The country of Costa Rica spans the entire width of the landmass, bordering both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. Picking a beach to visit out of 912 miles of coastline, and over 300 options is no small task. On our Costa Rica trip we had a Rainforest day, a Volcano day, and we ended the trip with a Beach day. We’d spent so much time driving and exploring that we wanted a break from traveling, and so we chose the best beach we could find, but also the shortest distance from our airbnb. Playa Herradura it was!
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
So, it wasn’t until we came to Costa Rica that I learned Playa means beach. I may very well be the most naive and gullible person on the planet, but I thought it was just homies trying to be cool when talking about the beach. I now realize how dumb this sounds.
Playa Herradura is located in the town of Jaco, just over an hour from Alajuela where we were staying. The drive through the countryside was striking. We saw farms, and homes, and fields, and mountains, and when we arrived along the coastline it looked like a dream. There were quite a few ‘Land For Sale’ signs along the way, and we imagined how life would be here if we lived on this stretch of beautiful countryside.
Access to this beach can be found at the end of a short road that is shared with a Marriott resort. Free parking is available on the beach, and it’s within walking distance to the town of Jaco. There is also a children’s playground on the beach, several exercise stations, and gorgeous tiled seating areas overlooking the water. It is very close to Manuel Antonio Park.
We wanted to time it so we weren’t out swimming during the hottest part of the day. At home that period is between noon and 3pm, so we figured we’d leave early and try to arrive at the beach around 10am. We totally miscalculated and though we arrived at the beach on time, we didn’t factor in being that close to the equator. As I am quite nearly the palest person on the planet, I was immediately fried. Gabriel has a bit of American Indian blood, and consequently so do our children, so they seemed to fare a little bit better. I’ve come to terms that I’m immune to sunscreen.
Herradura translates to horseshoe, which is the shape of this 3.5 mile stretch of beach. It is also a small coastal town offering shops, hotels, and restaurants, all within walking distance. Playa Herradura was beautiful, and because we visited in the off season we had the entire beach to ourselves. The waves are smooth and light, the sand is soft, the sun is hot, and the still water fills the horizon until it greets the sun. You can spend the whole day here soaking in the sun, pura vida, and enjoying Costa Rican culture.
Our camera broke the day before we came to the beach, up at the Poás Volcano. It stopped focusing at first, then it took a ton of frustratingly completely white pictures, and then it stopped functioning all together. It lasted us a good 13 years, and after a fall over a cliff into a shallow lake bed, so it was probably time for a new one anyway.
► For Kids: The stretch of beach at Playa Herradura is calm, clear and smooth. It’s a great place for kids to chase the waves and allow them to lap at their heels. Nearby is a little playground with stepping stones, slides and a jungle gym. It’s the perfect children’s accompaniment to the water. Costa Rica is a playground for the young, old, adventurous and timid. At Playa Herradura there is a little bit of something for everyone.
We ate lunch nearby at El Pelicano and watched lazy lizards prance around in the sun and dazzle us.
► Nap-Time Version: This is an impressive stretch of coastline in Costa Rica, and a great location for kids with a playground as well. Near restaurants and shopping.
What is your favorite playa in Costa Rica? Check out our favorite memories in Costa Rica!