Guide to Visiting Playa Nacascolo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Playa Nacascolo, Costa Rica, is a beautiful, secluded beach that you’ll almost have to yourself. Located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, the long stretch of white sand curves around the side of Culebra Bay. It’s one of the least visited beaches on the Papagayo Peninsula, with access to the beach being through the Four Seasons Resort. 

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The stunning beach is backed by tropical dry forest and mangroves, home to plenty of wildlife. The water in the bay is incredibly calm, making it a relaxing place for a walk or swim without waves crashing ashore like other beaches on the Pacific Coast. For those seeking a family-friendly place without the crowds of the high season or an alternative beach to head for a swim, Playa Nacascolo should be on your list for your trip to Guanacaste.

Playa Nacascolo Map, playa nacascolo
Playa Nacascolo Map
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How to Get to Playa Nacascolo

Playa Nacascolo is a bit unique in that it’s accessed through a luxurious resort, but it’s still a public beach that can be visited by all.

By Car

To reach the beach, you need to head to the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo resort on Culebra Bay in Guanacaste Province. This luxurious resort located on the peninsula is open to guests and the general public looking to access the beaches. 

From the Liberia International Airport, Playa Nacascolo is just over half an hour away by car. This makes it a convenient place to visit, along with nearby more popular beaches like Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama.

From San Jose’s SJO Airport, the drive is about 4.5 hours, making it a little too long for a day trip but ideal for a long trip in northern Guanacaste.

By Bus/Shuttle

There’s no public bus travelling directly to the Papagayo Peninsula. However, there are shared shuttle services that can be booked from Liberia Airport to Four Seasons Resort. This will provide easy access to the beaches on the peninsula for those who haven’t got a rental car.

Shuttle pick-up at Liberia Airport
A shuttle pick-up at Liberia Airport

Parking at Playa Nacascolo

There’s no direct parking at the beach itself. Instead, there is a large free parking lot near the entrance of the resort for public access. From there, the guards will coordinate a free shuttle bus to the beaches for you. The buses leave frequently multiple times per hour and complete a 30-minute lap passing several beach access points.

Facilities at Playa Nacascolo

Being surrounded by luxury resorts, there are plenty of facilities to utilise during your visit. The resort offers multiple restaurants and bars for meals, as well as a small grocery store for snacks. 

When the shuttle bus drops you at Playa Nacascolo, there are outdoor showers and bathrooms to use before taking the 100m sturdy boardwalk, giving you foot access to the beach. Once you’re on the beach, there are no facilities, so bring your own chairs, snacks, water, and umbrella. However, you can get food and drinks at the Andaz Beach House on the north section of the beach.

Guanacaste, near playa nacascolo
Look at those waves!

Things to Do at Playa Nacascolo

Despite the beach being secluded and with minimal facilities, there are various activities you can do at Nacascolo Beach. 

Relax on the Sand

One of the appeals of Playa Nacascolo is that the quiet beach is the perfect place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts. The golden sand of the bay stretches right along the beach, allowing you to walk and find your own little spot of sand to sit and take in the Gulf of Papagayo. However, be careful at high tide when it becomes just a thin strip of sand.

Oksana on the beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Oksana on the beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Go Swimming or Snorkelling

Playa Nacascolo is a protected bay on the Papagayo Peninsula, sheltered from the strong currents of the Pacific. The gentle waves make it an ideal place to swim and snorkel. Feeling almost like a natural swimming pool with its perfect conditions, you can swim into the bay in search of coral and schools of fish swimming around the seashells. You’ll have to bring your own snorkel kit, though or rent it at the resort.

costa rica, snorkeling, caño island
Snorkelling is a must thing to do in Playa Nacascolo! 

Wildlife Spotting

Nacascolo Beach is a wonderful spot for wildlife watching. There are always plenty of monkeys in the trees surrounding the beach, especially white-faced capuchin monkeys, as well as iguanas, tropical birds, and other animals. Be careful of leaving any food around, as the monkeys are known to steal food and dive into bags!

