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Nothing says “beach vacation” like the perfect Costa Rican beach. Just think- a stretch of soft, white sand seashore with dazzling water splashing up the shoreline. And Costa Rica has a good number of gorgeous white sand coastlines to entice even the pickiest of sand chasers!
From the vibrant Pacific shoreline to the more low-key Caribbean coast, here are some of the best white sand beaches in Costa Rica. If you are looking for black sand beaches, make sure to check out Playa Negra.
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When you Google the “best beaches in the world”, Conchal appears almost on every page, and for a good reason. It is absolutely stunning and has calm, clear waters all year round. Its alluring white sand is decorated with tiny shell particles that have been washed up and softened by the ocean, making this beach truly unique. There are also rocky tide pools at the north end of the beach that make snorkeling a breeze- you can literally walk to the pools and see marine life.
From the sounds of crashing waves and swaying palm trees to howler monkeys echoing from the forest, this little piece of paradise offers optimal relaxation while bringing you closer to nature. Be sure to swim or snorkel in the warm, turquoise waters and enjoy the diverse marine life that dwells here.
For the more adventurous, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing are also offered. When you have had enough of the waters, go hiking, ride a horse, explore the caves, or simply relax on the beach and order a massage.
The best way to get to Playa Conchal is to walk across Playa Brasilito at low tide and leave again at low tide. The Westin Playa Conchal all-inclusive hotel is on this beach, so if you stay there you can just walk right off of the property to the beach. There is no parking lot at Playa Conchal- you have to walk over or stay at the hotel.
Just short drive (10 minutes away) from Conchal is Playa Flamingo, another spectacular white sand paradise with lots of activities to be enjoyed by the whole family. And no, there are no flamingos here despite what the name says. But when the light is just right, the brilliant white sand takes on a pink hue that resembles the color of a flamingo. That’s where its name comes from.
Although sunbathing and dipping your toes in the warm sand is a must, there is a lot of fun to be had at the ocean as well. Try your hand at surfing, swim at the shore, or rent some scuba diving gear and hang out with the reef sharks and colored tropical fish underneath.
For golf enthusiasts, there are several golf courses nearby including Hacienda Pinilla, one of the country’s best. End your day with a Catamaran tour; it’s a great way to watch the remarkable sunsets!
When we stay here we love the Margaritaville Beach Resort– the pool is right up next to the water, and the hotel offers an all-inclusive option or the option to eat your meals elsewhere.
If you’re looking to explore Guanacaste province beaches, the Tamarindo Beach area is a great spot to base yourself on because it is centrally located. For many years, it has attracted thousands of tourists looking to have a good time. This is one of the most popular beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
With breathtaking white sand beaches for soaking up the sun, magnificent sunsets for those intimate evening strolls, and a vibrant nightlife for party lovers, Tamarindo is indeed the perfect place for families and couples who want to play and party.
Surfers can also find great waves here. Because of the warm, calm waters, this spot is especially ideal for beginner surfers. Visitors can enjoy sport fishing, swimming, and other water sports during the day too.
One of the big advantages of Tamarindo is that you are also near one of Costa Rica’s national parks– Marino Las Baulas- and you can take a river float to experience birding and other Costa Rican animal sightings. We love to stay at the beachfront Tamarindo Diria.
Playa Hermosa (Puntarenas)
Famous for its low-key atmosphere and high-quality waves, Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas is a great place to stay for avid surfers looking to explore the Central Pacific. Ranked one of the most popular surf spots in Costa Rica, Hermosa boasts seven distinct surf points that welcome both intermediate and advanced surfers.
But this is not the only reason people come here. There’s a lot more to do both on the beach and in nearby areas including scuba diving and hiking. For animal lovers, a day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park would be truly worth their while. It’s only 45 minutes away. The crocodile tours on the Tarcoles river are also epic.
Playa Hermosa is relatively quiet- and also only about 10 minute drive from Jaco Beach. There are plenty of places to eat in Jaco, and great grocery stores and farmer’s markets. This makes the relative quiet of Playa Hermosa attractive to visitors who also love to experience a bit more Costa Rican culture and nightlife.
Samara beach is another laid-back destination for families, couples, and solo travelers looking for a quiet getaway. Here, you will find a happy mix of locals and visitors playing in the calm waters, exploring the beautiful coral reefs offshore, or just kicking back in the crescent-shaped strip of white-grayish sand.
