The beaches in Costa Rica, beyond Manuel Antonio

When we talk about Costa Rica, for many people, the first word that comes to mind is “beach.” Costa Rican beaches are beautiful, yet different from the turquoise Caribbean dream. They are wild and pristine, and in many cases, the rainforest gets to the edge of the ocean. Read more to learn about the beaches of Costa Rica.

Manuel Antonio National Park, second beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park, second beach | Beaches of Costa Rica


Costa Rica features over a thousand kilometers of breathtaking beaches  on both oceans ( 1,290 km (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast, and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific). It has a beach for everyone! From places where you can party and enjoy great nightlife, shopping, and young crowds, to pristine and completely isolated spots that you can only reach by boat or using a four wheel drive.

In Costa Rica, you will also find rainforests at the very edge of the water, wildlife playing on the sand, or waterfalls dropping right into the ocean. Read more for Epic Adventures to learn what your options are besides the amazing Manuel Antonio beaches.

Beaches of Costa Rica | North Pacific Beach
Beaches of Costa Rica | North Pacific Beach

Beyond the epic Manuel Antonio Beaches

As a traveler abroad, you want to know more than the paradise of Manuel Antonio, if only to discover that definitely Manuel Antonio is the destination you want to come back to over and over.

Costa Rica’s most popular beaches, other than Manuel Antonio, are all over the country, from the remote South Caribbean to the overcrowded and touristy Tamarindo Beach.

At Epic Adventures, we have the compromise to give you all the information you need for a great epic adventure in Costa Rica. So, let’s talk about the beaches of Costa Rica:

In the Central Pacific, you will find:

  • Puntarenas and the Nicoya Gulf Islands
  • Punta Leona
  • Herradura
  • Jacó
  • Hermosa Beach


Puntarenas and the Gulf of Nicoya

Our first port on the Pacific side is where the big cruises arrive. It also holds Caldera, our main commercial port on this side of Costa Rica. Puntarenas also offers a bus station and hub to go to the different areas of the Central Pacific. For example, if you are traveling from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde or the North Pacific.

Puntarenas Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Puntarenas Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

It doesn’t offer much as a beach because of the international ports, that handling mostly all of the country’s trade, are constantly in contact with it.

On the other side the utmost popular Tortuga Island is located almost in front and one day tours to this unique paradise come out from Puntarenas.

Tortuga Island | Beaches of Costa Rica
Tortuga Island | Beaches of Costa Rica

Herradura, Jacó, and Hermosa Beach are three popular beaches in the Central Pacific area of Costa Rica, conveniently close to the San José airport.

Punta Leona and Herradura are popular spots for Costa Ricans to visit, with Playa Blanca being one of the most beautiful small beaches.

Herradura is a small yet convenient hub with the Marriott Los Sueños, hotels, houses, condos, a small but varied shopping center, and several restaurants and tour operators.

Jaco Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Jaco Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

Jacó is a party animal and fisherman hub, with big apartments and condo buildings. It is a busy town with an international and a bit chaotic feel to it. Great for people looking for parties and younger crowds.

Surfing Beaches of Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers a variety of surf destinations, including Playa Hermosa in the Central Pacific, the Dominican Republic, Pavones, and the Nicoya Peninsula.

Playa Hermosa is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, with waves and swells that are perfect for weekdays. Dominical, located south of Manuel Antonio, is another trendy surf paradise with beautiful rainforests and ocean views.

Pavones surfing wave, second longest left in the world | Beaches in Costa Rica
Pavones surfing wave, second longest left hand break in the world | Beaches in Costa Rica

Pavones is a Mecca for serious surfers, with a legendary left-hand break that can be ridden for around three minutes at a time.

The North Pacific Beaches of Costa Rica

The Nicoya Peninsula encompassing mostly all of the Guanacaste province, has a unique climate with an eight-month sunny season, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers. The area features various spots from the north to the Gulf of Papagayo, with high-end resorts and exclusive beach towns.

