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Travel Tips

Destinations: Beaches
Samara
Flights Daily

Samara's beach town provides a charming balance of a typical Costa Rican atmosphere with a low-key gringo presence. From one end to the other, its enormous beach stretches some 3 miles (5 km), and a number of lesser-known beaches are found nearby. To the north lies the gorgeous Playa Barrigones, and to the south sits Carrillo and Punta Islita. There are plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy, including horseback riding, bike rentals, kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing tours. More information about Playa Samara Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 221 km (137 mi), 4.5 hours; LIR: 140 km (87 mi), 4 hours; Arenal: 250 km (155 mi), 5 hours HOTELS IN Samara
Tenorio Volcano and Rio Celeste
Flights Daily

The smooth cinder cone of the Tenorio Volcano rises high above the Guanacaste Mountain Range. Below it, a blanket of rain and cloud forests spread into the distance. These forests contain impressive geological highlights including hot springs, geysers, and the blue-tinted R�o Celeste. Hiking trails wind through much of the national park and lead to the volcano�s summit. Accommodations can be found nearby in the small, pleasant town of Bijagua. More information about Tenorio Volcano and Rio Celeste Costa Rica.

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 182 km, 5 hours; LIR: 94 km, 2 hour; Arenal: 95 km, 2 hours HOTELS IN Tenorio Volcano and Rio Celeste
Tortuguero
Flights Daily

Tortuguero is one of Costa Rica's premier ecotourism destinations. As its name suggests, it is a nesting ground for giant sea turtles, including Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead sea turtles. Accessible only by boat or air, the Tortuguero canals offer a unique experience to travelers accustomed to traveling by car. In fact, there are no cars in Tortuguero, and the region's transportation usually involves a boat ride along heavily forested canals or the glassy oceanic water. More information about Tortuguero Costa Rica

 

DISTANCE FROM: -SJO: To Cano Blanco 164 km, 4 hours; -Cano Blaco: 35 km, 1.5 hours by boat.  - LIR: To Cano Blanco 360 km, 7 hours; from Cano Blanco 35 km, 1.5 hours by boat. - Arenal: To Caño Blanco 211 km, 3.5 hours. HOTELS IN Tortuguero
Rincón de La Vieja
Flights Daily

Rincón de La Vieja is one of Costa Rica's most dynamic destinations. Travelers will find a variety of waterfalls, an active volcano, amazing hiking trails, mud baths, and hot springs all within a picturesque mountainous environment. There isn't much in the way of nightlife or dining options, but for an eco-adventure, this is the place. More information about Rincón de la Vieja Costa Rica.

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 253 km, 4.5 hours; LIR: 60 km, 1 hour; Arenal: 190 km, 4 hours HOTELS IN Rincón de La Vieja
San Gerardo de Dota
Flights Daily

A premier bird watching destination that's unknown to many travelers, San Gerado de Dota is nestled into a mountainous river valley. Cloud forests line ridges along both sides of the valley and attract hundreds of species of birds. You won't find much nightlife here, but for avid hikers and nature lovers, San Gerardo de Dota is a spectacular choice. More information about San Gerardo de Dota Costa Rica.

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 83 km, 3 hours; LIR: 278 km, 7 hours; Arenal: 191 km, 6 hours HOTELS IN San Gerardo de Dota
Monteverde
Flights Daily

The misty cloud forests of Monteverde are some of the most accessible cloud forests in the entire world. With dense canopy foliage and hundreds of epiphytes and lichen, these forests offer visitors some of the country's best hiking. Monteverde has action-packed activities, including zip line tours and horseback riding, as well as educational museums and species exhibits. Due to its varied elevations and diverse density of species, it is a major research site for international biologists. More information about Monteverde Costa Rica.

