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Destinations: Beaches
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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, 4.5 hours; LIR: 140 km, 4 hours; Arenal: 250 km, 5 hours HOTELS IN Samara
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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 travel by car. In fact, here are no cars in Tortuguero's transportation usually involves a boat ride along heavily forested canals or the glassy oceanic water. More information about Tortuguero Costa Rica

DISTANCE FROM: Distances from:  - SJO: To Cano Blanco 164 km (4 hours) from Cano Blanco 35 km by boat 1.5 hours.  - LIR: To Cano Blanco 360 km (7 hours) from Cano Blanco 35 km by boat 1.5 hours. - Arenal: 211 km to Caño Blanco 3.5 hours. Caño Blanco to Tortuguero by HOTELS IN Tortuguero
Rincón de La Vieja
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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
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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
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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
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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, 4 hours; LIR: 294 km, 6 hours; Arenal: 281 km, 7 hours HOTELS IN Dominical
Playa Grande
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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. 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, 5.5 hours; LIR: 66 km, 1.5 hours; Arenal: 206 km, 4 hours HOTELS IN Playa Grande
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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 Puntar HOTELS IN Montezuma
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
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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, 5.5 hours; LIR: 35 km, 30 minutes; Arenal: 190 km, 4 hours HOTELS IN Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
Playa Potrero
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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, 5.5 hours; LIR: 85 km, 1.5 hours; Arenal: 295 km, 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Playa Potrero
Puerto Viejo de Limón
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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, 5.5 hours; LIR: 420 km, 8 hours; Arenal: 292 km, 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Puerto Viejo de Limón
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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, 2 hours; LIR: 220 km, 4 hours; Arenal: 175 km, 6.5 hours HOTELS IN Jacó
Malpais - Santa Teresa
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Malpais-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, Malpais and Santa Teresa offer international restaurants, yoga sessions, a variety of accommodation options, and miles of gorgeous beach. More information about Malpais and Santa Teresa Costa Rica.

DISTANCE FROM: SJO: 164 km 6 hours Year round Car Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera and Paquera to Malpais. - 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. - Arenal: 16 LOCATE AT Malpais - Santa Teresa
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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 loosing its charming characteristics, Tamarindo has taken steps to slow its growth and re-focus 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, 5.5 hours; LIR: 80 km, 1.5 hours; Arenal: 260 km, 5 hours HOTELS IN Tamarindo
Manuel Antonio
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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, 3.5 hours: LIR: 280 km, 5 hours; Arenal: 270 km, 5 hours. HOTELS IN Manuel Antonio
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Cahuita is of Costa Rica's most laidback 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, 5 hours; LIR: 395 km, 7 hours; Arenal: 280 km, 5.5 hours HOTELS IN Cahuita