Costa Rica enjoys the advantage of two very different coastlines. The Caribbean Coast and the Pacific Coast which must in turn divide into North, Central and South Pacific.
The Caribbean Coast (Atlantic Ocean)
located in the province of Limon we find the main area of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita with its Afro-Caribbean culture and relaxed atmosphere. The Caribbean coastline offers a great alternative during April through November, what we Costa Ricans consider the “wet season” because this is this area’s drier time of year. Not a usual destination for tourists these beaches offer a very authentic, laid back, less developed environment. Surfers love this area as do nature lovers who come to explore a great combination of jungle and beach. Finally, we cannot neglect to mention the Tortuguero National Park where thousands visit year round to observe the one of the most astounding turtle nesting shows on earth.
The North Pacific Coast
The North Pacific section of the coast includes the Peninsula de Nicoya and its dry tropical forest. This is the most popular beach region in the country both for locals and international travelers. Here we find beautiful beaches such as Papagayo Bay (with plenty of large resort type accommodations), Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Pinilla, the area of Tamarindo including Playa Grande where tourists visit year round to observe turtles hatch. Further south on the peninsula we find Samara and Nosara two big surfing destinations and a retreat for those looking for a low transit more authentic boutique hotel stay. To follow Islita with its well positioned Punta Islita hotel, and finally down towards the tip of the peninsula where we find Malpais and Santa Teresa turning up towards Montezuma. These last three destinations have become a hub for yoga offerings in the last two decades despite the fact that only until very recently can you take a water taxi that reduced a usual 7hr trip to a 2 hour endeavor.
The Central Pacific Coast
The Central Pacific area has very popular high end hotels such as Marriott Los Sueños and Villa Caletas, with regular beaches and less outstanding features. One area however that does stand out in this region based on popularity is Manuel Antonio which offers a fantastic combination of nature and beach. Hotels are mostly located on a cliff resulting in a usual 5-10 minute walk down to a cove to get to the ocean. The best beach in the area however, is located inside the Manuel Antonio National Park making it a popular and highly populated area at times.
The South Pacific Coast
The South Pacific area includes the beaches of Dominical and Uvita offering boutique style accommodation and a quaint atmosphere. Marine wildlife observation is a common attraction for this area and regardless of its proximity to the capital, it still holds its small town profile. Further south what National Geographic claimed as “one of the most biologically diverse spots in the planet” we find Peninsula de Osa with the Corcovado National Park. Due to the distance from San Jose (5-7 hrs) this area is less convoluted and still offers some pristine, untouched areas although the beaches are not in itself the main attraction.