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 140 km, 4 hours; LIR: 125 km, 3 hours; Arenal: 120 km, 4 hours - Taxi boat taxi route: 60 km 3 hours. - Horseback tour route: 40 km 5 hours. HOTELS IN Monteverde
Dominical
Flights Daily

There are few locations along Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast that offer as many activities and accommodation options as Dominical. The Dominical area is famous for its consistent surf and pristine beaches. The shores are often lined with locals showing off the day's catch of fish, and although the area is changing, the southern Pacific has remained relatively unspoiled by major development. The town offers a range of dining and accommodation options for budget, middle, and high-end travelers. Most luxury hotels are a short drive from the town center. More info about Dominical Costa Rica

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 170 km (106 mi), 4 hours; LIR: 294 km (183 mi), 6 hours; Arenal: 281 km (175 mi), 7 hours HOTELS IN Dominical
Playa Grande
Flights Daily

Playa Grande is a long stretch of beach that is popular among surfers for its consistent waves. Both Playa Grande and its waters are contained in the Marino Las Baulas National Park, a marine sanctuary created to protect the nesting sites of giant Leatherback Turtles, which can weigh between 550 and 1,545 lbs (249 to 701 kg). Due to the sensitive habitat that surrounds Playa Grande, there are few nighttime options, but Tamarindo (which is just up the road) offers dozens of options. More information about Playa Grande Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 269 km (167 mi), 5.5 hours; LIR: 66 km (41 mi), 1.5 hours; Arenal: 206 km (128 mi), 4 hours HOTELS IN Playa Grande
Montezuma
Flights Daily

Montezuma is one of Costa Rica's most laid-back destinations. Full of natural beauty (there are dozens of large and small beaches within walking distance, and a set of nearby waterfalls that are ideal for cooling off), it's easy to take off and enjoy the outdoors for a day. There are limited luxury accommodations, but travelers will find a variety of comfortable options. For its small size, Montezuma has a high number of quality restaurants. More information about Montezuma Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 148 km 5:30 hours. Year round car ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera and Paquera to Montezuma. - LIR: Dry season (Dec-Apr) coastal route 250 km 5 hours (May-August intermittently passable). Rainy Season (May-Nov) 160 km 7 hours Puntarenas Ferry. HOTELS IN Montezuma
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
Flights Daily

Hermosa Beach is a quiet beachside community that is safe for swimming and a favorite among Costa Ricans. Near Hermosa are dozens of other beaches, including Ocotal, Coco, and Panama. Culebra Bay and the Papagayo Gulf lie just a few miles to the north. Costa Ricans are not alone in flocking to Hermosa; the surrounding hillside is home to some of the largest real estate developments in all of Costa Rica. Playa de Coco is about 4 miles (7 km) from Hermosa, a place that has the area's largest selection of restaurants and nighttime activities. Adventure activities in the area include scuba diving, boat tours, and kayaking. More information about Playa Hermosa Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 255 km (158 mi), 5.5 hours; LIR: 35 km (22 mi), 30 minutes; Arenal: 190 km (118 mi), 4 hours HOTELS IN Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
Playa Potrero
Flights Daily

At the heart of Costa Rica's Gold Coast, Potrero is a large, half-moon bay set astride a sleepy fishing village. It is surrounded by some of Costa Rica's most picturesque beaches, including Conchal, Flamingo, Penca, Preita, and Sugar Beach. Development seems destined to change these pristine beaches, but the citizens and municipalities have pledged to avoid the mistakes of similar villages, which underwent rapid transition without prudent regulations. Activities around Potrero include sport fishing, snorkeling, and kayaking. More information about Playa Potrero Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 254 km (158 mi), 5.5 hours; LIR: 85 km (53 mi), 1.5 hours; Arenal: 295 km (183 mi), 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Playa Potrero
Puerto Viejo de Limón
Flights Daily

