The beach and town of Jaco, Costa Rica
Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Costa Rica

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Faraway Worlds

Staff writers

Looking for a hotel in Costa Rica? Here are our top picks...

First-time visitors: Hotel Elixir

Couples: Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel

Surfing: Fuego Lodge

An increasingly popular place to visit, Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The rainforests are lush and teeming with wildlife, and the people are so friendly and welcoming.

Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, and each region has its own unique vibe and brings forth the Caribbean flair from the Costa Rican culture. A unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and African influences, the Ticos (Costa Ricans) have a rich culture that is expressed in their music, art, food, and way of life.

And while the country has something for everyone, deciding which towns to add to your Costa Rica itinerary can be daunting. With so many wonderful places to choose from, how can you narrow it down? Here are our suggestions for where to stay when you visit.

A waterfall in the middle of the ranforest in Costa Rica

At a glance

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for first-time visitors


Two woman walking past a surfboard rental shop in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Imagine waking up in the morning and taking a leisurely stroll on the beach, followed by breakfast at one of the many local cafes. Buy fresh fruit and veggies at the market, and then head back to your bungalow for a nap in a hammock.

In the afternoon, you can go for a swim in the pool, read a book in the shade, or take a surf lesson. And in the evening, you can enjoy dinner at a local restaurant followed by drinks and dancing at one of the many bars in town... sounds like an incredible life to me and you can have it in Tamarindo!

Tamarindo is a beach town located in the province of Guanacaste on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. The town is situated on a beautiful crescent-shaped bay with a long stretch of white sand beach. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.

Tamarindo is the perfect town for those who are seeking the simple life, but don't want to give up the amenities of a developed town. Here you will find everything you need including supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, and medical clinics.

While Tamarindo is a great place to live and relax on the beach, there are also plenty of activities to keep you busy. Surfing is popular here, as well as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing. For those who want to explore the jungle, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails in the area.

Stay at Hotel Elixir for modern rooms and a pool or, if you're travelling without children, opt for the Jardin del Eden, an adults-only boutique hotel with tropical gardens and ocean views.

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for couples

Puerto Viejo

Colorful bar and restaurant in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo is a small town located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in the province of Limon. The town is situated on a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear waters. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible views of the Caribbean Sea.

The coast is beaming with colorful coral reefs, making it a great place for snorkeling and diving. And with water this clear, you can just see almost everything with just a snorkel.

Puerto Viejo is known for its laid-back vibe and Afro-Caribbean culture. The town is filled with colorful houses, local restaurants, and lively bars.

The locals here are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Many people come to Puerto Viejo for a holiday and end up staying for much longer.

While most of Costa Rica is laid back, Puerto Viejo takes it to another level. This is the perfect place to come if you want to relax and forget about all your troubles. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, but the focus here is on enjoying life and taking things slow.

Stay at the beautiful Villas Piña for adults-only accommodation near Negra Beach or Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel in a tropical forest setting.

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for surfing

Santa Teresa

Surfers on Santa Teresa beach in Costa Rica on a beautiful sunny day

Located on the Nicoya Peninsula in the province of Puntarenas, Santa Teresa is a small surf town that has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years. The number of visitors Santa Teresa is receiving is next level, and many are calling it the new Tulum.

The town has a bohemian vibe with plenty of yoga studios, health food restaurants, and smoothie bars. But what Santa Teresa is really known for is its world-class surfing. The waves here are some of the best in Costa Rica and attract surfers from all over the world.

Santa Teresa is situated on a long stretch of white sand beach with plenty of palm trees and perfect waves for surfing. It is truly the perfect beach town, with sandy streets lined with palm trees and plenty of places to relax and enjoy the incredible views.

Because of the amazing surf, you’ll find plenty of surf schools and camps in Santa Teresa where you can learn to surf or take your surfing to the next level. But ff surfing isn't your thing, don't worry!

Santa Teresa has plenty to offer everyone. There are numerous hiking trails in the area, as well as waterfalls and natural pools to cool off in. You can also go zip-lining or horseback riding through the jungle.

Stay at the Fuego Lodge for large rooms and a swimming pool near shops, restaurants and the beach.

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for nature


The beach and town of Jaco, Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a plethora of beach towns to choose from, but if you’re looking to keep yourself busy then Jaco is the place for you. This town is located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the province of Puntarenas. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and explore all that Costa Rica has to offer.

Jaco is probably the most developed beach town in Costa Rica and is known for its abundance of activities and lively nightlife. There’s always something going on in Jaco and the party never seems to stop, day or night.

One of the main draws to Jaco is the ability to do anything and everything. If you want a certain activity, I am almost sure you can find it in Jaco.

Spend your days at the beach going surfing, or ATVing through the jungle. Or, if you fancy a self-led trek, Jaco is located just south of Carara National Park, where you can go hiking through the jungle and see some amazing wildlife including Scarlet Macaws, howler monkeys, and sloths.

It is truly the perfect location for nature lovers and those who want to be outside from dawn until dusk.

Stay at the Hotel & Villas Tangerí, a beachfront hotel close to town.

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for culture

San Jose

The park in front of the National Theatre in San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is located in the Central Valley region. As so much of Costa Rica is covered by rainforest, it often comes as a surprise to visitors that the country’s capital is actually a bustling metropolis.

San Jose is filled with interesting museums, colonial architecture, and vibrant markets. There are plenty of things to keep you busy in this city, but one of the best things to do is simply wander around and soak up the atmosphere. The city has a really relaxed and friendly vibe and it is quite easy to get on with the locals and experience Costa Rica the way they do.

One of the best things about San Jose is that it’s located centrally in Costa Rica, making it the perfect base to explore the rest of the country. From here you can easily visit some of Costa Rica’s other famous towns and attractions such as Manuel Antonio, La Fortuna, and Tortuguero.

San Jose is the perfect place to visit for those who want to learn about Costa Rican culture and history. The city has a lot to offer and is a great starting point for exploring the rest of this incredible country.

Stay at the Isla Verde Hotel for comfortable rooms in the centre of San Jose.

Best place to stay in Costa Rica for a local experience


An aerial view of Escazu, Costa Rica

If you want to experience Costa Rican life away from the tourist traps, then Escazu is the perfect place for you. This small town is located just outside of San Jose and is filled with locals going about their everyday lives. If you are learning Spanish, this is also a great place to practice as not many people speak English here.

Escazu is the wonderful place to experience authentic Costa Rican food. The town is filled with small family-run restaurants serving up traditional dishes such as gallo pinto (rice and beans), casados (a typical Costa Rican meal of rice, beans, meat, and salad), and tamales (a Costa Rican staple made of corn dough, wrapped in banana leaves).

Despite being so close to the capital, Escazu feels like a world away, perhaps because it's surrounded by trees and mountains. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Escazu, there are plenty of small guesthouses and Airbnbs available. This is the perfect place to come if you want to get off the beaten path and experience Costa Rica like a local.

Stay at Costa Verde Inn, a bed and breakfast with large rooms, a swimming pool and car parking.

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Last Updated 10 October 2023

Surfers on Santa Teresa beach in Costa Rica on a beautiful sunny day

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea with a rich culture expressed through its music, art and food.