The winter blues sets in shortly after the cheer of the holidays has passed. But you can beat those feelings of hatred for shoveling snow, icy windshields and slippery roads by escaping to the exotic beaches of Central America. These five Costa Rican beaches, complete with lanky palm trees, jungle backdrops, sugary sands, and laid-back tropical vibes, are guaranteed to make you forget what sub-zero temperatures feel like.
Photo credit: Angelique
Just a short walk north of Tamarindo is the sleepy surf town of Playa Grande, home to a handful of hotels, restaurants, and a wave that attracts surfers from around the globe. A more low-key contrast to tourist-heavy Tamarindo, Playa Grande is just the right distance away from the town's popular night spots and tour companies. You don't have to be an avid surfer to enjoy the warm ocean breezes, fine sands and welcoming waters of Playa Grande.
Playa Santa Teresa
Travelers seeking a laid-back beach destination, loaded with affordable accommodation options (or high-end boutique hotels if desired), fresh local eats, laid-back surfer vibes and saltwater that permeates every aspect of life in and out of the water, will find paradise at Playa Santa Teresa. This pint-sized town in the Puntarenas Province at the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula provides a low-key, eco-friendly atmosphere that encourages you to take a surf lesson, practice yoga overlooking the sea, and indulge in the area's fresh fruits and local seafood.
Playa Manuel Antonio
Photo credit: Martin Garrido
You'll walk through jungles lush in tropical plants, rare birds, sloths and monkeys enroute to some of Costa Rica's most picture-perfect beaches at and around Manuel Antonio National Park. Free and public Manuel Antonio area beaches are easy to access and are ideal for escaping the crowds and noise that beaches with nearby town centers are often plagued by. The tour companies, shops, and restaurants are spread out along a winding main road, giving the area a distinctly less crowded feel, even during the high season.
Dominical seems to grow every year, but the beachfront town never loses its charm. The moment you step on the beach's warm black sands, you'll want to snap photos of cliffs that appear to cascade into the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Popular among nature enthusiasts (especially bird watchers), surfers and beach bums, Dominical encourages you to trek to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, take a surf lesson at nearby Playa Dominicalito, horseback ride along the coast, snorkel, deep sea fish and take advantage of the area's natural wonders.
Photo credit: Arturo Sotillo
Costa Rica's legendary lush rainforests line the shores of the tiny pueblo of Pavones. Known mostly for its long left point break that attracts adventurous surfers from around the globe, Pavones is one of those beach destinations where your entire day can revolve around the sea. Homestyle eateries serve fresh seafood and local vegetables to hungry, sunburned surfers, while screens play surf footage to get everyone excited for another day of sun and surf in paradise. Located in Costa Rica's southern Pacific Zone, Pavones is one of the last villages you can visit before entering Panama, which often means less-crowded sands and some of the mellowest vibes in the country.