Here’s the second part of my guide to find the right beaches in Costa Rica on your next trip.
Let’s start with the parts of Puntarenas that I think are worth a trip.
Blindly guessing the most famous beaches of Costa Rica are Santa Teresa and Mal País, which are commonly known as somewhat of a surfer’s paradise. And being there really is good for soul and body. By now, there are more and more hip and modern but still laid back restaurants, cafés and bars.
One of those is “The Bakery“. Lovely place with great coffee and so many different variations of breakfast, you will be coming back. Believe me, been there, done that. For around 10$ you will get a great satisfying breakfast with two coffees (one is just not enough in the morning). Here is a link to their Facebook “The Bakery” page.
For lunch / dinner Burger Rancho is the place to go to. Creative and awesome burgers to be enjoyed with a mint-lemonade, could it get better? Don’t think so. Prices are moderate as well, also around 10$ will get you far enough. Here is the link to their facebook page Burger Rancho, unfortunately no picture taken.
Hanging out in Mal País and Santa Teresa looks something like this:
Moving on there’s an insider that you’re not likely to discover if a local doesn’t point it out: Curu. It’s a National Refugee of wildlife where you can either enter for a day visit and walk around the area and discover monkeys, pizotes and if you’re lucky even an alligator. Also there is the option of staying over on the property, so within the National Park. I highly recommend this only to uncomplicated travellers as it has more of a “rough charm” but you truly become one with nature. Nevertheless, it’s a great place where monkeys are everywhere around.
From there we took a boat trip to go snorkeling and afterwards to Isla Tortuga where more and more tourists are coming to. Well, happens everywhere and you’ll find yourself surprised meeting a drunk wild pig. True story.
Leaving Curu and taking the ferry to Puntarenas (city) which is easy, uncomplicated and not that expensive (around 18.000 colones for two people and a pick-up, without a car it’s around 2.000 colones). Here’s a good advice to follow: skip Puntarenas city. It’s ugly, it’s not worth spending the time.
Going South, you’ll come across another famous destination called Manuel Antonio, which is famous for its flat and broad main beach which is at best a 5 out of 10 and more of the touristic part of Manuel Antonio. It’s still nice and I took a few shots there:
The real treasure of Manuel Antonio lies within the National Park. Foreigners pay more than Costa Ricans which I find to be a good contribution to preserve the natural resources of the country. There is a bit of walking through the National Park where you can be lucky and spot monkeys or sloths and after some time, you’ll discover pretty beaches of which some are more and others are less crowded. Beware of the raccoons (see below) and the monkeys. If you’re not careful, they will steal your food. And the bag of your clothes because it could be there is food in there. Also another lesson that I learnt here: if you come across a jellyfish, the best way to solve the burn is to put urine on it. Also, true story.
A very special place – and still on my bucket list is the Marino Ballena National Park where it’s perfect for whale watching. Best timing for humpbacks are July to October and December to March, a daily tour costs around 90 $. Also there are good chances to see dolphins all year around. Below you’ll find a picture of the view of the National Park from above, also called the whale’s tail. If you go there, let me know how your experience was, I’d be happy to hear about it.
If you go further South, there is a very well hidden beach, called Playa Ventanas, located between Ojochal and Uvita. Because of its hidden location there is a good chance you’ll be there almost alone. Just park in front of the beach, there will be a German guy, owning the houses next to the parking lot and keeping an eye on your car. Of course, he’s not doing that for free. From there it’s only a very short walk through the woods to the beach itself.
In general along that coast you’ll find a lot of pretty beaches, perfect for surfing, among those are Uvita, Esterillos and Ojochal. I would avoid Jacó though. Little local charm, overpriced and touristy.
Completely in the South, there is Osa Peninsula, a great area with a lot of things to discover. Among those is Corcovado National Park with its huge natural diversity. Also, on my to do list.
Damn, I really need to go back soon.