Top 6 Beaches in Guanacaste, Costa Rica


Top 6 Beaches in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beach-lover’s treasure trove, famous for miles of natural, unbuilt coastline. Guanacaste is the northwestern province of Costa Rica, which boasts an incredible plethora of beaches, each one unique and beautiful. 

Here are our top picks of beaches in Guanacaste:

1-Playa Grande

Using one of the bikes available on campus, one of the most sought-after beach destinations in Costa Rica is a 10-15 minute cycle from our Playa Grande school. 

Playa Grande is the second largest leatherback turtle nesting site in the world, and while the general public are asked to leave at 6pm, at this time you can take a Turtle Tour for around $25 spotting these incredible animals in their natural habitat. 

During the day, Playa Grande is a superb surf spot, where you can take lessons or rent a board for $7 an hour from the tasty Taco Star. It’s also got miles of coastline to stroll and paddle through and it’s only a 45 minute walk to Tamarindo- the central tourist town of Guanacaste!


2-Tamarindo

A thriving tourist hub, Tamarindo really has got it all, from nightlife to an assortment of tours- you won’t run out of things to do here!

The beach is usually busy, especially in peak season, which means it can be a great spot to meet tourists and locals alike. Here you can go surfing, where it’s around $50 for a lesson or you can rent a board and try the waves yourself! Or if you’re not into surfing, there are some calmer waters further along to float the day away. 

If you get hungry, there are plenty of places to grab a bite. One of our favorites is Surf Shack Burger and Wings, serving huge diner-style burgers and milkshakes from $9. Or hit up the Food Court with an array of equally delicious options, from a revitalizing vegan Poke Bowl to Argentinian steak sandwiches.

Kelly’s Surf Shop has it all right on the beach, with rentals of surf, paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, snorkeling and even fishing! A kayak tour to Capitan Island with snorkeling is $51. 

Tamarindo is also a top spot for scuba diving, where dive tours take you to Catalina Islands and depending on the time of year, you can spot manta rays, turtles and a whole cast of unimaginable sea life. Our recommendation for a fun day out is with Be Water Diving. One day of diving for those already certified is $115 and $150 if you aren’t scuba certified. Or if you want to still want to explore the water without diving all the way down, snorkeling costs $65 for the day

 3-Conchal

A 15 minute drive from Playa Grande, Playa Conchal is one of the most gorgeous beaches, as it literally translates to ‘shell beach’. It is completely unique, as half of the beach is comprised of the softest shells and the other half is made of the softest sand to sink your toes in. This beach also has some of the few hotels permitted to be next to the beach, such as the 5 star renowned ‘W’, so Playa Conchal is a coveted hotspot!

If you have your snorkel mask ready, there’s a fantastic spot to check out the local fish, but watch out for those pesky sea anemone! On the beach you can also find a few services; order a Piña Colada inside an actual pineapple for $8, find artisan jewelry and tapestries for sale, or even treat yourself with a relaxing hour-long massage for only $20! For the adrenaline junkies wanting a more adventure-filled day, the neighboring beach and town of Brasilito is the center for ATV Beach tours. With them you can visit beaches, mountains, zip-line and more on a tour starting from $75.

4-Flamingo / Potrero

Playa Flamingo is a lovely beach with smooth, still waters you can gently bob in. This beach is a prime chill out setting; best at sunset where you can watch the orange sun drop straight into the water directly ahead in the horizon. There aren’t too many shade options, so remember to bring a hat and/or a cover-up. This chic little beach community also has a chunky choice of water activities including jet ski rentals for $60 and banana boat rides for $10- a bargain to have a blast, bumping around the ocean waves!

The bay adjacent is home to Playa Potrero, a sleepy village town with another very picturesque beach. It’s also home to some fantastic food and drink spots, which you can hit after shopping at the Monday Night Market. Amigos Tacos y Beers is cheap and cheerful, where you can custom build your own burritos, tacos or nachos with vegetarian options and the best thing is most of the tables have swings! If you’re looking for a morning meal, Bagel Kitchen Costa Rica Potrero has some of the most delicious bagels, hand-formed, boiled and baked daily in all varieties and flavours. From sweet home-made jams made from local fruits, to fresh cream cheese and veggies to choose from; with a cup of Costa Rican coffee, it’s a great way to start your day!

There are so many more food and drink options to explore while you’re there, making Playa Flamingo and Potrero an incredible two in one day, just a 25-minute drive away from Playa Grande.

5-Pirate’s Bay

If you’re looking for a secluded beach that has an untouched feel to it, then look no further with a trip to Pirate’s Bay, or ‘Bahia de los Pirates’. This breath-taking bay really feels like it was cut out of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, with different coves and areas to walk around and explore. The water has enough surf to go body-boarding, but is calm enough further out to float and bob with the gently moving ocean. When the tide’s out, there are also plenty of rock pools to search for tiny sea creatures swimming in still waters. 25 minutes from Playa Grande and down a long dirt road with no buildings around, this beach is our favorite escape to relax on.

6-Samara

The beach town of Samara is a 2-hour drive from our campus in Playa Grande, with a long and wide beach with a gradual slope dipping into the water to play in the waves, with more surfing or swimming. On the beach itself you can find a spot to relax in, or rent an umbrella for the day from Lo Que Hay for $10, which gives you two chairs and two drinks to enjoy with your time on the beach!

After Tamarindo, Samara is also a top destination in Guanacaste, but with a slightly less touristic vibe. There are tons of cute boutiques to browse in, to buy clothes, tapestries or souvenirs. Restaurants can require you to loosen the purse strings a little but there’s also a slightly cheaper food court with crepes, smoothies, tacos and much more. Overall Samara as a town is on the pricier side, but it’s not too crazy and it’s a worthwhile price to pay surrounded by so much beauty.

These beaches are only the tip of the iceberg of soft sand to explore in your time here in Guanacaste. Contact us today to start your Costa Rican beach adventure!

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