Playa Tamarindo – Obviously Tamarindo Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the entire country of Costa Rica, and with good reason: it’s perfect for surfers, kids with families, couples or friends who just want to hang out. It’s also very centrally located to a variety of sights, tours and activities.
Playa Langosta – Try the entrance near Cala Luna (or if you’re staying at Hacienda Pinilla, you can also reach a more isolated part of the beach through the resort property). Playa Langosta is great for relaxing, and surfing at the estuary. Sometimes there are strong currents here, so be careful if you have little kids.
Playa Grande – Awesome for surfing, and a great place to ride bikes. This beach also doubles as a national park. At night, leatherback sea turtles can be seen nesting here between November and April. Guided tours are inexpensive and offered at the ranger station.
Bahia de los Piratas – This one is the “secret beach” (although it’s probably not much of a secret if you live here). This postcard-perfect beach is fantastic for snorkeling, and not many vacationers know about it. Drive like you’re going to Grande, but take a right instead of a left in the town of Matapalo. Follow the signs and when in doubt ask someone for directions.
Playa Flamingo – This white-sand, crescent-shaped beach is nothing short of dreamy. Sometimes you can spot little rays surfing the gentle waves in the bay. The water is beautiful here, often shining in multiple shades of turquoise, green and blue.
Playa Conchal – Conchal is named “Shell beach” because the sand on the northern end is made up of crushed up little pink and white seashells. Moving southward toward the estuary, the sand gets whiter and finer – more like powdered sugar. On a good day, the water is so clear you can see straight to the bottom even in very deep water. This is another great beach for snorkeling.
Playa Brasilito – This dark sand beach is situated right next to Playa Conchal. There is an awesome little island down toward the north end that strong swimmers can paddle out to. Lots of locals use this beach, so it’s the perfect place to grab a beer and meet people.
Playa Danta – Danta and its sister beach, Dantita (“Little Danta”) are gorgeous, light-sand beaches just outside of the luxurious Las Catalinas development. There is a little shop called “Pura Vida Ride” where you can rent paddleboards and mountain bikes.
Playa Avellanas – Another great surfing beach, with a fantastic restaurant called Lola’s that definitely want to stop at for lunch (note — they are closed Mondays). Go a bit farther and you’ll reach Playa Negra, an even further isolated beach with dark sand and great surf.