Your Essential Guide to Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica

Everything you need to know about your trip to Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica. Read about the best beaches, what to pack, and when to go.

Playa Carrillo Costa Rica feature

Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica, is one of the most picturesque and relaxing locations in the entire country. Located in southern Guanacaste province, you’ll find a quiet beach town with peaceful Pacific coast vibes and plenty of sunshine. 

Check out the guide below to plan your dream Playa Carrillo getaway.

Best things to do in Playa Carrillo

Carillo Beach

Playa Carrillo palm trees and beach

Playa Carrillo is a beautiful escape from neighboring Samara, an often crowded beach town five km (three miles) to the west.

The waters are a calm turquoise blue with very few waves—rather unique for a Pacific coast beach. So, it’s the perfect spot to splash around and soak up as much sun as possible under the swaying palm trees.

You can also easily walk along the beach on the clean, soft sand. You’ll find fishing boats bobbing in the water at the eastern end, which makes for a great photo. The water here isn’t quite as clear, though, and the shore is rockier, so turn back if you want to go for a swim.

Playa Carrillo has a very zen-like vibe. Many beach bars in Costa Rica blast music to create a party atmosphere, but you can expect the opposite here. 

There are a few locals who sell shaved ice and pipa frias (delicious cold coconut water), but otherwise, most of the time, you’ll have the beach to yourself, especially if you go mid-week.

Pro tip: Playa Carrillo is packed on the weekends and public holidays, so if you want a more private experience, go during the week. 

Go scuba diving or snorkeling 

underwater marine life

You’ll find great snorkeling right off the beach. At high tide, head out to the rocky reefs on either side to see some spectacular marine life.

If you are a diver, there are loads of options in the area, so check with the dive shops.

Go fishing

guy fishing in the ocean

Off the coast, you’ll find some excellent sport fishing. The area is a hotspot for local Ticos, who are fishing enthusiasts. Expect to catch marlin, grouper, and a plethora of other fish. 

Plenty of charters leave from Playa Carrillo and Samara, so be sure to check out your options once you arrive.

Explore Puerto Carrillo Town

Puerto Carrillo town in Costa Rica

If you walk to the south end of the beach, you’ll run into Puerto Carrillo. You’ll find shops, hotels, and a few restaurants in this tiny town. If you are interested in a fishing excursion, you can also find more information here.

The town typically has less than 1,000 inhabitants year-round, so you don’t have much choice regarding where to eat and drink. If you want more amenities, head west to Samara, and you’ll find a bunch of restaurants and options.

Walk to the lookout point

lookout point in Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica

At the end of the beach, you’ll reach Puerto Playa Carrillo Mirador. This short walk is definitely worth it, as you’ll be treated to impressive views. There are also benches so you can sit down, relax, and snap a few photos. 

Go surfing

woman standing in Samara Costa Rica

Playa Carrillo surfing is excellent for more experienced surfers, especially during high tide. Head to the south end of the beach to grab some waves. 

If you are new to surfing, take a day trip to Samara. The surf isn’t as intense, and the waves aren’t as high, so it’s ideal for beginners. 

Watch the sunset

sunset in Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica

If you enjoy a good sunset, Playa Carrillo is the place for you. The sky fills with the most beautiful oranges, reds, and purples, making for some gorgeous photos. So, be sure to head to the beach around 5 pm and get ready for a stunning sight!

Weather in Playa Carrillo

2 dogs playing on the beach

The weather in Playa Carrillo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is sunny almost year-round and has excellent beach conditions. However, like most of the country, there is a rainy and a dry season, so you’ll have to plan accordingly.

The dry season lasts from December to April, and you’ll see temperatures hovering around 32℃ (high 80s-low 90s℉). This is the best time to go to the beach, but also the most crowded. 

Accommodation is a bit more expensive and harder to come by during these months.

The rainy season is from May to November. Still, temperatures only drop to 31℃ (high 80s℉) during the day and cool off to around 25℃ (mid 70s℉) in the evenings. So, you can expect showers in the afternoons, but you’ll probably have glorious sunny mornings. 

October is the rainiest month in this area.

Packing list essentials for Playa Carrillo

sunset on the beach with palm trees

Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica, is the ideal chill beach getaway. To prepare for your trip, you’ll want to pack the following: 

  • Bathing suits
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Camera/GoPro
  • Waterproof bag
  • Water shoes
  • Plenty of cute sundresses/casual outfits

How to get to Playa Carrillo

clear waters and palm trees of Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica

One of the easiest ways to get here is to take a minivan from Liberia to Playa Carrillo. The ride takes about 2.5 hours.

Another option is from San Jose to Puerto Carrillo via shuttle. The journey is about 5.5 hours, but you’ll be treated to some lovely scenery along the way. 

You also have the choice to take a shuttle from Tamarindo to Puerto Carrillo. You’ll get there in approximately four hours, so be ready to enjoy the beach!

And if you are planning more time in the country, check out all our other Costa Rican routes.


Can you swim at Playa Carrillo?

Yes! The waters are calm, making it one of the best places in Guanacaste to swim, relax, and enjoy the beach.

What is the closest town to Playa Carrillo? 

Samara is the closest big town.

What is the closest airport to Playa Carrillo?

Samara Airport is the closest but only operates domestic flights. Liberia International Airport is the nearest international option.

Is Playa Carrillo safe?

Yes! This sleepy little beach is safe and removed from several tourist hot spots, so you won’t have as much petty theft.

Posted November 8, 2022
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Samantha Bryant
Samantha has been wandering the globe since 2010, when she hopped on a plane for a gap year in order to wait out an age restriction for a job application. Twelve years, four continents, and countless experiences later she has decided that she is perfectly content embracing her wanderlust. Samantha works as an English and ELL teacher at an international school in South Africa, but her passion for writing has kept her busy in what spare time she can find. If she isn't working or writing, you can find Samantha exploring a new city in an off-the-beaten-path destination or relaxing on a beach somewhere.
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