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Best Beach Towns to Live in Costa Rica

Best Beach Towns to Live in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its stunning beaches and vibrant expat community. If you’re considering a move to this tropical paradise, you may be wondering which beach towns are the best to live in. While opinions may vary among expats, it’s essential to research and find a town that aligns with your desired lifestyle and preferences. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best beach towns to live in Costa Rica, each offering its unique charm and appeal.

South Caribbean: Embracing a Laid-Back Lifestyle

The South Caribbean region of Costa Rica boasts a laid-back atmosphere and a diverse blend of cultures. Here, picturesque beach towns are perfect for those seeking a tranquil and relaxed lifestyle. Consider these towns as potential places to call home:

  1. Cahuita: Known for its pristine beaches and national park, Cahuita offers a serene environment and ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
  2. Puerto Viejo: This vibrant town is famous for its lively music scene, delicious Caribbean cuisine, and world-class surfing spots.
  3. Cocles: With its lush rainforests and beautiful beaches, Cocles is an ideal destination for nature lovers and surf enthusiasts.
  4. Playa Chiquita: Nestled between the jungle and the sea, Playa Chiquita offers a peaceful retreat with stunning natural beauty.
  5. Punta Uva: If you’re looking for a secluded paradise, Punta Uva’s pristine beaches and tranquil ambiance make it a perfect choice.
  6. Manzanillo: Situated near the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, this charming town is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and snorkeling lovers.

South Pacific: Nature’s Playground

The South Pacific region of Costa Rica is renowned for its untouched natural beauty, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife. Consider these beach towns as potential places to settle down:

  1. Dominical: Surrounded by verdant hills and boasting world-class surfing waves, Dominical attracts adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.
  2. Uvita: Uvita is known for its iconic Whale Tail formation and offers a blend of beautiful beaches, cascading waterfalls, and diverse marine life.
  3. Ojochal: Embracing a culinary scene influenced by international flavors, Ojochal is a paradise for food enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful coastal lifestyle.

Central Pacific: Where Contrasts Meet

The Central Pacific region offers a mix of modern conveniences, natural wonders, and vibrant entertainment options. Here are some beach towns to consider:

  1. Manuel Antonio – Quepos: Home to the renowned Manuel Antonio National Park and a wide range of amenities, this area is perfect for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
  2. Jaco Beach: Known for its lively nightlife, Jaco Beach is a popular destination for surfing, water sports, and beachfront relaxation.
  3. Esterillos: With its long stretches of pristine beaches, Esterillos offers a serene setting ideal for those seeking a slower-paced lifestyle.

Nicoya Peninsula: A Blend of Serenity and Adventure

The Nicoya Peninsula showcases a mix of serene coastal towns and vibrant communities, each offering a unique experience. Consider these towns as potential places to call home:

  1. Mal Pais: This bohemian surf town boasts world-class waves and a relaxed atmosphere, making it a popular spot for surfers and free spirits.
  2. Playa Carmen: Known for its vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches, Playa Carmen offers a mix of entertainment and natural beauty.
  3. Santa Teresa: Santa Teresa is renowned for its stunning beaches, excellent surf breaks, and thriving yoga and wellness community.
  4. Tambor: Surrounded by lush greenery and pristine beaches, Tambor is a tranquil paradise that attracts nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.
  5. Montezuma: With its bohemian vibe and stunning waterfalls, Montezuma offers a unique blend of artistic expression and natural beauty.
  6. Cabuya: Nestled near the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Cabuya is a small fishing village that offers a quiet and authentic coastal experience.

North Pacific: Sun, Surf, and Vibrant Communities

The North Pacific region of Costa Rica is known for its world-class surf breaks, breathtaking beaches, and vibrant communities. Explore these beach towns as potential options for coastal living:

  1. Tamarindo: Tamarindo is a bustling beach town with vibrant nightlife, amenities, and excellent surfing conditions.
  2. Flamingo: With its upscale resorts and marina, Flamingo attracts those seeking a luxurious coastal lifestyle and access to world-class water activities.
  3. Playas del Coco: Playas del Coco offers a lively atmosphere, many restaurants and shops, and easy access to the nearby Liberia International Airport.
  4. Playa Hermosa: Renowned for its consistent surf and relaxed atmosphere, Playa Hermosa is a popular destination for surfers and families.