Costa Rica's southern Caribbean coast offers a climate and culture that is distinctly different from the rest of the country. The eccentric village of Puerto Viejo is an eclectic mix of Tico, Afro-Caribbean, European, and American businesses. Visitors will find that the stretch of coast, which runs from Puerto Viejo's black sand bay to Manzanillo's pristine white sand beach, includes many premier and unspoiled beaches. Punta Uva, a beach set some 3 miles (5 km) to the south, is considered to be among the most beautiful. It is an outstanding spot for snorkeling, sun bathing, and enjoying the mild Caribbean breeze. More information about Puerto Viejo de Limon Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 240 km (149 mi), 5.5 hours; LIR: 420 km (261 mi), 8 hours; Arenal: 292 km (181 mi), 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Puerto Viejo de Limón
Jacó
Flights Daily

Jacó is Costa Rica's largest and most populated beach destination. It has high-rise condos, deluxe restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife. The town is set amidst beautiful hills and it maintains a healthy population of Scarlet Macaws. It is a short driving distance from many less developed and pristine beaches, including Hermosa, Herradura, and Esterillos. Once threatened by pollution, the Jacó beach has become considerably cleaner as the city has adopted stricter environmental regulations. It has moved forward with zoning and water treatment standards to attract more visitors, and is maintaining a sustainable balance with the surrounding biodiversity. More information about Playa Jaco Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM:  SJO: 102 km (63 mi), 2 hours; LIR: 220 km (137 mi), 4 hours; Arenal: 175 km (109 mi), 6.5 hours HOTELS IN Jacó
Mal Pais - Santa Teresa
Flights Daily

Mal Pais-Santa Teresa is one of Costa Rica's most dynamic surfing destinations, a spot that is great for both beginning and advanced surfers. In addition to its surfing, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa offer international restaurants, yoga sessions, a variety of accommodation options, and miles of gorgeous beach. More information about Mal Pais and Santa Teresa Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 164 km, 6 hours Year round Car Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera and Paquera to Mal Pais. - LIR: Dry season (Dec-Apr) coastal route 230 km, 5 hrs (May-August intermittently passable). Rainy Season May-Nov 180 km, 7 hours via Puntarenas ferry. LOCATE AT Mal Pais - Santa Teresa
Tamarindo
Flights Daily

Home to steady surfing waves, perfect Pacific sunsets, a diversity of dining options and a healthy nightlife, Tamarindo is an ideal destination for relaxing and enjoying the beach. Over the last 5 years, the area has experienced major expansion through the construction of condos, homes, and hotels. While it still remains a fantastic beach, Tamarindo exemplifies the environmental challenges and growth pressures that come with quick development. Fearful of losing its charming characteristics, Tamarindo has taken steps to slow its growth and refocus on environmental and biological preservation. These efforts have improved water quality and beach cleanliness dramatically over the last year. More information about Tamarindo Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 266 km (165 mi), 5.5 hours; LIR: 80 km (50 mi), 1.5 hours; Arenal: 260 km (162 mi), 5 hours HOTELS IN Tamarindo
Manuel Antonio
Flights Daily

Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica's most famous destinations — offering world-class beaches, a fantastic national park, and amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. There are dozens of local and international dining options and a wide range of accommodations everything from 5-star luxury suites to simple budget hotels. Visitors to Manuel Antonio will find a combination of nature, nightlife, and adventure. More information about Manuel Antonio Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 192 km (119 mi), 3.5 hours: LIR: 280 km (174 mi), 5 hours; Arenal: 270 km (168 mi), 5 hours. HOTELS IN Manuel Antonio
Cahuita
Flights Daily

Cahuita is of Costa Rica's most laid-back and peaceful communities — a picturesque fishing village set on the edge of the Cahuita National Park and Beach. The community takes pride in maintaining one of the cleanest beaches and healthiest bays in all of the country. For traditional Caribbean food, fresh seafood, clear Caribbean waters and friendly locals, Cahuita is a wonderful option. More information about Cahuita Costa Rica.

 

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 216 km (134 mi), 5 hours; LIR: 395 km (245 mi), 7 hours; Arenal: 280 km (174 mi), 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Cahuita