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The Three Ss in Costa Rica

"Abundance, extravagance, strength and intelligence of nature in an exceptional climate year-round place Costa Rica on the top of the list of winter destinations for Canadians and Americans.", This is what we said in last month's Euphoria.

When winter destinations are mentioned, what almost automatically comes to mind are the three Ss: sun, sand and sea. So, how does Costa Rica fare as far as those 3 Ss are concerned?

Sun: it’s a done deal with a thermometer flickering between 25° and 32° year-round.

Sea: With more than one thousand km of coasts (1,016 km on the Pacific and 212 km on the Atlantic), the country is an exceptional gateway to the sea, which at times might even give you the impression of being on an island…

Often wild, this coastline is ideal for long walks or horse rides. It is also idyllic for diving and much appreciated by surfers. But surfing means powerful waves and swimmers need to be cautious.

Sand: Costa Rica has many lovely beaches that are worth discovering, including some that might give you the impression of being almost alone on earth. Nonetheless, a careful choice should be made.

On the Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic coast is straight and sandy. From Boca del Rio Colorado, in the North, to Puerto Limon, beaches are straight and dangerous and swimming is forbidden in Tortuguero Park so that sea turtles are not disturbed.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica can be found on the coast of Playa Cocles. Its yellow sand stretches almost 2 km and swimming is great. Deep-sea fishing, diving (both snorkeling and diving), surfing, kite surfing and sea canoeing can also be enjoyed.

A little further away, Playa Chiquita is a lovely pale sandy beach and is another judicious choice.

On the Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast is rather irregular with two large peninsulas and many gulfs and bays. Mountains and hills unroll often directly into the sea and rocks and estuaries alternate with cliffs and beaches.

The best beaches for swimming are Bahia Drake, a long gray sandy beach, which is also very popular for diving (around Isla del Caño), and San Josecito, a small beach that is only accessible by boat. Beaches around Puerto Jimenez are also interesting, with dolphins sometimes playing around in the waters.

The beaches in the Manuel Antonio National Park are very nice and well protected, with pale sand, although the public beach can sometimes get too crowded…

Jaco’s beach is also very popular. We would rather recommend the nearby Punta Leona beach, property of a hotel with the same name. Some scenes from the film “1492 Conquest of Paradise” were filmed here.

There are many surfers who challenge the waves on the beaches of Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Parrita, Jaco and Playa Hermosa, which, with regular waves, is the site of a famous competition every August.

Nicoya Peninsula (including Guanacaste)

This is the balneal region and is excellent with its Playa Real beach, which we consider one of the most beautiful in the country with its pale sand and wide, protected bay.

A few other beaches worth trying out:

  • Playa Tambor, long gray sand beach, relatively well protected.
  • The Tamarindo public beach
  • Playa Flamingo
  • Playa Pan de Azucar, for its lovely sites with small islands
  • Playa Ocotal, close to del Coco, in a small bay, appreciated for its tranquility.

Here, surfers will be awed by Playa Grande, one of the most appreciated surfing spots in Costa Rica, Playa Santa Teresa with its powerful rollers, the legendary Witch's Rock with 3 meter-high waves and Ollie's Point, and Playa Negra and Playa Avellana, only accessible with 4x4 vehicles.

Beginners can try to develop their abilities at Playa Tamarindo before taking on more serious waves.


Everybody has seen luminous and colorful pictures taken underwater! They are real sights to see here, with manta rays, sharks, dolphins, groupers of all kinds, and not to mention the immeasurable corral fishes that are relatively easy to watch in the Pacific.

Playa Hermosa is one starting point for dives around Santa Catalina Island. The operator, Safari Bill Beard's Diving, is recommended for its professionalism.

On, in or under the water, Costa Rica most certainly keeps with its reputation of a paradise for the 3 Ss.

Travelling Costa Rica by car, 4x4 and bus is easy. Rentals are available in cities or near airports and the country’s bus service is very good. Enjoy!


Christiane Théberge

Playa Cocles

Playa Chiquita

Bahia Drake

 Manuel Antonio National Park

Playa Real

Playa FLamingo





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