The Best Pacific Beaches in Costa Rica: Beaches That Locals Want All to Themselves!

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Last updated on April 13, 2023 by Wandering our World

Costa Rica which literally means “Rich Coast” is widely known for its exotic wildlife, authentic cuisines, and of course, breathtaking beaches.

Yet the Pacific beaches in Costa Rica are often forgotten about by tourists, who tend to flock to the Caribbean side. But let us tell you from experience – they’re missing out!

Along with gorgeous sand and swaying palm trees, Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches provide a variety of activities to enjoy. From relaxing on sandy shores with a cocktail in hand to scuba diving at great depths, or horse riding on the beach at sunset.

We know this country well, so come with us as we take you on a tour of the best Pacific beaches in Costa Rica! All handpicked to help you with your vacation.

View from above of Costa Rica beach with jungle beside it
iStock.com/Rui T Guedes

1. Manuel Antonio Beach, Quepos

For those of you who love a good rainforest hike to work up a sweat before dipping into a glistening ocean, this gorgeous sandy beach is ideal!

One of the two main beaches located in the Manuel Antonio National Park, this beach is led by a 30-minute hike on a trail that includes wildlife, scenic views, and many colorful bird species and butterflies.

Want more? Manuel Antonio Beach is the picture-perfect spot to immerse yourself in nature, go scuba diving and parasailing with the help of Aguas Azules Parasailing Tours, catch some decent waves for surfing, or simply relax in its shallow waters.

It’s one of the most famous beaches in Costa Rica, and a destination that will leave you in awe.  

The main beach of Manuel Antonio, waves crashing against white sand
iStock.com/HonestTraveller

2. Tamarindo Beach, Tamarindo

If we were to name a beach in Costa Rica that gives out a “party and play” vibe it would be Tamarindo Beach, located right in the Province of Guanacaste.

It is a long white sandy beach on the Pacific coast that is known for its great waves and currents making it ideal for water sports and surfing.

Of course, as you’re hearing about it here it’s no hidden gem, but because Tamarindo Beach is a popular spot it has lots of beachside restaurants, bars and a buzzing nightlife.

Want to sunbathe during the day, but party a little at night? Then consider visiting Tamarindo Beach to relax, unwind and experience the nightlife on this tropical paradise.

Beautiful aerial view of Tamarindo Beach and Town in Guanacaste Costa Rica
iStock.com/Gianfranco Vivi

3. Conchal Beach, Cabo Velas

This is another beach in the Province of Guanacaste that’s perfect if you’re looking for something a little less busy or water sports orientated.

The relaxed, quiet Conchal Beach gets its name from the Spanish word “Concha” which means shell, and the sand on this beach is composed of tiny crushed vibrant shells that make it truly unique and one of the main reasons people visit.

Surrounded by a tropical forest, this peaceful beach has calm turquoise waters, and a terrific array of marine life which makes activities like snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding a must when visiting. You can hire equipment right on the beachfront too! (Recommended: Sharks in Costa Rica).

Want to get in the water in a unique way? We’ve got you covered, as you can sign up for a horseback riding tour at Conchal Beach with Pacific Horses.

You can also book an ATV tour at ATV Beach Tours to get a glimpse of the wildlife, scenery, and spectacular sunsets this beach has to offer. 

The hills at the bottom of the conchal beach contrast with the turquoise waters. At the end of this beach you can access a stone path that leads to the other beaches of cabo velas, Guanacaste.
iStock.com/Andrés Granados Durán

4. Dominical Beach, Bahía Ballena

Dominical Beach, situated in the beach-front town of Dominical, is a long beach perfect for romantic walks as its 4km long! It has dark rocky sand, deep blue waters, and some of the best sunsets we have ever come across.

You can expect to find the parking area of the beach to be filled with hammocks, camper vans, and makeshift tents – it’s a place that attracts an eclectic but friendly mix of people.

There’s many fun things to do at this beach too. Why not sign up at the Dominical Surf School to improve your surfing skills, try out some of the best craft beers in Costa Rica at Fuego Brew, or hit the world-class yoga studio, Danyasa Yoga Retreat at dawn.

In fact you can stay in several eco-friendly rooms there. What a way to end a day of surfing as you re-energize for your next Costa Rica adventure.

