Fun fact: Costa Rica’s name literally translates to “rich coast.” The Republic of Costa Rica is a country located in Central America and if it is known for one thing, it is the fact that it is a tourist destination through and through. Almost everyone who longs for the beach has dreamt about going to Costa Rica one day to enjoy its pristine beaches.
Everyone dreams of visiting Costa Rica one day and it would be a great idea to turn that dream into a reality. If budget is your problem, then you might want to start saving up now as you don’t want to visit Costa Rica without the right budget in your wallet. Don’t worry though as we’ll try to be as efficient as possible on this trip.
If you are one of those travelers who is already planning on making that dream a reality, then look no further as we’ve got a guide to this wonderful country. Before we get to its amazing beaches, let’s take a look at what you should know first before going to Costa Rica.
- 1 How To Get To Costa Rica
- 2 Getting Around Costa Rica
- 3 Budget For Costa Rica
- 4 Best Time To Visit Costa Rica
- 5 Top Costa Rica Beaches
- 5.1 Manzanillo Beach
- 5.2 Punta Uva Beach
- 5.3 Ostional Beach
- 5.4 San Juanillo Beach
- 5.5 Nosara Beach
- 5.6 Samara Beach
- 5.7 Santa Teresa Beach
- 5.8 Malpais Beach
- 5.9 Montezuma Beach
- 5.10 Costa Ballena
- 5.11 Dominical Beach
- 5.12 Flamingo Beach
- 5.13 Conchal Beach
- 5.14 Tamarindo Beach
- 5.15 Manuel Antonio Beach
- 5.16 Tortuguero Beach
How To Get To Costa Rica
No Visa will be required for passport holders coming from Canada and the U.S. You will be allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a Visa. Some European country passport holders are entitled to the same privilege while those from Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand will be allowed to stay for up to 30 days only. Those coming from Central America also don’t need a Visa unless you are from Nicaragua.
If you are traveling by air, there are two major international airports that should get you to Costa Rica. The first is the Juan Santa Maria International Airport also called as the San Jose Costa Rica airport which is near the city of Alajuela. This airport has daily flights from airlines such as American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Taca, Lacsa, Air Caribe’s, Mexicana, Spirit Airlines, United, U.S Airways, Frontier Airlines, and Air Canada. You can book direct flights from major cities such as New York, Dallas, Newark, Toronto and more.
The alternative airline is the Daniel Oduber International Airport in the province of Guanacaste. It is ten minutes from the city of Liberia and it is also close to the beaches and resorts on the northwestern Pacific coast. It also has flights coming from major cities across the world. What’s worth noting though is that there is a $26 departure tax per person. This may be paid either at the airport upon your departure or from the different banks and hotels across Costa Rica.
You can also get to Costa Rica via sea through its four commercial ports: Pacific Coast, Caldera, Puntarenas, Golfito, and Moin. Most cruises pass through Costa Rica so this is one of the convenient options for you if you want to enjoy Costa Rica for a short time. However, if you are planning a long trip, then traveling by air is necessary.
Do keep in mind that cruises are rather expensive. However, if you want to explore a huge chunk of the world while sailing around in a classy ship, then save up and book a trip with a cruise that’s passing by your city. Cruise ship’s will include your traveling fare, rooms, food, and of course, entertainment.
Getting Around Costa Rica
When in Costa Rica, you can rent cars from several companies but the problem is, driving around the country isn’t recommended. A lot of the roads are underdeveloped so you will have a tough time getting around the country and its beaches in a car. Luckily. There are several public modes of transportation for you to try out.
By far the cheapest and most efficient way to get around Costa Rica is traveling via bus. If you are in San Jose, you are in luck as you are at the transport hub of the country. Almost every bus that goes through Costa Rica uses the San Jose terminal as the main meetup spot. From there, you can get to almost every beach you want to.
The buses have varying schedules too and there are some bus lines that may require you to book tickets in advance. If you want to make sure that everything is good to go on your trip, be sure to plan ahead as getting around Costa Rica is no easy feat. While there are many bus lines available, there are a few that you may want to take note of.
The most comfortable buses in the country are the Tica buses which are modern air-conditioned vehicles with great seats, baggage space, and kind drivers. Their trips run from San Jose to Panama and Managua, as well as Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, and Guatemala City. Another bus line you may want to book trips with is Gray Line. It has all of the works that the Tica buses have. However, it seems like these buses are made for tourists as its routes run through most of the top tourist destinations in the country. This includes most of the beaches as well.
Budget For Costa Rica
While it is called the Rich Coast, Costa Rica will not take too much of your budget if you are wise enough. Budget travelers can survive on at least $50 per day but to make this trip feel less constricting, we are inching that budget up to a notch to at least $70 and this will include food, transportation, and accommodation.
