10 Best Beaches of Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast

Beginning at the port city of Limon, 3.5 hours from the capital city of San José, Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is a succession of spectacular beaches that stretch from the old port of Limon south to the border of Panama. Sunbathers, snorkelers, scuba divers, and surfers can all be satisfied in this region, and it's kid friendly, too. At the southernmost end of the road Manzanillo beach awaits, a quiet beach good for swimming, where fishermen still ply the waters and and dolphins may be spotted off shore. A few kilometers to the north, Punta Uva beach is the best beach for snorkeling and scuba diving, and it's home to a hidden blue grotto. Sand dollars wriggle beneath your toes at Playa Negra, look for the rusted barge with a tree growing out of it at the entrance to Puerto Viejo. El Parquecito and El Chino beaches are nice for family picnics near the center of town, and Playa Chiquita holds a special place in the hearts of many lovers -young and old- who have fallen under the spell of its secluded charms.  Salsa Brava and Cocles Beaches, with their legendary surf and stellar sunsets, are special highlights of Puerto Viejo de Limon.



El Chino Beach, once the most popular hub for boats exporting cacao and bananas, now attracts all who visit with its crystal clear waters, coral tide pools, and calm surf. Nestled between Playa Negra to the north and El Parquecito beach to the...  Read More



Playa Bonita is Limon's most popular beach, and also its prettiest. It lies just a few meters due south of the bustling commercial sea port of Limon, but its wide swath of sand and tranquility are worlds away. A smattering of hotels and...  Read More

Playa Negra
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Playa Negra, or Black Beach, is a beautiful curved stretch of fine black sand that slopes into gently breaking waves. Local surf intsructors often choose this spot for lessons, but there is always room for swimmers and waders. A photogenic old...  Read More

Puerto Viejo Beach
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Find this flat swath of white sand beach in front of Johnny's Place, next to the Police Station, right next to Playa Negra- here the black sand meets soft white sand in a distinct line. Large sections of coral reef create a series of tide...  Read More

Salsa Brava Beach
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Salsa Brava is the beach that helped put Puerto Viejo de Limon, Talamanca on the map for tourists- back in the 1970s, few but the most intrepid reached this region of the Caribbean coast, but surfers who caught wind of the killer waves at this...  Read More

Playa Chiquita
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Playa Chiquita is a small stretch of coast with a narrow white sand beach and calm water that is often ideal for snorkeling in between the coral reef. This is the most hidden beach in the area, due to the dense rainforest that separates the...  Read More



The Caribbean's most precious beach could just be Punta Uva, or Grape Point. There are two sides to this beach, North and South, divided by a steep green cliff. On the south side lies a long sweeping stretch of white sand, dappled with coconut...  Read More

El Parquecito Beach
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


El Parquecito is a small curved cove near the center of Puerto Viejo, where small fishing boats line the white sand, and the water is calm and protected on two sides. Salsa Brava beach lies directly south, and Puerto Viejo Beach lies directly...  Read More



White sand beaches and clear waters flanked by lush vegetation are hallmarks of Manzanillo, a quintessential Caribbean fishing village where not too much has changed in the past fifty years or so. Small houses are built on stilts and colorful...  Read More

Cocles Beach
Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica


Cocles Beach, called "Beach Break" by locals, is the most popular beach in the area among locals and tourists, for its long golden sand beach and for its consistently good surf. A majestic craggy rock sits a few meters off-shore, and legend has...  Read More


Meet Sophia LaMonica

On Sophia's first trip to Costa Rica, she came face to face with white-faced monkeys, gasped at the sight of giant purple crabs, and rode horseback through plunging waterfalls. Costa Rica...  More About Sophia