Trip Advisor recently ranked the Travelers Choice Top 10 Beaches of Central America, Costa Rica dominated the list. The ever-popular Manuel Antonio National Park won the top spot, with lush jungle surrounding by powder sand beach. The crowd favorite Playa Samara took second place, this one being the top choice for tourists to Nicoya region. Along this same coastline, Norsara took fourth while Playa Santa Teresa took fifth place. The Guanacaste region was represented by Playa Avenllanes and Playa Conchal which took sixth and seventh, respectively. The popular surf spot of Playa Hermosa took eighth and on the Carribean side, Playa Viejo took ninth. Popular beaches aside, what if you are looking for an uncrowded and untouched beach? Can they still be found? The short answer is, yes! (or maybe Si!)
Head south of San Jose, about 3.5 hours by car and you will arrive at an area called the Costa Ballena (Whale Coast). By this point you have just passed the “off the grid” beach of Matapalo, with its crescent shoreline and reclusive feel. Ranking number 40 on CNN’s Worlds 100 Best Beaches, Playa Dominical has long been a surf destination. In fact, many wave hunters claim it is the most consistent surf in Costa Rica. Due to the strong rip tides, there are times when this beach isn’t recommended for swimming, but the fun atmosphere and beach side dining makes up for it. It is a great place to soak up the ‘pura vida’.
The small cove beach of Dominicalito is a more tranquil option compared to its big sister Dominical. The serene surroundings and unique topography, such as the Roca de Amancio tree island, are picturesque to say the least. Enjoy surfing at high tide or playing in the sandy bay at low tide. Sunset dining at the La Parcela restaurant, located on the peninsula separating Dominicalito and the adjacent bay, is a nice way to end your day at the beach.
Before arriving in the town of Uvita you will come to Playa Hermosa , not to be confused with Playa Hermosa of Jaco. Easily accessed off the highway, the two mile beach at Playa Hermosa is the ultimate retreat. Sun bathing, surfing, bonfires, sunsets, all the favorite things about visiting the beach can be enjoyed here.
When you reach Uvita, you enter the area famous for the Marino Ballena National Park . This park boasts one of the most beautifully preserved areas in Costa Rica. The beach, known as Playa Chaman by the locals, is ideal for beginning surfers, swimming and snorkelling. During the annual migration of Humpback whales (August/October), Uvita hosts the Whales and Dolphins Festival. At low tide, one can walk the famous Whale’s Tail sand bar, which can also be viewed from the hotels and mountain property that lines the coast. Entrance into the park is $6 for visitors.
We are going to skip over one beach and head to Playa Pinuelas, known for its local fishing and very much fits into the “hidden” category. The view of Tres Ninas rock formation is optimal from this rocky cove. Next is Playa Ventanas, aptly named for the “windows” in the rock walls that allow the ocean to rush through. This beach is a favorite among Costa Ricans and visitors due to its majestic cove situated between palm trees and the blue Pacific. Beyond this is Playa Tortuga , an untouched beach where turtles nest and the Terraba River joins the Pacific Ocean.
This entire southern coastline is where pristine is defined and hidden is found. When you find yourself in the warm rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, silence surrounding you and you look back to the shore of one of these beaches, palm trees framing the emerald green mountain coastline, you will never want to leave.
But wait a minute, what about the beach we skipped over? Ladies and gentleman, we announce to you the best hidden beach in Costa Rica is…Playa Arco. Unfortunately, that is all we can tell you.