At Casa Pura Vida, we are beach people. We feel so lucky that we currently live so close to the Rocky Mountains, but in our heart of hearts, we are people who love the ocean. So when we travel to Costa Rica, we make sure to spend time at our favorite beaches (including staying at the Barcelo Resorts!). It’s important to properly prepare for a visit to a Costa Rican beach, but before preparing for your actual visit, it’s important to pick a great beach. Here we outline our favorite beaches for families in Costa Rica! (This post contains affiliate links)
- Playa Carrillo – Located next to the popular town of Sámara, this crescent-shaped beach is great for families because there are large palm-trees lining the entire stretch of beach, which gives some relief from the sun. Additionally, the tide isn’t very strong here, making it a great place for small children to play in the sand and not get bowled over by waves. The beach isn’t very crowded most of the time, making for a relaxing stay. There aren’t public restrooms, shops or restaurants very near the beach, making this the idea place to pack a picnic and cooler for the day and hang out. The main road into Sámara Beach is nearby, something to keep in mind when you have very young children that might like to run towards the road.
- Playa Avellanas – this beach is NOT easy to find, but it is worth the trip! It’s about an hour drive fro Tamarindo, although as the bird floes it’s only… It’s an off the beaten path surfer beach in pristine condition. Lots of low trees under which you can place blankets and chairs and just chill. Lola’s Restaurant is located here, with phenomenal fresh food and drinks (I actually have monthly dreams about the nachos and guacamole) that you can enjoy at tables right in the sand as you look out at the ocean. Again, there are very few people to frequent this beach, and it’s great for walking. There’s even a little boardwalk through the forest, taking you to Cabinas Las Olas, a fun place to stay or to eat and drink if you are just spending the day at Avellanas. The beach is so phenomenal that I hesitate to even write about it for fear that it will become popular! We love to day-trip from Barcelo Playa Langosta to Avellanas.
- Playa Hermosa. I’ll admit that the first time I visited Playa Hermosa, I wasn’t super impressed with it. Granted, I was 21 and looking to fiesta, and Playa Hermosa is definitely a family beach. Now that we have kids and have slowed down a bit, it’s perfect. The beach is another crescent shaped beach in a cove that feels private. The waves are super calm, which is again a great beach for kids to swim and play on the shore. The town of Playa Hermosa is very well developed, with super markets, hotels, and restaurants everywhere. It’s the ideal destination to stay a few days, or to jump in the car and spend the day with no preparation. There’s almost always a banana boat giving rides in the deeper water and the far south end of the beach is super private and quiet. Do not miss eating fresh seafood at La Casita del Marisco – the red snapper is fresh and yummy!
- Playa Conchal – This beach is another one that’s a bit hard to get to, but once you arrive you’ll love it. Because of Costa Rica’s laws on beach access, this is technically a public beach. However, you have to access it at low tide by walking from Playa Brasilito (There are no cars allowed at Playa Conchal). This is the only beach in Costa Rica that is made entirely of shells… not sand! The waves are calm and it’s perfect for bathing babies without them getting splashed by waves. On Sundays there are people selling food and drinks for a good price, and even music and dancing. The other days of the week, this is just a calm beach that’s perfect for families. Pack your food and drink in, and plan your trip around the tides. You can’t get out at high tide.
- Playa La Penca and surrounding beaches (Danta, Dantita, and Potrero). When our oldest daughter was just 4 months old, we spent a blissful week in a rented house near Playa Potrero. The area had a zillion mini tiendas for purchasing food and liquor, and every single beach was beautiful and deserted. I’ll never forget heading down to the beach at sunrise and watching sting rays dancing along the waves as the breeze kept us company. Playa Danta (Tapir beach in English) is a limited access beach -you park and walk along a beautiful boardwalk to arrive at a shady beach, named after the Tapir beacuse the black sand looks just like a tapir’s skin when wet. There’s a little restaurant here, and the adventerous can walk over to the even more remote Playa Dantita. We love this area because it’s super quiet, but you can easily head over to Playa Flamingo or Brasilito for dinner. Rent a house here immediately… you will not regret it!
What are your favorite family beach locations in Costa Rica? Have you been to any of these beaches? Let us know!
Can’t travel to Costa Rica now, but want to capture the Pura Vida spirit in your daily life? Purchase a Pura Vida Bracelet – and help Costa Rican artisans at the same time!