The Caribean coast of Costa Rica is different from the Pacific coast in multiple ways. Although the Pacific’s ‘Gold Coast’ is renowned for exquisite beaches, there are many along its Caribean counterpart that are equally spectacular. Here are a few of Culture Trip’s favorites.
Playa Cocles is a popular beach in Puerto Viejo, frequented by backpackers travelling along the Caribean coast. Playa Cocles has a lively atmosphere, but rarely feels overcrowded. At times, the waves and currents can become overpowering, so be careful when you enter the sea (especially considering there is only one lifeguard stand along the whole length of the beach).
Playa Punta Uva
Playa Manzanillo is one of many small beaches around the sleepy fishing town of Manzanillo, which can be reached by bike from Puerto Viejo. This quaint village is rich in Afro- Caribean culture and pristinely kept. The locals love to spend weekends relaxing on Playa Manzanillo, as the ocean typically remains calm and they can enjoy a relaxed swim or a nice snorkeling trip. If you are lucky enough to visit, be sure to check out Maxi’s Place for traditional Caribean seafood.
Playa Chiquita is a small, secluded beach just southeast of Puerto Viejo. Outside of the more popular travelling months, Playa Chiquita is incredible tranquil and sometimes even completely empty! A lush section of jungle separates the beach from the road and there aren’t any really road signs to point you in the right direction. Your best bet is to ask a local!
Playa Salsa Brava
Playa Salsa Brava is home to the best wave on the Caribean coast (and one of the best in Costa Rica as a whole). But don’t get ahead of yourself: this wave should be surfed by experts only, as it breaks over a razor sharp reef. If you can’t go out into the ocean, don’t worry—it is almost as exciting to watch others paddle out and try their luck! For those not surfing, the beach also offers protected tidal pools and areas better suited for a quiet, relaxed swim.
Playa Negra is appropriately named after its sand, which turns black at night. This beach is usually quiet and there is a nearby wildlife rescue center (Tree of Life), which is definitely worth checking out. You can also take a horseback ride along this beach before dining at the highly recommended restaurant Sobre las Olas.
Next to Playa Negra is Playa Blanca, the picture perfect white sand beach. Playa Blanca is part of the Cahuita National Park and home to a variety of amazing animals, such as sloths and monkeys. There is a beautiful reef just offshore that is that is excellent for snorkeling, and the surrounding ocean is perfect for long afternoon sea soaks.
Playa Tortuguero is isolated in the northern region of the Caribean coast. It is a massive beach that runs all the way up to Nicaragua, interrupted only by the occasional river. It is a bit of an effort to get to Playa Tortuguero, as the area can only be reached by small plane or boat, but it is well worth the struggle. This zone is a famous turtle-nesting site for all four types of sea turtles found in Costa Rica. At Playa Tortuguero, you will feel truly separated from the human world and can immerse yourself in the natural one.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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