If you are looking for a top-notch hidden beach in Costa Rica, Playa Nacascolo is the perfect one. Tiny waves, lots of shade and super family-friendly- but you have to know how to get there! I’ll share the secret in this article.
I’ve been to a LOT of beaches in Costa Rica, and I love to get off the beaten path. So I was surprised to learn, on our most recent visit to Playas del Coco, about the hidden gem that is Playa Nacascolo in the Golfo de Papagayo in northern Guanacaste. Nacascolo Beach is a perfect day or morning trip from Liberia or any of the nearby beaches such as Playa Ocotal.
Between breathtaking views on the drive to the beach, crystal clear warm water, monkeys playing near the entrance, and a completely serene environment, this quiet beach is perfect for families with young children. There is plenty of shade and wildlife for viewing. There is no danger of riptides either!
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About Playa Nacascolo Costa Rica
All beaches in Costa Rica must have public access- but some resorts purchase so much lad near the beach that they don’t make it easy for travelers to arrive. A good example is Playa Conchal- the Westin provides foot access to the beach but only at low tide. Another example is Playa Blanca near Playa Mantas – only accessible at high tide.
In the case of Playa Nacascolo, the Four Seasons has provided shuttle access for the public to access beach, but they don’t advertise it. That’s why I wrote this post- everyone should know about this hidden gem!
When you arrive at Nacascolo beach, you will be let off at a small ranger station that has drinking fountains, picnic tables, nice bathrooms, and four outdoor showers. You will walk about 100 meters down a sturdy boardwalk before arriving at the far end of the beach.
To find your spot for the day, you can walk along the beach or through the trees on a nice path lined with trash cans. Be prepared to pack in everything that you need to eat, drink, and enjoy the beach– there are no vendors at this beach.
We went just before Christmas, at the height of summer vacation, and there were groups of tico locals who had packed in grills, meat, canopy tents, coolers full of beer, and even music– it was awesome! Please be sure to protect the beach environment by packing out or throwing away trash in the designated bins.
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What You Will See
The coolest part of the Nacascolo Beach experience is the wildlife. Right when we arrived at the beach, there was a large family of white-faced monkeys there to greet us! There are so many places for them to frolic and play, and they love to be watched.
(A note of caution- the monkeys are used to being fed by tourists, and can get very aggressive around young children. It is best to keep a safe distance. They will also attempt to get food if it is not sealed, so I stored all of our food and drinks in sealed Ziploc bags.)
There were also coatis walking around everywhere– my girls loved to see them. We also saw a Quetzal in the trees, and I highly recommend taking binoculars for bird watching – and potentially whale and dolphin watching too! (I didn’t get to use my binoculars- I took them out of the case and the lenses had fallen out.)
How To Get To Playa Nacascolo Guanacaste
One of the main reasons that Playa Nacascolo was not on my radar is because of its location. To reach the beach, you need to head to the Four Seasons Costa Rica resort (just follow the signs along the main highway), which is located on the Gulf of Papagayo.
Instead of entering the Four Seasons at the roundabout, keep going to the left until you see a sign that says “public beach access.” You will arrive at a parking lot– park there and head to the ranger station.
Every 15 minutes or so, a shuttle will take you through the Four Seasons property (the views of the ocean, the gulf, and the private residences are to die for!) and drop you at Playa Nacascolo or any of the three other beaches located along the property (we only visited Playa Nacascolo on this trip).
- Playa Nacascolo is a beautiful, off-the-beaten-path hidden beach located in Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula. To reach it, drive towards the Four Seasons Resort and turn off into the designated public parking area. From there, a shuttle will take you straight to the boardwalk.
- Playa Nacascolo is teeming with wildlife! Expect to see monkeys, coatis, and maybe even some tropical birds! A note of caution: the monkeys are BRAZEN, and will take any unattended food given half the chance!
- This is a great beach for young children: there are no riptides, the water is warm, and the waves are gentle.
- It’s important to be respectful of the beach. Pack in everything you might need for the day, and dispose of any garbage in the bins that are provided.
What To Bring
We went at the peak of high season, and there were only about 30 other people on the whole beach. It is remote, so be prepared to bring all of the items that you will need.
Plan to bring everything you will need for the time that you are at the beach. We took a small cooler with drinks and ice, tons of snacks, sand toys, and a lot of sunscreen. We also brought along some foldable lawn chairs, which were awesome.
The area by the water is not shady, but we put our things in the shade and took shade breaks every so often so as not to get sunburned. The beach is quite long, and if you enjoy walking along the water, an umbrella for shade would be perfect.
The water and waves are very calm at Playa Nacascolo, and several of the locals had inflatable inner tubes for floating in the water- I thought that was a great idea! The water is crystal clear, so snorkel equipment would be awesome here too.
If this beach seems like too much of a hassle to get to (worth it, I promise) here are a few other playas de Costa Rica in the area I recommend for families- they are generally less busy and have fewer strong waves.
- Playa Ocotal
- Playa Hermosa
- Playa Panama
- Playa Matapalo
- What is the availability of the shuttle to Playa Nacascolo? – The shuttle runs from 8 am to 5 pm.
- Is Playa Nacascolo safe? – This Costa Rica hidden beach is relatively sheltered and doesn’t have large waves or riptides. Playa Nacascolo is very safe, but it’s still important to exercise the same amount of caution as you would around any large body of water. For those of us that are more accustomed to lakes, remember to place your towels far back on the beach in anticipation of high tide!
- What can I do at Playa Nacascolo? – Playa Nacascolo is among Costa Rica’s famed white-sand beaches (playas de arena blanca), so it’s perfect for walking or sand-castle building! Plus, the water is super calm and clear, so the beach is ideal for snorkeling.