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Costa Rica's Top 5 Unknown Beaches

While it’s no secret that Costa Rica is home to some of the best beaches in Central America, where to find them can often be a challenge. Living in Costa Rica has afforded me the time and relationships with locals that privy me to this sacred information that I will now share with you.

Playa Bejuco
A 35 minute drive south of Jaco will lead you to an expansive coconut-palmed oasis. It’s easy to miss, however, so keep a watchful eye out for the single-access dirt road marked Playa Bejuco. There is one small grocery, or pulpería, where you can buy a snack along the dirt road. After about a half-mile you will reach the café colored beach where you can park, hang a hammock between the numerous coconut palms that line the beach, or venture south another half-mile to the Delfin, a small hotel and bar and enjoy a cold beverage. What makes this beach special is it’s vastness both in girth and length, and it’s lack of popularity. You can walk in either direction for miles without running out of beach. Most days the only other people you run into are local fisherman trying their luck with a net or fishing line thrown by hand with a lasso maneuver. Sundays and holidays are the exception to this rule, since the locals tend to honor the Sabbath at the beach.

La Sirena
This beach is special from the second you arrive. It’s located in Esterillos Oeste. Take the north road (there are two roads marked Esterillos Oeste) until the last right turn prior to the beach. After you take the right turn the road becomes riddled with pot holes, drive slowly. Approximately 1 kilometer later you will see the beach and a parking lot on the left. At low tide the shore is dotted with volcanic tide pools that are home to starfish, crabs, fish, and other creepy crawlies. It’s named Mermaid beach due to the enormous mermaid statue that proudly sits at the deep-end of the tide pools. At high tide it appears as if she is sitting on-top of the water. La Sirena is a must see if you have kids!

Manzanillo
This idyllic beach is located 20 minutes south of Puerto Viejo. Its crystal clear water, emptiness, and calm conditions lend it to excellent  kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, and “chilling out.” This is my favorite place to kayak and swim. The beach receives waves a few times a year, so the feel does change depending on when you arrive.

Manuel Antonio
There are a variety of beaches in and around Manuel Antonio. While the park is visited by numerous tourists, many don’t realize the beaches inside are pristine. My favorite beach is the second beach you come across while hiking inside the National Park. The sand is light beige and the water is a gorgeous blue. The beach is protected from waves making it an excellent destination for casual swimming or floating. If surfing is what you are looking for there is a decent break just outside of the park where you can rent surfboards, jet skis, horseback ride, or even parasail. Make sure and pack in enough water and snacks because there are no facilities inside the park.

Playa Conchal
Picture a conch shell, now shrink it to a millimeter in diameter. Cute, right? Now imagine a beach filled with them, the conch shells replacing the small granules of sand. This does two things: creates a luxurious white “sand” beach, and improves the clarity of the water due to the decrease in sediment. There is amazing snorkeling right from shore. You can hear the tiny shells underwater move with each ebb and flow. The beach is located about 35 minutes south of the well known resort town, Playa Flamingo, and just south of the tico town, Brasilito.

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