Costa Rica is the perfect vacation destination for anyone who loves warm weather, sunny salty beaches, adventure tours and a mix of language and culture. In between the pounding surf of the Pacific coast and the stunning white sand beaches of the Caribbean, a volcanic cordillera makes Costa Rice one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth. But you knew this. That’s why you’ve already decided you’re coming here as soon as humanly possible. Awesome.
Here is a short list of some of the best places to stay in Costa Rica. There are lots of great ones; these are the best.
Tamarindo tops the list of the best places to stay in Costa Rica, and there are so many reasons we don’t know where to start the list. One of the reasons is the beach. Tamarindo is one of the only tropical beaches in the world where you can surf, swim, and take long barefoot beach walks all on the same beach. Think we’re making that up? We’re not. There are lots of great surfing beaches, but they aren’t great for swimming. There are great beach-walking beaches, but there are no waves and the family surfers get crabby while you’re out walking. Etc etc. Tamarindo is great because the surfers can surf, the toddlers and grandparents can play in the shallows and the guy selling coconuts (spiked or not—you decide) will be right by. And that’s only reason number one.
Tamarindo is a fun town with a colorful mix of world cultures and languages. Established in the 1970s when most of rural Costa Rica was pasture land, Tamarindo has its own fascinating history and a deep-rooted community of locals and expats from just about everywhere. It’s only about an hour from the Daniel Oduber International Airport, which is an important perk you will appreciate more after having spent some time navigating Costa Rica’s roads. And it bears mentioning that Tamarindo has the perfect combo of the town/rural dynamic going on. We’re in beautiful rolling cattle country and right beside Las Baulas National Park, so plenty of untouched Costa Rica lies alongside us in its natural state. We have, however, wonderful things like pavement on (most of) our roads, pharmacies in case you need a band aid or a hangover gets the best of you. You can get a haircut, there’s a book store, and we have several gyms. The beach, the bars and the boutique shopping are what bring you here, but never underestimate the importance of being able to find an English-speaking dentist if you chip a tooth.
Often lumped into the category of “Tamarindo” because of its proximity, Hacienda Pinilla is technically located just next door. Hacienda Pinilla is many things rolled into one, and it is definitely one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica. Hacienda Pinilla encompasses an expansive nature preserve, a working cattle ranch, 3 miles of coastline, and a gated community with an 18-hole golf course, a beach club, tennis courts, an equestrian center, and a JW Marriot resort. Yes. All that. Fifteen minutes from Tamarindo. Obviously one of your best options in Costa Rica.
The Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula, home of the Corcovado National Park is for sure one of the most unforgettable places you can visit in Costa Rica, but be warned: it is for nature-lovers only! This rural Pacific peninsula on the southern tip of Costa Rica has pristine beaches, clear rivers, stunning waterfalls, and more wild animals than you will find anywhere else you visit in Costa Rica. The surf is uncrowded and the fishing is amazing. If you are looking for a Costa Rican vacation that is a retreat from the chaos of the rest of the world, Osa Peninsula is the haven you have imagined.
Osa Peninsula Vacation Rental Highlight:
We recommend Casa del Cabo
Manuel Antonio National Park
Ok, you can’t actually stay in the National Park, but we highly recommend you travel to that central area of the country and stay near it. The Manuel Antonio National park is green all year long because the central region of Costa Rica receives significantly more rainfall than we do here in the Pacific north in Guanacaste. It can be interesting to divide your stay in Costa Rica between a tropical dry forest destination like Tamarindo, and a more traditional rain forest like Manuel Antonio. The flora and fauna of these two Pacific locations is amazingly different in spite of the fact that they are only about 190 miles apart. The park is surrounded by lots of restaurants, tour operators, hotels and shopping options, so you won’t ever be at a loss for what to do or a new restaurant to try.
Manuel Antonio Vacation Rental Highlight:
We pick this ocean-view home called Shangri La!
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, the best place you can stay is in Puerto Viejo. Puerto Viejo is half way between two breathtaking national parks: Cahuita National Park, and the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Cahuita is a marine park that protects endangered coral reefs and is the place you want to go for snorkeling. The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge protects flora and fauna that would otherwise be in danger of extinction. If you love to surf, you will love the Puerto Viejo region of Costa Rica with its rich variety of surf breaks that stretches between the national parks and continues up the coast.
Puerto Viejo Vacation Rental Highlight:
We pick this unique option called Canopy House!
As you can see, Costa Rica is full of unbelievable places to stay and things to see–the hardest part is picking between all the amazing options. Contact us and let us help you make the call.