There are many reasons Costa Rica is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world.
The nation is home to primary rainforests, unspoiled beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere that has birthed the phrase ‘pura vida’, aka pure life. But if you want to get the most out of your tropical getaway, then you need to know about this country’s rich coastlines and the beachfront hotels that dot them.
For help selecting the best beach hotels in Costa Rica, dive into our recommendations, suggestions, and FAQs. You’ll be a ‘tico’ in no time.
Top 12 Beach Hotels in Costa Rica: Quick Look
- Punta Islita (Best Overall for Resort Amenities)
- Paradise Bay Boutique Hotel (Best for Private Beach Access)
- Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf, & Spa (Best Overall for Sustainability)
- Four Seasons Resort (Best Overall for Families or Large Groups)
- Nala Luxury Living (Best for Couples)
- Arenas del Mar (Best Luxury Resort Stay)
- Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Eco Sanctuary (Best for Natural Wonders)
- Capitán Suizo (Best Overall Boutique Hotel)
- Azul Hotel & Retreat (Best for Fans of Small Hotels)
- Shana by the Beach (Best Overall Budget Option)
- aWà Beach Hotel (Best Overall for High Design)
- Casas Pelicano (Best Overall for Dropping Off the Map)
Best Beach Hotels in Costa Rica
1. Best Overall for Resort Amenities – Punta Islita
Punta Islita is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, which means guests are treated to a luxurious and thought-out hotel stay. Punta Islita offers plenty in the way of luxury, including multiple dining options, a series of tropical gardens to explore, a state-of-the-art gym, a spa, and multiple pools.
Despite this, Punta Islita is a highly sustainable resort. A small black sand beach is located nearby, though most guests drive to nearby hot spots like Samara, where you can find surf lessons along the beautiful beaches.
2. Best for Private Beach Access – Paradise Bay Boutique Hotel
Paradise Bay is a boutique hotel located on the remote and stunning Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. Similar to Nala Luxury, there’s an emphasis on privacy. Paradise Bay offers direct access to a private beach, a hot tub, and a restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean and American cuisine. On top of that, Paradise Bay also offers a private swimming pool, spa, airport shuttle, and an a la carte breakfast. Despite being a bit off the beaten path, Paradise Bay remains close to popular rainforest destinations and the bustling coastal city of Jaco.
3. Best Overall for Sustainability – Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf, & Spa
Reserva Conchal is another resort from Marriott. Similar to Punta Islita, the focus is on luxury amenities and sustainability—except Reserva Conchal has a stronger focus on upscale features. Specifically, it offers a beach club with access to Playa Conchal, a golf course designed by an industry legend, a full-scale spa, and spacious suites spread across a plot of 2,300 acres. Wondering how you’ll get around such a large site? Don’t worry—Reserva Conchal offers golf carts for guests. In terms of oceanfront hotels, you won’t find a more extravagant option.
4. Best Overall for Families or Large Groups – Four Seasons Resort (Peninsula Papagayo)
High design meets luxury at this Four Seasons project, offering a unique twist to Costa Rican flair. The list of amenities is extensive, including unique features like a teens-only lounge (fit with gaming hardware), a business center, two separate private beach clubs, a full-service spa, four private swimming pools, and four on-site restaurants.
This diversity makes it a great pick for large groups or families, especially those with diverging tastes.
5. Best for Couples – Nala Luxury Living (Santa Teresa)
Nala Luxury Living is located at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, which is known for its sandy beaches and surfy lifestyle. Golden sand beaches aside, Nala Luxury Living specializes in privacy.
This beachfront property includes spacious suites with terraces, full kitchens, and TVs ready for streaming. That means you’ll only need to make an appearance when it’s time to swim in the Pacific Ocean (or at Nala’s private pool), go hiking in the rainforest, or explore nearby wonders.
6. Best for Natural Wonders – Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Eco Sanctuary
Only a stone’s throw from Panama is Playa Nicuesa, one of Costa Rica’s most luxurious rainforest sanctuary-hotel hybrids. Accommodations are designed to allow guests to immerse themselves in the lush rainforests, whether birdwatching from the balcony, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking or even horseback riding.
To make the transition into nature complete, this property is only accessible by boat—but don’t worry, the location has its own restaurant, bar, and hammock-filled lounge area to keep you entertained.
7. Best Luxury Resort Stay – Arenas del Mar
Arenas del Mar is part of the austere Cayuga Collection chain and is a Rainforest Resort Member. Located in the luscious and wild jungle of Manuel Antonio, Arenas del Mar is all about highlighting the area’s rugged beauty.
Guests have access to a private beach and swimming pool where they can spot animals, from sloths to howler monkeys to toucans. However, there’s also plenty in the way of entertainment, from evening shows to canopy adventures like zip lining at the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.
8. Best Overall Boutique Hotel – Capitán Suizo (Tamarindo Beach)
Enter Tamarindo Beach, one of the most unspoiled beachfront settings in Costa Rica. At Capitán Suizo, guests live only a few hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean. Similar to Four Seasons Papagayo, there’s a strong emphasis on high design—except at Capitán Suizo, the hotel keeps its doors open to nature.
Along with rooms fitted with AC, guests can lounge in the hammocks throughout its shaded areas. There are plenty of water activities on the agenda, too, including sports fishing and kayaking.
9. Best for Fans of Small Hotels – Azul Hotel & Retreat
Azul Hotel & Retreat isn’t the most amenity-centric or largest hotel on this list—but it offers a highly satisfying stay for guests. The hotel includes various room packages, some of which include features like balconies and beachfront views.
