Costa Rica has no shortage of beaches with its vast coastline on either side of the country. But it's a surfer's paradise for good reason—those gnarly waves brah. The big waves can obviously be brutal and unsafe for your kids to swim, and there are also a lot of beaches with rip tides which should avoided like the plague.
With that, there are so many amazing beaches in Costa Rica for kids and families to splash around in, snorkel, boogie board, and just swim. After spending 2 months in the country, here is our list of the 5 best beaches in Costa Rica for families:
Make sure to check out our packing list for Costa Rica with kids
There are two Playa Hermosas, but this one is near Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. I don't know if it just happened to be the day and time we went, but there were so many families there, somehow with supermodel looking parents and equally beautiful children. This is so off-topic and not the information you're looking for, but I need to know if this was an anomaly or if the "Hermosa" part of the name is a requirement for entry rather than describing the beach. Someone please report back.
Anyway, we came in the afternoon while the tide was going out. The sand was perfect, the beach was extensive, and the water was just right. This particular beach is also popular with surfers, but around low tide at least, it very gradually gets deep, so there is plenty of space for kids to splash around or catch mini waves on their boogie boards.
I also believe there are two Playa Pencas in this beautiful country, but the one I'm referring to is the one near Playa del Coco in Guanacaste Province. After a long and bumpy road where you convince yourself that this couldn't be the right way, you'll arrive to the end of the road. A parking attendant is typically there to watch your car for a donation while you relax at the beach.
Park and then you have a walk down a steep hill to get to the little piece of paradise. I will forever remember this beach for it's beauty and also the scar left on my leg from slipping on some loose rock, pregnant, with my 2 year old on my shoulders, Don't worry, both my babies were ok because my leg made the sacrifice.
My bloodied leg was all worth it when we arrived down at the beach. It's truly picturesque: white sand, turquoise water, and somewhat of a hidden gem so not very many people. If you brought your snorkeling stuff, definitely bring it here. Facing the water, there are rocks to the left that have so many fish to see. My 4 year old was freaking out and we could barely pull him out of the water.
Check out my tips on introducing snorkeling to your child
This one seems odd for us because we typically hate super touristy places and avoid the crowds at all cost, but I don't know—there was something about it here. After the Saturday Farmers Market, we drove to the parking lot behind Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel. The waves can be kind of cray in other spots on the beach, but in front of this hotel, the waves were so perfect for our kids to boogie board.They truly had the time of their life.
This isn't a secluded or off-the-beaten track beach, which means there is a lot going on. Vendors selling baby coconuts and rum drinks, snacks, food trucks close by, horseback ride offers, trinket sellers, and all the things that come with a touristy and all around popular beach.
There's a lot of hustle and bustle in Manuel Antonio as it's one of the most popular destinations to hit up in Costa Rica. But a few minutes drive from the town, you can get a little slice of heaven that's not as busy as the main beach in the area.
Playa Biesanz is another short walk through the jungle to get to. If you're lucky, squirrel monkeys will put on a show for you on your little stroll which was an absolute delight for us and the kids. When you arrive, you'll be greeted by mellow turquoise water and a white sandy beach. Because it's nestled in a little cove, there are no waves, so we were able to just throw on the kids floaties and swim. There are also kayaks to rent which would have been really nice, but we didn't go for it.
Playa Blanca is in the Osa Peninsula before you reach Puerto Jimenez. That peninsula has so much going for it and it was truly one of my favorite places in Costa Rica. We went to Playa Blanca specifically because our Airbnb hosts said that we could rent kayaks for way cheaper than if we were to go to Puerto Jimenez.
The beach itself isn't one to write home about, but I truly loved it. It was mellow, we had multiple macaw sitings, there is a fair priced restaurant with great batidos (fresh fruit smoothies) and great food. After some lunch, we rented 2 kayaks for 1000 colones per hour each (less than $1.50), threw the kids on our lap, and kayaked in the beautifully calm waters.
They said that closer to sunrise and sunset there are dolphin spotting often, but not during the day. I guess we were lucky then because as we were kayaking, we saw a dolphin jump right in front of us. It was truly amazing, and for the next 15 minutes, we just hung out in the middle of the bay and watched a little dolphin show. It's been 2 months since and our then 1 year old is still talking about it.
The Caribbean side should get way more love than it does. Punta Uva sits closely to Puerto Viejo and is, yet again, that beautiful white sand beach with the turquoise water. The waves at first can seem a little intimidating, but once you get past the break, you can float up and down with your babies (with floaties on) for some fun.
The whole Caribbean side of Costa Rica has unbelievable vibes and Punta Uva beach is no different. I loved being there on a Sunday with all the families camping out for the entire day, drinking rum, listening to music, and having the time of their lives. Everyone grabs a spot in a shady spot in the palm trees so even when it's packed, it doesn't feel packed. It's just chill and wonderful and great fun for kids.