Go troppo: Costa Rica's best beaches

Let’s get right to the point here. Costa Rica may have some of the most stunning rain forests and wildlife on the planet, but it also has some truly awesome strips of sand. Whether you’re keen to body surf in the crashing spray, or just spend your days soaking up the rays, one thing is for sure – Costa Rica is a beach lover’s dream.

Playa Tamarindo

Known in most circles as Playa Tamagringo, this increasingly wealthy and touristy beach destination is home to the country’s hottest ocean-side night spots. Sure, Tamarindo isn’t the most authentic place in Costa Rica, but it can definitely be a lot of fun if you go with the right mindset.

Popular? Yes, and for good reason. Playa Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica's top stretches of sand. Image by JarleNaustvik / CC BY 2.0 Popular? Yes, and for good reason. Playa Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica's top stretches of sand. Image by JarleNaustvik / CC BY 2.0

Playa Negra

As its name implies, this much-loved beach near the reggae-fueled town of Cahuita is covered in dark black sand that positively shines on a sunny day. Although the sand can get a bit warm around midday, fret not as you’re never far from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Mal País & Santa Teresa

Hugging the tip of the Nicoya peninsula, these two beach towns are certainly not the easiest places to access. However, it’s worth braving the bumpy roads and clouds of dust for the chance to surf along a pristine stretch of wilderness-backed beach.


Few destinations in Costa Rica attract as large a legion of devotees as Montezuma, which is a classic backpacker paradise at the southern end of the Nicoya peninsula. However, you won’t feel like one of the masses as there are endless miles of empty wilderness beach here for you to explore.

Playa Conchal

Arguably the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, tiny yet never understated Conchal is covered in a fine sprinkling of crushed seashells. As you wade through crystalline water in search of a memorable souvenir, pause for a moment to reflect on how wonderful it is to be in paradise.


Literally at the end of the road on the Caribbean coast, this idyllic beach town fronts a postcard-perfect beach of powder white sand. Rent a pushbike from nearby Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and cycle until you hear the crashing surf.


Costa Rica has its fair share of Cancún-style party beaches, which attract lots of foreign tourists and an increasing number of resident expats. If you’re not in the mood to get your drink on and dance in the sand until morning, Costa Rica is also home to plenty of wilderness beaches where you will only have to share your spot with a few passing hermit crabs.