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Central America's best beaches

Costa Rica beach from above

Boasting two different yet equally beautiful coastlines, Costa Rica is a haven for beach lovers. Head down the Pacific coast where the tropical rainforest creeps over onto a long sandy stretch of beach and monkeys swing from the trees, or head to the Caribbean to soak up some relaxed reggae vibes in the beach towns where life is as laid back as the surfers who reside there. We offer a range of different bite-sized beach trips in Costa Rica, perfect for slotting into your itinerary.

Crystal waters and coral reefs in the Caribbean

The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica has a very different atmosphere to the rest, and due to it raining more on this side of the country, it is less visited than the Pacific coast. This brings its own advantages: long, empty beaches where the rainforest meets the coast and a chilled out Caribbean atmosphere. The distinct Caribbean feel of Puerto Viejo means that you’re never too far from an intoxicating reggae beat or a tropical cocktail. There are some fantastic surfing and swimming locations along the coast which are easily accessible by bike or car, or if you fancy a bit of local culture you could head to a working tropical farm to sample the local produce. Of course, you could just lay back and relax on the beach…

Costa Rica Snorkelling destination
Costa Rica tourist at the beach

Relaxing on the Pacific’s endless beaches

The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is full of beaches, sun and sand, and Samara village has plenty of each. With a long stretch of white sand and calm waters, this beach stay is a great option for families or those who enjoy open water swimming. The days on this trip are left free to relax and do as much, or as little as you wish. The national park in Manuel Antonio is a place where sandy beaches and rainforest go hand-in-hand. You might spot three different species of monkey, but be sure to keep your belongings close by as they certainly live up to being cheeky! This is the only national park in Costa Rica where you can have your binoculars out one minute and be snorkelling the next.

Spot dolphins

The combination of deserted beaches and plenty of options for day trips make Costa Ballena one of our favourite beach destinations. Along the hilly coastline, you’ll find vast deserted beaches where pelicans fly in circles above the mangroves and landscaped lodges speckle the shore. Tortuga is a great starting point for dolphin boat trips, snorkelling in the Ballena National Marine Park and exploring hidden beaches and waterfalls. The waters off the Drake Bay coastline are home to a variety of marine life, including 25 species of dolphins and whales that pass through each year. Nearby Isla del Caño has one of the best coral reefs in the country and is well worth a snorkelling trip with your guide. You won’t find many amenities on the beaches here, but if you’ve always wanted to experience desert island life, you’ll find this and more on Drake Bay.

Costa Rica dolphin underwater wildlife spotting

View our top Costa Rica itineraries

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Costa Rica in a Nutshell

  • San Jose - Tortuguero - La Fortuna - Monteverde - Samara Beach - San Jose
  • 13 days / 12 nights (flexible)
  • From £ 1,995.- per person (excluding flights)
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Costa Rica Pura Vida sloths

Costa Rica: Pura Vida en Familia

  • San Jose - Tortuguero - La Fortuna - Monteverde - Samara - Manuel Antonio - Alajuela (San Jose)
  • 15 days / 14 nights (flexible)
  • From £ 2,430,- per adult (excluding flights)
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Costa Rica wildlife monkey

Complete Costa Rica

  • San Jose - Boca Tapada - Juanilama community - La Fortuna - Monteverde - Manuel Antonio - Costa Ballena - Corcovado National Park - Alajuela - Puerto Viejo - San Jose
  • 23 days / 22 nights
  • From £ 4,650.- per person (excluding flights)
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Discover Nicaragua's beaches

Nicaragua might not be the obvious beach destination, but you might just be surprised. On the Caribbean coast you’ll find the gorgeous Corn Islands complete with powdery white sand, brightly coloured coral reefs and gentle reggae beats. This is the place to get away from it all.
On the Pacific side near San Juan del Sur, white sand is replaced by fantastic surfing opportunities, a lively night life and more restaurants than you can count! And Nicaragua also has an extra little gem. The beaches of Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua may not be the most beautiful but they are certainly some of the most peaceful and authentic. Watch the sun sink below the horizon and listen to the gentle lapping of the waves.

Nicaragua Corn Island beach sea hills

Coral reefs on a castaway isle

Off the coast of Nicaragua are the tropical Corn Islands. Although they are less well known than other Caribbean islands, you’ll still find that classic image of azure blue water and white beaches. Get to know the underwater world on a snorkelling trip, indulge yourself in the cosy bars by sipping on a tropical cocktail. In the background, you’ll hear reggae beats, the favourite music of the Caribbean islanders.

Catch some surf in San Juan

Although you won’t find powdery white sand beaches on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, you will discover clapboard houses, chilled-out restaurants and fantastic sunsets. Even better, the town of San Juan del Sur is only 2.5 hours from Managua airport, making this a great destination to end your trip. This stretch of coastline is well known for its surfing breaks and during your stay we can arrange for you to have a go yourself.

Nicaragua San Juan del Sur local surfer sunset
Nicaragua Ometepe island volcano landscape sea

Swim along freshwater shores in Ometepe

Ometepe island offers a real break from the busy cities of Nicaragua. The locals are very friendly and call their island ‘a haven of peace and tranquillity’. Ometepe is the largest freshwater island in the world. It is formed from two volcanoes and the name Ometepe literally translates as ‘two peaks’. From your lodge you can walk to the beach to sunbathe or swim in the lake.

Laze on the sandy beaches of Panama

The undeveloped beaches and islands of Panama offer secluded bays, castaway coves and some time to relax and kick back with a cocktail during your Panama adventure. Try snorkelling the coral reefs, learn to cook a traditional Caribbean-fusion meal with a local family, or take a short flight for a real Robinson Crusoe adventure on a desert island.

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro offers the chance to get away from the city and relax on the white sandy beaches, soak up some sunshine and try the local delicacies. It’s also a great place to do some snorkelling or diving in the turquoise seas or visit castaway islands. Our In Style accommodation option offers private water bungalows on stilts, which even have glass panels on the floor for you to watch the marine life swim past – sure to be a highlight of your stay!

Panama Bocas del Toro beach jetty palm trees
Panama San Blas islands local man sitting on palm tree beach

San Blas Islands

The San Blas Islands offer a unique experience where you will stay in cabins which are owned and managed by the Kuna community. Not only do you get to stay on a tropical island paradise but you can feel good about it too as you’ll be supporting the local community and giving something back to the area you are enjoying.