The Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica for Expats

by Ray Roman | Last updated on May 9, 2023

Costa Rica, a Central American gem, has long attracted expats from around the world. Its tropical climate, breathtaking beaches, and vibrant culture make it a popular choice for those looking to escape the daily grind and experience the “pura vida.”

To help you find your dream destination, we’ve compiled a list of the best beach towns in Costa Rica for expats, taking into account factors such as location, amenities, and community vibe.

Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica for Expats
Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica for Expats

The 10 Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica for Expats

Here are the ten best Costa Rica Beach towns for expats to visit:

1. Tamarindo

Tamarindo is a popular beach destination in Guanacaste province on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, renowned for its stunning sunsets and relaxed atmosphere. With an international airport nearby in Liberia, your dream beach life is just a short drive away. This is definitely one of the Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica

Expat Community

Tamarindo has a thriving expat community, which means you’ll find plenty of like-minded people to connect with. Several prestigious international schools may be found in town, making it an attractive option for families.

Amenities and Activities

  • Restaurants, shopping, and healthcare: Tamarindo offers a wide variety of dining options, from local fare to international cuisine. You’ll also find numerous shops and healthcare facilities, ensuring you have everything you need at your doorstep.
  • Outdoor activities and nightlife: If you enjoy staying active, you’ll love Tamarindo’s outdoor offerings, such as surfing, horseback riding, and hiking. And when the sun goes down, the vibrant nightlife scene comes alive, with lively bars and clubs to suit every taste.

2. Nosara

Nestled on the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara is a tranquil beach town that has become a magnet for expats seeking wellness and eco-friendly living. Though slightly more remote than Tamarindo, Nosara is accessible by car or local flights from San José.

Expat Community

Nosara’s expat community is diverse and welcoming, with many residents embracing sustainable practices and mindful living. This eco-conscious vibe has attracted a unique blend of people, creating a strong sense of community.

Amenities and Activities

  • Wellness and eco-friendly focus: Nosara is known for its yoga retreats, organic eateries, and eco-lodges, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle.
  • Yoga retreats and surfing: With numerous yoga studios and world-class surf breaks, Nosara offers plenty of opportunities to nurture both body and soul.

3. Santa Teresa

Situated on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a charming beach town that has maintained its off-the-beaten-path charm. Accessible by ferry from the mainland or a local flight, this idyllic destination is worth the journey.

Expat Community

The expat community in Santa Teresa is close-knit and supportive, with many residents bonding over their love of surfing and the outdoors.

Amenities and Activities

  • International cuisine: Foodies will rejoice at the diverse dining options in Santa Teresa, ranging from sushi to Italian fare.
  • Surfing and nature reserves: The area boasts some of Costa Rica’s best surf breaks and pristine nature reserves. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or an avid hiker, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy.

4. Playa Flamingo

Located in Guanacaste province along the Pacific coast, Playa Flamingo is a luxurious beach town renowned for its white-sand beaches and upscale amenities. With the Liberia International Airport nearby, getting to Playa Flamingo is a breeze.

Expat Community

Playa Flamingo’s expat community consists of individuals and families seeking a high-end lifestyle in a stunning coastal setting.

Amenities and Activities

  • Luxury lifestyle: Playa Flamingo offers a range of upscale amenities, including fine dining, luxury resorts, and modern housing options.
  • Beaches and marina: With its stunning beaches and world-class marina, Playa Flamingo is a paradise for boating enthusiasts and beach lovers alike.

5. Jacó

Jacó is a bustling beach town on the Central Pacific coast, not far from the nation’s capital of San José. You can be basking in the sunshine in no time at all with just a quick drive or local flight.

Expat Community

Jacó’s expat community is diverse and energetic, drawn to the town’s vibrant atmosphere and array of activities.

Amenities and Activities

  • Vibrant nightlife: If you love to dance the night away, Jacó’s bustling nightlife scene offers plenty of options, including bars, clubs, and live music venues.
  • Surfing and beach activities: Jacó’s beaches are perfect for surfing, sunbathing, or simply strolling along the shoreline.

6. Dominical

Dominical is a tranquil coastal settlement on the southern Pacific coast. Although slightly more remote than other destinations on this list, Dominical can be reached by car or local flights from San José.

