Best Beaches in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

One thing Guanacaste, Costa Rica is known for is its beaches! There are hundreds of miles of beaches in Guanacaste, a province stretching along the Pacific Ocean. 

For our guests at the Drift Away Eco Lodge, being close to some of the most undeveloped Costa Rica beaches is a fantastic experience. 

Guests on a beach vacation can take a five-minute walk to Playa Lagartillo, a great swimming beach and has the most beautiful sunsets! 

However, there are many more beaches in our area to explore, all within a 20-minute drive of our eco-lodge. So grab your umbrella and sunscreen. Here is our guide to the best beaches in Guanacaste!

Playa Lagartillo

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 200 mts (a 5-minute walk)

Costa Rica beach Pacific Ocean
The beach at Playa Lagartillo, Costa Rica

We may be biased, but we think Playa Lagartillo is one of the most beautiful beaches in Guanacaste. It is quiet, and most days, you will have the entire beach to yourself. There may be the odd local family enjoying a barbeque picnic. Fishers stand in the water and throw their lines into the sea looking for their dinner, competing with diving pelicans that gather around the rocks. It is a great swimming beach in Costa Rica, especially at high tide. 

Grab a wine or a Costa Rica craft beer from our juice bar, walk down to the beach after 5 p.m. and enjoy a dazzling sunset! Remember your phone for some incredible Instagram-worthy pictures.

couple on a beach in Costa Rica Pacific Ocean
You may have a beach all to yourself in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Lagartillo is a Spanish name for a lizard. You may see some iguanas, along with howler monkeys, herons, and a brilliant display of green parrots, turquoise mot-mots, and orange orioles. There are no restaurants or facilities nearby, making it a peaceful place to relax and unwind while listening to the crashing waves and the wind through the trees.

Remember to take advantage of the free surfboards, bodyboards, beach umbrellas, and towels at Drift Away Eco-Lodge!

Playa Avellanas

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 1.5 km (1 mile)

Playa Avellanas
Lola’s beachfront restaurant is a popular choice in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica.

Playa Avellanas is one of the more popular surfing beaches in Costa Rica. Have you never surfed before? Playa Avellanas is the best beach in Guanacaste for those who want to learn how to surf. The waves are consistent, and they aren’t too big. There are a couple of surf schools located at this Guanacaste beach, and the instructors are careful but promise to get you up on your board on the first try! But it’s not just for surfing. 

Avellanas is a great swimming beach in Guanacaste and one of the best family beaches in Costa Rica. It has miles of wide flat sand and plenty of room for all the weekenders frequenting the area on a beach holiday. Want more surfing information? Costa Rica Surf Spots: Locals Reveal the Best

You can easily walk to Playa Avellanas from Drift Away Eco-Lodge. At low tide, you can stroll down the beach. When the tide is high, there is a pretty little nature trail that connects Playa Lagartillo and Playa Avellanas. In the rainy season, you can walk the road or use one of our free bicycles to get there.

Lola's beachfront restaurant
Eating outside at Lola’s beachfront restaurant in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica.

Playa Avellanas is home to Lola’s, one of the most popular and famous beachfront restaurants in Costa Rica. It has a great atmosphere and a delicious menu. Maybe you’ll get to see their mascots, two adorable pigs named Ave and Ana (a play on “Avellanas”). Lola’s commits to sustainability and the community that we love. Want more information on restaurants in Playa Avellanas? Restaurants in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica – More Than Lola’s Beachfront Restaurant

Playa Negra

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3 km (less than 2 miles)

Costa Rica Guanacaste Lagartillo beach coconut 6999 - Drift Away Lodge

Don’t let the name fool you. The sand at this Costa Rica beach isn’t black. Playa Negra is located near our little town of Los Pargos (a.k.a. Playa Negra). This Guanacaste beach has a more local feel, unlike the more touristy atmosphere of Playa Avellanas. Playa Negra has excellent surfing, but you need to know what you’re doing. The waves are a bit more precarious, and there are hazards such as rocks that only the locals know. 

Regardless, it is still a beautiful beach in Costa Rica to hang with the locals who enjoy a bonfire, a guitar jam, and some beer as the sun goes down.  Enjoy a sunset cocktail under a giant palm-thatched roof at Hotel Playa Negra. There is also a volleyball net where you’ll always find other players to join in a game. There are no public restroom facilities, only the restaurant. Want more information on restaurants in Playa Negra/Los Pargos? 10 Best Restaurants in Playa Negra.

