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Costa Rica
Thursday, May 19, 2022

5 of the Best Under-the-radar Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica welcomes over 3 million tourists a year in search of tropical beaches, exciting adventures or simply an escape to paradise. With over 300 beaches in this breathtaking country, you will never go wrong with whichever one you choose.

After visiting some of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches such as Jaco’s dark sand beach or Manuel Antonio’s stunning clear waters you may want a quiet day away.  There are endless undeveloped beaches but these are 5 of the best hidden beaches in Costa Rica for your private getaway.

5 of the Best Hidden Beaches in Costa Rica

1. Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times

Playa Hermosa is located in the southern Nicoya Peninsula and in the middle of Costa Rica’s blue zone where residents tend to live a long and healthy life. The world is at a slower pace here, with laid back beaches surrounded by tropical jungle.

There are several Playa Hermosa’s in Costa Rica so do not be confused with this secret beach and its location. Its popular neighbor is Santa Teresa drawing in endless visitors all year for its chill beach vibes, focus on health and wellness and colorful sunsets.

The town attracts many tourists seeking a break from the busy routine of life that at times it can be difficult to find accommodations if not booked in advance during peak season. After spending some time in Santa Teresa unwinding in the endless tidepools you may want a break from the crowds.  Only a few kilometers further as you travel on the one dirt road through town you can come across a hidden gem, Playa Hermosa.

The town is small but the vibe is welcoming and positive offering open dining amongst the jungle with the sounds of howler monkeys in the background.  The beach attracts surfers of all varying levels and you will see almost everyone riding their moto with a surfboard across their chest or attached to the side.  After riding through the rugged road, you will come across open entrances to its hidden beach.

Playa Hermosa feels secluded because of how open the beach is surrounded by undeveloped land. You can easily set up for the day amongst the trees for shade and watch the surfers wait for the perfect wave. The beach feels endless as you walk along the sandy shore making it easy to lose track of time.

2. Playa Los Suecos

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In the other direction lies a secret beach that cannot be missed. Still within Costa Rica’s blissful blue zone is Mal Pais, a small quiet fishing village with hidden yoga retreats of all styles to relax and reset.  You will not find a pharmacy, bank or outlet store here but only charming restaurants or mountain top dining with stunning sunset views.

The beach is riddled with tide pools of every imaginable size and depth where you can spend your day in a personal pool within the water. When the tide is low you can see the sprawling tidepools and their intricate designs and valleys. The shore is lined with palm trees giving you privacy and shade from the tropical heat. Deep within the village is Playa Los Suecos also known as Cuevas beach.  It is not labelled and makes it a perfect secret beach to visit, just ask one of the local friendly restaurants where to find the entrance.

It is at the southern end of town and there will be a small parking lot off the road with a path to reach the beach.  This beach is small and your private paradise from the busy beach of its nearby neighbor of Santa Teresa.  The shore is dense in trees and foliage with white sand and bright blue water giving you an oasis feeling.

When the tide is low you can walk around the towering rocks to explore the cave and relax on all the boulder rocks surrounding it. The beach is family-friendly for swimming and the hermit crabs are fun for children to watch.

3. Playa Calzon de Pobre

Photo via GOPlaya.cr

Guanacaste sprawls along a pristine coastline with warm, dry weather and stunning scenery, making it one of the most popular provinces for tourism even amongst its locals. One of the most common beaches to visit here is Playa Del Coco, it is a populated beach with larger crowds looking for fun with shopping and plenty of restaurants.

However, you don’t have to sacrifice peace and tranquility to enjoy a day at the beach in the gorgeous Guanacaste region. Situated between Playa Del Coco and Playa Hermosa is a secret beach in Carillo. After travelling a few kilometers off the road there is a marked area for parking and a small path leading you to your hidden destination of Playa Calzon de Pobre.

Playa Calzon de Pobre will transport you into a scene from a tropical movie with its crystal-clear waters. Gone are the noises of the neighboring busy beaches of parties but the silence of only the gentle waves crashing along the white sand shore.  This gorgeous beach is hugged with large rocks creating a sanctuary of privacy and retreat. The water is calm so it is appropriate for all levels of swimming whether you want to float under the bright blue sky or play in the calm waters.

You can easily snorkel at this hidden beach because of the tranquility and the clarity of the water.  This is truly a hidden beach without access to restaurants or hotels nearby so ensure you bring lots of water and a picnic for your perfect beach day.

4. Playa Esterillos Oeste Beach

Carlos Munoz World Surf League. Carlos "Cali" Muñoz will be on his home wave of Esterillos Este as Costa Rica plays host this week to its first World Surf League event in 14 years.
Mark Ralston/AFP

Esterillos Beach is often overlooked because of its popular neighbor Jaco only 20 minutes away.  People are drawn to Jaco and its busy beach because of all the amenities it has to offer with beach bars, fast-food chain restaurants and nightclubs.

It is the closest beach to Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose drawing large crowds on weekends and holidays for a quick getaway. Make your way to the quieter and more remote town of Esterillos Oeste, along the way you will pass yet another beach named Playa Hermosa and is worth a look.

It offers a quieter beach atmosphere than Jaco with casual restaurants along the beachfront and live music but it does still attract a crowd. Playa Hermosa is not a beach for swimming but to watch the world-class surfers that come to battle the great waves.

It is easy to find your way to this secret beach, just look for the large sign with a mermaid. If you are visiting Esterillos beach during the week, you may have most of the beach to yourself with miles extending either side of you.

The shore is lined with almond, coconut and palm trees making it a perfect home for hosting some of Costa Rica’s wildlife.  The beach is generally quite clean because of the minimal number of visitors and the limited restaurants and stores in the small town. The open beach allows for long walks along its over 7 km of flat dark sand.

Spend the day within the shaded trees watching the surfers glide across the waves or swim in the shallow waters. This unpopulated beach will give you and your family the feeling of your private beach getaway.

5. Playa Quesera

Photo via GOPlaya.cr

For a true hidden beach, Curu National Wildlife Refuge holds a secret paradise.  It is the perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking a little adventure.  Located 30 minutes from Paquera the refuge is easy to find off the main road and does have an entrance fee as it is privately owned.

Once inside you are immersed into mangrove swamps with over 3,000 acres of tropical forest, the refuge also holds a small beach of white sand.  The refuge is bursting with wildlife from monkeys to iguanas and deer amongst its 17 trails.

You can only reach your secret hideaway by kayak, boat or walking.  If you choose walking it is approximately 2 hours, renting a kayak has a small fee and will take you 40 minutes depending on your level of experience or access the boat service and quickly reach your destination in 20 minutes. As this is truly a remote location you will need to bring water and food as there is none available at the beach.

The Curu Reserve does offer a few facilities such as bathrooms and a cafeteria so use this to your advantage before your journey. The effort is worth it once you see the vibrant turquoise color, gentle waves and swim in the stunning clear water. The shore offers shade lined with tall sweeping trees or cool off in the shallow waters.

If you wanted a private tropical paradise for the day Playa Quesera is everything you dreamed about, because of its remote location the number of visitors is typically very few. The beach does close at 4 unless you choose to stay at one of the cabins in the refuge.

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