Costa Rica

Nicoya Peninsula Beaches

The beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, which stretch south for 140 km from Guanacaste, are among the top destinations in Costa Rica for surfers, wildlife-seekers, and sunbathers. They’re also world class beaches for running, boasting firm, compact sand and a wide, flat shoreline. Pretty much any beach on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula is a good bet, but here are some of our top choices for a lengthy beach run. In Playa Nosara, a system of nature trails is also good for running.

Playa Grande: Sometimes known as Salinas, Playa Grande is a huge expanse of beach just north of Tamarindo. It’s popular with swimmers and surfers, and is one of the top nesting areas for Leatherback Turtles. With the addition of Playa Ventanas, this stretch of sand is about 5 km (3.1 miles) in one direction. MAP

Playa Junquillal: A gorgeous west facing beach just south of Paraiso, Playa Junquillal is a quiet but lengthy cut of coastline spanning about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) one-way. MAP

Playa Nosara – Beach and Trail: Nosara is considered one of the top beaches in Costa Rica, and it’s a burgeoning tourist hotspot among surfers, yogis, fishermen, and other active types. Runners should be no exception, since this lovely beach offers about 3.25 km (2 miles)  of sand (one way) before reaching the more delicate wildlife refuge. A great addition to any Nosara run is the new Nosara Civic Trail System (Senderos de Nosara), which links through the Playa Pelada area. See a map and learn more about the trails here. MAP  

Playa Samara: Part farming and fishing village, and part popular resort area. The scenery here is hard to beat, with ~4 km of palm-lined beach bordering a tranquil ocean that conceals a stunning coral reef. For some variety (and some hills), run on the Camino a Bosques near Playa Carrillo. It’s a steady 3 km uphill to the Hotel Peace & Lodge. MAP

Santa Teresa: At the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Guanacaste Province becomes the Puntarenas Province. However, the geography doesn’t change much, and these beaches are equally great for running. The most popular spot is Santa Teresa, a hot surfing town that tends to attract younger crowds. Santa Teresa’s namesake beach is a flat 3 km tucked against dense jungle, spanning another 2.5 km into Playa Cocal and Playa Hermosa in the north and 2 km onto Playa Carmen in the south. Other great (though shorter) nearby beaches include Mal Pais to the south and Playa Manzanillo to the north. MAP