• Photo: Sam Chadwick / Shutterstock

Playa Carrillo

With its long, reef-protected, crescent beach backed by an elegant line of swaying coconut palms and sheltering cliffs, Playa Carrillo (interchangeably called Puerto Carrillo) is a candidate for the most picturesque beach in Costa Rica. A smooth, paved boulevard runs along the beach, with sparkling turquoise waters on the sea side and a hedge of scarlet bougainvillea on the land side. The main landmark here is the Hotel Guanamar, high above the south end of the beach. Unfortunately, the former private fishing club and previously grand hotel has been bought and sold so often that its charm has faded. But its bar still has the best view. A massive new hotel, called Nammbú, with dozens of villas, is being built on the hill overlooking the beach on the south side, so Playa Carrillo may be more populated in future.

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