If you are planning on visiting its numerous beaches, you may want to set aside at least $20 for public transportation on buses. As for rooms, you will spend as much as $20 per night on hostels and budget rooms. As for food, you can make due with at least $10 per day as there are countless cheap but filling grubs in the area. The rest you’ll spend on souvenirs and activities. You don’t have to worry about admission to the beaches as most are free.
Depending on where you are and where you want to go, your trip to Costa Rica could cost somewhere between $500-$800 for an entire week. Our tip is to simply become more efficient when it comes to food by avoiding expensive restaurants and eating at cheap holes-in-the-wall instead. These are far cheaper than your standard fancy fare.
Best Time To Visit Costa Rica
You are most definitely going to visit Costa Rica for its beaches so ideally, you may want to visit during the dry season. In the case of the Rich Coast, the dry season is from mid-December to April. Sadly, this is also the time for peak tourists so you may have to bring a lot of patience with you. However, the weather will be perfect for lounging on the beach and for taking part in Costa Rica’s numerous watersport activities.
The rooms during this season are more expensive as well. Ideally, you may want to book a room at least 3 months in advance so that you can save up on expenses. If you want to really save money, then try to visit between the months of April and May.
Top Costa Rica Beaches
Summer is just around the corner. And if you haven’t found the perfect place to spend your summer, you’ve come to the right place as we’ve listed some of the best Costa Rica beaches that you need to add to your travel itinerary this summer.
Located in the Southern Caribbean Coast, the Manzanillo Beach boasts of its turquoise waters and white sand beach. It is also one of the Costa Rica beaches that you can go to if you want to see coral reefs and experience the tranquil seaside tropical forest that it has. Try to visit the Manzanillo Beach between September and October as these are the months that are less touristy if you want to avoid crowds. But whether or not it is crowded during your visit, it’s still a perfect place to spend your summer vacation.
Manzanillo Beach is perfect for those that want to go scuba diving as it is one of the top attractions of this place. During this activity, you’ll be guided by experts in the field who will take you to some of the most scenic spots underwater.
2Punta Uva Beach
Also situated in the Southern Caribbean Coast is the Punta Uva Beach. However, unlike Manzanillo, this beach is much calmer and quieter. And if you want to spend your summer vacation with some wildlife, this is the one of the best Costa Rica beaches to be as it is nestled within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and is backed by a dense jungle. Hence, you can get to see animals such as sloths, monkeys, and so many bird species. It also has a nice coral reef that you need to see just offshore. And the best part of it is that it has calmer waves that is also perfect if you have kids with you.
Do keep in mind that Punta Uva isn’t fully-developed. Don’t expect to find numerous concession stands around the beach so it would be right to bring packed lunch during this trip.
The Ostional Beach is one of the unique Cost Rica beaches with its volcanic black sand. In addition to that, it is a place to see lots of turtles as this beach serves as turtles’ nesting place. If you want to see this unique sight, be sure to visit between July and October. The arribada (also known as the annual mass sea turtle nesting) is also a phenomenon that you shouldn’t miss. However, we can’t tell you when you should exactly visit to see this as the arribada happens anywhere between four and 10 times a year. Unfortunately, the timing can be quite unpredictable. Even so, you can still ask Costa Rica experts to see if your scheduled visit will line up with the arribada.
The turtles in this beach are protected by the local community and it would be best if you don’t disrupt the local ecology. Avoid picking up the turtles and leave them be so that they don’t get stressed.
4San Juanillo Beach
If you want Costa Rica beaches that aren’t filled with tourists, San Juanillo Beach is also one of the places you should consider for your summer vacation. Compared to other popular Costa Rica beaches, San Juanillo doesn’t have much tourists. And while it is a relatively small beach, its clear and calm waters is still something to talk big about. And have we mentioned that its waters are great for swimming whether or not you’re a pro?
Unlike Punta Uva, San Juanillo is quiet but it is also somehow developed. Don’t expect to see anything major but the surrounding area is more properly maintained.
Located in Nicoya Peninsula, the Nosara Beach is one of the Costa Rica beaches that we can recommend if you want a place to surf. In fact, it is one of the top surf destinations in Costa Rica. And the best part of it is that it is formed by three beaches merging together: the Guiones, Garza, and Pelada Beach. If you’re up for some surfing, just head to Guiones Beach. On the other hand, if you want a less populated area, head to Garza Beach. And if you want both surfing and swimming, go further north at the Pelada Beach.
The waves in Nosara Beach vary depending on the day with the waves being at their strongest late at noon and with it being at its weakest late morning. Regardless of what time you surf, there will be some instructors willing to guide you the basics of this extreme activity. There are also some surfing equipment that’s readily available as well so you don’t have to bring anything other than yourself.
If you want a more family-friendly beach for your summer vacation, don’t pass on Samara Beach. Aside from its nice waters, it also has several activities that’s great for families as well. Here, you can go snorkeling to see its marine life. And if you want to see more, you can delve deeper into its waters and try out scuba diving. You can also go kayaking as its waters are perfectly calm as well. Sportfishing is a nice activity that you should try too. The Samara Beach is one of the best Costa Rica beaches that has activities that everyone in the family will definitely enjoy.
