Costa Rica has quickly established itself as a popular travel destination, with its lush green forests, interesting wildlife and eco friendly resorts. Whilst there are plenty of adventure activities to take part in, for those who wish to just lie back and relax, check out this list of the best beaches in Costa Rica!
Most people don’t think of Costa Rica as a snorkeling/Scuba diving hotspot, but this island offers pristine white sand beaches and coral reefs close to shore that are teeming with marine life. It’s located about 10 miles off the coast of the Osa Peninsula. It’s reachable in about 45 minutes by boat from the resorts on either side of Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic has referred to as one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
Caño Island has long been shrouded in mystery. There have been several stone spheres– iconic symbols of Costa Rica’s pre-Columbian Diquis culture– found on the island, as well as other ancient archaeological relics. The legendary pirate Sir Francis Drake supposedly dumped loads of Spanish silver there in order to make more room for gold on his ships. Some guides suggest Jurassic Park was filmed on the island, though it was actually shot on Kauai, Hawaii. And the island really does get more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the world.
But the island’s greatest treasures are found in the waters just off the picturesque beach, where the healthy coral reef provides birthing and mating waters for humpback whales. There are six dive sites and two snorkeling areas, with an impressive visibility (by Costa Rican standards) that typically averages more than 20 feet. We saw huge schools of yellow and silver-striped Grunts, Amberjacks, Black-tipped Reef Sharks, and dozens of other species. Barracudas, Eels, Turtles, Rays, Puffers, and Parrotfish are often sighted, with Bottle-nosed Dolphins sometimes seen in winter months.
The majority of Caño Island is off-limits to tourists, with daily visitor numbers strictly limited. As a result, it feels unspoiled and exclusive, with less than 20 people on the beach on the day of our visit. In between dives we enjoyed a picnic lunch there, surrounded by stunning scenery. A few people laid out towels on the sand and caught some sun, while we climbed rocks strewn with wildflowers to get picturesque views of the gorgeous shoreline.
It was a perfect day trip from our base at Casa Corcovado, an award-winning eco luxury jungle lodge situated on a 170-acre private nature reserve. It’s the closest accommodation to Corcovado National Park, and conveniently located to Caño Island as well. The bungalows there are clustered on a hilltop overlooking Corcovado Bay, surrounded by tropical gardens and lush rainforest for maximum privacy. –Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
Playa Punta Uva
Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Costa Rica is Playa Punta Uva, a tropical paradise that will get you away from the crowds. Here lush forests meet soft sand, offering plenty of shady spots to spread out your towels before frolicking in the Caribbean. Pack a book, snacks, a cooler for drinks, and a buddy – you may not see another person on this secluded beach all day.
The nearest city is Puerto Viejo, a 15-minute drive away (though many visitors bike back and forth to all the nearby beaches). There you’ll find plenty of places to eat and sleep. The area is a half day’s drive from Costa Rica’s capitol by rental car, shuttle, or public bus – or a short flight if it’s in your budget. There’s plenty to keep visitors busy and it’s an ideal spot for those looking to escape more popular places.
At Punta Uva itself, though, you won’t find sun chairs, tourist activities or beach bars. And that’s exactly its allure: The feeling of having washed up on a deserted island to claim a sandy stretch of paradise all for yourself. – Emily of Two Dusty Travelers
Puerto Viejo has some of the nicest beaches in Costa Rica. Facing the Caribbean coast in the Limon Province, in the south-eastern corner of the country, Puerto Viejo can be easily reached by bus from San José, the country’s capital, and there are direct buses that go all the way to the border with Panama in Sixaola.
Puerto Viejo is a lovely city where time goes by incredibly slowly, and it is nice to hang out, relax, meet other like-minded travelers and explore the surroundings. It’s a typical Caribbean small town, with colorful homes and the majority population being of African descent. Puerto Viejo is famous for the Salsa Brava surf break; whereas towards the North, Cahuita National Park has a beautiful coral reef and a shipwreck dive site.
