The North Pacific Coast of Guanacaste, Costa Rica is known for its unforgettable beautiful beaches of white, gold, gray, black and even pink sand. These beaches are preferred vacation destinations, having the sunniest climate in all of Costa Rica. And just in case it’s helpful, ‘Playa’ is Spanish for Beach!
A diverse number of experiences await those who make the trip. You can find bustling beach towns with thriving commerce like Flamingo and Tamarindo, contrasted with exotic, quiet beaches where you can be one with wild nature. With its proximity to the equator, Guanacaste is famous for having the most sun and least rain all year round in beautiful Costa Rica!
In this post, we explore the primary beaches and beach towns of the Guanacaste region. If you’re looking for a complete Costa Rican experience, where it be on the beaches, in the rainforest of somewhere in between, Costa Rica Vision has the vacation rentals, car rentals and adventures and local knowledge to make your bucket-list adventures come true!
Playa Tamarindo: Surfing, Dining, Shopping, Live Music
The town of Tamarindo is the largest developed beach town in Guanacaste and is one of the liveliest beach and surf towns in Guanacaste, with shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, tour centers, and water sports rentals. Although eco-tourism is a big deal in this region, surfing is the major activity here. As well, there is a small regional airport that receives daily flights of Sansa and Nature Air.
While there is plenty of sand and sun here, surfers know Playa Tamarindo as a long, sandy beach with excellent waves near the mouth of the estuary. Currents can be strong, especially on a falling tide. Waves can reach a height of up to 12 feet, and are typically seen during the summer months from June to August.
Playa Flamingo is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches with fine white sand. It has pristine clear blue waters, lagoons, vegetation and so many activities. The Playa Flamingo area offers a wide variety of secluded beaches and lagoons due to the mountain formations reaching into the sea. It features hotels, lodging, luxury homes, entertainment, water, land and leisure activities.
The area is possibly best known for its scuba diving. There are several dive shops in town which provide service to the Catalina Islands which are home to a plethora of marine life including the majestic giant pacific manta. Many scuba diving shops also offer diving at other nearby destinations such as the Bat Islands and the Gulf de Papagayo.
Located just north of Playa Flamingo, Playa Protero, was once a small fishing village. Today it is home to a friendly community of both Ticos and Ex-pats who enjoy the serene atmosphere and beautiful location of this adorable little town. The town offers everything you need including shops, restaurants, and bars. The travellers who chose Playa Potrero as their destination seek the peace this quaint place has to offer.
The most popular activities at Playa Potrero are sport fishing, scuba diving and visiting nearby national parks. Playa Potrero is close to some of the best National Parks in Costa Rica. Visit the Baulas National Marine Park, and the Santa Rosa National Park and look for sloths, monkeys, iguanas and tropical birds. Enjoy tours to the Caves of Barra Honda, the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, and the Tenorio Volcano. You’ll never forget the astonishing electric blue waters of Rio Celeste! The Palo Verde National Park is also a must, as well as a Tour of the Guiatil Potteries.
Do not forget to visit the Catalina Islands just off the shore. It is a choice destination for snorkeling and scuba diving because the coral reefs are perfect for beginner and experienced divers. From January to May, you can see Manta Rays, Cow Nosed and Devil Rays, and Dolphins frequently. The friendly and relaxing ambiance of Playa Potrero and its spectacular sunsets are just what you need for a memorable holiday.
Playa Langosta is located just south of Tamarindo. Playa Langosta is one of the premiere surf beaches in this part of the country. Playa Langosta offers a more laid-back alternative for experienced surfers and visitors looking for less crowded beaches. This smaller community will offer you a more peaceful, relaxing beach. Highlights include surfing, hiking, adventure tours and just chillin’.
The beach at Playa Langosta is well-known for its spectacular surfing breaks! With both a left and right-hand break, it is the perfect place for experienced surfers.
Spectacular National Parks are close by ideal for hiking as well as a chance to see the giant Leatherback Turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs! Nearby Las Baulas National Park is a great place to spot these giants.
There are also opportunities for horseback riding, ATV tours, mountain biking, kayaking on the local mangroves as well as riding the zip line. Birders will be amazed at the plethora of local species and will also be close to some of the famous wetlands where birding is at a premium at Palo Verde National Park.
For an authentic beach town vibe, head to Play Brasilito. Nestled between the popular resort destinations of Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal, this town and beach of the same name is where simplicity rules. At Playa Brasilito, you’ll find a modest fishing village centered around a soccer field with a few restaurants and souvenir shops. Although some hotels and international restaurants have sprung up, Playa Brasilito still has a very local feel. Many Ticos (Costa Ricans) live in town, and you will see them bringing in the daily catch, grabbing a beer after work, or taking in a gorgeous sunset.
Just a 10-minute walk south along the coast is Playa Conchal. This beach is named for the millions of tiny crushed seashells that literally make up the sand. It is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches with clear turquoise water and a backing of short vegetation. The water is usually calm and great for swimming, making it popular for families.
ProTip: Many of the area’s best beaches and restaurants are a drive from Playa Brasilito so we recommend a rental car.
Playas Del Coco
One of the oldest beach communities in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. This region is also one of the fastest growing areas of tourism in Costa Rica. It has long been a popular destination with both local Costa Ricans as well as visitors from other countries during the traditional holiday seasons.
Playas del Coco, known for its beautiful sunsets, is located approximately 20 miles (32 kilometres) from the town of Liberia, Costa Rica the largest town in the province of Guanacaste.
Two lesser-known beaches in the area are Bahia de los Pirates and Playa Mina. These are located more remotely and are much harder to get to, but are both hidden gems worth the trouble. Make sure to ask the team at Costa Rica Vision for directions.
Local Costa Ricans (aka Ticos) refer to Playas del Coco affectionately as “El Coco”, while travellers from outside of Costa Rica use the name “Coco Beach”, when referring to Playas Del Coco
Coco is a great place to rent a boat for an adventure to nearby “Gorilla Rock” (also known as “Monkey’s Head Rock”) as well as the mangrove swamps just up the coast. Boating and snorkelling are a great mix with some amazing underwater views just below the surface.
Pro Tip: If you decide to rent a boat, be sure to negotiate hard. The price displayed can often nearly twice what you would actually pay if you just negotiate.
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