This picture was taken by a drone. It shows the shore and beach of Dominical. If you look close you can see the radiotowers of the village and the river flowing into the ocean. Dominical is a small village at the pacific ocean, west coast of costa rica.
iStock.com/RDPhotos

5. Playa Manuel Antonio & Playa Escondilla

It’s two beaches inone! These beaches are famous for the whale tail-like headland that makes its way out into the sea creating a spectacular double beach.

This headland has become the number one reason these beaches are visited, but the rainforest surrounding them are a haven for monkeys, toucans & sloths – so it’s the perfect place for wildlife spotting too.

These beaches areoften empty so you can sometimes have them all to yourself. There’s some fantastic hiking trails to tryout here as well.

This has to beoneof the most unique Pacific beaches in Costa Rica.

Aerial panorama of a beach located in the Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
iStock.com/miroslav_1

6. Nacascolo Beach, Nacascolo Liberia

Nacascolo Beach is one of the most child-friendly Pacific beaches in Costa Rica we have come across.

The water is warm and gentle with no rip tides, making it ideal for kids to swim, make sandcastles, go paddle boarding and kayaking.

The Four Seasons Resort nearby gives free access to the beach for locals and tourists alike via a shuttle.

The ranger station 100m up from the beach boardwalk is useful too, as there’s drinking fountains, picnic tables, clean outdoor showers and bathrooms. Look out for the friendly monkeys that may cross your path!

Scarlet macaw flies by the shore
iStock.com/Michelle Avery

7. Playa Flamingo, Santa Cruz

If we were to paint a picture of what Playa Flamingo looks like, imagine a sunny, soft white sand coastline surrounded by serene mangroves and nesting sea turtles.

It’s definitely one of the most beautiful Pacific beaches in Costa Rica.

The gentle waves here also make it a great place to learn to surf. Here, you can also watch spectacular sunsets by sailing with Serendipity Charters-Sailing, who’s exclusive packages include lunch, an open bar on the boat, and the use of snorkeling and fishing equipment!

If you are interested in a bit of an adventure close to the beach, you can also explore the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

This volcanic park is known for its hot springs, bubbling mud spots, and active volcanoes!

There’s some great hiking spots in the national park, which is why we’ve talked about it before in our previous article on hiking in Costa Rica.

8. Ostional Beach, Cuajiniquil

If we had one word to describe this beautiful black sand beach it would be – turtles! We were surprised by just how many turtles stay on this beach.

If you’re traveling here in March through to November, this coincides with when turtles lay eggs on the beach, and when the eggs hatch.

It’s under moonlight that turtles will come to lay their eggs, so arrive late at night or early in the morning to see the spectacle – and to potentially see turtles hatch too!

While this beach is a turtle haven, you can also visit the nearby Ostional National Wildlife Refuge to learn more about these turtles.

The nearby Spacio Spa, Nosara is good for a soothing massage too, while the pizza at Il Pepperone is well worth trying as well.

Baby turtle swimming in the ocean, being released
iStock.com/Molly-Ann Basterfield

9. Santa Teresa Beach, Cóbano

Known for its tropical beauty, Santa Teresa is a charming village filled with friendly locals, delicious food, and the gorgeous Santa Teresa Beach.

This beach is perfect for soccer and volleyball, sunset swimming in the ocean, and having a relaxing dip in the tide pools there that feel like your own personal pool.

When visiting you can also check out the Cabo Blanca Nature Reserve and learn about the many animals and birds there, or even ride horses on the beach at sunset with Blue Surf Sanctuary.

10. Montezuma Beach, Cóbano

Montezuma is known as the bohemian beach town of Costa Rica, surrounded by local art, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and beaches.

The Montezuma Beach is one of the main attractions and no wonder. This stunning white–sand beach is flanked by a rocky coastline and is famous for sunbathing, camping under palm trees, and snorkeling.

If you are planning on visiting this beach we suggest you book a tour that will allow you to explore the nearby sea caves and get a spectacular snorkeling experience too.

Aside from beach activities, Montezuma is home to the Mariposario Butterfly Garden, the beautiful Montezuma Waterfalls, and the chance to go zip lining in the jungle!

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  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.