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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 12/31/2022

Top Beaches in Costa Rica

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

When most TEFL students come to Costa Rica, especially from colder climates, they head directly to the beach the first chance they get. Costa Rica is famous for its beaches, and for good reason. They are absolutely amazing.Here is a list of some of the top beaches in Costa Rica. These are not in any particular order because everyone has their own wants and needs when it comes to beaches. It’s a quick reference to help make a decision on which beach meets your needs.



1) Jaco Beach (pronounced Hako) 
Time from San Jose: 90 minutes

Jaco has a bad name among beach connoisseurs, mainly because there are a lot of people there, and it is not what you have in mind when you think of pristine tropical beaches. I agree with this, however, I personally like Jaco because I can get my beach fix and still get some “civilization” at night.  Plus it is the easiest and closest beach to San Jose. Pros:  It’s close. It has great night life, lots to do, and many of the conveniences of a large town, including lots of great restaurants. Cons:  High population, and definitely not the isolated pristine beach that you imagined when you dreamed about Costa Rica. Also there is a fair amount of naughty behavior going on, (tssk tssk,) but it is not a dangerous place at all.  Basically you will either like it or you won’t; there is no “on the fence”. 

Playa Jacó Day Trip


2)  Playa Hermosa (by Jaco)
Time from San Jose: 105 minutes

Fifteen minutes past the highly populated Jaco is Playa Hermosa. A nice stretch of hostels/ restaurants that  that cater to those who want what Jaco has to offer (close to San Jose, convenience, great surfing) without having to give up their isolated clean beach dream. I’m not sure why more people don’t drive past Jaco to stay here, although if they did it would just be an extension of Jaco.  The one negative that comes to mind here is that the waves are extremely strong and unpredictable. I get thrown around like a rag doll every time I go, so I would not recommend it for anyone who is not very comfortable in the ocean.  Also the sand is darker here than in other beaches in the area if that is important to you. 


3) Playa Esterillos (west, center and east)
Time from San Jose:  120 minutes

Now we arrive at the beaches you dreamed of. Even in the peak season there are very few people in sight. Perfect beaches, nice waves, but not as dangerous as in Hermosa, and still only 25 minutes from Jaco. I think a negative for these beaches is it is hard to find super cheap hostels, so you might pay a little more for your room on these beaches. 


4) Manuel Antonio
Time from San Jose:  4 hours

Many say this is the most beautiful part of Costa Rica, and I would find it very difficult to argue with them. It's an amazing national park protected from development and kept clean and beautiful for its number one resident:  monkeys! If you want to see monkeys in their natural habitat, this is your place. Nowhere in Costa Rica are you surrounded by monkeys as much as in Manuel Antonio. And the beaches are immaculate, with white sand, clear calm water, surrounded by green cliffs. The hiking is also fantastic here, (which you have to do in order to see the monkeys) but after you are all sweaty from the hike, the jump into the ocean will feel incredible. Keep in mind.- Four hours to get there is a long time so you need at least Friday through Sunday there, unless you have a car.
- You need to pay to get in the national park (around $10). There is a free beach in Manuel Antonio town, but that beach is not why you traveled 4 hours.
- The park limits how many people can enter per day, so it is best to get in there early, plus the animals are more lively early and it isn’t so freakin' hot and humid.

Activities during the 4-week TESOL Course 


5) Samara Beach
Time from San Jose:  4.5 hours

Guanacaste province is the beach province of Costa Rica and Samara is one of its nicest. The town has exploded in the last ten years taking away some of its charm, however unlike Jaco,  it has kept a lot of its laidback small town roots. Also unlike Jaco it has not let its growth affect the beauty of its beaches. Basically you get the best of both worlds, the beauty of the more isolated beaches, with the action of Jaco.  Average waves make it a great place to learn to surf.


6) Tamarindo Beach.
Time from San Jose:  5.5 hours

Tamarindo has great surfing, and that is what it is set up for. One shocking thing to keep in mind when visiting Tamarindo is the huge amount of Gringos that are there. I think it is the only beach in Costa Rica where ticos are greatly outnumbered. For me that is not appealing, so I avoid this beach. Obviously a lot of Gringos have no problem with this, so they flock there. So if you are a surfer, don’t mind the long bus ride, and like to share your experiences with your fellow country men and women, then you will want to check it out. 


LIMON PROVINCE (Caribbean side)
7) Puerto Viejo
Time from San Jose:  4 hours

Do you like Bob Marley? Want to visit a town that idolizes the man and was created with him in mind? Puerto Viejo is the reggae, Caribbean, Rasta capital of Costa Rica. I’m not just talking about that unique smell that you notice every once in a while. I’m talking about the feel of the town and especially its inhabitants. Wonderful, smiling, friendly people with an attitude that forces you to ask yourself “why am I always in such a hurry?”
Puerto Viejo has also exploded in the last 10 years, and there are too many hotels for my liking, but that’s just me being a cranky old man wanting the old days. The town has not lost its unique amazing charm. Keep in mind:  rent a beach bike. The road to the best beach (playa Uvita) is a nice relaxing bike ride. Take your time and enjoy the sights and huge blue butterflies fluttering past. Rockin J’s is a great place to stay. Sleep in a hammock for cheap or rent something more luxurious. Great great vibe.Try these foods from the area:  paty, pon bon, Carribean rice and beans made with coconut milk, and of course the seafood.


A Weekend in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

8) Cahuita
Time from San Jose:  3.5 hours

Puerto Viejo’s little brother and proud of it. A much more rustic, less touristy neighbour of Puerto Viejo, Cahuita is more about natural beauty. It is next to a National park which, if you wake up and go for a walk early enough, let’s you here the amazing howler monkeys. If you have never heard howler monkeys before, DO NOT cheat yourself and look on youtube. Give yourself the privilege of hearing them for the first time in the jungle. You will not forget it. You may also be treated to seeing a sloth which are quite common in this area.

Costa Rica is a beach-goers paradise!  What are you waiting for?  Talk to us today about registering for your TESOL course!  


Costa Rica Excursions

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