So many beaches to choose from
Costa Rica Beaches can be found on two beautiful coastlines, the Caribbean and the Pacific. These two coasts are separated by majestic green mountains and imposing volcanoes. The Pacific and the Caribbean shores of Costa Rica are immensely distinct from each other. For example, weather patterns, geographical location, ambiance, resident wildlife and exotic beauty can vary across the country. In addition each region has its unique cultural flair. With so many Costa Rican beaches to choose from, you can rest assured that we can find you the best beaches for your taste.
See our more detailed list of the Best Beaches in Costa Rica or scroll down to read more about the best beaches for surfers!
The Best Surfing in the World is in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has some of the best surf in the world catering to beginners as well as the expert surfer. As an added bonus, the waves here aren’t cold, and neither is the rain! The Pacific side has a much longer and irregular coastline sustaining longer seasons of swells compared to the open ocean coastlines of the Caribbean, with some exceptions. The endless supply of waves has made Costa Rica beaches a recognized destination for surfing.
Tips for Surfers Coming to Costa Rica
- Try not to take domestic flights within the country as they won’t always allow you to take your board on the plane. Look into renting a car, especially a 4×4 due to some of the locations of the beaches.
- Learn the lingo! There’s no “early,” “cowabunga,” or “tubular” down here. Try the more laid back “Tuanis,” which means “cool,” or “Solo Bueno,” which means “all right,” or the ever-popular “Pura Vida,” literally meaning “Pure Life.”
- Wear a wetsuit! It prevents chafing and protects you from the lurking ocean creatures such as jellyfish.
- The best time to plan a surfing trip is from December to April, although this is high season. The weather is very hot, but the chance of rain is slim.
- If you’d rather not worry about the planning, take advantage of My Costa Rica’s “Surfer Safari Tour.” The tour includes a week long 4×4 rental, and two days in Jaco and Playa Hermosa. Then it’s to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. You’ll experience a good amount of the best surf areas on this tour!
8 of The Best Beaches in Costa Rica for Surfing
Not to be confused with Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste, this beach is one of the Best Beaches for Surfing in Costa Rica and draws surfers worldwide. It also hosts many Surf Tournaments throughout the year including the International Quicksilver Surf Championships in August. This stretch of beach has some of the most consistent conditions on the Pacific Coast and a variety of sandbars create the beach break. Some of the great breaks here include the Almendro (Almond Tree), and Tulin (in front of Soda Tulin).
Firstly Pavones is the most popular surfing beach. Surfers have claimed to get a 3-minute ride, or a .75 mile ride, on what is the longest break of the country! The great part about this location is that the water is 185 meters deep and humpback whales are frequently seen on their annual migration.
Naranjo is located down a long dirt road within Santa Rosa National Park. These waves aren’t for the faint of heart, reaching heights that rival Hawaii. Off the coast is the Witch’s Rock, which can only be reached by boat. Here, the waves are less dangerous, but with only a 0.2 mile stretch of beach and a hollow sand bottom.
Just north of the tourist destination of Tamarindo, Playa Grande is where surfers of all skills can enjoy the waves, due to its geographical nature. The down-side is that this beach can often get crowded. is also famous for the National Park.
Close to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of the country, this surfer’s paradise has thick waves similar to Hawaii that build up in deeper water and break over shallow reef.
Santa Teresa and Mal Pais, located very close to each other on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific side of the country, have become a surfer’s paradise. In fact, the entire region has been nicknamed the Hawaii of Costa Rica due to the beach break and consistent waves. Forbes Magazine even voted the area as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Dominical beach is set on the southern Pacific coast and has a 4 km long beach and is rated as one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica. The northern end of the beach offers bigger swells, while the southern end is better for intermediate surfers. No newbies here!
Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra, located about 10 miles from Tamarindo are famous for surfing due to their waves, which can reach 18 feet high. The northern boasts an outside reef break called “Little Hawaii.”
Top Ten Beaches
Playa Manuel Antonio is located in the Central Pacific. Out of all the Costa Rica beaches, this area of beaches is one of the most gorgeous. And it’s not far from the Manuel Antonio National Park. By all means, come here for a day trip or even stay the whole week. You are sure to have a great time at the number one beach area in Costa Rica.
Sun, Sea, and Surf is the motto here, and you will get plenty of it. No matter if you are a world class surfer or just a family looking for their next getaway, Tamarindo is the place to be. Surfers of all the levels can enjoy the wave and get some good weave time. The clear weather and perfect waters will keep you on the beach all day!
You’ve never seen a beach like Playa Conchal before. The white sand and blue waters are incredible. This beach hosts all kinds of different activities. For example, try your hand at a round of golf or give it your all in searching for deep sea marine life on a scuba diving adventure. Pack your sunscreen and lots of water because you will never want to leave!
Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. You will find lots of Coral and cool rock formations in the sand. The small beach town gives off a very Jamaican sort of vibe make the whole place seem a little slower paced and relaxed. You will also find some great surfing spots and even see an occasional surfer competition.
The tiny beach village of Santa Teresa is something else. Situated close to the town of Malpais, you can explore some of the local scenery in Cabo Blanco reserve and stay in the best, and coziest, hotels in the area.
In 2013 Playa Samara was labeled as the most beautiful Beach in all of Central America. Located at the tip of the Nicoya Penisula, Playa Samara has much for you to enjoy. Water sports are a great past time. Try kayaking, snorkeling, surfing and dolphin watching!
Playa Hermosa in Spanish meaning beautiful beach. Quite a literal meaning and very true that you won’t find a more beautiful beach in Costa Rica. It’s also very close to some cool national parks, Palo Verde National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, and Santa Rosa National Park.
Playa Tambor located in the Nicoya Peninsula is a perfect spot for your next beach trip. These waters host a whole underwater world of marine life. Your stay here will generate a desire for relaxing and experiencing the Pura Vida spirit of this Pacific coast.
Nosara is another unique beach located on the Nicoya Peninsula. Expect to see tourists from all over the world including Europeans and the Americans. It’s a great beach area for retirees or even just those who love to wake up to this gorgeous beach every morning.
Jaco is situated in the Central Pacific of Costa Rica. You will not find a better spot for nightlife in Costa Rica. This beach is ideally located. It is very close to the capital and it’s extremely easy to get to. You’re sure to enjoy your stay here because of the nightlife, shopping and great surfing locations. Also, experience the vast diversity of wildlife, including Crocodile’s in the Tarcoles River and Scarlet Macaws flying through the air.
These beaches don’t belong to any list because of their unique qualities! Check it out.
As part of the . This is definitely the beach to visit if you want to explore the underwater paradise.
, is most famous for its stunning
The famous whale tail beach is not only a beautiful and unique looking coastline. It is also close to the best place for whale watching. As part of the
, this region is known for its incredible biodiversity. The is home to some of the best hikes and stellar wildlife spotting.
is the lesser known beach at the Gulf of Papagayo in the . The gulf is famous for its tranquil waters and the best chance for . But also has a special something that makes it unique. The air is tinged with white mists that are said to be contain healing properties.
The Ostional Wildlife Refuge is a treasure for the nature lover. Here you can watch the
nesting on the beach and the baby make their way to the ocean in the morning.
province of . Even though this is true, was first and foremost a fishing community. You can still come here for world class fishing with local experts.
has a reputation as the best party beach in the
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Beach Map Costa Rica