Central America's Top 50+ Beaches

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Bridging the tropical latitudes between North and South America is the slender isthmus of Central America. To one side is the Caribbean Sea, and on the other, the Pacific Ocean, each coast having its own character and array of beautiful beaches. At its widest point it is just under 300 miles from coast to coast, whilst at its narrowest it is less than 50 miles.

The coastline of Central America is as diverse as the countries that make it up. That said, if you’re a fan of white sand, crystal clear water and a verdant backdrop you won’t be disappointed.

From the palm-fringed shores of Costa Rica, famous for their surf breaks and rich biodiversity, to the secluded islands coves of Panama, where the rainforest meets the sea, Central America's beaches offer a slice of paradise for every type of traveler. Explore the crystalline waters of Belize's barrier reef, dive into the vibrant marine life of Honduras' Bay Islands, or soak up the sun on Nicaragua's golden coasts. Along the way, discover the black sand beaches of Guatemala and El Salvador which provide testament to the region's volcanic activity.

In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover the best beaches in Central America, each with its own unique allure. Whether you're a surfer, snorkeler, sun-worshipper, or just looking for a little serene solitude, join us as we reveal Central America most beautiful beaches.

  • Manuel Antonio Beach // Costa Rica

    Manuel Antonio Beach
    © Luis Cesar Tejo

    While the central Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica may not rank uppermost for its beaches, the four found in the Manuel Antonio National Park are definite exceptions. Manuel Antonio Beach is the best of them from a safe swimming view and is certainly one for your beach bucket list. It is a short and scenic drive south of the… read more »

  • Half Moon Caye // Belize

    Half Moon Caye
    © Bayezid

    Designated a natural monument and nature reserve in 1924, this little sand-fringed island is located at the edge of the Belize Barrier Reef.

    Half Moon Caye offers a unique beach experience with its crescent-shaped beach, crystal-clear waters, and the bird sanctuary is home to the red-footed booby.

    read more »
  • Playa Espadilla // Costa Rica

    Playa Espadilla
    Fer Quintana

    The popular tourist beach of Playa Espadilla has soft sands that stretch for a mile along the coast of the Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the closest beach to Manuel Antonio village, and you will find many people relaxing under umbrellas next to the emerald green waters.

    There are quite often waves at Playa Espadilla, but as it is… read more »

  • Playa Conchal // Costa Rica

    Playa Conchal
    © mylitleye

    Situated in Guanacaste on the Costa Rican Gold Coast, Playa Conchal is one of the most beautiful and exotic feeling beaches in this Central American country. The near white sand is made up of tiny particles of crushed shells, and it is caressed by the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean. Set between two rocky headlands this crescent of sand… read more »

  • Playa Cocles // Costa Rica

    Playa Cocles
    © Simon Dannhauer

    One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica is located near Puerto Viejo. The popular Playa Cocles Beach has tan sands and beautiful clear turquoise waters. It is easily accessible, and consists of nearly two miles of white sand fringed with palm trees and lush greenery as a backdrop.

    Playa Cocles is one of the most popular spots for surfing… read more »

  • Playa Negra // Costa Rica

    Playa Negra
    Leonora (Ellie) Enking

    Costa Rica is home to not one, but two beaches named Playa Negra, meaning "Black (sand) beach". Both are fairly well known but are located on opposite coasts. This Play Negra is situated near Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast.

    Black sand may seem the absolute antithesis of a Caribbean beach and this phenomena is quite specific to Playa Negra. Neighboring… read more »

  • Playa Venao // Panama

    Playa Venao
    © F E Gerbase

    Situated on Panama's Azuero Peninsula, Playa Venao is considered something of a surfer's paradise with consistent swells. There are a variety of waves for all skill levels, from gentle rollers to challenging barrels.

    The crescent of golden sand offers a laid-back atmosphere, where visitors can enjoy surfing, paddleboarding, or simply soaking up the sun.

    read more »
  • Red Frog Beach // Panama

    Red Frog Beach

    In case you were wondering, this beach is named after the tiny red frogs found in the surrounding rainforest. It offers a relaxing atmosphere, soft sand, and calm waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

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  • Starfish Beach // Panama

    Starfish Beach

    Starfish beach (Playa Estrella) is located on Bocas del Toro, an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea Renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and beaches, Starfish Beach is possibly the best of the bunchOne of the highlights of this beach is you can snorkel among colorful marine life and encounter an abundance of starfish scattered along the shoreline - hence the name!

    read more »
  • Playa Larga (Contadora) // Panama

    Playa Larga (Contadora)
    © Photoopus

    A short boat ride from Panama City, Contadora Island is a once luxurious retreat with pristine beaches and upscale resorts. Home to seven beaches, Playa Larga is one of the island's finest, albeit with a couple of curiosities thrown in.

    Slightly obscured by the vegetation behind the beach are the ruins of the Contadora Island Resort. In the 60s and 70s… read more »

  • Playa Carrillo // Costa Rica

    Playa Carrillo

    Situated on the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica's Pacific coast is the beautiful, horeshoe shaped beach of Playa Carrillo. With forests of palm trees surrounding the white sandy beach and clear turquoise waters, it is not difficult to see why this is the most popular spot in the Guanacaste province. This is the perfect beach for anyone looking for a… read more »

  • Playa Blanca // Panama

    Playa Blanca
    Mir Rodriguez

    Playa Blanca literally means "white beach" and you won't be disappointed. This beach is known for its powdery white sand, calm waves, and shallow waters, making it an ideal beach destination for families with young children. It also has several resorts and restaurants nearby.

    This family-friendly beach offers a range of water sports activities, including kayaking, jet skiing, and parasailing.

    read more »
  • Jaco Beach // Costa Rica

    Jaco Beach

    The somewhat unlikely name of "Jaco" that belongs to this seaside resort is in honour of American Charles Elwood Jaco. He envisioned the resort way back in 1925 and went on to develop it. This was thanks to the fortune he accumulated during the pioneering days of Texas oil discovery in the USA.

    Located just a ninety-minute drive southwest of… read more »

  • Cahuita // Costa Rica


    Cahuita is a small town not far north of the Panama border on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. It is one of the eastern-most points of this small Central American nation, where Afro-Caribbean cultural influences remain firmly in place and create a special ambience. You might even think you were in Jamaica! Forget about "airs and graces" around here, this is… read more »

  • Manzanillo Beach // Costa Rica

    Manzanillo Beach

    The fabulous waters of the Caribbean Sea lie to one side of this beach, and a green mantle of tropical palm trees to the other, confirming your arrival at Playa Manzanillo. We are referring to what is a magnificent corridor of white sand beach separating dense tropical vegetation and sea. This is the last vantage point for indulgent relaxation on… read more »