Beachfront Resorts in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Beach Aerial View

Exploring the Best Beach Resorts in Costa Rica

If there's one thing that Costa Rica does well, it's beaches. After all, the name of the country is literally "Rich Coast" in Spanish. With a moniker like that, how could the beaches not be fantastic in Costa Rica? It's little wonder why travelers seek out our beachfront resorts and hotels. A tropical Costa Rican beach is, after all, the perfect place to relax and unwind. Whether it’s the dark, jungle-backed sands of the Central and Southern Pacific coast, the long, sun-kissed beaches of Nicoya and Guanacaste, or the Afro-Latino vibes of the Caribbean Sea, there's a beach for everyone in Costa Rica. A beach for all tastes.
With over 800 miles of tropical Pacific and Caribbean coastline, Costa Rica's beaches range from coal-black volcanic sands to icing sugar white, and everything in between. They range from long stretches of wild, pounding surf backed by pristine jungles to cute, palm-lined coves and bays. Some are isolated and hard to reach—accessible only by boat or the roughest of roads—and others are in the center of vibrant tourist communities. They're great for surfing, swimming, fishing, beach combing, horseback riding, relaxing, sunsets, sunrises, and so much more.
What they all have in common, however, is their beauty. There's nothing like a tropical Costa Rican beach to get all those vacation feels going. This is why we almost always recommend beach time to our clients. Not that we need to—the vast majority of our clients want and expect to spend time at the beach in Costa Rica. They already know how glorious the beaches of Costa Rica are. What they might not know, though, is what beach has their name on it and where to stay while at said beach. And that's where we come in to help.
If there's a beach for everyone in Costa Rica, there's also a beachfront resort for everyone. In this article, we'll look at the best Costa Rica beachfront hotels around the country to whet your appetite. But first, it's worth defining "beachfront". In Costa Rica, that's important.

How Costa Rica Keeps its Beaches Pristine

Unlike many other countries, Costa Rica has no private beaches. Every single beach in Costa Rica is protected public property, accessible to all. This is a good thing as it prohibits exploitation and keeps the beaches pristine. You won't find excessive development right up to the shoreline in Costa Rica—you'll find swaying coconut palms instead.
It works like this: basically, the first 164 feet (50 meters) from the high tide line on any Costa Rican beach is public property (called the Public Zone). No building or development is allowed anywhere on the Public Zone, although there are a few exceptions, mostly from construction projects dating from before this was made law in 1973. But overall, that 164 feet stretch from the high tide line is sacrosanct in Costa Rica, treated as pristine and protected for all.
Then comes the Maritime Zone. This part of the beach comes after the Public Zone, starting at 164 feet from the beach's high tide mark and stretching 492 feet (150 meters) back. Construction and development are permitted in the Maritime Zone, but the government tightly controls and regulates it. To that end, most development is restricted in this zone, although some exceptions are allowed for public or tourist projects. It's in this zone where you’ll find most of Costa Rica's beachfront hotels. That means that most of them are set back a little ways from the beach itself. This is great news for visitors since it keeps Costa Rican beaches natural and beautiful while providing easy access from the hotels to the beaches.
So now you have an idea of how it works with our beaches and resorts, it's time to get to the fun stuff and work out what kind of Costa Rica beach hotel is for you. To do that, we'll look at some different beaches around Costa Rica and tell you about them and the types of visitors they attract. We'll also look at the hotels and resorts around these beaches. So, without further delay, pack your sunscreen and let's go to the beach!

