Your Complete Handbook for Punta Leona Beach, Costa Rica

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Are you considering Punta Leona beach, Costa Rica, for your travel plans? 

With thick forests and spectacular white sand, this is the Central Pacific coastline at its best. Yet, surprisingly, this gem is still relatively unexplored. This coastline doubles as a 750-acre natural reserve and is a hot spot for mammal and bird research. 

Yup, you’ll see all sorts of friendly critters here! Think sloths, monkeys and toucans, oh my!

If you’ve been considering Punta Leona for your travels, this is your sign to go ahead and do it! But don’t book yet—keep reading to find out all you need to know about this idyllic location.  

Punta Leona Beach, Costa Rica: General information

Playa Leona Costa Rica

Playa Leona, Costa Rica, should be on your travel list if you’re drawn to unexplored beaches, local towns, and endless natural beauty.

Unknown to most holidaymakers, this town and beach aren’t yet on the tourist circuit or backpacker map. Here you can relax and unwind with locals, which is ideal if you want a genuine glimpse at Costa Rican life. In addition, it’s a popular destination for families as the water is calm and safe for children. 

Also, it’s key to note that Punta Leona and Playa Leona are two names that refer to this nearby town and coastal spot. However, the two individual beaches within Punta Leona are Playa Blanca and Playa Mantas. 

This extraordinary location has it all—wildlife, relaxation, beach bliss, and more. 

Let’s dive in.

Things to do in Punta Leona beach, Costa Rica

What should be at the top of your list when you touch down?

Beach hop

Punta Leona Beach Costa Rica

Ready to take 10 minutes and relax? Or hours, we’re not judging.

The area has three main beaches: Blanca, Limoncito, and Mantas. Each has soft sand, crystal clear waters, and an abundance of activities. Never a dull moment! 

Each beach also provides cafes, bars, and shops—but don’t expect large chains or brand names. This is a locally operated area, so indulge in the small businesses!

Playa Mantas is even more chill than Playa Blanca, and you can walk between the two at low tide.

Playa Limoncito, just off of Playa Mantas, is a tiny little speck of a beach, but worth a visit.

Here, all elements of nature meet for a picturesque finish. From aqua waters to abundant greenery, you’ll never be lost for spectacular views when chilling on your beach towel. With outstretched palm trees, a calm atmosphere, and friendly visitors, this beach is always pleasant for a moment of down time.

Don’t forget to visit the playa in the evenings, as the sunsets here are vivid and colorful! Finally, kiss each vacation day goodbye beachside. 

Catch a wave

surfers on the water

The surf is always up in Punta Leona, especially in Playa Blanca. Waves here are calm and controlled, making it an ideal spot for newbies. 

When ready to face larger waves, head to Jaco beach for wilder surf.

Go snorkeling

underwater blues in Punta Leona Costa Rica

A beach vacation isn’t complete without some tropical snorkeling, and Punta Leona has plenty of underwater action. With a mask and some fins, you can take a dip and admire the fish and seabed mysteries at the same time. 

Once you’re done, hop to one of the numerous beach eateries to sip an iced drink to cool off. You’ve earned it.

High ropes course tour 

girls walking over a ropes course

Got a taste for adventure? Let your wild side go crazy when you visit the high ropes course inside the spectacular nearby forest. 

Located in the Jaco, Costa Rica area, this high ropes course takes you across the rainforest canopy and down a Ceiba tree. Adventurers reach heights of 200 ft/70m, and for the peak of your adventure, you’ll rappel 140ft/42m down an ancient tree trunk. 

Adrenaline rush? Check!

Fishing tours

fishing boats in Punta Leona Beach Costa Rica

What better way to explore this magnificent coastal location than with a local fishing tour?

Fish you might spot here:

  • Marlin
  • Yellow Fin Tuna
  • Sailfish
  • Dorado

Keen fishers can book tours throughout the dry season from December to April. In this period, you can find a diverse range of marine life just off the coast thanks to the oxygen-rich sea. 

Wildlife watching

quetzal in punta leona costa rica

Are you a keen bird watcher? Then, Punta Leona and Playa Blanca, Costa Rica, should be on your must-see list. Not only is this beach home to exotic fish, but you can also spot rare and striking birds. Common sights here include hummingbirds, macaws, quetzals, and toucans. 

However, birds aren’t the only beings that inhabit the rainforest. You may also spot white-nosed coatis, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and white-faced capuchins. 