The private beach is a two-minute walk from your door and includes shady palms lined with hammocks. Azult Hotel also offers two restaurants, an airport shuttle, and spa services. Nearby, you can find the Pura Aventura Ecopark, which includes zip lining and other adventures.
10. Best Overall Budget Option – Shana by the Beach
Just like Arenas del Mar, Shana by the Beach is nestled in the jungle of Manuel Antonio. Though it’s not quite as luxurious as the former, Shana by the Beach has every amenity you’ll need to take full advantage of Manuel Antonio—including a spa, beachfront access, restaurants, bars, and options to book hiking, fishing, and similar activities.
Most importantly, all rooms feature a balcony where you can potentially spot local wildlife.
11. Best Overall for High Design – aWà Beach Hotel
The aWà Beach Hotel is one of the finest stays in Puerto Viejo, a popular town located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline. The property includes access to a private beach, along with other amenities like private parking and a buffet breakfast.
The location features tasteful tropical interior design and, similar to Capitán Suizo, places a strong emphasis on nature-centric bungalows that showcase the Caribbean Sea. If you’re on the hunt for a visually striking stay, then look no future.
It’s also worth noting that the aWà Beach Hotel is the only location on this list with facilities for disabled guests.
12. Best Overall for Dropping Off the Map – Casas Pelicano
Looking to disappear for a while? Casas Pelicano, located on the Pacific Coast’s vast and empty Playa Junquillal, offers two bungalows for guests. These bungalows are nestled into tropical gardens, which include a private pool and hiking paths.
Playa Junquillal is a short walk from your door, while other adventures like horseback riding and visiting a turtle hatchery can also be arranged. Given the remote location of the bungalows, there’s no on-site restaurant, and the accommodations are much more low-key than other resorts on this list.
But if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit in the way of luxury, Casas Pelicano will let you drop off the map. Best of all, pets are welcome.
Best Beach Hotels in Costa Rica Guide
Location & Transportation
Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, is located in the heart of the country near the airport—which means you’ll be heading to either the Caribbean Coast or the Pacific Coast after you land. When you’re shopping around for the best beach hotels in Costa Rica, be sure to look for whether the hotel offers an airport shuttle.
If airport shuttles aren’t included, you can easily hire a private driver or rent a car yourself from the airport. But keep in mind that some hotels, particularly those located in remote areas, might take hours to reach. For this reason, we recommend arriving earlier in the day if you plan on hitting the road after touching down.
Amenities & Services
As you might have noticed, one of the primary reasons travelers head to Costa Rica is to immersive themselves in nature. However, some hotels take a more direct approach to scheduling outdoor adventures.
Along with ensuring a hotel offers all the essentials you’ll need, whether high-speed Wi-Fi or on-site restaurants, we also suggest focusing on sports, activities, and rainforest adventures.
If a hotel doesn’t offer what you’re looking for, don’t worry—you can always inquire if they help their guests arrange day trips and activities with other companies. The vast majority do.
Costa Rica is often clumped with other tropical beach destinations like Mexico and the Dominican Republic. However, one of the primary differences between Costa Rica and similar escapes is its price tag.
Costa Rica is much pricier than comparable destinations. Much of this is due to the country’s extensive efforts to protect its natural resources, along with its large number of international resorts. Along with budgeting for a hotel, don’t forget to factor amenities, services, and activities into your ledger.
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that most hotels in Costa Rica have a specific approach to mitigating their environmental impact. If this is important to you, then you can filter your searches based on sustainability ratings.
As outlined above, Costa Rica places a strong emphasis on protecting its natural resources and landscapes, which means this information isn’t difficult to find.
While it might seem like you need to focus on eco-friendly retreats, that isn’t the case. For example, Reserva Conchal, which is spread out over 2,300 acres, has a very high sustainability rating despite its size and list of amenities.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best time of year to visit Costa Rica’s beaches?
Costa Rica has a dry season and a wet season. Most guests target the dry season, as monsoon rains can put a damper on beach days and outdoor adventures.
The dry season runs from December to April, which are ideal times to snorkel, sunbathe, and swim. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t visit outside of these months—just make sure you research expected rainfall specific to your area.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Costa Rica?
For North American travelers, we recommend sticking to bottled water. While some of the best beach hotels in Costa Rica offer their own treated water, your decision to use it should be based on your gut instinct (pun intended).
If you’ve traveled extensively and built up your gastrointestinal strength, you might be a bit less sensitive to the water. However, you can always ask hotel staff for clarification when it comes to drinking water.
Should travelers bring any gear for outdoor adventures?
Generally speaking, hotels and private tour companies offer all the gear that their guests will need for a given outing. However, if you’re heading to a golf resort or to do some deep-sea fishing, you may prefer to have your own equipment with you.
Are there any special policies regarding wildlife?
Many beachfront hotels in Costa Rica are integrated into nature, meaning you’ll have a front-row seat to watch local wildlife do its thing. As with policies on drinking water, you can always ask hotel staff about how to approach and interact with wildlife.
The most common policy is to be respectful and watch from a distance. Most locations also ask guests to avoid feeding wildlife or leaving food unattended outside to prevent any unwanted interactions.
Whether you want to disappear into nature or enjoy a tropical and luxurious resort stay, Costa Rica has it all. Just make sure you focus on hotels that will put you in proximity to your favorite beaches, landmarks, and adventures.
If you’re staying for more than a few days, consider sampling hotels around the country.
For example, aWá Beach Hotel offers a look into the natural wonders of the Caribbean, while others like Arenas del Mar are more focused on jungle adventures and those like Capitán Suizo are all about lazy days surfing on the beach. After all, every beachfront hotel has its own focus.
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Images courtesy of KAYAK