With more than 1,200km (750 miles) of shoreline on its Pacific and Caribbean coasts, Costa Rica offers beachgoers a wealth of options.

  • Santa Rosa National ParkYou’ll have to take a four-wheel-drive or hike 13km (8 miles) from the central ranger station to reach these remote beaches, but you’ll probably have the place all to yourself. In fact, the only time it gets crowded is in October, when thousands of olive ridley sea turtles nest in one of their yearly arribadas (arrivals). 

  • Las Catalinas: Take a stand-up paddle boarding lesson at the tranquil public beach in this quickly growing residential community nestled in rolling hills of tropical dry forest. Some of the best diving is near the tiny islets not far from shore where giant manta rays are known to spread their wings.

  • Playa Avellanas: Just south of Tamarindo, this white-sand beach has long been a favorite haunt for surfers, locals, and those in the know. Playa Avellanas stretches for miles, backed by protected mangrove forests. 

  • Nosara: Nosara and its beaches have a trendy, New Age vibe with plenty of yoga and juice bars much like Mexico’s Tulum, but without all the crowds. At least for now. Surfers gravitate to Playa Guiones, fishermen head to Playa Garza, and shady Playa Pelada is best for sunsets.
  • Playa Montezuma: This tiny beach town at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula retains a funky sense of individuality, with plenty of isolated spots to lay down your towel. It’s a favorite of backpackers and fire dancers, but you can also find upscale beachfront lodging and fine dining. Nearby, you’ll find two impressive waterfalls, one of them emptying into an oceanfront pool, the other surrounded by thick forest. Farther afield, you can explore the biologically rich Cabo Blanco and Curú wildlife preserves. 

  • Malpaís & Santa Teresa: With its scattered luxury lodges, surf camps, and assorted hotels and hostels, this is the place to come if you’re looking for miles of deserted beaches and great surf. 

  • Manuel Antonio: Manuel Antonio National Park was the first beach destination to become popular in Costa Rica, and its beaches are still idyllic. The hills approaching the park offer captivating views over thick primary rainforest to the Pacific Ocean. 

  • Punta Uva & Manzanillo: These beaches deliver true Caribbean splendor, with turquoise waters, coral reefs, and palm-lined stretches of nearly deserted white-sand beach. Tall coconut palms line the shore, providing shady respite, and the water is usually quite calm and good for swimming. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.