While you will likely just want to hang out at the beach and ride the waves or watch sea creatures underwater, there’s a lot of fun to be had away from the waters too. For example, you can hike to the waterfalls, watch beautiful scenery on a horseback tour, or make arrangements to tour the Warner Sauter Biological Reserve.
Samara has recently become quite popular with expats, and for parents with kids, the Marea Academy accepts students for short-term studies of Spanish and Costa Rican culture.
Playa Santa Teresa
The small, easy-going town of Santa Teresa hides one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in Costa Rica (aptly named Santa Teresa Beach). The beach welcomes vacationers of all kinds- especially nature lovers. During the day, the off-the-beaten-path paradise offers fantastic waves for surfing, and in the evening, visitors lounge in the splendid white sand, watching the striking sunset and enjoying the majestic views of the Pacific Ocean.
This beach is one of the best places to vacation with family; you can all soak up the sun at the shore, walk along the beach, or explore the tidal pools that fill up with colorful fish and manatees at low tide. This beach is also known as one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.
Read also: TOP PICKS- Where To Stay in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Chiquita beach is a small and quiet beach on the Caribbean Coast, not far from Playa Punta Uva. Don’t let that fool you; this spot teems with thrilling activities for travelers of all ages. For many years, the clear blue waters and brilliant white sands of Chiquita have been drawing families who come here to snorkel, swim, delve into the coral reef treasures, or explore the surrounding forests.
Also, because it is somewhat isolated, hiking is one of the best things to do here. Visitors use the beach as a base for launching hikes to neighboring nature areas and towns. They can delight in the pleasures of the nearby adventures during the day but return to the tranquil, laid-back beach to sleep. Don’t miss eating traditional Caribbean rice and beans with Caribbean chicken when you visit!
On the Southern end of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, inside Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife refuge, sits the idyllic Manzanillo beach that offers terrific Afro-Caribbean ambiance, beautiful hikes, magnificent white sand to sunbathe, and calm, warm waters to swim and snorkel. This beach is just a stone’s throw from the popular beach town of Puerto Viejo.
You will find a steady number of visitors wading in the waters, playing soccer, or barbequing under the coconut trees near the shore. Visit between March and October and witness the phenomenal nestling of the sea turtles at the animal refuge. The habitat also houses manatees, mangrove oysters, and other threatened species that would be worth watching.
Marino Ballena National Park
Known as the “Whale’s Tail,” Marino Ballena national park’s main attractions are the humpback whales and dolphins. The lovely white sand beach is one of Costa Rica’s most famous, as it looks like the tail of a whale at low tide.
Enjoy gorgeous views of the whale’s tail from the lush tropical rainforest above the town of Uvita, or enjoy a sunset cold brew at one of the town’s microbreweries. Stay at the gorgeous Vista Ballena hotel, or the more adventurous can stay right at the Whale’s Tail Microbrewery and Hotel.
Manuel Antonio Beach
Nestled just south of the town of Quepos in the southern zone of Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the most beloved national parks in all of Central America. Inside that park, along with ample opportunities for birding, sloth watching and monkey spotting, is the pristine, white sand beach called Manuel Antonio Beach.
Given the fact that only a certain number of visitors are allowed in the park each day, you are guaranteed to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the world almost entirely to yourself. The crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkeling, and the lush jungle is home to a myriad of white-faced monkeys.
I recommend staying in the village of Manuel Antonio, or even better, near the national park entrance. We love Karahe Beach Resort, but there are lots of awesome places to stay in Manuel Antonio.
This beach is one of the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica! Located just a few minutes north of Jaco Beach, you’ll either have to stay at the Punta Leona Beach Hotel, or you’ll walk over at low tide.
You won’t be sorry if you do- this pristine beach is tiny, and private and the water is a gorgeous cerulean blue. There aren’t any services here so make sure to pack your lunch and plan to spend the day.
Playa Blanca is just minutes from Jaco Beach, and a great day trip from San Jose.
Which beaches in Costa Rica have white sand? ›
Manzanillo Beach, Puerto Viejo
Manzanillo Beach is the true local's beach; it's a place where families and friends gather at the weekend to enjoy nature and one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. You won't find hordes of tourists here, only white sand, blue sea, and hanging palm trees.
- Tamarindo Beach.
- Samara Beach.
- Playa Guiones.
- Playa Flamingo.
- Playa Conchal.
Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches are located in northwest Costa Rica (Guanacaste, the Nicoya Peninsula) and the southern Caribbean (Puerto Viejo, Cahuita). In both regions you'll find light sand, warm tropical water, and — when conditions are right — great surfing.Which beach has the clearest water in Costa Rica? ›
Calmest Swimming Beach: Playa Chiquita
Nestled just south of Puerto Viejo on the beautiful Caribbean coast, Playa Chiquita is an area known for its pristine jungle-fringed beaches and sparkling clear waters.
The Hyams Beach is a beautiful Jervis Bay beach, located in New South Wales, Australia. According to the Guinness World Record, it boasts the whitest sand on our entire planet. The Hyams Beach sand it made up of microscopic quartz particles – tiny sand crystals that are almost fluorescent.What beach has pink sand in Costa Rica? ›
Playa Conchal is Costa Rica's only pink sand beach. This is because it is covered in tiny pieces of pink sea shells. The calm waters at Conchal are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, while the palm-lined beach is ideal for pulling up a beach chair and basking in the sun.Is Tamarindo a white sand beach? ›
Tamarindo is a beach town on Costa Rica's north Pacific – the world-famous Gold Coast, best known for its white-sand beaches and spectacularly azure Pacific waters.What city in Costa Rica has the best beach? ›
One of the largest and most popular beach and surf towns in Costa Rica is Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region. Shops, tour operators, and restaurants are only a short walk from the beach. Most everything in the beach town of Tamarindo can be explored on foot.Is it better to stay on the Pacific side or Caribbean side of Costa Rica? ›
There are more beach towns, more hotels, more activities, more national parks, more snorkeling spots and more surfing spots on the Pacific than the Caribbean. This is just because the Pacific is more developed and bigger. You can spend two whole weeks in Guanacaste and do/see something different every single day.Which side of Costa Rica is better to stay on? ›
If you go by what the locals say, the Caribbean coast wins. Well-traveled Costa Ricans love to visit the area south of Limon with its most famous beach towns of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Manzanillo. It is less crowded, not as expensive, and known for its great food scene.
What part of Costa Rica has turquoise water? ›
Isla Tortuga is a turquoise water paradise located between the Nicoya Peninsula and the mainland of Costa Rica. It boasts sandy beaches, turquoise water, and just the right balance between relaxation and a party vibe.What part of Costa Rica has blue water? ›
Visiting Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
With its gray sands and clear blue waters, the name “beautiful beach” fits perfectly. Despite its popularity, the beach is rarely crowded and is a good destination for those looking for a peaceful day in the sun.
Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo
The name says it all as it literally translates to Black Beach. This is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Costa Rica, and is located on the Caribbean coast. This beach is right next to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a popular Caribbean beach and party spot.
Manuel Antonio Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the country. This coastal gem borders Manuel Antonio National Park, a coastal rainforest teeming with wildlife. It takes about 30 minutes to hike from the park's entrance to Manuel Antonio Beach.Where is the whitest sand and bluest water? ›
The clarity of the water makes the white sand look even whiter.
That world-famous sand.
Everything you've heard about Siesta Beach's sand is probably true. Made of nearly pure quartz crystal, it's fine, white, and powdery. It feels nice and soft on your feet and doesn't get too hot when temperatures rise.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
This little treasure routinely tops the list of best beaches. Located in the Kailua on the Windward East side of Oahu in Hawaii, Lanikai Beach is over a half-mile long beach with clear blue waters cascading over the soft, white sand.
The beaches in Cocoa Beach have beautiful white sand. It is not as brilliant white as the fine, sugary beaches on the Gulf Coast, but it is still very nice. The sand on the Atlantic coast does tend to be a bit darker, which can make it hotter under the intense Florida sun.What colors are the sand in Costa Rica? ›
Many of Costa Rica's beautiful beaches have sand that ranges in color from light to dark gray. Fewer are tan, a handful are almost white, and one or two even have a pink hue.Is Playa Flamingo safe Costa Rica? ›
Is Playa Flamingo safe? The short answer is yes but you should always exercise caution, especially when you are in an unfamiliar place. The biggest security issue in Costa Rica is petty theft so it is important that you take care of your belongings.
