Best Beaches in Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Playa Negra, Costa Rica, is a surfer’s paradise on the Pacific coast and is known for impressive waves, beautiful black sand beaches, and chill, laidback vibes.

Once you arrive, you’ll be treated to a true insider’s peek into la pura vida. This quaint little beach town isn’t nearly as crowded as nearby Tamarindo and is popular with locals, giving you a real feel for how Ticos enjoy their time on the beach. 

It is important to note that this is one of two beaches with the same name in the country. The other is Playa Negra, Costa Rica, in Limón province, whereas this one is in Guanacaste province, in the Nicoya Peninsula. 

Playa Negra 

Best beach for surfing

black sand beach Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Playa Negra is a beautiful black sand beach, which is how it got its name. However, the beach is quite rocky, so water shoes are recommended.

The beach isn’t the best for swimming, but it is a surfer’s paradise. The swells here are popular with locals and surf enthusiasts from all over the world. Because so many locals frequent these shores, be careful to follow proper surf etiquette—no drop-ins or snaking allowed unless you want to upset the community.

If you’re comfortable on your board, head to Playa Negra during high tide for some excellent barrels.

However, if you’re more of a beginner, you try your luck with a longboard during low tide. This is also the best time to head to the beach if you don’t plan to surf. Low tide is perfect for walking along the shores to admire the tide pools. 

Playa Negra is great for sunbathing while admiring the clear, cerulean waters, the long stretch of black sand, and the abundance of surfers trying their luck with the waves.

Playa Lagartillo

Best beach for swimmers

two backpackers walking along a black sand beach in Playa Negra, Costa Rica

If you get tired of sunbathing and surfing, head a few kilometers north to Playa Lagartillo. 

This beach is much better suited for swimmers. The powder-soft, golden-gray sand isn’t nearly as rocky, and the waters are much calmer—perfect for lounging and splashing around. 

Marino Las Baulas National Park

Best beach for nature enthusiasts

leatherback turtle

Another spot worth visiting near Playa Negra, Costa Rica, is Marino Las Baulas National Park. Just one hour north of town, you’ll find this famous nesting ground of leatherback turtles. Within the park, you’ll find three pristine beaches, protected mangroves, and a beautiful coral reef.

Plan to spend the day splashing around in the surf, followed by a guided park tour. The staff here are very knowledgeable and can tell you all about the protected leatherback turtle population. 

Other nearby beaches

pale sand beach in Junquillal Costa Rica

Once you’ve had your fun at Playa Negra, head to one of the other nearby beaches to continue your time in the sun.

Playa Avellana is a beautiful, light sandy beach with several restaurants and a surf school. It’s perfect if you want to learn how to hang ten. It is only a few miles north of Playa Negra and a great place to explore for a day.

Located about 8.7 km (~5.4 miles) south of Playa Negra is Junquillal. This is the perfect spot for long walks along the dark sand or some fantastic surfing. However, the waves here can be pretty rough, so it is only advised to swim in the tide pools and enjoy the scenery.

Things to do in Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Surfer watching the ocean in Playa Negra, Costa Rica

The number one thing to do in Playa Negra is surf. So, rent a board, take on the waves, or have a few lessons.

There are also other water activities, such as snorkeling and SUP. 

Need time away from the beach? Playa Negra is also known for adventure tours on horseback or ATVs. 

If you aren’t an adrenaline seeker, how about the more laid-back option of yoga? Playa Negra is home to a few studios and retreats. 

Where to stay in Playa Negra

Aerial Cost Rica view

There aren’t a ton of options when it comes to hotels in Playa Negra. There are three or four to choose from, so be sure to book early if that is your accommodation preference. You will, however, find plenty of vacation rentals on Airbnb or VRBO. These tend to include access to entire apartments with full kitchens, ideal for long-term stays or families who like to cook at home.

How to get to Playa Negra

Costa Rica sign

The only way to get to Playa Negra is by dirt road. If you choose to drive from Liberia, Tamarindo, or San José, rent a car that can handle the journey. A 4 x 4 isn’t necessary, but you don’t want to be in a car so low to the ground that it can’t handle a dirt path.

The closest international airport to Playa Negra, (Guanacaste) Costa Rica, is Liberia—only 80 km (50 miles). From there, you can take a public bus for approximately two and a half hours to reach paradise.

Otherwise, you can fly into San Jose. It’s about 230 km (142 miles) away by bus. The ride will take about five hours.

It’s also possible to fly from San Jose or Liberia to the domestic Tamarindo airport and drive the rest of the way. The flight takes about 50 minutes and departs a few times each day. Once you land in Tamarindo, you’ll need to grab a taxi for the remaining 20 km (~13 miles). That part of the journey will take an additional 40 minutes.

Packing List Essentials for Playa Negra

tan sandy beach Costa Rica

When traveling to Playa Negra, of course, you’ll need beach essentials. Things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Water shoes are a good idea if you plan to swim during low tide and because some of the beaches are rocky.

Even if you travel during the rainy season, the sun peeks out throughout the day, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. So, bring those summertime essentials anyway.

Bring a GoPro to record all your surfing and wildlife adventures.  

Weather in Playa Negra 

sunset over Playa Negra Costa Rica

The best time to visit Playa Negra, Costa Rica, is between November and March. Temperatures are lovely. They consistently hover around 32℃ (~90℉), and there is very little rain. 

Note that the holiday months of December and April can get quite crowded. 

However, if you are coming to Playa Negra for big waves and surfing, you should travel between June and October. You may get some rain, but it doesn’t last long and sets you up with the perfect surfing conditions.

Bookaway knows there is a lot more to see in this incredible country. So, let us help you plan your next stop. Check out all our routes in Costa Rica.


Where is Playa Negra?

It’s in the region of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, on the Pacific coast. About 230 km (~142 miles) west of San José.

What is the closest airport to Playa Negra?

Tamarindo Airport is the closest. About 40 minutes to Playa Negra by taxi.

Is Playa Negra safe?

Yes–it is a relatively private and quiet community, making it a safe place to stay. However, you should always be vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings, petty theft can happen.

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