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Adobe’s guide to the best Caribbean beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts close to 800 miles of spectacular coastline. The Atlantic Coast stretches 121 miles, and the Pacific side claims the rest. 

With four colossal mountain ranges running the length of the country’s interior and tradewinds from both coasts, the result is a melting pot of ecosystems and environments. 

Combined, the entire package makes Costa Rica one of the most biodiverse places in the world. And coincidently, one of the world’s most beautiful. 

The Caribean Coast of Costa Rica holds the title for having the country’s most postcard-perfect shoreline. And with Adobe Rent a Car, all of the Caribbean’s best beaches are within reach.

We offer a great selection of vehicles to meet every type of terrain. Likewise, our robust car coverage and add-on options ensure you’re 

well-equipped to take on the Caribbean side’s roads and the elements.

Beaches of the southern Caribbean Coast 

Beaches of the southern Caribbean Coast 

To drive from our Adobe Juan Santamaria International Airport SJO office to the south Caribbean coast takes four or more hours. The trip winds down through the scenic Braulio Carrillo National Park into the Caribbean lowlands.

Many visitors prefer to save time by combining in-country flights with their vehicle rental. By taking a short and scenic flight from Liberia or San Jose international airports to Limon City you’ll save three or more hours of drive time. 

Our full service Adobe Limon office is downtown and less than four kilometers from Limon Airport. We can arrange to have your rental car waiting at the airport when you arrive. Please speak with one of our friendly agents at limon@adobecar.com for more information. 

Another option is to pick up your Adobe rental car once you reach Puerto Viejo. Nothing beats the flexibility and freedom you get when renting a car in Costa Rica. 

With your own vehicle you can visit any or all of the Caribbeans best beaches on your own terms. Our Adobe Puerto Viejo office is just off the main road through town, 100mts east of Banco de Costa Rica bank. 

To speak with one of our Puerto Viejo agents, please email puertoviejo@adobecar.com. You can also reach our Adobe headquarters by calling toll-free from the U.S. or Canada at 1(855) 861-1250. 

Costa Rica s best Caribbean beaches

Costa Rica s best Caribbean beaches

Every one of Costa Rica’s beaches is different, and each has its charm. But it’s the Caribbean side of Costa Rica that really dazzles. 

Pertaining to Limon Province, the Caribbean lowlands are vast and diversified. The northern coastal region is the country’s wildest. Its rugged shores are frequented by strong currents that are much better for sightseeing than swimming.

The northern Caribbean beaches bordering Tortuguero National Park, for example, are usually only visited by bathers of the reptilian type. Every year, hundreds of sea turtles, including giant leatherbacks, greens, hawksbills, and loggerheads arrive to nest in its warm sands.

Eco-tourism is the biggest draw in the Tortuguero region. And despite its rugged coastline, the area is a fascinating destination to see wildlife while boating through its tropical rainforest and river ecosystems.

The south Caribbean coastline

The south Caribbean coastline

From north to south, the following line-up will give you the Caribbean Costa Rica beaches you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

Head down Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast past the Port of Limon, and you’ll find some of the world’s most spectacular beaches.

Pristine coral reefs shimmer beneath the surface of turquoise waters. While swaying almond and palm trees throw their shade over golden, black, and white sand beaches.

Cahuita National Park


The laidback beach town of Cahuita is famed for its iconic beaches, boasting everything from renowned surfing swells to coral reefs and calm waters for swimming.

Playa Negra, on the town’s northern end, comprises a largely unpopulated stretch of black volcanic sands backed by coastal forests teeming with wildlife. The beach is popular among beginner and intermediate surfers for its easy rolling swells.

Just south of Playa Negra is the spectacular Cahuita National Park, famed for its calm crystalline waters and perfect white sands. The aptly named Playa Blanca begins at the park entrance at Kelly Creek and forms a sweeping bay of calm, swimmable Caribbean waters.

Parque Nacional Cahuita culminates into a lush tropical peninsula with offshore coral reefs that offer excelent snorkeling. An easily accessible walking trail borders the beach beneath the shade of the coastal forest.

On the southern border of the park, just past the tip of the peninsula, is Playa Vargas. Both of the park’s dazzling beaches are worth visiting, and strolling the trails between the two beaches reveals a cornucopia of exotic wildlife species.

Iguanas, raccoons, marine birds, and both white-faced and howler monkeys are prolific in the park. We recommend booking a tour or hiring a nature guide to get the most from the experience.

Puerto Viejo and nearby Costa Rica Caribbean beaches

Puerto Viejo and nearby Costa Rica Caribbean beaches

Approximately 16 km south of Cahuita is the bustling coastal party town of Puerto Viejo. Once a sleepy fishing village, today, Puerto Viejo is a Caribbean mecca of cultures, eco-adventures, and beautiful beaches.

Surfers looking for Costa Rica’s best waves are sure to visit Puerto Viejo. One of the world’s most challenging swells, Salsa Brava, breaks over colorful coral reefs close to town. 

The waves of Salsa Brava are only recommended for expert surfers. But don’t be dismayed; Salsa Brava beach offers quiet tide pools for bathing as well as nearby beachfront bars and restaurants with tantalizing Caribbean food and music.

Just past town is the popular Playa Cocles. The long, golden sand beach is a regular hang-out for young backpackers and tourists looking to socialize. 

Just offshore from Cocles Beach is a small picturesque island, Pirripli Key, and some serious surf breaks that attract intermediate to advanced surfers. 

Visitors beware: the strong currents and riptides at Playa Cocles make swimming dangerous. Instead, it’s better to just enjoy the beautiful scenery and company of like-minded travelers. 

Playas Chiquita and Punta Uva

punta uva

Around three kilometers past Playa Cocles is a small yet enchanting beach called Playa Chiquita. An excellent spot for lounging in a reef-enclosed tide pool or strolling the coastline in search of wildlife, Playa Chiquita is a good choice for anyone wishing to avoid the crowds. 

After Chiquita, follow the road further south and look out for a dirt beach access road across from a goods store called Abastecedor Punta Uva. The road leads to a stretch of two stunning beaches known as Punta Uva

Forming a protected cove with nearshore coral reefs ripe with marine life, Playa Punta Uva is a tropical paradise. The beach is a great place for water and on-shore explorations. The prolific wildlife delights visitors. And you might even spot a flock of Great Green Macaws that thrive within the coastal forest.  

At Punta Uva, you can rent kayaks or go horseback riding along the point’s picturesque sands. Snorkeling and scuba diving outings can also be arranged to explore its pristine reefs and calm turquoise waters.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge 


Arguably the star of the show when it comes to stunning Caribbean beaches, Playa Manzanillo offers something for everyone.

The greater Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge protects both land and marine environments and is a haven for wildlife. In addition to several walking trails into the park’s interior, visitors can swim, kayak, or explore the length of its picturesque shoreline.

It is said that the waters offshore Manzanillo harbor Costa Rica’s most spectacular coral reefs and abundance of marine life. It is the perfect destination to experience Costa Rica’s remarkable Caribbean Coast.

Speak with one of our bilingual agents for more recommendations and tips about things to do and the best time to visit Costa Rica’s unforgettable Caribbean side. 

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