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This list of all the black sand beaches in Costa Rica will have you dying to visit in no time!
How are black sand beaches formed?
Black sand beaches form as a result of both sea currents and volcanic deposits of rock in different places around Costa Rica. Some of the black sand is even magnetic! Not so with the white sand beaches in Costa Rica, which are also gorgeous.
The sand on black sand beaches comes from deposits of volcanic material such as lava and basalt rocks. Since there are a lot of volcanoes in Costa Rica, it makes sense that there is quite a lot of black sand in Costa Rica. Other places in the world that have a high concentration of black sand beaches include the Aleutians, Hawaii, and the Canary Islands.
White sand beaches, on the other hand, form where there are large deposits of coral. This article from the National Ocean Service will give you more information on how beach sand forms if you really want to nerd out.
If you really want to see a black sand beach while in Costa Rica it’s relatively easy as there is one 30 minutes from the Liberia Airport and another one just 45 minutes from the San Jose Airport – Playa Mantas.
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Tips For Families When Visiting Black Sand Beaches
Because of their dark color, the sand on black sand beaches is hot, hot hot! A lot of people will head to the shore in the morning. When they try to get back to land, they realize just how daunting the task is to get back to their cars because the sand is so hot.
The sand feel even hotter if you have to carry your beach items or a kid back with you. This is because you have extra weight on your body and may not be able to walk as fast.
While this might seem obvious, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Make sure to bring closed toed shoes for everyone to the beach. This way, when you walk on the hot, dry sand you know the bottoms of your feet won’t get too hot.
- Bring a blanket or beach towels with you to sit on if you want to stay around until high tide. It takes a while for the hot sand to cool down at low tide, and you don’t want to have to leave the beach
- Store drinks and food in a shady area so they don’t overheat. (No one likes a hot beer!) You may want to bring a beach umbrella to the black sand beach just for this purpose.
You might also like: Playa Blanca – Best White Sand Beach In Costa Rica
Costa Rica Black Sand Beaches
Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo
The name says it all as it literally translates to Black Beach. This is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Costa Rica, and is located on the Caribbean coast.
This beach is right next to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a popular Caribbean beach and party spot. While Puerto Viejo has a lot of nightlife and rasta vibes, Playa Negra is relatively calm and has a much more small-town vibe.
Visiting a volcano? Check out top 7 picks for best volcanoes to visit in Costa Rica.
Playa Negra, Guanacaste
This is a favorite surfing spot on the Pacific coast. Don’t confuse it with the other Playa Negra mentioned above, but the dark sand definitely qualifies it as a black beach in Costa Rica.
This is another beach in the Guanacaste region that is located very close to Tamarindo beach, but has a much more laid-back vibe. There isn’t much in the way of a town here, just a few restaurants and street food vendor.
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Coco Beach, Guanacaste
Just 30 minutes from the Liberia airport, this beach sand is not as black as other Costa Rican beaches. Playa del Coco is one of the most popular beach towns in the area as it is a jumping-off point for divers, and has a rocking nightlife.
Playa Pavones, Puntarenas
One of the most popular surf beaches in Costa Rica, this beach is located near the Osa Peninsula in the very south of Costa Rica.
Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas
This is a surfer’s paradise located right next to the famous Jaco beach. This beach has hosted a number of world surf championships and is not the best for swimming.
The community here is very strong, however, and you will find many ex-pats and ticos alike who love the beach but avoid the party vibe. Definitely stay here if you want easy access to Jaco without all the partying?
Playa Carbon, Guanacaste
Playa Carbon’s name says it all-it’s a carbon-black colored beach. Carbon beach is one of the four beaches located inside the Marina las Baulas national park near Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica.
Something interesting about this beach is that the surface sand is black, but the sand jut underneath is a gorgeous white and tan color.
Playas Danta and Dantita, Guanacaste
These might well be my favorite beaches in all of Costa Rica- and some of the most beautiful beaches. Located near the Las Catalinas islands- a popular diving and snorkeling spot, these beaches have a black sand that looks like a danta’s (tapir) skin. This is one of the only black sand beaches that does not get hot, as it is complete surrounded by shade.
You’ll need to hike from Danta to Dantita, so bring sturdy shoes and lots of water and snacks. There are no services at Dantita.
If you would like to talk to me about a customized itinerary or specific Costa Rica travel advice for your family, (zero sales- just advice!) check out my “Ask Christa” page for more information on custom Costa Rica trip planning geared towards families.
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Welcome! I’m Christa, a Spanish teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. We’ve spent over 25 years living in and traveling to Costa Rica with our daughters, and this website is my love letter to all things Costa Rica- and to bilingual parenting too. You can read my full story here. Thanks for stopping by!