7Santa Teresa Beach
If you want some alone time and if you’re looking for a secluded beach, Santa Teresa Beach is one of the top Costa Rica beaches that we can recommend. It’s one of the least frequented by tourists and we’re sure that you will enjoy its atmosphere. Read a book, get a good tan, or just take in the best views that Santa Teresa Beach has to offer. It will surely reset your mind and body. It’s one of the best sumer destinations that you should pass on.
This is the perfect beach to visit if you are going to Costa Rica with a group of friends. You can all enjoy a nice and relaxing time by the campfire as the sun sets.
Malpais Beach is also one of the nicest Costa Rica beaches that’s great for surfing. It also has stretches of white sand to talk big about plus several rocky tidal pools. We’re sure you’ll love it here whether or not you are looking to surf.
Obviously, the tidal pools are the biggest attractions in Malpais Beach. Be sure to bring your camera along to take shots of these amazing once in a lifetime views.
Montezuma Beach also has a laid-back atmosphere that we’re sure you’ll like if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. However, we can’t highly recommend this place if you want to swim as it has a rocky coastline which can be a challenge, especially for non-swimmers. Still it has a stunning setting that you will enjoy. Don’t worry much, it has tide pools that emerge when the tide is low as well.
Also known as Whale Coast, Costa Ballena isn’t just one of the must-visit Costa Rica beaches because of its unique shape that resembles the whale’s tail. Rather this beach is not to be missed also because of the fact that it is a place where you can get to see whales as they return to breach yearly from the moth of August to October and December through April. I fact, you can sign up for a whale watching tour and even get to rent some gears for snorkeling if you want to explore Costa Ballena’s expansive coral reef as well. If you happen to visit Cost Ballena anywhere between May and November, you can even get to witness turtles come by to nest.
If you’re in for more surfing, don’t forget adding the Dominical Beach to your list of Costa Rica beaches to visit this summer. Nestled on the South Pacific Coast, the Dominical Beach is one of the best places for surfing. In fact, it is one of the most popular surfing spots around the world. The best part of it is that it is the only beach that offers lifeguard programs all year round. In addition to that, the Dominical Beach is surrounded by awesome restaurants that serve good food to fill your stomach as well as your soul so don’t miss this summer destination.
Flamingo Beach is probably the most unique among other Costa Rica beaches. This is because it has pinkish white sand, hence the name. But aside from its unique sand, what makes it even more worthy of your time are the views that it has to offer. If you will stay in one of its hotels that sit high up on the Cliffside, you can get an overlooking view of the inlets and bays of the Pacific. Besides that, you can get to see some of the most beautiful sunset views overlooking the Pacific Ocean that you can never get to see elsewhere in the world.
If you will head to Conchal Beach, don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gears as this beach has a variety of coral and sea creatures for you to see. The best part is that it is a haven for travelers who are looking for a beach that’s not too crowded with tourists. It also has an all-inclusive resort nearby so if you have some extra money to spend, might as well book for a room here so you can enjoy your summer vacation all the more. Don’t fret much if you have a limited budget as there are also other variety of rental properties near the Conchal Beach. You’ll surely find one that suits your budget.
Tamarindo Beach is also one of the Costa Rica beaches that’s great for surfing. It’s one of the perfect surfing spots that it is also popular to many surfers. Don’t worry if you haven’t mastered surfing yet as Tamarindo Beach has the perfect waves that surfing beginners can practice on compared to other Costa Rica beaches. There a lot of accommodation options here as well. Some can even direct you to a nearby water sports rental if you want to try out more water activities being offered here.
15Manuel Antonio Beach
Manuel Antonio Beach is probably one of the most popular Costa Rica beaches. It’s no surprise, though, as it has a lot to offer. It borders Manuel Antonio National Park, hence you can expect to see a coastal rainforest that’s full of wildlife; it has nearby hiking trails that lead to other beaches within the Manuel Antonio National park, and it has a coral seascape that is worth exploring as well. But since it is one of the most popular Costa Rica beaches, expect to see crowds. But don’t let it stop you from savoring the beauty of this place.
Speaking of activities, Tortuguero Beach is also one of the Costa Rica beaches that will never let you get bored. Ere, you can hike, tour its jungle canals and experience guided safaris. Like the Manuel Antonio Beach, Tortuguero Beach also has a park nearby where you can get a chance to see endangered species like tapirs, ocelots, and manatees. The nearby park also has canals filled with crocodiles and has rainforests where you can get closer to nature. However, note that spending the night at Tortuguero Beach is a bit on the expensive side so if you plan to stay here for a while, might as well be prepared to spend some extra dollars.
There are still a lot of Costa Rica beaches that you need to visit but this summer, we highly recommend these beaches first. We’re sure that these Costa Rica beaches will not disappoint.