Rich Coastlines: Discovering Costa Rica's Beach Resorts

Costa Rica has two coastlines, the Pacific in the West and the Atlantic (or Caribbean) in the East. The Pacific side is much longer than the Caribbean side—around 600 miles vs. approximately 200 miles. The Pacific side is also much more rugged, with a twisty serpentine coastline full of bays and peninsulas, inlets, and gulfs. The Pacific coast of Costa Rica can be divided into the following regions:
  • North Pacific. The north Pacific coast of Costa Rica comprises the province of Guanacaste in the Northwest corner of Costa Rica. It is known for its tropical dry forests, coastal communities, and beach resorts. Some of the most popular beaches in Guanacaste include Tamarindo, the Papagayo Peninsula, Conchal, and Flamingo.
  • Nicoya Peninsula. This large peninsula forms part of Guanacaste, but, when talking about beaches, it's best to describe it separately. Nicoya has a laid-back atmosphere, famous for surfing and wellness retreats. One of the few Blue Zones in the world is on the Nicoya Peninsula. Beaches here include Nosara, Samara, and Santa Teresa among many others.
  • Central Pacific. The Central Pacific is the most convenient stretch of coast to visit from San José and the Central Valley. Stretching from Puntarenas in the North to below Manuel Antonio in the South, you'll find resort communities, surfing beaches, and national parks to explore. Central Pacific beaches include Jaco, Hermosa, Esterillos, and Manuel Antonio.
  • Southern Pacific. This region starts between Manuel Antonio and Dominical. Here, lush rainforests meet the ocean and things feel more remote. The beauty down here is palpable, with long stretches of jungle-backed empty waves and, of course, the Osa Peninsula. Dominical, Uvita, Drake Bay, and the pristine beaches of Corcovado are the best-known playas down here.
The Caribbean side is essentially straight, running roughly in a Southeasterly line from Nicaragua to Panama. This coastline has a flat terrain, characterized by long stretches of sandy beaches, mangroves, and lagoons. We can divide the Caribbean coast into two regions, either side of the city of Limón:
  • Northern Caribbean. Remote and accessible only by plane or boat, the Northern Caribbean comprises vast swathes of rainforests, lagoons, and turtle nesting beaches. Here, you'll find Tortuguero National Park. This is not a "beach" area per se. It's all about nature here.
  • Southern Caribbean. The communities south of Limón are where you come for Caribbean beaches in Costa Rica. Laid back Caribbean-style charm, gorgeous white and black-sand beaches perfect for swimming, surfing, and relaxing. Beach destinations here include Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Manzanillo.
Costa Rica's two coasts offer different experiences. The Pacific coast is far more developed than the Caribbean side. It is easier to get to and, as a consequence, is where the major resorts are located. This side attracts far more tourists. The Caribbean side is more difficult to get to and receives fewer tourists, although the communities of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo remain vibrant in a low-key way. You won't find large hotels or all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, just small, boutique hotels.
So, we have two coasts offering two different vibes. Whether you head to the Pacific in search of the best beach resorts in Costa Rica or you want something more rustic, boutique, and laid back on the Caribbean, you'll find some things remain the same, no matter what side of Costa Rica you visit. Both sides offer rainforests, nature, surf, sunshine, palm trees, and sand. They both offer picture-postcard tropical beauty that you will remember forever.
Couple enjoying horseback riding on a beach at the sunset

Top Costa Rica Beachfront Hotels by Region

Time to get a little more specific. Below, we'll add a little meat onto the bones of the coastal regions we introduced you to above. We'll also highlight our favorite beachfront resorts in each region for you to check out.

