Learn about the best beaches you’ll find on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast
Swimming in turquoise waters, napping under palm trees (watch out for the coconuts!), surfing some waves, watching the monkeys swing above your head: it obviously isn’t difficult to experience your pi-pa-paradise in Costa Rica. Most people, however, focus solely on the west coast when it comes to finding such delightful sceneries. Though the Pacific beaches are undeniably alluring, there are many magnificent places on the Caribbean coast of the country too. The immaculate surroundings, brilliant waves, and a limited amount of visitors are just a few reasons that make a visit to the deeply underrated ‘other side’ worthwhile. The rough edges are still prevalent on the Caribbean side, offering space to those hungry for adventure.
This post presents a collection of top beaches situated on the eastern shore, arranged from north to south. Allow yourself to be motivated to explore one or more of these beautiful sandy destinations and enjoy the relaxed tropical vibes of the Caribbean.
Playa Bonita, Puerto Limón
Most people only stop in Puerto Limón because they’re basically forced to; they either come here to start their journey to Tortuguero or are voluntarily stuck on a cruise traveling the Caribbean. The province of Limón has faced some challenges in the past due to economic struggles and crime rates. However, the community is making significant progress in overcoming these challenges and is now on an upturn toward a brighter future. It is a great place to experience Afro-Caribbean culture. This Afro culture is a legacy of Afro-Caribbean immigrants who arrived at the end of the 19th century. The Afro-Costa Rican culture of the 21st century has inherited elements of these immigrants, particularly the Jamaicans.
For the people in transit or those wanting to experience other cultural aspects that Costa Rica has to offer, Playa Bonita will be an enjoyable stop. The waves are intense on this tiny beach just on the north side of the city. Nevertheless, the locals aren’t afraid to conquer them with their boards. Take a sip of your Imperial beer in one of the two beachside restaurants and have a sneak peek into the true local life of the Tico families.
Playa Negra, Cahuita
The next beach lies just a bit north of Cahuita. The beach is often totally abandoned, and though the black sand is not meant for picture-perfect posts, this beach gives you a very remote feeling. Whatever you do, make sure to end your day at the nearby restaurant ‘Sobre Las Olas’ for an ultimate romantic dinner at sunset.
Puerto Vargas, Cahuita
On the other side of Cahuita, the white sand starts to appear again under your feet. Playa Blanca, the beach next to the National Park Cahuita, is already a true gem. However, if you want to double your beach experience over there, walk all the way up to Puerto Vargas, some 6 km through the park. Chances are high that you’ll see some wildlife on the way. Be prepared for monkeys, coatis, sloths, raccoons, and yellow eyelash viper snakes (don’t come too close!). After sweating it out in the jungle, you’ll feel like Leonardo Dicaprio once he finds his Thai paradise in ‘The Beach’. Enjoy that pure shore.
Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo
The list would not be complete without mentioning this popular spot in Puerto Viejo. This beach is lovely and always a good place to start or end your day. Large, white sand, big waves, and many people surfing, slacklining, or just enjoying the sun. If you’re hungry, a vendor is never far away.
Since the waves vary in toughness, Playa Cocles also suits everyone interested in surfing. Ask the lifeguard which area would be suitable for your level and take his advice seriously. If you lack the skills, don’t worry: just staring at the swells will stimulate your mind and mood.
Another couple of kilometers southwards lays Punta Uva, sandwiched between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. A small, elevated, and lush cliff divides the beach. This area serves as a viewpoint as well if you dare to climb it. Over here, you can also find a beautiful, hidden, arched rock formation carved out by the water.
Some come to the beach for scuba diving, which is rather easy over here: you walk into the water until you reach the coral. For the rest of us, the water here is bright, the sand very fluffy, and the palm trees will provide you shade for the hottest parts of the day. Don’t mind the monkey families swinging above your head.
Playa Manzanillo, Manzanillo
At the end of the road in the south, you find the tiny town of Manzanillo. Dipped in an upbeat Afro-Caribbean rhythm, this laid-back and pristine town has a pleasantly sleepy feeling. The scenery of the village throws you back in time.
Go to the many small beaches from the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge or the big beach next to the road. On the weekends, the villagers chill out over here, and it is a great pleasure to be surrounded by them as you watch the rasta-colored fishermen’s boats finding their way back home.
This last outstanding spot is a difficult one to get to, but surely worth the trek. Punta Mona lies in the middle of the formerly mentioned Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. There are two ways to get there by foot: one is a 6km hike from Manzanillo through the magnificent jungle, and the other is a 45-minute walk on the beach from Gandoca. Once there, shake off the jungle dirt, drop down your stuff (don’t forget your snorkel gear!), and watch all the tropical birds flying over as you float amongst the fishes while adjusting to the beat of the sea.
You can visit all the beaches listed on this post by staying with us at The Goddess Garden in Cahuita.
For more information about the beaches, please visit: https://thecostaricanews.com/top-8-beaches-of-the-caribbean-coast/
For more information about Afro-Costa Rican culture, please visit: https://www.revistas.una.ac.cr/index.php/nuevohumanismo/article/view/13902#:~:text=Esta%20cultura%20afro%20en%20Lim%C3%B3n,inmigrantes%2C%20particularmente%20de%20los%20jamaicanos