Is the current pandemic getting you down as a family? If you’re in Costa Rica, it’s hard to see the bright side. Especially if you’re stuck in the Central Valley with driving restrictions and a never-ending cycle of bad news. And now they’re closing the schools for a month, too.
This pandemic sucks
But there’s one glimmer of light here. If they’re closing the schools and going back to online learning, there’s no need to stick around, right? Especially if you’re now working from home yourself. I mean, why not go to the beach?
With tourism still low in Costa Rica, beach communities could use the help. Plus you get to get the kids out of town and stop them from going stir crazy from being stuck at home with nothing to do.
But where to go? What are the best beaches in Costa Rica for families and children?
Surfers know where to go in Costa Rica and so do fishing enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventure seekers. Costa Rica has the best beaches in the world for all these types.
But what about families?
If you want to get your family away from the GAM and over to the beach, you’ll want a suitable one, right? And what makes a beach suitable for families anyway?
When choosing a family friendly beach, safety is most paramount in your mind. You’re looking for calm, shallow waters and soft sand for the kids to play in. The Pounding waves and rip tides that make Costa Rica are not exactly suitable for toddlers.
Below, we list the five best beaches in Costa Rica for families to escape to. Each one of these beaches comes with calm waters or small waves and little in the way of riptides. Be aware, though, that even though these beaches aren’t as rough as many in Costa Rica, lifeguides are still a rarity.
Playa Conchal, Guanacaste
They call Playa Conchal the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica. Well, many do, and who says they’re wrong? With its bright white to pinkish sand (actually, not sand at all, crushed seashells, hence the name – conchal means shell in Spanish) and turquoise waters, this is a beach perfect for family picnics and chill time.
Outside of the calm water, Playa Conchal is also home to some of Costa Rica’s best resorts – another plus for families. The Westin Playa Conchal and the W Costa Rica in Reserva Conchal are two of the most family friendly resorts in Costa Rica.
Playa Potrero, Guanacaste
Playa Potrero is one of Costa Rica’s lesser known gems. At least to foreign tourists, if not to locals and expats. It’s a quiet community close to the resorts of Playa Flamingo, but just far enough away to remain unaffected by them.
Backed by private and rental homes mixed with the odd hotel or restaurant, the beach is a wide expanse of brownish-gold sand sloping down to a calm bay perfect for splashing around and swimming in.
Offshore you can see the Catalina Islands, home of some of the best scuba diving in Costa Rica, and it’s possible to arrange a trip out there in Potrero or Flamingo. But if you want a place to enjoy a weekend (or longer) with the kids in a calm, tranquilo setting, Potrero is a wonderful option.
Playa Espadilla, Manuel Antonio
Just outside the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park is Playa Espadilla. You can’t miss it, it’s the big long beach outside the park which costs nothing to hang out on. There are restaurants and refreshments available, as well as a myriad of watersports and adventures like surfing and parasailing. In short, the place has a great seaside vibe, bustling and chilled at the same time.
And Playa Espadilla is also great for families, too. You have the aforementioned activities plus the benefit of a relatively calm beach. We say “relatively” because there are waves at Playa Espadilla, but this makes it one of the best beaches in Costa Rica for kids to learn surfing. For a family beach getaway in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla are pretty unbeatable.
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste
First things first. There are a lot of Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica. The name means “beautiful beach” in Spanish, so that’s not surprising. But there are two famous Playa Hermosas, both beautiful for sure, but only one suitable for families. That one is Playa Hermosa de Guanacaste, NOT the Playa Hermosa south of Jaco.
The Jaco Playa Hermosa is one of Costa Rica’s prominent surf spots, with one of the most consistent beach breaks in the country and rips and underswells galore. We love Playa Hermosa, but it’s certainly not a family beach. No.
The Playa Hermosa we’re talking about is the Guanacaste one, a tranquilo stretch of grey sand backed by palm trees and with plenty of restaurants to hang out with a coke or an ice cream after taking the kids for a leisurely snorkel.
Punta Uva, Limon
So far, everything’s been on the Pacific side. But the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, famous for its rough waters and big waves, can also come up with the goods when looking for a family beach.
A case in point is Punta Uva, south of Puerto Viejo. Punta Uva offers everything you imagine a Caribbean should should offer. Calm turquoise water protected by a reef to create safe swimming and paddling conditions? Check. White sands to build castles with? Check. Green jungle behind complete with swaying coconut palms? Check check check.
If you’re in Puerto Viejo with the kids, Punta Uva is where you need to be. If the kids are a little older, rent out some bicycles and cycle there as a family. That Caribbean water will feel even better after the ride!
What are your favorite beaches in Costa Rica for families?
We named five here, but we could have named many more. I’d like to give honorable mentions to Montezuma (the little beach in town), Carrillo, and Samara. But where are yours? Where will you take the kids during their forced month off school?