The North Pacific Coast

As already mentioned, the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica comprises the province of Guanacaste. This coastline stretches from the Nicaraguan border in the North all the way down into the Nicoya Peninsula. For our purposes, when we talk about the "North Pacific", we really mean what is known as the Golden Coast, which runs roughly between Papagayo and Tamarindo. This stretch of coastline is well-developed and home to some of the best beach hotels in Costa Rica. When you think of any given name-brand Costa Rica beach resort, chances are it's located here.
But it's not all plush hotels and all-inclusive vacations in Guanacaste. The region is home to vibrant beach and surf communities like Tamarindo, Potrero, Brasilito, and Hermosa. These places are perfect for restaurants, shopping, bars, and nightlife. If you were only interested in staying at the beach in Costa Rica, it's this part of the country that we would recommend. And, crucially, Guanacaste Airport (LIR) in the city of Liberia makes travel here so much easier. You can fly directly into LIR and be in your beach resort in less than an hour. Let's look at some of our favorite beachfront hotels in Costa Rica's Pacific (in no particular order):
  • Bosque del Mar, Playa Hermosa. Playa Hermosa de Guanacaste is a quiet, calm beach perfectly suited for families. Steps from the sand, Bosque del Mar offers a tranquil and affordable experience for beach lovers.
  • Bahia del Sol, Playa Potrero. Playa Potrero is a beautiful Guanacaste beach, set on soft, tan-colored sands in a calm bay. Bahia del Sol sits right behind the sands, amid lush gardens. A perfect place for a few days of relaxation in a quiet seaside community.
  • Capitan Suizo, Tamarindo. An upscale boutique beach hotel at the southern end of Playa Tamarindo. Capitan Suizo offers easy access into town while remaining
  • Margaritaville, Playa Flamingo. A fun and lively all-inclusive resort just across the street (a narrow street, too) from the pinkish sands of Playa Flamingo, home to some of the best sunsets in Costa Rica.
  • El Mangroove, Playa Panama. Located on a calm beach across from the Papagayo Peninsula, this classy beachfront resort is only 20 minutes from the airport.
  • Dreams Las Mareas, Playa Jobo. Way up in far north of Costa Rica, on a remote peninsula near Salinas Bay, is Dreams Las Mareas, great for anyone wanting to get away from things while enjoying world-class resort amenities.
Other beachfront hotels in this part of Costa Rica include the Tamarindo Diria and Coast Hotel, both in the surf town of Tamarindo. Each of these offers direct beach access in the heart of a bustling community. Elsewhere, in Flamingo, The Palms offers amazing beachfront villas for guests. And then there's the Four Seasons, sitting between two beaches on the Papagayo Peninsula. An honorable mention should go to the Westin Playa Conchal. Although not exactly beachfront (the pink sands of Playa Conchal are a short walk away down a trail), this is Costa Rica's best all-inclusive resort and is still great for beach lovers.
All in all, the North Pacific is by far the best option for those seeking a beachfront stay. This part of Costa Rica has more beachfront resorts than anywhere else in the country. Speak to us about what you're looking for and we'll have some recommendations for you.

The Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula roughly begins South of Tamarindo and extends all the way to Santa Teresa and the communities around the tip of the peninsula. You can split the Nicoya Peninsula into two parts, the north and the south.
The northern part of the Peninsula is best reached from Guanacaste Airport and includes the beach communities of Nosara and Samara among others. This part of Costa Rica is one of the planet's few "Blue Zone" areas, where people tend to be much healthier and live longer. Perhaps as a consequence of this, the Northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula has a heavy focus on wellness and yoga retreats, especially Nosara. These wellness retreats combine well with the surfing that the whole peninsula is famous for.
The Southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula is harder to get to. It's easier to reach from San José rather than Guanacaste, and involves a ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya. It's a stunningly beautiful ride. Here, you'll find the up-and-coming surf community of Santa Teresa, the laid-back hippy vibes of Montezuma, and the beaches of Tambor. Below, we look at some beachfront accommodations on the Nicoya Peninsula:
These are some of our favorite beachfront hotels on the Nicoya Peninsula. Others include Punta Islita (more above the beach than on the beach, but still close) and Tropico Latino in Santa Teresa. There is also the all-inclusive, adult-only hotel Villas Playa Samara in Samara. Hotels here tend to be a little smaller and more boutique than elsewhere, with their own individual styles. Contact us for more info on the Nicoya Peninsula and its beach communities.