Is Tamarindo Beach swimmable? ›
Tamarindo Beach is one of Costa Rica's (and Latin America's) most popular beaches. It is the biggest beach town in the area, and it's an ideal beach for surfing, swimming and people watching.Why is Tamarindo famous? ›
Well known for great surfing waves, stunning sunsets and a legendary nightlife, Tamarindo is a popular beach town in the Guanacaste province, perfect for the ultimate fun in the sun vacation.What is Guanacaste Costa Rica known for? ›
The Guanacaste province is famous for its spectacular beaches in the Pacific coast with more than 125 miles of extension and also for its high quality cattle ranching production. There is a great number of activities that can be part of your Guanacaste Costa Rica vacation package.Are beaches in Guanacaste swimmable? ›
Guanacaste Beaches resonate of fun, sun, surfing, swimming, fishing, diving and other adventures. The province of Guanacaste is known for its beautiful sands and blue skies as well as having the least amount of rainfall in the whole country.Is it worth going to Guanacaste? ›
The dry heat, relatively accessible terrain and panoramic views make Guanacaste the best place in the country for walking and horse-riding, especially around the mud pots and sulphur waters of the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja. The same is true of the tropical dry forest cover of Parque Nacional Santa Rosa.When should I go to Guanacaste? ›
In general, the best time to visit Guanacaste is December through April, as it is Costa Rica's dry season. Tourism in the region is heavier this time of year, as well as during Easter week, meaning it's more difficult to find good prices and attractions are often crowded.What is the most luxurious town in Costa Rica? ›
Costa Rica's posh spot is Papagayo, a sparkling strand of beaches in the northwestern Guanacaste Province. Once better known for sabaneros (cowboys) and fine horses, Papagayo Peninsula has been developed into Central America's premier luxury destination.What is the most beautiful town in Costa Rica? ›
Zarcero. A short drive from San José or Naranjo, Zarcero is one of Costa Rica's most picturesque towns. Located in the Alajuela province in the San José Highlands, it has just over 4,000 residents.What is the most walkable town in Costa Rica? ›
The master-planned aspect of Las Catalinas, Costa Rica is centered around its town center: The all-pedestrian community (note: there's community parking and a valet, plus a few homes/lots have car access; see below, in the Amenities section) unfolds from a concentrated area of shops, restaurants, plazas, parks, ...Which is better for vacation Belize or Costa Rica? ›
Compared to Belize, Costa Rica is a much better destination for eco-tourism. Nearly 30% of the country's tropical rainforests, beautiful beaches, and mountain terrains are protected in national parks.
What are the best months to visit the Caribbean side of Costa Rica? ›
The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April, when the weather is at its driest and brightest. We'd also recommend traveling in the country's green season, from May to June or in November. This is when you catch the seasons in transition, and the national parks are quieter.What is the best airport for the Caribbean side of Costa Rica? ›
If you're planning to go to the central or southern Pacific coast, San Jose Airport is best. For the Caribbean coast, San Jose is also the closest.Where do most Americans go in Costa Rica? ›
All of the popular and safe expatriate locations in Costa Rica, such as Heredia, Atenas, Arenal, Tamarindo and even some parts of the capital city San Jose are home to many American expats. One way to make friends is by simply being social and visiting US-owned establishments like bars or restaurants, or shops.What is the best and worst time of year to visit Costa Rica? ›
The best times to visit Costa Rica are late fall to early spring months when heavy rains ease. The best months during this dry season are November through April because of a lower risk of rain. The worst months are May through October because of a much higher risk.Should I wear shorts or pants in Costa Rica? ›
Because of its warm and tropical climate, you'll want some shorts for your trip to Costa Rica. They're also easy to pack as they take up less space in your luggage and can be easily washed. As temperatures average around the 80s F (26+ C), we spend most of our time in shorts.Where is the blue Lagoon in Costa Rica? ›
Rio Celeste (the Celeste River) is a 14-kilometer-long stretch of vivid turquoise water that flows through the Tenorio Volcano National Park in northwestern Costa Rica. Its ethereal light-blue hue is caused by a chemical reaction between sulfur and carbonate, which are formed in volcanic soil.Can you bring seashells back from Costa Rica? ›
Even though it's tempting take a little piece of paradise back with you, it's actually illegal to take seashells from the beaches in Costa Rica and out of the country. We encourage our guests to take as many photos as possible and leave nature the way that you found it.What is the bluest river in Costa Rica? ›
The Rio Celeste is a turquoise wonder, turned neon by nature. It's all about the minerals, Marie: the river's blue hue results from a mixture of sulfur and calcium carbonate that comes from the nearby volcano. It's a bit of a shlep to get to the Rio Celeste—you need to hike for an hour through the park.Where is the clearest blue water in the world? ›
The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the bluest water in the world, but none quite compare to Peyto Lake. It's located in Banff National Park, just north of Lake Louise, and amazes onlookers with its brilliant blue waters. But, what gives the lake its glowing appearance?Is it safe to swim in the ocean in Costa Rica? ›
Be very cautious when you go into any body of water in the country as tides and rip currents can be strong. Also, as much of the country is considered the rainforest, the weather can change dramatically on very short notice. So hiking to a waterfall can turn into something much more dangerous if you are not careful.
