With its lush tropical landscape and picture-perfect beaches, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast draws travelers of all ages. Whether you’re a surfer, snorkeler or sunset-chaser, these four beautiful stretches of sand will have you reaching for your passport in seconds flat.
Situated along the so-called ‘Golden Coast’ is Playa Avellanas, a true surfers’ paradise. Its impressive waves – which can reach up to 20ft – have earned it the nickname of Little Hawaii. Even if you’re not an expert on the surfboard, the peaceful atmosphere is reason enough to go. Plus, more often than not, you’ll be delighted to find that you have the beach almost all to yourself. After taking to the waves (or just taking in the sun), stroll over to Lola’s – a beach bar adored by tourists and locals alike. Enjoy a cold beer under the almond trees that form a natural shaded canopy. One note: if you see a large pig strolling around the area or cooling along on the shore, don’t worry, she’s not lost. That’s just Lola’s mascot Lolita doing her daily rounds!
Discovering Carribbean-esque waters on the Pacific Coast is a rarity. But at Playa Conchal (shell beach) in Guanacaste, the inviting water is clear turquoise and just made for swimming and snorkeling. With calmer waters than a lot of beaches in the area, it’s a good bet for families with young kids, who will be happy to dig through the sand in search of brightly colored shells. The area around Playa Conchal is rich in attractions; why not take a day to experience the ocean fully with a deep sea fishing trip, or head inland for an adrenaline-fueled zip-lining excursion.
Just south of Domincal, a charming beach down on the southern pacific coast, is Playa Dominicalito. It’s a beach that has something for everyone, whether you love swimming, boogie boarding, snorkeling, or taking long walks. It’s a good option for kids – novice swimmers will be happy with the calm conditions and there’s ample shade under the tall palms that line the sand. But the best part of the day will come right before hometime – prepare for one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see. If you travel in January or February, you might bear witness to an extraordinary phenomenon – Playa Dominicalito is one of only two places in the world where whales from the northern and southern hemisphere meet during migration.
Manuel Antonio National park
Rated by Forbes as one of the 12 most beautiful national parks in the world, you could spend several days exploring Manuel Antonio. While the tropical forest is everything a nature-loving adventurer could wish for, with hiking trails and mountain biking ranges, it’s the little creatures that have made this place a favorite for travelers the world over. Monkeys, iguanas, toucans, just to name a few, meander freely around the park. And as for the beaches, there are four to choose from, each lined with lush greens and boasting relatively calm waters. Espadilla Sur in particular has the requisite white sand but also a tidal pool loved by snorkelers.
Where to stay in Costa Rica