Playa Blanca

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 5.5 km (3.5 miles)

When it comes to beaches in Guanacaste, Playa Blanca is a little-known gem. We’re reluctant to share it with you as we want to keep this secret beach all to ourselves! This is one of the best swimming beaches in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and the best family beaches in Costa Rica. No surfers are hogging the water. Playa Blanca is one of the Guanacaste beaches that has small pools created by rock formations in the water. It means there are little to no waves. Go at low tide with your snorkel gear and swim around the rocks to see some colorful fish. 

Playa Blanca is accessed by a dirt road that runs between Los Pargos/Playa Negra and Playa Junquillal. There is a parking lot at the top of the hill. Please tip the guard there at least a couple of mil (2,000 CRC) as the community hires him to keep everyone’s vehicle safe. There is a series of stairs that you need to go down to access the beach. There are no restroom facilities. There is a rocky point just north of the beach where you can watch the sunset.

Playa Junquillal

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 7.5 km (4.6 miles)

Playa Junquillal is a stunning beach with miles of grey sand lined with palm trees. A famous surfing beach in Costa Rica, Playa Junquillal has plenty of room for beachgoers, surfers, dog walkers, and casual visitors. It is next to the town of Playa Junquillal, which has several restaurants and hotels close by, so you can enjoy the beach and go out for lunch or dinner.

Playa Junquillal is also home to a turtle sanctuary. Conservationists scour the beaches for sea turtle nests and dig up the eggs before poachers or predators get to them. They then ‘plant’ the eggs in a protected caged area at Playa Junquillal. If you’re lucky, you can see the eggs hatching as the baby turtles crawl out of the sand and make their way to the ocean. It’s a fantastic experience that you can see here, or more commonly at Playa Ostional. Want more information on Costa Rica sea turtles? Costa Rica Turtles Nesting in Playa Ostional: a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Playa Tamarindo

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 12 km (12.4 miles)

Tamarindo sunset
Enjoy a sunset cocktail at the many beach restaurants in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Tamarindo is a bustling, touristy town about a half-hour drive north of Drift Away Eco-Lodge. It is full of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. It also has a beautiful beach with great surfing, with plenty of spots on the beach to enjoy a cocktail and a meal. Evenings feature live music and fire dancers on the beach. It’s also the beach from where many of the sailing excursions depart. Most of the people there speak English. 

Playa Grande

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 27.5 km (17 miles)

Playa Grande Costa Rica
The long stretch of beach at Playa Grande, Costa Rica.

A few miles north of Tamarindo is Playa Grande, one of Costa Rica’s most secluded beaches. It is world-famous for its surfing. It is protected from the south by the Tamarindo Estuary. The area has a number of restaurants featuring all types of food.

Playa Grande is also part of Las Baulas National Park. The beach is a famous nesting ground for leatherback sea turtles. They are the largest marine reptile in the world, with nesting females as long as six feet! Leatherback nesting season is from October to February.

Guanacaste beach tips

If you’re looking for a beach vacation or surf holiday, the beaches in Guanacaste Costa Rica are the place for you! 

If you plan to check out some of these beaches in Guanacaste during your stay at the Drift Away Eco Lodge, here are some beach tips to keep in mind.

  • Bring an umbrella and sunscreen. The sun beats down on the beach in the afternoons, and sometimes it is difficult to find shade. Alternatively, to avoid the harsh sun, we recommend that you go in the mornings. Drift Away Eco-Lodge offers free beach umbrellas for all our guests!
  • Bring a cooler with some snacks and drinks. Many of the beaches are secluded and undeveloped. There are no public restrooms or change rooms, restaurants, or snack shops.
  • Check the tides. Water levels can rise and fall by several meters every day! Some beaches are better at high tide because low tide exposes too many rocks. Also, you don’t want your beach picnic to be swept away by the incoming tide!
  • Have a spare tire. The roads to these secluded beaches can get a bit rough. Flat tires are pretty common. Make sure you’re prepared!
  • Charge your phone. There is nowhere to plug in and charge your phone around these areas. Make sure your phone is set to get some great pics!