Friday, November 22, 2019 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Costa Rica: Caribbean or Pacific Side?

Costa Rica is small country of 4.5 million people in Central America. Among travelers and tourists it’s known for its diverse nature, paradise beaches and wild nightlife. Even though Costa Rica isn’t a big country, it can be divided to two different parts geographically: Caribbean Side and Pacific Side. These two areas differ by culture, cities, nature, number of tourists and, most importantly, by different kinds of beach experiences on each of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Now we will take closer look to the two sides and help you decide which one you should pick out for a perfect holiday.

Beautiful Beaches

Costa Rica is popular destination for surfers and sunbathers. However, your perfect beach experience can be very different depending which side of the country you choose. If you are searching for warmth and flatter beaches you should choose the Pacific side even if it comes with one negative point: a mass of tourists. If you rather would choose more laid back and local beaches head to the Caribbean coast.

Beautiful Beaches Costa Rica

Both coasts share similar beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters. If you do some research you can find idyllic black sand beaches on the Caribbean side and some pink beaches on the Pacific side. Whichever side you choose, spending time seaside should be high on your to do list. when making your hard decision keep one thing in mind. Pacific is more suitable for surfing while the Caribbean has beaches more amenable to chilling out and enjoying the blue waters.

Choose Samara, Manuel Antonio or Playa Langosta beach on the Pacific coast and Playa Chiquita or Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast. Remember to always check that swimming is safe in the specific area. Some beaches have strong waves and rip currents and are dangerous for swimming.

Tourist or Adventurer?

Most of the tourists head to the Pacific side of the country so it is also more commercialized, modern and build-up than the Caribbean coast. Some people call the Caribbean side more dangerous because there is more poverty and local life than in the other side of the country. Most crime there, however, is petty theft with almost no violent crime reported at all. Take normal travel precautions and you can find perfect holiday there and enjoy the local diverse culture.
Culture Costa Rica
The Pacific coast is perfect for those who want a little more luxury for their holiday. Or who simply can’t live without Wi-Fi. The northern region is the most developed area and is always ready to welcome tourists. Even those looking for luxury hotels and high-end restaurants will find what they’re looking for.

Volcano Costa Rica

The Caribbean coast, on the other hand, is more laid-back and taken over by the locals. You can find luxury hotels on the Caribbean side but only a few scattered all over the coast. This side of the country fits better for people wanting to spend their time adventuring rather than just enjoying good services and sunbathing. Take an adventure tour and go wild on the Caribbean coast.

Breathtaking Nature

Costa Rica is one of the most nature conscious countries in the world. For example, in 2009 Costa Rica was selected the greenest country by NEF. They really care for and protect their diverse natural treasures. The entire country boasts jungles, rain forests, and exotic animals. Both sides have a wide variety of animals including monkeys, wild cats and hummingbirds.

The Pacific coast is full of mountains taken over by jungle that falls all the way down to the white beaches. Its nature is beautiful but if you want to see real wonders of the mother earth head towards the national parks situated along the Caribbean coast. Costa Rica has a large area of protected land, but you can find a lot of nature tours that let you explore the jungles and view animals like howler monkeys, toucans, and protected sea turtles up close.

Nature Costa Rica

Cities Worth a Visit

The Pacific coast has many bigger cities with wild nightlife and luxurious resorts. Jaco, Papagayo and Manuel Antonio are some good cities to consider. Families and travelers looking for all-inclusive holidays will especially enjoy the Pacific cities.

Costa Rica Manuel Antonio

The Caribbean coast on the other hand has a more relaxed atmosphere. The people are easygoing and helpful. Small cities are more common and most of the areas have a small-town vibe about them. Visit cities like Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo and Punta Uva for surfing and enjoying the beaches. One of the most popular spots is Tortuguero that offers interesting wildlife and canal tours.

So Where to Go?

Pacific side: For families and those trying to find luxury. Book an all-inclusive hotel and soak in the sun. If you are hoping for a perfect package without doing anything else go for the Pacific side.

Caribbean side: For people trying to find a relaxed atmosphere and interaction with the locals, the Caribbean side is the clear choice. You can find more adventure holidays and tours from this side of the country.

Where To Go Costa Rica Horse Riding At The Beach


All in all, both coasts have everything your perfect holiday in the sunshine needs. Whichever you choose, there are plenty of exciting experiences to try. Don’t miss the amazing surfing and wildlife tours or soaking up the sun and partying through the night.


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