Playa Conchal in Costa Rica ranks as one of the country’s finest beaches. Named after the millions of shells that are washed up with the high tide and gradually ground down by wave action to form the beach, it is a beautiful stretch of crystalline sand with turquoise shallows to one side and tall shade-giving palms turning to forest on the other. Further out, the Pacific’s deeper waters turn a stunning green color, and are a well-known snorkeling and fishing hotspot.
- Location: One kilometer south of the small town of Brasilito on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, in the north-west of the central American country in Guanacaste Province.
- How to get to Playa Conchal: It’s possible to walk from Brasilito. Dependent on the tide it may be necessary to pay for a ride part of the way with one of the off-road vehicles that ply the route. From the Westin Playa Conchal simply stroll through the wide gate onto the beach. Liberia International Airport is 62 km (roughly an hour’s drive) away, with flights from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, Panama City, Toronto (Canada), and US cities including New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Dallas.
- When to go: The best time to visit Playa Conchal is during Costa Rica’s dry season also their peak season from December to April. May and June see some rain, particularly in the afternoon or evening, but nothing that will spoil a trip or stop activities. The rainiest months, August to November, are best avoided.
Check out our travel guide on Best time to visit Costa Rica for more info.
- Annual number of visitors: 2.9 million. A large proportion will head to Guanacaste Province where Playa Conchal is located. Having said that, outside of peak season, it’s very possible you’ll have the entire beach to yourself during the working weekdays.
1. Delve Beneath the Waves
Snorkeling in Playa Conchal is perhaps the most popular past time for visitors to the beach. A reef accessible from the northern end of the beach (closest to Brasilito) is home to a lively population of colorful tropical fish and the occasional manta ray. The waters are calm enough behind the reef for even the newest of snorkelers, and diving masks and snorkels can be rented all along the beach. For a more in-depth experience, consider opting instead for boat-based snorkeling trip into the open ocean, which can be easily organized from hotels in the area.
2. Jump On a Jet Ski
If you prefer staying above the waves, you can speed around Brasilito Bay on which Conchal beach is found on the back of a jet ski. Not only does taking to the Pacific shallows in this way give fantastic panoramas back to shore and get the adrenaline pumping, but it is one of the only ways to reach many of the otherwise inaccessible golden beaches in the area. The machines themselves can be rented from the beach for your own explorations. Alternatively, make the most of your time by using expert local knowledge with a guided tour. They last around two hours and start at USD 60*.
3. Play a Round of Golf
The Westin Golf Resort and Spa (formerly the Paradisus Playa Conchal) boasts an 18 hole championship 71 par Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed course. It offers not only a challenging round of golf (or two), but also great views into the surrounding tropical dry forest and the beach; beside which many of the greens run. If golf isn’t exactly your cup of tea, the Westin also offers its guests a spa, gym, tennis courts and lagoon-style swimming pool, which is just perfect to sit beside while sipping a cocktail.
4. Make the Catch of Your Life
Head out just a short distance from the Conchal beachfront by boat and you’ll find yourself in prime sports-fishing territory. The deep-sea fishing in the waters around Conchal are excellent, and you can catch fish as diverse as grouper, wahoo, snapper, non-migratory rooster fish, dorado and the bucket list staples sailfish and marlin. Boat charters last anywhere from half to a full day, with all the equipment required to bag yourself a giant of the ocean deep.
5. Take to the Saddle
To explore the full glory of Playa Conchal from a different perspective why not jump onto the back of a horse? Suitable for beginners and with bilingual guides, two hour horseback tours can be arranged from nearby Playa Brasilito. The guides lead their guests along three different beaches (including Conchal) and then beyond Playa Conchal to a scenic lookout point on nearby cliffs amid jungle home to howler monkeys and large iguanas known locally as garrabos.
Photo credit: Conchal Hotel
For the more budget conscious visitor, the Conchal Hotel is the perfect option. Despite the name it is actually located on Playa Brasilito. However, this family-run enterprise is just a short walk from Conchal beach, on the main street into town, and has beautifully cared for grounds in which to relax. Rooms face an internal courtyard containing a good-sized swimming pool.
A little further down the beach to the Westin Playa Conchal, the Reserva is comprised of a series of condo-style huts that are perfect for families and groups alike. It has its own beach club and restaurant, while guests are also able to take advantage of the great facilities at the neighboring Westin – including its championship golf course.
Westin Playa Conchal Golf Resort and Spa
This all-inclusive resort is Playa Conchal’s top accommodation option whether or not you are a golf or spa fanatic. The Westin has more than ten restaurants to choose between, borders the beach, and offers rooms for every type of visitor. The Family Club is perfect for those with children, while the Royal Beach Club offers a more romantic setting.
With great accommodation options, beautiful surroundings, and a plethora of activities for when the stunning beach is no longer enough, Costa Rica’s Playa Conchal is undoubtedly one of the country’s finest Pacific destinations.
*Prices listed are as per August 2018.