The Central Pacific

Alongside Guanacaste, the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica is the most-visited beach area of the country. It's home to the major tourist town of Jaco, the marinas of Playa Herradura and Quepos, and the popular Manuel Antonio National Park. And we're not even counting the city of Puntarenas, home to perhaps Costa Rica's most popular beach for Costa Ricans.
This coastline starts in Puntarenas to the North and extends down through to Manuel Antonio, with the Southern Pacific zone beginning beyond that. Part of what makes this coastline so popular is its proximity to the capital city of San José and the Central Valley, including the main Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). It's now possible to be on the coast in an hour or so, something that wasn’t possible some decades ago.
The Central Pacific coast is a lot greener than Nicoya or Guanacaste. It's here where we start to see lush rainforests meeting the ocean, with jungle-clad hills in the background. Beaches here are mostly for surfing, although there are some calmer spots around Manuel Antonio. This is also an area with tons to do, including zip lining, exploring national parks, whitewater rafting, and more. Let's look at some beachfront hotels on the Central Pacific coast:
  • Arenas del Mar, Manuel Antonio. Most hotels in Manuel Antonio are up in the hills above the beach. Not Arenas del Mar. This luxurious boutique resort is one of the best hotels in Costa Rica for many reasons, direct beach access is just one.
  • Club del Mar, Jacó. A family-friendly hotel right on the beach at the quiet, southern end of Jaco. A perfect place for learning to surf.
  • Alma del Pacifico, Esterillos. Unique and luxurious beachfront villas in one of Costa Rica's most pristine surfing communities. A fantastic seaside escape.
If you're looking for other beachfront resorts on the Central Pacific, there's the Vegas-style high-rise Crocs Resort in Jaco, on the northern end of the town beach. In Manuel Antonio, Hotel San Bada also has easy beach access and is an economical alternative to Arenas del Mar in that area. Talk to us about your options in this part of Costa Rica.

The Southern Pacific

As the Pacific coast of Costa Rica heads South from Manuel Antonio towards the surf community of Dominical, it transitions into the Southern Zone. This is Costa Rica's most remote coastline, where the jungle hits the ocean, whales play, and the surfing is uncrowded. It's home to the Osa Peninsula, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Here, both on the Osa Peninsula and across the Golfo Dulce in Piedras Blancas, it's all dense virgin rainforests and ecotourism.
The hotels down here aren't your typical beach resorts. This part of Costa Rica focuses on nature and sustainability above all. It's not easy to get this far South, and usually you need to fly in. But if you make the effort and you know what to expect, you will find it exceeds your wildest dreams. Check out some beachfront accommodations in the south below:
  • Copa del Arbol, Drake Bay. In Drake Bay at the top of the Osa Peninsula, Copa del Arbol is the perfect spot to base yourself when exploring Corcovado National Park.
  • Playa Cativo Lodge, Golfito. This remote eco-lodge sits on the pristine shores of the Golfo Dulce, surrounded by thousands of acres of rainforest in the Piedras Blancas National Park.
  • Botanika, Golfito. The Southern Zone's only "name-brand" resort, this Hilton-affiliated hotel offers excellent beachside amenities and access to the rainforest.
These are the three truly beachfront places to stay down here. That said, there are plenty of other hotels and eco-resorts set in the rainforests and mountains, or even set back from the beach. Ask us about them and we will be happy to show you!

The Caribbean Coast

The final coastal region to cover on this page needs to be the Caribbean side. We will only focus on the Southern Caribbean coast here. The northern Caribbean is not a beach area—there are beautiful beaches up there, but they're not for swimming or hanging out. They're all about turtle nesting and nature. Down South, though, it's a different matter. Here, you'll find the beach communities of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and other spots, all famous for their eclectic vibes and gorgeous beaches.
  • Le Cameleon, Puerto Viejo. An upscale beach hotel in Puerto Viejo. It sits across the street from Playa Cocles but has its own beach club right on the sands.
Puerto Viejo has other hotels, but Le Cameleon is the most beachfront. That said, ask us for more options if you want to spend some time here. Insider's tip—this part of Costa Rica has the best beach weather during the month of October!
Surfer holding a surfboard and watching waves break on Nosara beach

