Costa Rica is blessed with two coastlines: the Pacific and the Caribbean. Costa Rica’s Pacific coast boasts over 800 miles of breathtaking coastline adorned with pristine beaches that are simply unmissable.
Some things you can do are explore pristine beaches, deep sea fish, zip lining, hiking, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, have non-stop close encounters with crocodiles, monkeys, sloths, lizards, and other wildlife, visit world-class restaurants, shopping centers, golf courses, and kick in the nightlife.
In this travel guide to Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches, I’ll share with you the best beaches on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, the best places to visit, and activities that you must include in your itinerary.
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Costa Rica Pacific Beaches Weather
Dry season: December until May
Average temp – 82°F and 85% humidity
Rainy season: June to November
10 Most Popular Beaches in Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
It’s a beautiful spot situated on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, just north of Jaco Beach. It’s often described as a beachfront paradise with its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. It’s an ideal destination for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts.
Punta Leona is also home to a significant nature reserve, which means you can encounter a diverse range of wildlife, including various bird species and even monkeys.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Punta Leona Beach. You can go snorkeling and explore the underwater world with a mask and fins. The clear waters make it an excellent spot for this activity.
Just about 90 minutes from San Jose, Jaco Beach is a hotspot for surfers, Spring Breakers, and those enjoying bachelor parties. This bustling beach epitomizes the vibrant Costa Rican beach life.
The south end of Jaco Beach is particularly appealing, with family-friendly lodging and some awesome restaurants. It’s also close to a famous hike leading to a stunning beach overlook.
Playa Hermosa, a tiny little inlet, is renowned for its crystal blue waters and calm waves. This beach is perfectly suited for those who seek a quieter, more serene beach experience.
It’s particularly surrounded by mini supermarkets just steps from the sandy shores, convenience is key here. Playa Hermosa is a beautiful blend of natural tranquility and accessible amenities.
Manuel Antonio’s Beaches
The juxtaposition of pristine beaches against the backdrop of dense jungle is nothing short of breathtaking.
These beaches offer a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, with opportunities for wildlife spotting and sunbathing alike.
Playa Grande, with its expansive stretch of white sand, is a haven for beachgoers who appreciate a more laid-back vibe. The beach is lined with shade and palm trees.
As you approach, several restaurants near the main parking area provide you with delicious food and a taste of local cuisine.
Playa Avellanas is a surfer’s paradise, known for its perfect surfing and boogie-boarding waves. The beach is fringed with an abundance of shade trees.
The tidepools here are a unique feature that gives you a chance to experience a glimpse into the marine life of the Pacific coast.
It’s a place where tranquility meets adventure. I recommend Playa Avellanas Beach to both nature lovers and water sports enthusiasts.
Playas del Coco
As one of the closest beaches to the Liberia airport, Playas del Coco is a convenient first stop for many international visitors. Known for its vibrant nightlife, with countless bars and restaurants, it’s a hub for those who love to enjoy the day and dark.
One more thing that I love about Playas del Coco is its scuba diving facility. Besides, with amenities like a huge American-style supermarket, Playas del Coco blends local charm with familiar comforts, making it an ideal spot for a diverse range of travelers.
The water here is invitingly warm, and the waves are gentle, and it’s worth visiting. The calm atmosphere of Playa Panama is its standout feature, making it an ideal spot for families or anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of more crowded beaches.
It’s a place where you can truly unwind, surrounded by the soothing sounds of small waves and the serene beauty of the Pacific.
Playa Ocotal, a small yet captivating beach, is situated just 4 km from Playas del Coco. This beach is relatively small and offers ample shade.
It’s a hidden gem known for its tiny tide pools, which are perfect for snorkeling enthusiasts eager to explore Costa Rican marine life.
Playa Conchal is truly unique, with its entire beachfront made of shells. This distinctive feature, coupled with the warm, blue waters, makes it one of Costa Rica’s most picturesque beaches.
The best way to arrive at Playa Conchal, especially for those not staying at the nearby Westin, is to park a rental car and take a short walk to the beach.
This approach allows visitors to fully appreciate the stunning natural beauty of the beach and its surroundings.
Best Places To Explore in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
Jaco is the perfect place for those who want to learn how to surf. You’ll find plenty of surf schools around. There are also many adventure tours you can choose from, from canopy tours to ATV tours to jet canopy tours skiing, hiking, and lots more.
Not your style? What about pampering yourself? Here, you will find top-notch hotels and all-service spas, and it’s hard to complain. Jaco also has been classified as one of the top places where you can party like a rockstar!
• Tarcoles River is home to over 2000 American crocodiles and one of the best places to see them up close
• Surf a world-known break at Playa Hermosa (with or without a professional instructor)
• Visit Carara National Park, which is full of scarlet macaws
• Eat at a multitude of restaurants specializing in international cuisines.
Best Time to visit
Tourism is booming from December to April, thanks to the delightful warm weather and the vibrant night scene.
Manuel Antonio / Quepos
This area is commonly known as the place to stay if you are visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park. This park offers an abundance of wildlife and attractive white-sanded beaches.
Here, you will have a close encounter with the highly endangered Titi monkeys and sloths, monkeys, lizards, and coatis, just to name a few.
Best Time To Visit
It’s best to visit Manuel Antonio National Park from December to April, as the weather is warm and dry.
The Osa Peninsula, a veritable Eden of biodiversity, is an unspoiled paradise teeming with wildlife and rich in natural wonders.
Here you can observe an incredible array of wildlife, such as tapirs, jaguars, and macaws.
For those seeking adventure, activities like kayaking through mangroves or hiking to hidden waterfalls are sure to satisfy them.
Best Time To Visit
For jungle treks, it is advisable to plan your visit between January and April to avoid the rainy season, which can cause trail deterioration. Yet, if you are interested in whale sightings, the best time to visit would be between July and October.
Essential Travel Resources
❗Don’t forget travel insurance
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🎒Pack smarter, not bulky
Check out this vacation packing list, including all the essentials you need to pack when traveling, from travel clothing to backpacks and more.
🏡Where to Stay – Here are Suggestions
This is my favorite place to look for accommodations, it offers different types, a ton of locations, and good price options.
🗺️Get Around Hassle-Free
This one is the perfect option to look for different transportation options between cities, from flights, buses, and taxis to minivans and more.
🛫Find Cheap Flights
Whenever I need to fly, I head to this website for low-cost flights.
What to See in the Costa Rica Pacific Beaches
Museums and Gardens
• Iguana Park
• Fincas Naturales (private wildlife refuge)
• Butterfly gardens
• Vanilla Spice Plantation (vanilla orchids)
Popular Parks & Reserves
Waterfalls on the Pacific Side of Costa Rica
• Several waterfalls in the Manuel Antonio area: Matapalo, La Culebra and the Tocori Waterfalls
What to Do in the Costa Rica Pacific Beaches
• Bird and Wildlife Viewing
• Dolphin & Whale Watching
• Diving and Snorkeling
• ATV Tours
• Sailing & Catamaran Cruises
• Canopy Tours (zip lines & aerial trams)
• Canyoning (waterfall rappelling)
• Day Spas
• Hang Gliding
• Horseback Riding
• Jet Skiing
• Mountain Biking
• Rafting & Tubing
• Sea Kayaking
• Sport Fishing
Looking for More Inspiration?
I have been traveling and living in Costa Rica for over 25 years
Check out these Hand-Tested GUIDES
If you want to travel without the hassle and confusion – check out a complete guide for traveling to Costa Rica.
For more travel ideas to add to your bucket list, check out a complete guide to all the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 13 Costa Rican food and dishes.
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Last Updated on February 2, 2024