Which beach in Costa Rica has white sand? ›
The Central and South Pacific coast of Costa Rica doesn't have many white sand beaches compared to the Caribbean and North Pacific. However, there is a dazzling white sand beach near Jaco called Playa Blanca. There are only two ways to get to Playa Blanca: through the Punta Leona resort or crossing Playa Mantas.What is the pinkest beach? ›
Pink Sand Beach - Eleuthera & Harbour Island in The Bahamas.Where did the Kardashians vacation in Costa Rica? ›
The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal. When the Kardashians wanted to film their reality show in Costa Rica, it was no accident that they chose The Springs. This sprawling hot-springs resort in Arenal, with prices north of $500 (£380) a night, is the crème de la crème of luxury lodging in Costa Rica.What is the clearest beach in Costa Rica? ›
Calmest Swimming Beach: Playa Chiquita
Nestled just south of Puerto Viejo on the beautiful Caribbean coast, Playa Chiquita is an area known for its pristine jungle-fringed beaches and sparkling clear waters.
San José is the most popular destination in Costa Rica — More people are taking advantage of the international airport in Liberia and most people that arrive in San José don't stick around too long but it still gets more visitors than any other place in Costa Rica.Is Playa Conchal better than Manuel Antonio? ›
For the beach town decision, Playa Conchal would definitely be closer to Liberia and is a beautiful beach. This is a great place to relax and hang out on the sand. If you are looking for wildlife and jungle, Manuel Antonio would be the better option, though much farther from the LIR airport for your departure.Does all of Costa Rica have a black sand? ›
Depending on where you are from, or where you have traveled, you might be used to a specific type of sand, but in Costa Rica you will find both black sand and white sand beaches throughout the country.Do beaches in Costa Rica have clear water? ›
Costa Rica's coastal beaches are known for their warm, clear water, white sand, wildlife, and surrounding lush greenery. Some beaches have pinkish-white, golden, or even volcanic black sand!Does Treasure Island beach have white sand? ›
Situated along a stunning slice of coastline, Treasure Island Beach Resort embodies the natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle of Florida's Gulf Coast. Guests can take advantage of premium private beach access during their stay — our idyllic three-mile beach features crystal-clear waters and sugary white sand.What island has the whitest sand? ›
Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach is one of the world's best white-sand beaches. This tropical paradise on the island of Aruba has calm, clear waters that are ideal for swimming and the soft sand is perfect for a day of pampering yourself under the Caribbean sun.
Can you swim in Coco Beach? ›
At this time, there is a potential health risk to the bathing public, and swimming is not recommended. The Brevard County Health Department (DOH-Brevard) has been conducting saltwater beach water quality monitoring at Cocoa Beach Pier once every two weeks, through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program.Is Playa Conchal swimmable? ›
You can swim at Conchal beach but waves can get a bit rough.Which side is better in Costa Rica? ›
Most travelers visiting Costa Rica think the Pacific side of the country is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa Peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, the surfing near Santa Theres, and the touristy Nicoya coast make it the superior choice.Is the west or east side of Costa Rica better? ›
If you go by what the locals say, the Caribbean coast wins. Well-traveled Costa Ricans love to visit the area south of Limon with its most famous beach towns of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Manzanillo.Why is Jaco beach black? ›
The dark sand is derived from eroded volcanic material like lava, basalt rocks, and other minerals crushed and eroded over time. It's not uncommon to hear people saying that they wish to see a black-sand beach before they die.Where is turquoise water in Costa Rica? ›
Isla Tortuga is a turquoise water paradise located between the Nicoya Peninsula and the mainland of Costa Rica. It boasts sandy beaches, turquoise water, and just the right balance between relaxation and a party vibe.Is it OK to drink the water in Costa Rica? ›
It's completely safe to drink the tap water over the majority of the country. That includes your luxury vacation rentals in Guanacaste! Costa Rica is quite notable in Latin America as 92.5% of the population has access to drinking water.