Best Places to Stay in Esterillos, Costa Rica

Best Places to Stay in Esterillos

Most travelers in Costa Rica drive straight past Esterillos on the coastal highway, either heading south to Manuel Antonio and beyond, or coming from Manuel Antonio towards San Jose or Guanacaste. They whizz past those four different turnoffs and unintentionally miss out on some of the best surf, the most beautiful beaches, and one of the most laid-back little communities in Costa Rica.
Esterillos is actually three separate sections that expand for over 4 miles: Esterillos Este, Esterillos Centro, and Esterillos Oeste (East, Central, and West). They are one long beach though each section has its unique charms. What is always true is that all of Esterillos is a haven for relaxation and natural beauty.
Hotels and cabins in this area are readily available, with options ranging from very modest to luxurious. The best hotel to stay in Esterillos is Alma del Pacifico, in the section called Esterillos Este. The hotel itself offers open green spaces that merge into the beach, with amenities to boot such as on-site pools, a bar, and a spa. The beach is calm and sandy, perfect to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the place. It’s also near Jacó and Manuel Antonio, so if you want to go to a bustling town or immerse yourself in a national park, Esterillos is a perfect home base.

Stunning Sunsets and Expansive Beaches

One of the best parts of visiting Esterillos is the natural beauty along the coastline. The beaches tend to have darker hues, from gray to chocolate, and they are highlighted by the green vegetation and palm trees right where the sand stops and the land begins.
Sunsets are famous in Esterillos Este, where Alma del Pacífico is. The ocean is usually calm in this area, and when the tide is low, the beach widens to become the perfect backdrop for an enchanting walk along the sea. Be ready to snap pictures in the late afternoon—the sky often lights up with striking oranges and pinks. If you like more action-packed days, take a horse and go on a ride to explore along the beach. It’ll pump your blood!
However, the whole length of Esterillos has a lot to offer. Esterillos Oeste is a little north of Esterillos Este (we also appreciate the irony), and it’s also famous for its wildlife and personality. There are many birds and reptiles to see, and there are a lot of rock formations and natural ocean puddles to explore.
Family enjoying surfing session in Esterillos

The Ocean Calls: Esterillos’ Famous Mermaid

If you hear locals talking about a siren (“La Sirena” in Spanish) they mean a famous statue on the beach. It looks out to the sea, and when the tide is high, it’s almost as if it was coming out of the water. An artist from nearby Puriscal put it up there decades ago. Folklore surrounds this iconic sight of Esterillos, and various versions of why it’s there exist. Sadly, in August 2023, it was knocked down by the stormy sea, and it is currently under repair to be put back where it belongs.

Seaside Wonders: Nature’s Little Gems

If you’re a nature lover, Esterillos offers many highlights. There are various ways to interact with it. Jacó and la Hermosa are more famous surfing hubs, but Esterillos has some good spots if you want to ride some waves. Esterillos Oeste is where beginners usually go to practice with their board. There is also a chance to go on mangrove, snorkeling, hiking, and diving tours. Whether you prefer to take it easy or add some adventure, Esterillos has you covered.

What to Know about Esterillos Before Visiting

Esterillos is a long beach, but the towns dotted alongside it are small. This means beaches are not usually very crowded, allowing you to truly enjoy this hidden gem. Some of the beaches have security towers, and nearby you can find small eateries as well as rental spaces and a few hotels.
Esterillos is 76 miles away from San José, which is around a two-hour drive. It’s also 15 miles away from Jacó, around 30 minutes. There used to be a small airport nearby for local flights, but it’s no longer in use.
Many of the roads that go into the beach are unpaved and several have potholes that get bigger during the rainy season, but there’s no need for a 4x4. If you prefer to drive yourself, Esterillos is easy to find. Our advice is that the best way to get here is by private transfer with an expert driver because it makes your trip easier.
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