Nicoya Peninsula

11 Must-Visit Beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula 

May 17, 2024
Bex Smith Bex Smith
11 Must-Visit Beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula 

The Blue Zone of Costa Rica welcomes you, where the beaches are as warm as the heart!    

Nestled in a tropical sunny embrace, this stretch of paradise is a flip-flop-wearing, sandcastle-building, and wave-catching wonderland. It’s the perfect spot for beach bums and adventure seekers alike.   

Are you a surfer hunting for the perfect wave? Or a sun-seeker looking to chill out with a coconut in hand? The Nicoya Peninsula offers a beach buffet—something tasty for every type of traveler. From the yoga mats of Santa Teresa to the hidden hammocks of Playa Carrillo, there’s a spot on the sand calling your name.   

Join us as we explore the ‘Top 10 Must-Visit Beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula.’ Each one has its splash of magic, ensuring you’ll find more than just a tan—you’ll find a treasure trove of memories waiting to be made!   

Also, discover why the Nicoya Peninsula is the Blue Zone of Costa Rica, where people live longer, happier lives. 

nicoya peninsula beaches

Beach 1: Santa Teresa   

Located on the southwestern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a breathtaking stretch of white sandy beaches flanked by lush tropical forests. This area is a magnet for those looking to escape to a surfer’s paradise mixed with upscale luxury.   

Looking for the ultimate wave? Check out our guide to the best surfing spots on the Nicoya Peninsula.  

Best Time to Visit 

The ideal time to enjoy Santa Teresa is during the dry season, from December to April when the weather is sunny, and the water conditions are best for surfing.  

Activities to Do 

Santa Teresa is perfect for active travelers and those seeking relaxation. Visitors can indulge in surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and yoga. The beach is also great for horseback riding along the shore or simply unwinding with a good book on the sand.   

Beach 2: Montezuma   

Montezuma is located on the southeastern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is renowned for its bohemian atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings. This secluded beach town offers a unique combination of rainforests, rivers, and waterfalls right next to the ocean.   

Best Time to Visit 

To fully enjoy Montezuma’s outdoor adventures, visit between December and April with minimal rainfall, and all trails and roads are easily accessible.   

Activities to Do  

  • Explore the nearby waterfalls 
  • Take guided nature hikes in the surrounding jungle 
  • Enjoy snorkeling and diving in the clear waters 
  • Visit Cabuya Cemetery  
  • Explore private reserves in and around
  • Enjoy turtle nesting and hatching  

Beach 3: Mal País   

Mal País is located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, bordering the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. Known for its spectacular sunsets and rugged coastal beauty, it provides a serene environment away from more crowded destinations.   

Best Time to Visit 

From December to April, the dry season is the best time for visiting Mal País to take advantage of the excellent surfing conditions and comfortable beach weather.   

Activities to Do 

Mal País is a haven for surfers looking for uncrowded waves. In addition to surfing, visitors can enjoy fishing, ATV tours, and horseback riding. The proximity to a nature reserve also offers wildlife watching and hiking opportunities.   

Connect with nature by visiting the national parks and wildlife reserves in the Nicoya Peninsula.  

Beach 4: Playa Sámara   

Located on the southern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Sámara is a family-friendly beach known for its gentle waves and picturesque setting. It’s encircled by palm trees and coral reefs, offering a safe and beautiful environment for beach-goers.   

Best Time to Visit 

The optimal time to visit Playa Sámara is from December to April, when the weather is most favorable, with clear skies and calm seas perfect for water activities.   

Activities to Do 

In Playa Sámara, visitors can enjoy snorkeling and kayaking in its safe waters, perfect for families with children. The beach is also ideal for taking Spanish language and dance classes, providing a cultural immersion experience. Horseback riding along the coast and nearby trails offers another delightful way to explore the local landscape.   

Beach 5: Playa Carrillo   

Just south of Playa Sámara, Playa Carrillo is a secluded paradise, often less crowded. Lush palm trees line its long stretch of white sandy beach. Its unspoiled natural beauty makes it one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.   

Best Time to Visit 

Like its northern neighbors, Playa Carrillo is best visited during the dry season from December to April for the best beach conditions and outdoor activities.   

Activities to Do 

Playa Carrillo is ideal for picnicking under the palm trees, kayaking, and swimming in clear blue waters. The beach’s calm and serene environment is perfect for those seeking relaxation and a break from the busier tourist spots. For the adventurous, fishing tours and scuba diving opportunities are available, showcasing the rich marine life of Costa Rica.   

nicoya peninsula best beaches

Beach 6: Nosara   

Nosara is renowned for its focus on wellness and eco-tourism, attracting visitors who are mindful of their environmental impact and looking to rejuvenate. It includes the beaches of Playa Guiones and Playa Pelada, famous for their extensive sandy shores and surf breaks.   

Best Time to Visit 

Nosara’s peak season is from December to April, which coincides with the dry season. This time of year offers sunny days and excellent surfing conditions.   

Activities to Do 

The area is a hub for yoga retreats and surf schools, offering classes for all ages and skill levels. Beyond the beach, Nosara has a strong conservation community, providing opportunities to engage in wildlife and ecological preservation efforts. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, zip-lining, and guided nature tours that explore the region’s rich biodiversity.   

Crave more adrenaline? Explore more top adventure activities to enjoy in the Nicoya Peninsula.  

Beach 7: Playa Avellanas   

Playa Avellanas is a surfer’s paradise known for its exceptional surf conditions and laid-back, rustic charm. Located just south of Tamarindo, this beach features long stretches of white sand bordered by mangrove forests.   

Best Time to Visit 

Surfers visit Playa Avellanas from May to October when the swells are most consistent. However, for sunbathers and other visitors, the dry season from December to April provides the most comfortable beach-going weather.   