Pura Vida Gardens

unique red and orange plant in Costa Rica

If you’re keen on a change of scenery, visit the Pura Vida Gardens northeast of Playa Punta Leona. These lively gardens are home to rare plant species and colorful flowers. You’ll love hiking amongst the scenery, and there’s even a majestic waterfall to discover. 

The Pura Vida Gardens are only half an hour away, ideal for a day trip.

Walking in the Punta Leona Wildlife Refuge

A tayra in Costa Rica

The Punta Leona Refuge protects and preserves the region’s distinct wildlife through its lush primary and secondary forests. It’s also home to 330 exotic bird species and equally as exotic mammals—think coatis, kinkajous, iguanas, tayras, anteaters, and spider monkeys. So it’s a perfect day for animal lovers. 

Plus, lots of scientific research is undertaken here.

Hikes here leave you feeling like you’re in a completely different world. 

Visit Jaco Beach

Jaco beach aerial view

While in the Punta Leona area, consider making an extra stop in Jaco Beach. Only 15 minutes south, this town has a vibrant surf culture and nightlife entertainment. 

You’ll find local shops, bars, souvenir shops, and clubs here. 

Carara National Park

sloth hanging upside down on branch

Day trips are plentiful here, and the Carara National Park is an option that keeps visitors busy every year.

Situated northeast of Punta Leona in Tarcoles, this enclosed park is the northernmost Pacific rainforest in the country. It also marks the point where rainforests transition into dry forests—so cool!

This is a popular excursion for bird watchers, as the green space is home to various exotic species. But birds aren’t the only inhabitants here. You can also say hello to crocodiles at the northern Tarcoles River Crocodile Bridge. Not for the faint of heart! 

This green space boasts preserved rainforest areas that have been protected for over 25 years. So whether you want to hike the trails or spot some exotic wildlife, the nearby Carara National Park should be on your Punta Leona agenda.   

Where to stay in Punta Leona, Costa Rica

best palm over Playa Leona Costa Rica

Punta Leona beach, Costa Rica, is a fabulous spot to visit, but it’s not the most popular tourist beach in the country. This means there aren’t many hostels or hotels around. 

If you want to stay in the area, you can find a couple of hostels and a few beach resort options. These are mostly located in the nearby town, but there are one or two beachside hotels. Other accommodation choices here include apartments or B&Bs. 

Weather in Playa Leona, Costa Rica

aerial view of Punta Leona landscape

Before your trip, check out the weather trends! Knowing the dry and wet seasons will help you book a holiday that suits you. 

Throughout the year, the temperature ranges between 25°C (77°F) to 36°(96°F). At night, it drops a little, but you’ll still be warm. The warmest months are February, March, and April. 

The water temperature in Punta Leona tends to stay warm throughout the year. Great news for swimmers!

However, visitors should note it has two distinct wet seasons. These occur between May to June and September to October. While rain might not be for everyone, the wet seasons bring out different wildlife, and the area usually isn’t as busy. 

For a dry visit, book from December through March, which is also the peak tourist season. You’ll experience sunny weather, little rain, and clear skies during this time. The temperature is a bit hotter on average, ideal for any sun seekers. 

How to get to Playa Punta Leona, Costa Rica

people walking on Punta Leona Beach

As this local beach is still undiscovered by tourists, the journey takes a few extra steps. 

Many visitors hire a car in San Jose and drive approximately two hours to the town. Parking is available in the area, but parking spots might be busier during the tourist season.

If you’re planning to travel from San Jose to Punta Leona via public transportation, you’ve got a few options. A public bus will take about 2.5 hours. A private taxi or minivan will shave off about 30 mins, but you’ll need to part with a lot more colones that way.

The takeaway

Visiting Punta Leona, Costa Rica, will make your travels unforgettable. From white sands to tropical fish, this coastal town will show you the true meaning of Pura Vida. There’s nothing like discovering a hidden location, so start planning today.  

Are you gearing up for a holiday in Costa Rica?

Don’t hop on the bus without researching all of Bookaway’s Costa Rica routes! Bookaway will ensure you arrive without stress every time. With options for all budgets and needs, we’re here to get you to your destination.

FAQ

What is the closest airport to Punta Leona Beach, Costa Rica?

San Jose (SJO) is the closest international airport—it’s only two hours away.

What is the closest town to Punta Leona Beach?

Quebrada Ganado is the closest town. It’s on route 34. 

Is Punta Leona safe?

Yes. It is a safe area, and little crime is reported here. The waters are calm, and the locals are friendly. 

Can you swim at Punta Leona Beach?

Yes, the water is warm year-round, and the waves are calm. 

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