Expat Community

The expat community in Dominical is friendly and relaxed, with many residents embracing a slower pace of life in harmony with nature.

Amenities and Activities

  • Laid-back atmosphere: Dominical’s unhurried vibe makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a more tranquil beach life.
  • Outdoor adventures and wildlife: With its lush rainforests and abundant wildlife, Dominical offers numerous opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, and exploring waterfalls.

7. Puerto Viejo

Located on the Caribbean coast near the border with Panama, Puerto Viejo is a vibrant beach town with a unique Afro-Caribbean influence. Accessible by car or local flights, this lively destination is worth the trip.

Expat Community

Puerto Viejo’s expat community is diverse and welcoming, with a rich blend of cultures and backgrounds.

Amenities and Activities

  • Caribbean vibe: Puerto Viejo’s colorful streets and reggae beats create a distinctly Caribbean atmosphere that sets it apart from other Costa Rican beach towns.
  • Cultural events and eco-tourism: The town offers a variety of cultural events and eco-tourism activities, such as visiting wildlife sanctuaries and exploring the nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.

8. Playas del Coco

Situated in the Guanacaste province, Playas del Coco is a lively beach town with a convenient location near Liberia International Airport.

Expat Community

Playas del Coco’s expat community is diverse and active, with many residents enjoying the town’s vibrant social scene.

Amenities and Activities

  • Diverse dining options: Playas del Coco offers a wide range of restaurants, catering to various tastes and budgets.
  • Scuba diving and water sports: The town’s clear waters and abundant marine life make it a prime spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, and other water sports.

9. Montezuma

Located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Montezuma is a charming, bohemian beach town that can be reached by ferry from the mainland or a local flight.

Expat Community

Montezuma’s expat community is creative and eclectic, with many artists and free spirits drawn to the town’s unique vibe.

Amenities and Activities

  • Bohemian atmosphere: Montezuma’s laid-back, artistic ambiance makes it a one-of-a-kind destination for expats seeking a more unconventional beach life.
  • Waterfalls and hiking trails: The surrounding area offers numerous opportunities for adventure, including waterfall hikes and exploring the nearby Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.

10. Samara

Nestled along the Pacific coast in the Guanacaste province, Samara is a family-friendly beach town that can be accessed by car or local flights from San José.

Expat Community

Samara’s expat community is tight-knit and welcoming, with many families and retirees choosing to call this idyllic town home.

Amenities and Activities

  • Family-friendly environment: With its calm waters and relaxed atmosphere, Samara is an ideal destination for families and individuals seeking a more peaceful beach life.
  • Beachside activities and sports: While in Samara, try out some water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or beach volleyball.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the cost of living in these beach towns?

The cost of living in Costa Rican beach towns can vary wildly, depending on how you choose to spend your time and the location. On average, Costa Rica has a lower cost of living than the United States or Europe.

But the upscale amenities found in places like Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo might drive up the cost of a vacation there. On the other hand, towns like Dominical and Montezuma tend to be more affordable. Remember that housing, food, and transportation costs will differ from town to town

How can I meet other expats in these communities?

Meeting other expats in Costa Rican beach towns can be as easy as visiting local hangouts, attending community events, and participating in activities that interest you.

Many towns have expat Facebook groups or online forums where you can connect with fellow expats, ask questions, and make friends. Additionally, local language schools and volunteer organizations can provide opportunities to meet people with shared interests.

Are these beach towns safe for expats?

With a relatively stable administration and low crime rates compared to other nations in the region, Costa Rica is often seen as a safe place to live for expats. However, different cities and localities provide varying degrees of danger. 

This means you should do your homework on the area you plan to move to and take the required safety measures, such as keeping your home locked and being mindful of your surroundings. Keeping yourself safe in any location requires using common sense and staying alert.
Learn more about “Is Costa Rica safe to travel?

Best Beach Towns in Costa Rica for Expats Final Thoughts

With our list of the top 10 Costa Rica beach towns for expats, you’re now equipped with the information you need to find your perfect seaside sanctuary.

Whether you’re seeking a bustling nightlife, a wellness retreat, or a family-friendly haven, there’s a beach town in Costa Rica that’s just right for you. So pack your bags, embrace the pura vida lifestyle, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

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