Southern Guanacaste BeachesTake a walk on Guanacaste's wild side
Todays journey begins once again on Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica’s most popular Beach destination and down the Pacific Coast towards the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste’s southern zone which offers many flavors of beaches.From the wild windswept turtle nesting beaches of Ostional to the Health & Wellness rich Nosara and Samara both of which have become meccas for Yoga lodges, wellness retreats and a pronounced spiritual and healing community. Couple that with considerably less developed beach front and a few world class surfing and turtle nesting site beaches, heading south of Tamarindo is really like taking a walk on Guanacaste’s wild side.
Tamarindo beach does extend further south if you’re walking, melding into Playa Langosta, a sleepy little beach village featuring a few lovely small hotels right on the beachfront peppered with several rather stunning beachfront Villas and of course The Langosta Beach Club, one of my favorite spots for lunch or dinner or wiling away the afternoon at a table under the palms with several cold Heinekens. I understand that the Beach Club has recently changed management so its hard to say until I revisit if the world class cuisine has maintained the same standards set by Arnaud and his lovely wife. However take heart I just learned that Arnaud has opened the Tamarindo Beach club in the heart of Tamarindo and I cannot wait to get back and sample what I am sure will be a culinary treat.
So trekking to the Southern Guanacaste beaches requires you to jump in the car and come off Tamarindo beach and take the Santa Cruz road heading south. When I arrived 15 years ago this was a rough ride unpaved most of the way and a bumpy treacherous drive during rainy season but in recent years this road as been paved enabling easy access to this dusty farm land that fronts the southern Guanacaste beaches The first sign of civilization heading south towards Nicoya is Hacienda Pinilla which in recent years has seen many more families residing within its borders and has become a Tamarindo bedroom community for the well to do even though many of the main American schools are a good 20 miles away in Brasilito. Hacienda Pinilla is a huge beach front development that has managed to preserve the untamed backdrop quite nicely and truly has a lot to offer families and vacationers alike principally security and natural beauty situated on one of Costa Rica’s most pristine surf beaches. Of course having a championship seaside golf course helps maintain the property values along with a 4 star hotel. Add a secure beautiful environment and it is no surprise that many well to do Expat families have taken up residence within its secure gated borders, fostering a rather cool tightly knit family oriented community that still centers the bulk of its daily activity in Tamarindo.
Hacienda Pinilla Golf course looking East away from the ocean
Playa Lagartillo (little alligator)
When it comes to best secret beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Lagartillo is one of them. Even though it’s just a few minutes drive from the popular Playa Avellanas, it normally doesn’t have more than a handful of visitors, even during the holidays. If you’re exploring this area of Guanacaste, then you definitely need to visit Playa Lagartillo!
Playa Lagartillo map
Playa Negra has always been a pleasant surprise for me and my last trip down there was with my buddy Andre on a rainy windswept day and we felt like we had it to ourselves including the beach front hotel where we managed of course to root up a few Heinekens. Its untamed sleepy quality is always refreshing only a short drive from the hustle & bustle of Tamarindo. I lend kudos to my buddy Larry Graziano who is not only the real estate master down there but one of the nicest soft spoken men you will have the pleasure to meet. Larry had what I consider amazing foresight and settled his family and business down there way ahead of everybody. Of course Larry was attracted by the great surf which Negra has in abundance. Whether its surfing or the slightly untamed peaceful beauty you wish to experience contact Larry at his Playa Negra Realty office and he will happily show you the way.
Playa Negra, Costa Rica is an excellent beach to stay in Guanacaste for those looking to get away from the commercial beach towns. With sweet surfing waves, a laid back atmosphere and beautiful sunsets, visitors can’t go wrong with a few days at the underrated but incredible Playa Negra.
Playa Negra, Costa Rica map
Negra in Spanish means black and Playa Negra is certainly a beautiful black sand beach. This beach is extremely rocky so be careful in low tide. It’s not the best for swimming but you can dip your toes in!
Since it has so many rocky reefs, in low tide you can walk around the tidepools.
Surfing Playa Negra
Playa Negra’s awesome surf break was featured in the Robert August Movie Endless Summer II. The beach has easy access for paddling out (though small take off zone) and very nice, hollow right hand barrels. If you go to surf, high tide is better as low tide exposes the vast rock bottom and is not recommended for anyone. Thanks to the consistent year round waves, pro surfers from all over the world come to surf at Playa Negra and it can get busy during swells.
This surf break is generally not the best for beginners though. It is better to go to Tamarindo to take lessons for first timers or Avellanas or Grande for beginners. However, when waves are small and there aren’t any swells, it is possible for beginners.