Tips for Choosing the Right Costa Rica Beach Resort

Now that we've listed some of the best beachfront hotels and resorts around Costa Rica, the big question for any beach lover is, which one works for you? After all, our Costa Rica beach hotels, as you've seen, vary. The beaches themselves vary and the resorts themselves even more. So what is the best Costa Rica beach resort for you?
The best way to start figuring it out is to identify the type of vacationer you are. Do you want things done for you, for everything to be laid out and easy? In that case, you're looking at one of our larger resorts or an all-inclusive. What about travel? Do you want to be close to the airport and not spend too much time traveling around? You definitely want to be somewhere in the North Pacific, near the Guanacaste Airport or the Central Pacific where you're not too far from San José. If you're more adventurous and don't mind getting off the beaten track, then parts of the Nicoya Peninsula, the South Pacific, or even the Caribbean might work.
Then there's the beachfront experience you seek. Do you want a calm beach for the kids to splash around and play on (Papagayo, Potrero, Hermosa)? Or are you looking for surf and pounding waves (Langosta, Nosara, Esterillos, Santa Teresa, Puerto Viejo, Dominical)? Perhaps you seek a mixture of the two, a place to take surf lessons and enjoy some light body or boogie boarding (Tamarindo, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Flamingo)? These are things to consider and things we can help you with.
What about activities and nightlife? Do you want to stay in the resort or check out what's going on elsewhere? Nightlife seekers will love Jaco, Tamarindo, and Puerto Viejo, staying in these communities rather than outside. People wanting some life—local bars, restaurants, and shops—will enjoy communities like Flamingo, Potrero, Nosara, and Manuel Antonio. If you seek adventure activities to go with your beach, Manuel Antonio is probably the most convenient. Again, it all depends on the experience you want to have.
And then there's your budget. Sometimes people book an all-inclusive resort because they feel having everything taken care of in advance—all meals and drinks—will work out cheaper. That's often not the case in Costa Rica, though. Oftentimes, eating out in local restaurants will work out much cheaper and you can still stay in a pretty lux place. However, if you rather not go out of the resort for meals, then it might be worth the price. So ask yourself, what appeals best to you?

Experience Customization: Catering to Varied Interests

Most of our clients coming to Costa Rica split their time between different locations in the country. That way, they can enjoy the myriad of activities available. The Arenal Volcano area is, for example, the adventure capital of Costa Rica. It's great for rainforests, zip lining, nature, national parks, whitewater rafting, and so on. Most people spend a few days there and then head to the beach for relaxation and ocean activities. If this type of trip appeals to you, talk to us about what you're looking for and we can start helping you put something together.
But we also understand that some people don't want to travel around a bunch of different locations. Maybe they don't have the time on a shorter trip or just feel more comfortable staying in one place. If that's the case, then no problem. For people wanting to stay by the beach but still enjoy as many adventures as possible, we would recommend Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific. Areas close to Manuel Antonio like Jaco or Dominical are also feasible.
Guanacaste also offers activities and adventures, although travel times are a little longer for them, and you're not really in the rainforest. But zip lining, horseback riding, and a bunch of other fun stuff are still available.
If you seek all the adventures that Costa Rica is famous for, we'd recommend splitting your vacation between the Arenal Volcano area and one of the beachfront hotels or resorts we’ve listed here. But if you just want one beachfront place to serve as your base in Costa Rica, then the Central Pacific coast is better for you.
Costa Rica is also perfect for giving back to yourself. Its pura vida spirit makes it ideal for wellness-centered vacations where you concentrate on you. Most beachfront resorts have great spas or are located within easy distance of one. Surf communities like Tamarindo, Nosara, and Santa Teresa all offer numerous wellness and yoga options, often hand-in-hand with surfing opportunities. For anyone looking for this type of beachfront stay, consider something more boutique on the Nicoya Peninsula. Again, we can help you with your options.

What Kind of Beach-Goer Are You?

There are as many different types of beach-goers as there are types of Costa Rican beaches. There are swimmers, surfers, sunbathers, beach bar crawlers, anglers, partiers, sunset watchers, and so much more. Oftentimes you're not just one type of beach-goer but a blend of many different kinds. You just have to figure out what kind is most important to you when picking a beachfront hotel.
Maybe you're looking for a family adventure, something fun for the kids, but where the surf isn't too strong for them. Pick Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Flamingo, or the Papagayo Peninsula. Or do you seek a serious getaway, somewhere off the beaten track, to totally relax? Dreams Las Mareas in the far north of Guanacaste might work, or anywhere on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Action-packed adventure seekers should, as suggested above, split their time between two destinations or base themselves around Manuel Antonio. If you seek some of Costa Rica's world-class surfing, check our month-to-month guide to Costa Rica to determine where to go and when. Or just ask us directly! Sunbathers and beachcombers can enjoy any beach in Costa Rica at any time. Or are you a night owl, seeking a different kind of action in the bars and clubs? Tamarindo and Jaco are for you.
Tell us the kind of beach-goer you are and we'll come up with some ideas to make your stay by the sea perfect!
Island cruise to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica

Taking the Next Steps to a Costa Rican Beach Getaway

Costa Rica has so many beautiful beaches and so many different beach hotels that it can be hard to decide what you want. We hope this page makes things easier for you when planning your vacation to Costa Rica.
The purpose of this page is to tell you about our Costa Rican beaches and the hotels and resorts you'll find on them. We wanted to inform you of the various beach locations around Costa Rica and the types of hotels and accommodations you can enjoy based on the type of traveler you are and the type of beach vacation you seek. We hope we've been able to do that and make your life easier when deciding on where to stay for the beach part of your Costa Rican vacation.
The next step is to dig further into the individual areas we've mentioned and the hotels that appeal. You can do that by checking them out on this site, either in our "places" category or on the hotel description page. That way, you'll receive more info and find it easier to make a final decision.
You can also , no strings attached. Our Travel Consultants know all the best beaches and resorts. They can answer any questions you have and even offer you alternatives you might not have thought about. Give us a call or shoot us an email for help in finalizing your Costa Rica vacation plans and we'll ensure you get the best beachfront vacation you've ever had!

FAQs about Beachfront Resorts in Costa Rica

What part of Costa Rica has the best beaches?

With hundreds of beaches across two coasts, it's difficult to say where the best beaches in Costa Rica are. It depends on one thing—the best for what? Surfing? Swimming? Sunsets? Resorts? Costa Rica has so many gorgeous tropical beaches backed by palm trees, jungles, and with sands of all colors, it's easy to discover that the best beach in Costa Rica is the one you're sitting on right now.

What is the prettiest beach in Costa Rica?

Again, this is subjective. Many say that Playa Conchal in Guanacaste is the prettiest beach in Costa Rica and they may be correct. Others will tell you that the beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park are the prettiest, or those on the southern Caribbean coast. If you love tropical beaches then they're all pretty—and part of that is because of the zoning laws that keep development at bay!

Where are the white-sand beaches in Costa Rica?

You'll find white sand beaches all over Costa Rica, as well as black sand, gray sand, golden sand, and more. But the most accessible white sand beaches in Costa Rica tend to be in Guanacaste. Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo are both so white they appear pink under a certain type of sunlight. You'll also find white-sand beaches around Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula and the Caribbean side.

Are the beaches swimmable in Costa Rica?

Many beaches are swimmable in Costa Rica, but many are not. Many beaches have big waves and strong undertows—perfect for surfing, but not for swimming. Equally, many beaches are in secluded bays and are perfect for swimming, even with children. Caution and discretion are key on any beach in the world, especially in Costa Rica, where lifeguards are rare. It's best to stick to well-known tourist beaches with a lot of people around, particularly families. When exploring lesser-known beaches, ask locals if it's safe to swim there, as they can advise about conditions like riptides or sharks. Avoid swimming in river mouths due to potential crocodile risks and instead enjoy the open ocean. Again, it's always wise to consult with experts and locals for the most up-to-date information, and many beaches have public information about safety displayed on a sign, so make sure to follow that too. One good rule of thumb is that if a beach is full of surfers, it might not be swimmable. If it's full of families, it's probably swimmable.

What is the safest beach town in Costa Rica?

This is relative. Costa Rica is a safe country for tourists, but beach towns with a lot of nightlife and places to be out all night drinking and getting into mischief might not be as safe as quieter places. But even these places will be fine during the day. And at night too, just exercise caution like anywhere else where you go out at night. Aside from this, the safest beach towns will probably be the quietest, most mellow ones that attract families.
Local Experts

We live, work & travel in Costa Rica.

Tailored Travel

Every trip is designed for you.

Super Service

5,000+ reviews from dazzled guests.

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Call us!
(800) 262-1578