For some people, going on vacation is synonymous with going to the beach.

Without one, you can’t have the other.

For all those beach lovers out there, we’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in Central America.

From Nicaragua to Costa Rica to Panama, you’ll find beautiful white sand and blue waters.

Here’s what you have to look forward to.

Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

We’re starting off our trip to the beach in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, which is located on the southwest coast of the country.

Initially, this destination started off as a sleepy fishing village.

Today, it’s one of Nicaragua’s most popular tourist destinations and one of the best beaches in Central America.

For anyone who loves surfing, yoga, and partying in addition to laying out on the beach, you’ve met your travel match.

Playa Maderas is located about 20 minutes north of San Juan del Sur, which can be a relief for those looking to get out of the chaotic city center.

Better yet, there’s even a daily shuttle that runs between these two locations, so you can experience both without too much planning. 

Isla Ballena, San Blas Islands, Panama

Isla Ballena is one of the largest islands in the San Blas archipelago.

It has numerous beaches that invite tourists from all over the world to come for a relaxing vacation.

While the San Blas Islands are located in Panama, many who have been to them consider them a different country.

They are the “land of the Kuna”, and the Kuna control everything within the 365 islands.

Here, you won’t find any foreign-owned resorts or hotels.

You won’t have to worry about anything being “too touristy”.

The islands’ commitment to quiet tourism will improve your vacation experience.

Welcome to one of the best beaches in Central America!


Playa Espadilla, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Manual Antonio National Park is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica.

It’s home to beaches, wildlife, restaurants, shopping, and other fun activities.

This is a popular destination even if you’re not looking for the best beaches in Central America.

However, if you are, then the most visited are Playa Espadilla and Playa Manual Antonio.

In the park, you’ll find white sand along with blue waters.

If you want to use any of the beaches inside the national park itself, you will have to pay the national park fee to enter.

Playa Espadilla, however, is outside of the park, so utilizing this beach should be fee free.

Some of our favorite activities at Playa Espadilla include parasailing, jet skiing, surfing, and swimming.

If you’re a less active beachgoer, and you’d prefer to just sit and soak up the sun, then renting beach chairs and umbrellas will cost about $9 USD per day including drink service.

Playa Espadilla is the most popular beach outside of the national park because of its accessibility and beauty.

If you’re looking for beautiful sunsets, you won’t be disappointed.

One thing to note is that the men selling the chairs to sit on the beach along with the activities can be a bit aggressive.

They want you to utilize their service, and this often catches unsuspecting tourists off guard.

Know that it is a business for them, and tourism is their livelihood.

If you’d like to avoid this type of interaction (which can be stressful for inexperienced travelers), making a reservation in advance can help.


Red Frog Beach, Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro Archipelago, Panama

If you Google photos of Red Frog Beach, you’ll see an oasis that has you packing your bags before you know it.

This is by far one of the best beaches in Central America.

It’s located on Isla Bastimentos in the Bocas del Toro archipelago.

It’s a mellow white sand beach and is considered private because of its secluded alcoves.

If you’re a couple or a family just looking for a bit more space, this could be a phenomenal fit.

Why should you go to Red Frog Beach?

  • Body surfing: If you love swimming at the beach, then this may not be the best location for you. Red Frog Beach doesn’t have the best swimming conditions because of rough surf. However, there is a far-reaching sandbar about ten meters off-shore that allows for some swimming and body surfing. Just make sure you’re paying attention to any particularly rough spots or local recommendations. You never want to be caught unaware by rip currents or tides.
  • Great food: Tiny restaurants on the beach cook up fresh fish and serve local beer and sodas. This can be a great way to take advantage of the local feel of the island while enjoying the beach-side scenery.
  • Wildlife: The beach is named for the red frog, which is a poison dart frog. These are both beautiful and rare amphibians that you may be able to spot during your visit. If you love seeing different kinds of wildlife, then you can make this a goal of your visit. If you don’t have an eye for wildlife, then you may consider asking a local for help during your stay. Some can be quite practiced at this type of identification.

Final Thoughts

There you go!

These four are some of the best beaches in Central America where you can get away from the tourist life and enjoy some time in the sun and sand.

Next time you’re looking for a beautiful getaway, try something a little bit farther south than Florida or the Caribbean.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what Central America has to offer.

What are your best beaches in Central America? If you have any, leave a comment below! 

Interested in learning more about Costa Rica travel and what it entails?

Check out Travel Tips for Costa Rica to Know Before You Go.

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to Central America, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to Central America, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!


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