Playa Negra Hotels
There are not that many accommodation options in Negra but there are a couple of hotels. Hotel Playa Negra is the only beachfront hotel with bungalows, a restaurant, pool, yoga studio and a rancho. Some other hotels are the Cafe Playa Negra Hotel and Restaurant and Playa Negra Surf Lodge
Playa Negra is a great beach for a day trip or for a few days. Surfing is the main activity and you’ll see locals and tourists out there every day catching waves. If you’re not a surfer, unfortunately the beach is not the best for swimming but you can sunbathe, relax, have a drink on the beach and just soak up the sun.
Playa Negra is also close to many other beautiful underrated beaches such as Junquillal, Marbella, Callejones, and San Juanillo. Keep going down south and you can visit Ostional Wildlife Refuge and Nosara. Go up north and you’re so close to Marino Las Baulas National Park. Both Ostional and Marino Las Baulas are amazing places to see turtle nestings.
Even though Playa Negra feels like a worlds away, it’s still close to the developed beach towns up north so you have it all. Remote, quiet and beautiful beach but a short drive to tourist amenities and services.
Playa Marbella, Costa Rica (Playa Frijolar)
Although it may seem like Guanacaste beaches are very touristy, there a plethora of beautiful under the tourist radar beaches to discover. One of those beaches is Playa Marbella, about one hour south of Tamarindo and 30 minutes north of Nosara.
It’s a great surfing beach and for anyone looking for a off the beaten path beach to visit for a day. Although locally known as Playa Marbella, the true name of this beach is Playa Frijolar.
Playa Junquillal is one of the beaches I visited on my very first visit to Costa Rica in 2002. I stayed in Tamarindo on that trip as well as La Fortuna and Quepos before passing my first and last night at the Hemenway Inn in San Jose. That day I rented a scooter in Tamarindo and took to the dusty roads in exploration and ranged from Playa Junquillal to Playa Flamingo bar hopping along the way but managing to check on my good friends at the Land Ho Junquillal as these same proprietors own my favorite watering hole of the same name in Orleans on Cape Cod and where I had some of my first serious conversations about Costa Rica. My friends had discovered Costa Rica and were quite obviously in love with the place tantalizing my intrigue and desire to explore. However I am certain that the scooter ride that day in that land where time stood still is what captured my heart and whether I knew it at the time or not my every waking moment upon return from that first trip were lent to devouring everything I possibly could about a country I had clearly already accepted on a subconscious level would be my new home. The more I learned about Costa Rica’s commitment to ecological preservation coupled with the astounding variety of wildlife and micro climates coupled with sublime natural beauty continually served to reinforce this growing love at first sight phenomenon and instant adoption of what would soon become my new home. One must understand that growing up on Cape Cod which I can only describe as the most magical place on earth makes any place contending for my affection need approach an almost mystical level and clearly speaks to my soul. I am most fortunate to have discovered two such places in one lifetime.
Land Ho Junquillal
Land Ho Orleans Cape Cod
Marbella is a sleepy neighborhood in Guanacaste offering easy access to several untamed beaches I would characterize as “off the beaten path” including:
This area of southern Guanacaste is quite wild and untamed and from the Marbella beaches the coast road meanders hugging the coast coming upon the unique geographical point at
This untamed stretch eventually turns into the Ostional wildlife refuge at
this wildlife refuge serves as one of the most important turtle nesting sites in the country
The next important beach town is Nosara. The town, which sits several kilometers away from the beaches has served this community well as it has precluded overdevelopment of the beach area resulting in a pristine laid back, authentic Costa Rica beach with a plethora of wellness and yoga lodges, Nosara is the rugged spiritual heart of Guanacaste and I was always quite impressed with the layout . The beach front businesses are almost hidden from view and I discovered some very relaxing spots exploring on foot and venturing off the beach for a beer or some ceviche. Tranquility pervades the atmosphere here and I absolutely loved it there one day when I took a solo drive down there to explore. A very enjoyable experience.
Located along the stunning coastline of the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Guiones serves as a great surfing destination in Costa Rica.
With 7 kilometers of sugar-white sand and ideal conditions for a variety of activities, this small town is a little slice of paradise in Guanacaste.
In fact, a couple hundred meters of the shoreline received a Blue Flag for its pristine, eco-friendly and well-maintained beaches.
Playa Garza directory
This placid fishing village 15 minutes South of Playa Guiones will be memorable. Despite Playa Garza’s increasing popularity with tourists, families, and especially fisherman, visitors are often amazed that they can enjoy the golden sands and calm waters of Playa Garza with hardly another soul in sight.
Rocky headlands to the north and south make Playa Garza a natural harbor. These calm, crystal clear waters are a magnet for snorkelers, divers, kayakers, stand up paddlers and those simply seeking to relax. Playa Garza is famed as the base of operations for the local fishing industry. A variety of fishing charter vessels sit calmly in the middle of the bay waiting to take groups of eager fishermen out to the horizon to reel in the fish of their dreams.
Back on land the town of Garza features a range of understated, yet warm and welcoming places to eat and relax which unsurprisingly offer up some of the best fish cuisine you’ll find anywhere.