Other Notable Beach Towns in Costa Rica

In addition to the regions above, there are a few notable beach towns in Costa Rica that deserve consideration:

  1. Samara: Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, Samara offers a laid-back vibe, stunning beaches, and a close-knit community.
  2. Nosara: Famous for its world-class yoga retreats and eco-conscious lifestyle, Nosara is a haven for wellness enthusiasts and nature lovers.

When choosing a beach town to live in Costa Rica, remember that the country has over 763 miles of coastline, providing many options. It’s crucial to visit each location, experience its unique charm firsthand, and assess if it aligns with your desired lifestyle and preferences.


Living in a beach town in Costa Rica offers the opportunity to embrace a tropical paradise, enjoy outdoor activities, and immerse yourself in a vibrant expat community. Whether you’re drawn to the relaxed Caribbean vibes of the South, the untouched beauty of the South Pacific, the contrasts of the Central Pacific, or the sun-drenched beaches of the North, there’s a beach town in Costa Rica that can fulfill your dreams of coastal living.

Conduct thorough research, visit the towns of interest, and consider amenities, accessibility, and the community atmosphere. With careful consideration and an adventurous spirit, you’ll find the perfect beach town to call home in beautiful Costa Rica.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)



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    Frequently Asked Questions


    Is it safe to live in a beach town in Costa Rica?

    Costa Rica is generally considered safe, but being cautious and aware of your surroundings is always important. Take necessary precautions, such as securing your belongings and following local safety guidelines.

    Can I own property as a foreigner in Costa Rica?

    Yes, foreigners have the same property rights as Costa Rican citizens. However, it’s advisable to consult a reputable lawyer to navigate the legal process of purchasing property in Costa Rica.

    What is the cost of living in beach towns in Costa Rica?

    The cost of living varies depending on the specific beach town and your lifestyle choices. Generally, it’s more affordable than in North America or Europe, but particular amenities and imported goods may be relatively expensive.

    What healthcare facilities are available in beach towns?

    Costa Rica has a well-developed healthcare system, including public and private hospitals and clinics. Many beach towns have medical facilities, and larger towns may have access to specialized services. It’s recommended to have health insurance that covers your needs.

    Is it necessary to speak Spanish to live in a beach town in Costa Rica?

    While it’s helpful to know Spanish, many locals and expats in popular beach towns can communicate in English. However, learning basic Spanish will enhance your overall experience and integration into the local community.

    Are there international schools in beach towns?

    Some beach towns have international schools that cater to expat communities. These schools offer education in English or other languages and follow international curricula. Research the availability and quality of schools in your chosen beach town.

    How is the internet and communication infrastructure in beach towns?

    Costa Rica has significantly improved its internet infrastructure, and most beach towns have reliable internet connections. However, speeds and coverage may vary, so it’s advisable to check the specific location before deciding.

    What are the visa requirements for living in a beach town in Costa Rica?

    Visa requirements vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay. Standard options include tourist visas, temporary residency, or investment-based visas. Consult with Costa Rican immigration authorities or an immigration lawyer for accurate and up-to-date information.

    Are there recreational activities available in beach towns?

    Beach towns in Costa Rica offer a plethora of recreational activities. You can enjoy swimming, surfing, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, yoga, and more. Many towns also organize community events and festivals to keep residents engaged.

    How can I integrate into the local community as an expat in a beach town?

    Integrating into the local community can be a rewarding experience. Engage in local events, volunteer opportunities, and language exchanges, or join social clubs and organizations. Building relationships with locals will enhance your cultural immersion and sense of belonging.


    Remember to conduct thorough research and seek professional advice when considering a move to a beach town in Costa Rica. Each individual’s circumstances and preferences may vary, so gathering all the necessary information is essential to make an informed decision.


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