The Nicoya Peninsula also includes Playa Conchal, Playa Brasilito, Playa Potrero, and Playa Flamingo, with Playa Potrero being the most organized community.

Tamarindo Beach

Let’s get the elephant out of the room!

Tamarindo is, by far, the most popular beach in the North Pacific region, located in Guanacaste, just 1 hour and 12 minutes from Liberia International Airport (LIR) or 4 hours and 6 minutes from San José International Airport (SJI). It is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, surfing, and water sports, as well as a lively nightlife after sunset.

Tamarindo Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Tamarindo Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

Tamarindo Beach is a broad sandy beach perfect for swimming and surfing. The Matapalo River separates Playa Grande, a pebble-rock seashore, from Playa Tamarindo, which offers some of the best surfing in the north Pacific of Costa Rica.

Playa Grande hosts several international surf competitions and is part of Marine National Park Las Baulas, which is home to over 800 leatherback turtle nesting sites. Visitors can arrange nightly guided turtle tours during nesting season.

The Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge, located in the area, protects 400 ha of tropical forest, including abundant mangroves and estuaries. Tours through the reserve offer a glimpse into the diverse wildlife and plant life of the mangrove ecosystem. Other protected areas nearby include Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and Barra Honda National Park.

Other amazing beaches in Guanacaste

Other nearby areas include Playas del Coco, Ocotal, and Hermosa Beach. The road connecting them is narrow and slow, but it has been paved recently and can sometimes flood during the rainy season. The area of Potrero and Flamingo Beaches also includes Penca, Prieta, and Playa Hermosa, as well as Danta and Dantica beaches.

Flamingo Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Flamingo Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

Las Catalinas offers a peaceful retreat with gray sand overlooking the beautiful Las Catalinas development. Playa Flamingo is a beautiful and famous beach with a calm and easy ocean, several hotels, beautiful houses, and comfortable amenities.

Playa Conchal, just south of Flamingo, is a unique beach with clear water and small crushed shells and is based on the Westin Reserva Conchal Resort.

Conchal Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Conchal Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

Mal País Santa Teresa is a twin beach hamlet located in the Nicoya Peninsula, offering unique experiences for adventure and movement. Santa Teresa could also be mentioned as a prime surfing destination.

South Caribbean Beaches of Costa Rica

On the Caribbean, Cahuita is a small sustainable Afro-Caribbean community located near the Cahuita National Park, which protects a diverse range of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, corals, fish, lobsters, and turtles. It is an excellent spot for snorkeling during the dry season and is also a great place to see monkeys and sloths at close range.

Cocles Beach | Caribbean Beaches of Costa Rica
Cocles Beach | Caribbean Beaches of Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo, known for its laid-back Caribbean lifestyle, offers travelers a glimpse into Costa Rica’s vibrant culture. The diverse community includes indigenous and Rasta cultures, as well as people from around the world who have chosen to call the South Caribbean home. Puerto Viejo offers world-class surfing, diving, snorkeling, horseback rides, mountain biking, rescue centers, ziplining, kayaking, and visits to remote indigenous communities.

Cahuita Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica
Cahuita Beach | Beaches of Costa Rica

The town is also a hub for the less crowded communities of Manzanillo and Cahuita, with a variety of stores, nightclubs, restaurants, and beautiful hotels scattered throughout the region. South of Puerto Viejo, visitors can enjoy the beautiful beaches of Playa Chiquita, Cocles, and Punta Uva.

With exceptional accommodations, spots and activities, the South Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica provides a great location for relaxation, joyful experiences, and thrilling adventures.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the beaches of Costa Rica are very varied, from party hubs like Jacó to secluded paradises on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Whether you’re a surfer seeking perfect waves or a nature lover looking for wildlife encounters, Costa Rica’s coastline has something for everyone. With its lush rainforests meeting the shores and abundant wildlife, Costa Rica’s beaches are unlike anywhere else in the world. And among them all, Manuel Antonio shines like a true diamond.

Let Epic Adventures, your trusted tour operator in the Manuel Antonio region, craft your perfect Costa Rican beach adventure. Contact us today and reserve your spot in paradise!

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