Costa Rica Animals: White Headed Capuchin Monkey,
White-Headed Capuchin Monkey, Costa Rica

Try Water Sports

With the calm water of the bay, you can try several different water sports around Playa Nacascolo. You can rent kayaks or jet skis from Papagayo Marina and explore the beaches on the coast. Some people even arrive at Playa Nacascolo by kayak or jet ski from the marina to spend the day.


Can you Swim at Playa Nacascolo?

The highlight of Playa Nacascolo is the calm water, as the wind and waves are typically blocked by the sheltered bay. This makes it one of the best swimming spots on the peninsula.

Can you Fish at Playa Nacascolo?

While you can certainly try fishing off the beach at Playa Nacascolo, the best fishing can be found deeper in the bay. There are plenty of fishing charters and tours available from Marina Papagayo just around the bay from Andaz Costa Rica resort.

Fishing Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Fishing Charter in Costa Rica

Can you Surf at Playa Nacascolo? 

While the gentle bay is not ideal for surfing, you can try several other water sports, such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and jet skiing. Surfers can head to nearby beaches like Naranjo Beach or Playa Hermosa instead.

Is Playa Nacascolo Safe for Families? 

Yes, Nacascolo Beach is one of the best beaches for families on the Papagayo Peninsula. With calm water and plenty of soft sand, it’s a great place for kids to splash about and build sand castles.

READ NEXT: Things to do in Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica

Where to Stay near Playa Nacascolo

Papagayo Peninsula is known for its luxury resorts, so it’s not the most ideal place for budget travellers.

Mid Range/Budget Hotel:

Planet Hollywood Costa Rica, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort

While not a typical “mid-range” option for Costa Rica, Planet Hollywood Resort does offer some more affordable options than other 5-star resorts on the Papagayo Peninsula. You can score a junior suite for under $300 per night. The resort overlooks the marina around Playa Nacascolo, and it boasts 2 swimming pools, 7 restaurants, a spa and wellness centre, private beach access, and a fitness centre.

Luxury Hotel:

Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

The obvious choice is to stay at the Four Seasons, as this would allow you to access Playa Nacascolo whenever you pleased. The famous five-star resort is an upscale establishment with world-class amenities, including 4 swimming pools, 2 private beaches, a golf course, a business centre, and a spa and wellness centre. It’s also home to 4 restaurants and a couple of bars, so you never have to leave the beautiful grounds.

Drift Away Eco Lodge in Costa Rica, Hotels in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Relaxing at a hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Where to Eat: Best Restaurants near Playa Nacascolo

Andaz Beach House

At the northern end of the beach, you’ll find Andaz Beach House, which is owned by the resort. This is the only establishment at the beach, and it offers a range of meals and drinks all day. It’s an ideal spot to grab some fish tacos and fresh juice and enjoy the breathtaking views of the sea from their lounges.

Prieta Beach Club

Just on the other side of the peninsula, you’ll find this popular beach club and restaurant on Playa Prieta. It serves meals all day with an international twist on local dishes, as well as cocktails, which are popular at happy hour. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset over the sea after a day in the water. 

Nemare Restaurant

Just back from the beach at the Four Seasons, this upscale steak house is excellent for a romantic date night. The food and drinks are of a high standard, along with 5-star service. The restaurant also boasts floor-to-ceiling windows to look out over the green spaces.

Costa Rica is abundant in delicious seafood!
Costa Rica is abundant in delicious seafood!

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to get away from the typical Costa Rica beaches, Playa Nacascolo might be the perfect answer. With no sun lounges or beach bars, you can easily feel a world away as you relax, overlooking the bay. It’s an ideal family day out on the Papagayo Peninsula.

1 thought on “Guide to Visiting Playa Nacascolo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica”

  1. Exactly what I needed, I am heading to Costa Rica and would love to visit something aside from the typical tourist towns, something more down to earth and laid back. Thank you!

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