Get away from the crowds by discovering Costa Rica’s lesser known beaches

Travellers are increasingly looking for vacations where they can explore and enjoy lesser-known and off-the-beaten path beach destinations. Costa Rica is home to some of the most beautiful secluded beaches in the world.

While most of these beaches are situated near popular tourist hotspots, they often require a drive to and from rural areas on backroads, making the journey to seclusion an adventurous one. Since these less crowded beaches provide limited visitor facilities, it is critical to leave each beach how it was found – free from human pollution

Playa Ventanas, South Pacific Coast

On Costa Rica’s South Pacific coast lies Playa Ventanas, whose name refers to the caves on the beach that are reminiscent of little windows, or “ventanas.” This unique black-sand beach is known for its explorable caves and surrounding jungle, which is teeming with toucans and scarlet macaws. The road to Playa Ventanas is hilly and unpaved, but travellers will have no trouble navigating the terrain in a 4×4 vehicle. As a trip to Playa Ventanas is one that is truly off-the-beaten path with limited facilities, it is recommended that travellers pack a picnic for the day. In August, Playa Ventanas was recognized as one of seven Costa Rican beaches completely suitable for colourblind visitors. From December 2021, the Costa Rica Tourism Board and the Costa Rican Red Cross will place coloured flags and signs to create a more inclusive beach experience for locals and international tourists alike. These flags and signs will allow colourblind visitors to distinguish the areas that are safe for swimming.

Playa San Juanillo, North Guanacaste

If one beach is not enough, San Juanillo in the Guanacaste province provides travellers with two, and is a great example of nature’s design. Located an hour and a half drive from Tamarindo via unpaved and hilly terrain, a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for this fun, bumpy ride. High tide is the best time to swim in these crystal-clear waters, and water shoes are recommended for exploring the seabed. At the end of Playa San Juanillo, there is a path that leads to the “Mirador Playa San Juanillo,” where visitors will discover a spectacular view of the point at which the two beaches intersect. Travellers will notice several signs at Playa San Juanillo about keeping the beach clean. Locals, or “Ticos,” know that this beach is a special gem and want to ensure that it stays as pure and pristine as possible.

Playa Conejera, North Guanacaste

Another beautiful, lesser-known beach in the Guanacaste province is Playa Conejera, which literally translates to “Rabbit Beach.” Getting to Playa Conejera is an adventure in itself, as travellers must trek through the rainforest to access its turquoise waters and a rocky outcrop that almost divides the beach in two. Ticos joke that the outcrop is reminiscent of rabbit ears, hence the beach’s name. Natural shade is provided by the many large trees lining the shore, and its calm waters and colorful reefs offer ideal underwater exploration for visitors.

Playa Arrecife, South Caribbean

Just a 20-minute drive from the laidback and culturally diverse beach town of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast is Playa Arrecife, a golden-sand beach surrounded by photo-worthy palm trees and bright blue waters. Arrecife means reef and is a nod to its offshore reef, which provides excellent snorkelling oppotunities. Situated between Punta Uva and Manzanillo, the road in town is paved and framed by jungle and beach, which equals a smooth drive. Many travellers decide to rent bikes in Puerto Viejo due to the town’s dirt-paved roads, making it easy to spend the day exploring Playa Arrecife and other nearby beaches such as Playa Cocles, which is known for its top surfing waves.

Playa Biesanz, Central Pacific

Situated near Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most visited national parks, Playa Biesanz is a “secret,” yet easily accessible white-sand beach covered by lush rainforest, home to almost 200 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals. There is a 10-minute downhill trail to the beach that offers several opportunities to spot local wildlife, including Costa Rican favorites like the three-toed sloth and howler monkey. Playa Biesanz is known for its peaceful tides, offering travellers top snorkel and scuba diving opportunities with more than 80 species of fish.

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