Activities to Do 

Surfing is the main draw of Playa Avellanas, with waves suitable for both beginners and experienced surfers. The beach is also perfect for long walks and sunset viewing, offering a tranquil atmosphere away from the crowds. Nearby, visitors can enjoy local cuisine at beachfront restaurants that offer fresh seafood and traditional dishes.   

Indulge in local flavors with our food lover’s guide to the Nicoya Peninsula.  

Beach 8: Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste)   

Not to be confused with other beaches of the same name, Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste is celebrated for its stunning beauty and tranquil environment. It is located north of Playa Avellanas and offers a serene retreat with gray sands and crystal-clear waters.   

Best Time to Visit 

Playa Hermosa is enjoyable year-round, but the ideal time to visit is during the dry season from December to April. The weather is dry and sunny, perfect for water sports and relaxation.   

Activities to Do 

This beach is ideal for swimming and snorkeling, thanks to its calm waters. It’s also an excellent spot for kayaking and paddleboarding. Couples and those seeking solitude will find Playa Hermosa a perfect place for peaceful beach days, with several secluded spots along the coast.   

Beach 9: Playa Junquillal   

Playa Junquillal is a quiet, lesser-known beach with a mix of black and white sands and a commitment to environmental conservation. It’s located south of Tamarindo and provides a more secluded beach experience.   

Best Time to Visit 

For the best weather conditions, visit during the dry season, from December to April. However, those interested in turtle nesting can visit from July to November, when the beach becomes an important nesting site for sea turtles.   

Activities to Do 

The beach is ideal for those looking to escape the typical tourist spots. Activities include long beach walks, bird watching, and participating in local conservation efforts like beach clean-ups and turtle watching. The natural setting is perfect for photography and nature appreciation.   

Embrace local living and learn the secrets of the Nicoya Peninsula diet that contributes to longevity.  

Beach 10: Playa Garza   

Playa Garza is a charming fishing village with a community-oriented atmosphere. The beach here features calm waters and a scenic bay, ideal for water sports and family outings.   

Best Time to Visit 

The best time to visit Playa Garza is during the dry season, from December to April when the sea is calm, and the weather is sunny, which is perfect for boating and fishing.   

Activities to Do 

Water sports dominate the activities here, with options for fishing tours, kayaking, and snorkeling. The community’s welcoming nature allows visitors to interact with local fishermen and learn about their way of life, enhancing the cultural experience of the trip.   

Explore more with our guide to the most popular places to visit in the Nicoya Peninsula.  

Beach 11: Tamarindo 

Tamarindo, one of the most vibrant and accessible beach towns on the Nicoya Peninsula, is a must-visit destination for both adventure lovers and relaxation seekers. With its wide sandy beaches and lively town atmosphere, Tamarindo offers a dynamic blend of natural beauty and modern conveniences, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike. 

Best Time to Visit 

The prime time to visit Tamarindo is during the dry season, from December to April. During these months, visitors can enjoy sunny days and a lively beach atmosphere, perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and exploring the town. 

Activities to Do 

Tamarindo is a hub for surfing enthusiasts, boasting consistent waves catering to beginners and experienced surfers. The town is also famous for its ecotourism tours, including sea turtle watching at the nearby Marino Las Baulas National Park. For those interested in a more relaxed pace, the beach offers excellent conditions for kayaking and paddleboarding. 

Beyond the beach, Tamarindo’s bustling streets are lined with various shops, international restaurants, and nightlife spots. The town is also a starting point for adventure tours, including zip-lining and ATV tours, offering a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. 

best beaches nicoya peninsula costa rica

Essential Things to Consider  

  1. For a hassle-free travel experience, avoid the bustling crowds typically seen during New Year and Easter week. Planning your visit during quieter periods ensures smoother traffic conditions and easier navigation through popular tourist spots. 
  1. Take advantage of local insights by checking holiday schedules and Ticos’ vacation plans to plan your itinerary strategically. Avoiding peak travel times can save you valuable hours on the road, allowing for more time to immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes and vibrant culture. 
  1. Conversely, coordinating your travels during these periods can provide opportunities for scenic drives and leisurely explorations with fewer vehicles on the road. 
  1. Weather plays a significant role in shaping your Costa Rican adventure. If you prefer to stay dry, it’s best to steer clear of the rainy season months of September, October, and November. However, if you’re open to embracing the occasional downpour, Costa Rica welcomes visitors year-round with its lush greenery and abundant wildlife. 
  1. May through August offers budget travelers a prime opportunity to explore Costa Rica without breaking the bank. During these months, you’ll find more affordable prices, and while rain may fall sporadically during the night, days are typically sunny and perfect for outdoor activities. This combination of favorable pricing and pleasant weather makes it an ideal time for travelers seeking value without compromising experience. 
  1. July brings forth “the veranillo de San Juan,” a delightful phenomenon marked by two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine. Embrace this clear skies and balmy weather window to embark on outdoor excursions, from hiking through pristine rainforests to lounging on picturesque beaches. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, this brief respite from the typical weather patterns offers the perfect opportunity to make the most of your Costa Rican getaway. 

Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Memories   

Ready to surf, sunbathe, and unwind on some of the world’s most stunning beaches? The Nicoya Peninsula isn’t just a paradise of diverse coastlines—from the spirited waves at Playa Avellanas to the serene escapes of Playa Carrillo—it’s also one of the planet’s prestigious Blue Zones, where life is longer, healthier, and happier.  

What better way to soak in these blissful vibes than from the comfort of an all-inclusive villa in Costa Rica? Imagine sipping a cold drink on your private terrace after a day of adventures or enjoying a sunset that seems painted just for you. Elevate your beach getaway with a touch of luxury and make your vacation memorable and truly life-enriching!   

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