Beautiful Pavones Beach
Beautiful Pavones Beach

There is nothing like walking along a beautiful beach with the sand between your toes, and Costa Rica has many beaches that will accommodate this fun task. But not all sand is the same! Depending on where you are from, or where you have traveled, you might be used to a specific type of sand, but in Costa Rica you will find both black sand and white sand beaches throughout the country. While all the beaches in the country are beautiful, the differences in the type of sand reinforce that all beaches are not the same.

The sand on a beach is material that includes eroded rock pieces. These pieces have landed on the shore by way of the water and the wind, so the color of the sand is determined by the surround geology. Dark rocks, like in areas near volcanoes, will lend to the beach having dark sand. Lighter rocks, like in areas with coral, will lend to the beach having light sand. While the most well-known type of beach has sand that is a shade of light brown, black and white sand beaches exist all around the world. In Costa Rica, there is many of each.

The Best Black Sand Beaches in Costa Rica

Black sand beaches in Costa Rica can be a shock for someone that has only seen brown or white sand beaches, but after the shock wears off nobody can deny the beauty of these beaches. Beauty aside, these beaches aren't exactly built for normal beach activities. Black sand can be difficult to walk on in the typical barefoot beach fashion, and it also absorbs more heat. On a sunny day in Costa Rica, the sand can get pretty hot. Don't be deterred though! Here are some black sand beaches in Costa Rica that you should visit.

Beach at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Beach at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Puerto Viejo

This area is most well­known for the fabulous beaches that it offers on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The black sand beaches in this area in the Limon Province have all the ingredients of a perfect beach getaway: clear blue waters with warm temperatures, a charming seaside town, great surfing, sunshine and plenty of local restaurants. The beach activities are boundless; from snorkeling to swimming to paddle boarding – you'll never be bored in Puerto Viejo.

Sunny black sand beach at Playa Hermosa
Sunny black sand beach at Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa

Just a 20 minute travel time from the Daniel Oduber International Airport lays a beach paradise that you can't miss if you are traveling in Costa Rica. While you might think that a black sand beach might look dirty, you don't need to worry about that while at Playa Hermosa– this area is recognized as one of the cleanest beaches in Costa Rica. Like many beaches in the country, you'll find beautiful blue waters, but his area also offers views of tropical forests. Playa Hermosa isn't usually too crowded, and makes a great retreat for those than want to relax.

Surfers walking at Pavones
Surfers walking at Pavones

Playa Pavones

Pavones black sand beach is the perfect spot for a little bit of paradise. From taking a long stroll in the sand to riding a horse down the stretch of beach, this small beach community has much to offer its visitors. Sport fishing is also available, or visitors can simply get comfortable in their beach chair or on their towel and relax the day away. With glittering green waters hitting the dark black sand shore, there is a sense of beauty and calm at Pavones that draws visitors in. If you are a surfer, well, Pavones beach is your haven. You won’t find a longer wave anywhere in the world. The ride here can last over two minutes during the south by southwest swell. The best surfing is available during the rainy season (April – November), but this is a great place to visit year-round. The black sand beach is surrounded by a rainforest, so there are plenty of other activities to do, like hiking and canopy tours.

The Best White Sand Beaches in Costa Rica

White sand beaches are more commonly known than black sand beaches, and are often associated with luxury, relaxation, and exotic beauty. White sand beaches in Costa Rica do have a softer, silkier feeling than their black sand counterparts, making them a popular choice for visitors. These beaches are great for laying out, as white sand doesn't absorb as much heat as black sand. Here are a few of the most popular white sand Costa Rica beaches.

Relax under an umbrella in Manuel Antonio
Relax under an umbrella in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio

Though Manuel Antonio is not a large town, this oceanside village packs a lot of nature. The black sand beaches here are just an added bonus to an already amazing area. It's also home of the smallest but most visited National Park in Costa Rica. The waters here are perfect, and whether you are just there to watch the waves from the shore or challenge them from your surfboard, you won't be disappointed with the Pacific coast in Costa Rica.

Amazing white sand beach at Playa Conchal
Amazing white sand beach at Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal

Soft white sand, clear waters, perfect beach weather. Welcome to Playa Conchal, one of the most beautiful and exotic beaches that the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica has to offer. Located in the Guanacaste Province, the white sand beach is mainly materials from small shells that have been crushed. While much of the United States is miserable in the winter months, Playa Conchal is enjoying over 10 hours of daylight a day. That extended daylight keeps the waters warm, and makes this white sand beach a desirable destination.

Playa Avellana Beach
Playa Avellana Beach

Playa Avellanas

Playa Avellanas is exactly what you picture when you think of an exotic white sand beach. The world­class waves that make this beach a surfer’s haven crash up onto the relaxing white sand shore and create a paradise that rivals the world’s top beach destinations. Whether you are a surfer or just looking to unwind, this is a great spot. Swimming isn’t recommended here, but the white sand beach is a great place to read a book or have a picnic.

Playa Grande Beach Break Surf
Playa Grande Beach Break Surf

Playa Grande

Part of the Marino Las Baulas National Park, this public white sand beach is located in the Guanacaste Province. Playa Grande lies along the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica, and offers unpatrolled beauty with its turquoise waters and light sand. This beach is not only an attraction for visitors, it is important to the sea turtles that lay their eggs on the shore. Costa Rica fiercely protects the nesting sites of the turtles, so they can hatch and make their way back into the waters.