Costa Rica’s beaches, boasting both exceptional and varied beauty, are like a siren’s song from afar, luring tourists from all over the globe. Running the gamut from rocky shelling beaches to gorgeous expanses of pink, black, and white sand, Costa Rica shores beckon you with more than 1200 kilometers (750 miles) of oceanfront to explore. Atlantic coast beaches, from Cahuita to Tortuguero, boast aquamarine waters, vibrant Caribbean culture, and the incredible opportunity to watch nesting sea turtles. Pacific coast beaches, stretching from Zancudo to Tamarindo, are a favorite to the majority of international tourists, offering stunning vistas, incredible sunsets, and some of the most unspoiled spots in the nation.
Every tourist should visit the gorgeous Costa Rican beaches, and one of the best ways to do so is by staying in a beachfront vacation rental home or checking into a hotel with a killer view. Certainly one of the most popular places to do this is on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, an easily-accessed region of sapphire blue skies, expansive sandy beaches, and sparkling ocean waters that spread out before you, promising to make your vacation one of sun, fun, and pure relaxation.
Manuel Antonio National Park, snuggled into Costa Rica’s Puntarenas province, was Costa Rica’s first ecotourism destination and, to this day, remains one of its best. A testament to that fact are the yearly 150,000 visitors that choose the park for their much-awaited vacation destination. And for good reason: Manuel Antonio’s beaches and rain forest sprawl out over an expansive 16.24 square kilometers (4,014 acres) and offer some of the most incredible vistas in the country. Rocky islands dot the ocean landscape, emerald green rainforest spills out onto the beaches, and spectacular pink, orange, and purple sunsets smear the horizon nightly, offering visitors a glimpse at paradise.
For a small fee, you’ll enter Manuel Antonio National Park, home to white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, tiny spider monkeys, sloths, and many more animals that you may never see again. Within the park, you’ll also encounter several beautiful beaches. Crescents of white sand accentuated by ultramarine blue Pacific Ocean, the park’s three beaches are Playa Espadilla Sur (South Espadilla Beach), Playa de Manuel Antonio (Manuel Antonio Beach), and Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port). Listen to the sounds of the rain forest and feel the ocean spray on your face as you relax at one of the most special places in the country. When you’ve finished for the day, Manuel Antonio hotels and vacation homes sprinkle the town’s main road, leading north to Quepos, offering plenty of lodging options for all budgets.
North of Manuel Antonio lies Jacó Beach, a national favorite due to its fine tropical personality, palm tree-lined coast, and ideal location only 2 hours from the country’s capital of San José. Jacó beaches are mostly white and gray sand, often with a smattering of small rocks and shells, ideal for catching some golden rays, long walks down the beach, and superb nature photography. Surfing reigns as king at Jacó, though, as the swells and breaks are consistently of superior quality. The town is very tourist-friendly, as well, with beachside bars and restaurants, souvenir shops, and rowdy discos cropping up almost everywhere. However, though Jacó is well developed, a glance at the surrounding hills reveal still-pristine landscapes of greenery and beautiful flowering flora of every color under the rainbow. Most visitors to Playa de Jacó choose to stay in one of the area’s several hotels or fine vacation rentals.
On the north Pacific coast, almost at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border, lies the Gulf of Papagayo. Comprised of several beaches, each boasting spectacular beauty, Papagayo beaches are easily accessible from the Liberia International Airport, less than a half hour away. Don’t let its proximity fool you however; the Gulf of Papagayo has long been known as a nature-lover’s utopia, offering once-in-a-lifetime glimpses at sloths, quetzals, monkeys, and many other wildlife species that make their home around the gulf and at nearby national parks like Rincón de la Vieja and Santa Rosa. Papagayo beaches offer visitors exceptional water quality, fine white sand that slips perfectly between your toes, and warm sun rays to prepare you for a dip in the sparkling, safe, and calm waters. Some of the country’s finest vacation homes and hotels can be found along the Gulf of Papagayo, ranging in price and comfort from budget to finest luxury.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Jacó Beach, and the Gulf of Papagayo are only three examples of the spectacularly beautiful Costa Rican beaches. With so many others, as well as hundreds of additional special spots and secret places waiting to be discovered, visitors never tire of the country’s vast shoreline riches. So pack your bags, head on down, and bury your toes in the sand as you enjoy a spectacular Costa Rican sunset.