Where to Find Black Sand Beaches in Costa Rica

There’s something mesmerizing about black sand beaches: their uniqueness, the way your toes dig into the charcoal earth, and the way a lush tropical backdrop rises up from behind them – making them look so wild! They are almost other-worldly. Their rarity is course part of the appeal. The dark sand is derived from eroded volcanic material like lava, basalt rocks, and other minerals crushed and eroded over time. It’s not uncommon to hear people saying that they wish to see a black-sand beach before they die. And having seen one, I understand the attraction. If you are on the same mission or your curiosity has been piqued, take note of the following black sand beaches in Costa Rica. You may be surprised to find them close to your hotel or you might consider an adventurous pursuit of the exotic sands. Alternatively, they make a great stop en route to your next activity.

Playa Negra, Guanacaste

Playa Negra via @eddy_papeoo

Literally translated to “Black Beach” in Spanish, the Playa Negra located in Guanacaste is popular for its dark sand and great surf break for experienced surfers. For the rest of us, watching pro surfers adeptly maneuver the right-hand barrels is equally entertaining, and a lot less work. There aren’t many tourists at Playa Negra either. So if you are visiting from the bustling beach town of Tamarindo (about 45 minutes south), you’ll catch a break from the crowds.

Playa Carbon, Guanacaste

Playa Carbon andrepelletier_

Playa Carbon via @andrepelletier_

Playa Carbon is set 40 minutes from Tamarindo near the more popular Playa Grande. Playa Carbon is one of four beaches within Las Baulas National Marine Park, a park protecting an ecosystem of estuaries, beaches, forests, and marine environments. The other beaches within the park include Playa Langosta, Playa Grande, and Playa Ventanas.

The University of Costa Rica did a study in the 60’s investigating the possibility of metal extraction from the beaches. They discovered that the sand on Playa Carbon had between 75-82% of iron oxide! Enjoy said nerdy reading at your leisure here.

Playa Hermosa, Jaco

Playa Hermosa via @izabel.philippa

“This shot is taken at Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas. We fell for it and couldn’t resist visiting it twice even if it wasn’t part of the plan. This beach is magical with its black sand and pretty coastline. Famous among the surfers. Dogs were playing and running around and even a giant pig was happily walking uninterrupted,” via @izabel.philippa.

Not to be confused with Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste, this Playa Hermosa is situated five kilometers south of Jaco on the Central Pacific Coast. There’s a bit of a social busier feel on the central coast of Costa Rica, but the beach itself is easily accessible from San Jose international airport (about 1 hour and 45 minutes drive). It’s good for surfing, less so for swimming. Whatever your occasion for visiting, you won’t want to miss the sunsets. Costa Rica’s west coast enjoys the most breathtaking sunset shows.

Playa Pavones, Southern Zone

Playa Pavones via @dhotto

Playa Pavones via @dhotto

Playa Pavones is probably the least frequented on the list. So if you’re looking for a pretty off-grid location, this is it. It sits at the southernmost end of Costa Rica near the border of Panama. Rich lush jungles back the black sand beaches and wildlife roam all about. This is another beach popular for surfing. It is lauded as the longest warm water left-hand wave in the world. Sportfishing is also available from Pavones.

Playa Negra, Limon

Playa Negra Limon via hotelpuertoviejocr

Playa Negra Limon via @hotelpuertoviejocr

Playa Negra sits between Cahuita National Park and the little town of Puerto Viejo on the Southern Pacific Coast. It’s a good beach for swimming, beginner surfers, relaxing, and walking as the beach stretches 10 kilometers. This is another off-grid beach less frequently visited. Jagged volcanic rocks reveal themselves at low tide backed by tropical forest and wildlife to create a uniquely wild Jurassic-type setting.

Sound like a dream? Let’s get you there. Starting planning your trip or browse some of our favorite beach vacation packages!

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