Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Costa Rica

Best Puntarenas Beaches

Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa offers volcanic overlooks in addition to wide beaches

Everyone knows that Costa Rica has beautiful beaches; a simple Google search reveals hundreds of images of beautiful palm trees, white-sand stretches, and perfect turquoise water.

Puntarenas is a popular beach destination located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast. In fact, Puntarenas is today Costa Rica’s favorite spot for surf and sand.

Every year, droves of tourists and locals alike flock the gorgeous beaches located less than an hour from San Jose, the country’s most populous and capital city. Let’s look at a few of Puntarenas’s most awesome beaches.

1. Playa Hermosa

An increasingly upscale, yet modest village, Playa Hermosa overlooks the Gulf of Papagayo while enjoying a pleasant, tropical climate and featuring family-friendly beaches.

Playa Hermosa is popular for an abundance of water activities including sport fishing, snorkelling, sailing and scuba diving.  The destination is also known for the unique and leisurely sunset catamaran tours.

Just about 10 minutes from Playa Hermosa, the lively village of Coco offers a delightful mix of entertainment and shopping with numerous bars, clubs and discos surrounding the central park.

2. Playa Jaco

With its cinnamon-hued volcanic-sand beaches, lush green rain forest and verdant mountains, it’s no wonder why vacationers flock to Playo Jaco. The tiny hamlet of Jaco is the ultimate hideaway for sun seekers and active travellers.

Playa Jaco is the closest beach to the town of San Jose in the Central Valley and is one of the most visited coastal destinations in Costa Rica.

Since conditions are often favourable, surfers from all over the world flock to the beach strip. Apart from the adrenaline-rush seekers are the families and honeymooners who enjoy the multitude of beaches, outdoor activities, dining, shopping and nightlife. Playa Jaco features a poor swimming beaches because the surf is consistently heavy.

3. Playa Ballena

Playa Ballena is known as a biologically diverse area, teeming with wildlife from the hundreds of species of birds to small marine animals. In fact, the beach has been made into a mini park with wardens staff-quartered along the beachfront and the park entrance gate. The charge is 600 colones for locals and 6 U.S. dollars for tourists.

The beach is well equipped with important amenities such as outdoor showers, picnic tables and trash bins. Visitors will find light-beige powdery sand and possibly the best beginners waves in the area. Anyone who travels to Playa Ballena should check the secluded beaches of Piñuela, Ventanas.

4. Playa Montezuma

Montezuma is a charming little beach village in Puntarenas. Nestled on the eastern shore of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, Montezuma is essentially the end of the line for beaches within the area.

Unlike many other parts of Costa Rica, Montezuma has been largely untouched by commercial development. As such, the village remains truly authentic and features numerous cultural monuments, ruins, etc.

Though offering laid-back lifestyle, Montezuma is still the perfect destination for those in search of an exciting and safe vacation.

Visitors will find numerous beaches, not limited to Playa Montezuma. Tourists who visit mostly participate in snorkelling, diving, fishing, horseback riding, canopy tour and surfing. The hikes to the river are also particularly popular, featuring waterfalls, jungles of the nature reserve and numerous other experiences that can only be had in Montezuma.

5. Barcelo Tambor Beach

The pristine beaches of Barcelo Tambor Beach offer unspoiled rainforests at the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.

Beyond the beautiful beach is the unspoilt all-inclusive Barcelo Tambor Beach Hotel located at the edge of secluded Bahia Ballena. The Barcelo Tambor Beach Hotel resort stands virtually alone in an ecological paradise. With a small airport next door, visitors are only 40 minutes from San Jose.

Puntarenas and its surrounding area offer an excellent assortment of beaches to suit the taste of almost anyone. From beach activities such as sea kayaking, sports fishing to tours to Tortuga Island, Puntarenas is a complete beach vacation destination.

Indeed, from the crowded sands to sleepy fishing villages, Puntarenas accommodates nearly every mood.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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