How to Find Costa Rica’s Most Secluded Beaches

How to Find Costa Rica’s Most Secluded Beaches

How to Find Costa Rica’s Most Secluded Beaches
Nobody comes to the country of “rich coasts” for the skiing. With 800 miles of coastline on two separate beautiful bodies of water, Costa Rica has plenty of sandy beach spots to explore. And while we all love the creature comforts a luxurious beachside hut serving cool drinks, sometimes you’re in the mood to escape the crowds and have a little adventure off the beaten track.
So where can you find the most beautiful, least crowded beaches in Costa Rica? Here are a few tips on where to start looking for your own secluded paradise.

Head to a National Park

Costa Rica has over 25 national parks, many with miles of green coastline. With the exception of turtle nesting sites, the beaches in national parks aren’t necessarily a draw for your average tourist. Mainly, this is due to the fact that they’re far away from the typical well-travelled hotspots, plus entrance fees charged at some parks usually discourage casual beach hoppers—leaving more beach for you.
So where to start looking for your personal slice of heaven? If you’ve got a holiday home in Tamarindo or elsewhere in Guanacaste, try Santa Rosa National Park, the oldest national park in the country and home to Playa Blanca and other quiet secret spots. For an adventure further away, Cabo Blanco National Wildlife Refuge on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula has a number of white sand beaches to choose from, including the beautiful and secluded Playa Cuevas.
Famous for its whale tail peninsula, Marino Ballena National Park hides a gem in plain sight: Playa Arco. The beach is only accessible to the general public through the Ballena Sector Ranger Station, then a one-mile walk down a stony beach till you hit the beautiful Arco sands. It’s a bit of work, but in the end you’ll be rewarded with a waterfall, a cave, and a picturesque beach.
On the Caribbean side, Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge has a gorgeous coastline with plenty of sandy spots tucked away waiting for adventurous idyl-seekers. Some beaches disappear at high tide, so be sure to check the tide chart when planning your day.

Pack Your Hiking Boots

Ok, so maybe you don’t need to bring your trekking boots along, but some shoes sturdy enough for a short jungle hike can be as good as a 4x4 when trying to access some of the best beach paradises.

In Guanacaste, Playa Zapotillal (known as Playa Mina to locals) is a treasure of a beach with calm waters, gorgeous sand, and most importantly, hardly any people. The beach is accessible through a one-mile walk from the nearest road.
In southern Guanacaste is also Playa Barrigona, a beautiful stretch of white sand and calm waters located at the end of a road only traversable by 4x4 or on foot. South of Samara is Playa Caletas, an oft-deserted beach one mile from the main road that is the ideal spot to watch the sunset. Heading east into Puntarenas and onto the Gulf of Nicoya, you’ll find loads of remote, quiet beaches like Playa Los Cedros, Playa Grande, and Playa Cocalito.
While it’s not so easy to find the same remote spots on the Caribbean side, the area around the beautiful Playa Gandoca has many secret beaches that are incredibly picturesque and only accessible by walking along the coast. As with Gandoca Manzanillo, some of these hideaways are only uncovered at low tide, so plan your trip ahead of time!

Hop on a Boat

Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, go for a kayak! Thanks to the often rugged and varied shape of the coastline, many of Costa Rica’s best hidden spots are accessed via the water. Renting or bringing your own kayak can be easy enough, but you can also hire a boat for the day and explore the landscape from the ocean.

There are a number of beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Papagayo that are only accessible by boat. Check out the stretch of coastline between Playa Guacamaya and Playa Matapalito for plenty of secluded sands to find some time alone. Playa Matapalito itself is a gorgeous stretch of beach and jungle that is also best accessed via kayak or boat. Then about a mile further east is Playa Blanca de Matapalo, a golden sand beach accessible on foot only during low tide.
Further up the coast is popular Playa del Coco, and the perfect jumping point to reach the secluded Playa Penca. With a boat or kayak you can also pop by Playa Calzón de Pobre next door for fun.
If you have a boat, head to Tortuguero on the Caribbean side for miles of deserted coastline and lush green jungle. While not off the beaten path, Tortuguero is only accessible by either boat or plane, making it far more serene and less crowded than other areas. With so much space to choose from, it’s like having Costa Rica all to yourself.

Tips for Exploring Secluded Costa Rica

Heading off the beaten path always has its benefits but can also pose a few risks. To ensure your day in paradise stays just that, we recommend that you:

Pack enough water: Some beaches are miles away from civilization, so bring more water than you think you’ll need (and some snacks as well)

Leave your passport and valuables somewhere safe: Costa Rica is a safe country, but when visiting remote areas it’s always better to be safe than sorry

Bring someone along: Especially when spending time in unfamiliar or rough waters, it’s good to have someone else with you, just in case. Who wants to visit paradise without a few friends, anyway?

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