While the beaches right outside of the city are the best, even the one right across the city is a nice place to spend a few hours soaking in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, surfing and even diving. Along the road that goes towards Manzanillo, a series of small dirt roads lead to some beautiful secluded beaches. Playa Negra is a black sand beach where the waters are typically calm enough for swimming. Playa Cocles is a surfing beach that is not the best for swimming, but it is excellent for relaxing. Playa Punta Uva is one of the best, with the ivory sand and clear waters and tall palms that make it the perfect place to spend a day out of the city. – Claudia of My Adventures Across The World
Corcovado’s wild beaches
On a recent trip to some of Costa Rica’s most incredible National Parks, my friends and I visited a number of spectacular beaches, but our favorite spots were on the remote Osa Peninsula. These may not have been the largest beaches, but they were the wildest – most of the time we were the only people on the beach. Almost a third of Osa Peninsula is protected by Corcovado National Park. And even the very arrival at the park involves a beach landing on Playa Sirena. Framed by the dense tropical jungle and the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches of Corcovado give the feeling of being on an uninhabited island.
We hiked along La Leona trail from Sirena Ranger Station and for most of the hike, the trail followed the sandy beaches of the peninsula’s coastline. Lying inside a National Park, these beaches were home to an amazing variety of wildlife. The Endangered Baird’s tapirs like to take an early morning dip in Corcovado, and the beaches were marked with their giant footprints in the sand. Further along we came across a beach peppered with driftwood and between the weathered twigs we discovered the footprints of a puma followed by two sets of smaller prints. Within ten minutes we were gawking at the stunning mother puma and her two teenage cubs in the jungle surrounding the beach. It’s not often that you get to share a beach with wildlife that lives on it. And that’s why the wild beaches of Corcovado instantly became our favourite beaches of Costa Rica. To reach Corcovado National Park you will need to make your way to Sierpe and take the boat to the laidback town of Drake Bay. In town you can book a variety of tours to the park, ranging from day trips to 3-night stays. – Margarita of The Wildlife Diaries
The incredible long sandy Playa Grande, about 40 minutes walk from the town Montezuma, was our favorite beach in Costa Rica. Montezuma is a small town in the south of the Nicoya Peninsula, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Just outside the town, to the north, you will first reach Playa Montezuma a nice, popular beach, good for swimming and boat trips for snorkeling around the nearby islands depart from here. If you keep walking and follow a jungle trail tracing the beach you reach the spectacular Playa Grande after about 40 minutes. You can zig zag between the jungle trail and the beach most of the way. It is a long, beautiful beach with only a bather here and there. This is a popular place for surf lessons from the town, it is a good place to learn, but didn’t look great for experienced surfers.
The waves closed out very quickly when we were here, so for riding white water while learning it is perfect. Swimming in the 31C water was awesome and we did the walk here almost everyday. The Romelia Wildlife Reserve borders the beach and the amount of wildlife you can see here is fantastic. Orange and purple crabs running around everywhere, howler monkeys roaring like big gorillas in the jungle, if you are lucky you will run into a coati or 2 and a definite highlight is the turtles that come to nest on the beach! It is possible to reach Montezuma from San Jose with a 6 hour bus and a ferry trip. There is a variety of accommodation available close to the beach from backpacker’s to more upmarket. – Alya of Stingy Nomads
Ostional is a beautiful beach that is located in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. Ostional beach is remote and the village shows you what Costa Rica used to look like a couple of centuries ago. As it is so remote, it is recommended that you hire a car so you can explore the village and the untouched flora that surrounds the coastline. Ostional beach is also home to the leatherback sea turtle (the largest sea turtles that roam the ocean), plenty of nesting birds and an array of Costa Rican fauna.
Ostional beach isn’t just your typical beach; it is also the home to one of Costa Rica’s most amazing wildlife reserves. During the rainy season, up to hundreds of thousand Olive Ridley sea turtles will come to Ostional beach to lay their egg in the black, volcanic sands. This natural phenomenon is called the ‘arribadas’ which is the Spanish word for the ‘arrival’. The arribadas happen once a month (sometimes even twice) and tourists will flock to see the sea turtles but otherwise, Ostional beach will be all yours. Along with its picturesque views, the serenity will definitely highlight why Ostional beach is one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. – Helena from www.throughanaussieseyes.com
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