The infamous polar vortex has taken hold in North America, and Punxsutawney Phil agrees that Americans are in for a long winter. For visitors in search of a warm escape, travel expert Christopher P. Baker- author of Moon Costa Rica– shares the top ten best beaches in Costa Rica by region, from the Caribbean to the Central Pacific.
Playa Blanca, Parque Nacional Cahuita: With several beautiful golden-sand beaches broken by rocky headlands, Cahuita is a great place to sunbathe or snorkel amid the offshore coral reef.
THE NICOYA PENINSULA:
Playa Conchal: This sometimes crowded beach of tiny seashells changes from bleached white to gray, depending on tidal and weather conditions. The calm turquoise waters host a beautiful coral reef.
Playa Flamingo: Perhaps the most splendid white-sand beach in the nation, this gently curving scimitar is cusped by rugged headlands.
Playa Santa Teresa: Rugged headlands and isles, tropical forest, and fearsome surf make this one of the nation’s most dramatic beaches.
Playa Naranjo: Surrounded on two sides by swampy estuaries, this golden-sand beach provides access to Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. See big cats, crocodiles, tamanduas, and scarlet macaws.
GOLFO DULCE AND THE OSA PENINSULA:
Playa Platanares: East of Puerto Jiménez, Platanares abuts both rainforest and mangrove, is an important nesting site for marine turtles, and offers whale and dolphin viewing.
Playa Zancudo: Washed by surf and littered with tree trunks, this beach has stupendous views across the Golfo Dulce.
Playa Manuel Antonio: Curling around a sheltered bay like a shepherd’s crook, this beach has it all: calm turquoise waters, rocky headlands, rainforest, and views toward distant mountains.
Playas Esterillos: Palm-fringed with gray sands, four beaches in one run along some 12 miles of shoreline.
For more information on Moon Costa Rica and Central America’s magnificent beaches, visit moon.com/destinations/central-america.