive from Puerto Viejo's central town area. Banana Azul, situated along a rain forest and the beach, has lush foliage, agouti, lizards, and exotic birds. Room decor will vary depending on the room type, but they are generally spacious with bright or deep wood color schemes, clean bathrooms, and private patios with hammocks. The main pool is small, so the hotel's selling point is its beach club, which includes a restaurant, bar, and lounge on the sand.
The 32-room Bosque del Mar is an upper-middle-range, contemporary boutique hotel set on the shores of Playa Hermosa. The hotel offers spacious suites with separate living and bedrooms as well as glass walls that open to private wood-deck terraces, some facing the ocean. A soaring, modern tree house-like structure encompasses three stories of property features, which include an open-air restaurant and a breezy second-floor lounge, both which overlook the ocean through a gorgeous canopy of old trees.
This 28-room upper-middle-range resort is set on the shores of Playa Potrero, an uncrowded, black-sand, crescent-shaped beach that’s ideal for swimming, not surfing. The resort caters to active travelers with free fitness and yoga classes as well as to those who crave a more sedentary vacation. Rows of lounge chairs are arranged by the pool, on the lawn, and along the beach, allowing guests to enjoy the ocean views. Rooms, ranging from cozy Standard Rooms sleeping four to Suites with kitchens, appeal to both couples and families, and have colorful fabrics and plenty of Costa Rican flair.
The laid-back, upper-middle-range, 34-room Hotel Capitan Suizo is one of Tamarindo's most revered properties. Its location at the southernmost end of Tamarindo Beach is more private and less traveled than other parts of the busy stretch of shoreline, making it attractive to well-heeled guests who prefer a quieter vibe as well as the perks of a spa, gourmet restaurant, private pool, and attentive service. The spacious bi-level rooms and Bungalows feature separate living areas and private terraces, some with direct access to the beach, while the jungle-like backdrop of flowering plants, tall palms, and dramatic Guanacaste trees keeps guests in touch with nature, including active families of howler monkeys.
There's a lot to like about Buena Vista Luxury villas: The beautiful, sprawling 33-acre grounds, a great on-site beachand beach bar, and big rooms. But the steep property is difficult to walk around, so you have to wait for the hotel van to take you just about anywhere. And though the staff is exceptionally friendly and helpful, don't expect to get pampered without asking for it.
Costa Paraiso (which translates to paradise coast in English) may be just that for surfers and nature lovers. This mid-range property is built on the crashing coastline of Playa Dominicalito, a rarity in Dominical. It has just four bungalow-style rooms with kitchenettes (but no TVs) and a suite with ocean views. ¿Por Que No? is one of the most popular restaurants in the area; it serves prettily presented smoothies, fresh salads, fish tacos, and more on a comfortable covered deck overlooking the beach. Expect to pay extra for breakfast. Overall, the vibe and decor are much like the area itself: laid-back and friendly, with an emphasis on the jungle, beach, and animals of Costa Rica.
Hotel Villa Amarilla is a funky, laid-back, eight-room, budget-oriented bed-and-breakfast with a surfer vibe, a prime beachfront location, and colorful, friendly owners who go out of their way to make guests feel at home. The hotel lacks a pool, but the ocean and Tamarindo’s famous surf break is just steps outside the back gate. Rooms are basic and bright, individualized by colorful murals of sea life and sunsets. Guests can prepare meals in the communal outdoor kitchen or walk to Tamarindo for a variety of dining options.