Nestled between the popular resort destinations of Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal is the unassuming Playa Brasilito. This town and beach of the same name doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of its neighbors, but that’s all part of the appeal. Instead, at Playa Brasilito, you’ll find a modest fishing village centered around a soccer field with a few local restaurants and souvenir shops. Although some hotels and international restaurants have sprung up, Playa Brasilito has a very local feel. In this post, we’ll tell you more about Playa Brasilito, including where to stay and eat, and what to do.
Playa Brasilito is located in Guanacaste Province on the northwestern Pacific coast. Of Costa Rica’s two international airports, Liberia (LIR) is the closest at about 1 hour away. The nearest town is Playa Flamingo, a few kilometers to the north. Flamingo is known for its pretty white-sand beach and many hotels and condos. Just a short walk south of Playa Brasilito is Playa Conchal. Conchal isn’t a town per se, but has been built up with luxury accommodations because of its famed beach. Guanacaste’s biggest beach town, Tamarindo, is also only about a 30-minute drive away.
While many of the surrounding beach communities in northern Guanacaste are developed in this way, Playa Brasilito still maintains a local feel. Many Ticos (Costa Ricans) live in town, and you will see them bringing in the daily catch, grabbing a beer after work, or taking in a gorgeous sunset. In addition to being a good alternative for those seeking an authentic experience, Playa Brasilito is much more affordable. And because it is close to all the amenities, you can still easily experience those other areas.
Tip: Many of the area’s best beaches and restaurants are a drive from Playa Brasilito. Therefore, we recommend a rental car. The area’s roads are mostly flat and well paved, but some are not. If you plan to explore, go with an SUV with higher clearance to help you navigate the rough dirt roads. Check out our Rental Car Discount page to save some money.
The beautiful coastline is by far the main attraction in Playa Brasilito, but there are a variety of other things to do. Below we’ll cover some of the must-see area beaches and a couple of tours you can do locally, as well as some popular activities that are farther away.
The main beach, Playa Brasilito, is a two kilometer (1.2 mile) stretch of gray sand. It isn’t Guanacaste’s prettiest beach, but if you drive on the dirt road to the northern end, it becomes more scenic. This area has a picturesque outcropping of rocks and a few small islands in the distance. Playa Brasilito is also an awesome place to watch the sunset (see photo, above).
Just a 10-minute walk south along the coast is Playa Conchal. This beach got its name from the millions of tiny crushed seashells that make up the sand. It is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches, with clear turquoise water and a backing of short vegetation. The water is usually calm and good for swimming, making it popular among families. Many visitors to Playa Conchal stay at the all-inclusive Westin resort nearby, but locals and tourists visit for the day too. Read our post Playa Conchal: The Allure of Shell Beach for more information.
Two lesser-known beaches in the area are Bahia de los Pirates and Playa Mina. These are located more remotely and are much harder to get to. You’ll want to have good directions before heading out (see ours, below).
Bahia de los Pirates
Bahia de los Pirates (Pirates Bay) is a secluded beach with almost pink sand. It is named after the small cave dug into the side of an island, just offshore. Now empty, the cave is said to have once hidden the treasure of pirates. You can walk out to the island and explore the cave at low tide. Bahia de los Pirates never gets too busy and is mostly visited by locals. If you walk south along the beach towards the rocks, it gets even more secluded. We saw howler monkeys the last time we visited. Be sure to bring everything you need for the day as there are no stores nearby.
A parking attendant is usually there to watch your car for ₡1,000 (about $2). As always in Costa Rica, though, don’t leave anything valuable inside.
Directions to Bahia de los Pirates: Bahia de los Pirates is near the town of Matapalo on the way to Playa Grande. Coming from Route 933, turn right at the soccer field in Matapalo, then take your next left. The road will curve to the right and you will continue into an open area. Keep right and continue on the main dirt road for about 4.5 km. Where the road forks again at the Condor Hotel, take a left. Follow the road all the way to the beach. Here is a map with more details.
Not far from Bahia de los Pirates is Playa Mina. This is another hidden beach that not too many people know about. Playa Mina has light tan sand and is located in a wide cove so the water is relatively calm. You can snorkel along the rocks at each end, and sometimes tour operators bring people here to stand-up paddleboard. Locals often camp along the eastern end.
Directions to Playa Mina: Follow the directions for Bahia de los Pirates, above, but once you get on the road that passes the Condor Hotel, take your first right. This goes directly to Playa Mina. The road is very bumpy (4×4 recommended). Here is a map with directions.
Horseback Riding and ATV Tours
Another way to enjoy the beautiful coastline near Brasilito is on horseback or ATV. Tour operators will take you wherever you want to go, but popular routes are right on the beach and up into the forest to viewpoints. These tours are a great way to see some of the more remote areas and small neighborhoods that you might not find on your own.
Activities Farther from Brasilito
Out of the bigger tourist towns like Tamarindo and Playas del Coco, you can organize a catamaran tour, zip lining, diving, sportfishing, surfing, kayaking, and many more activities.
Hiking is also available, but keep in mind, that most of the parks and reserves are at least 1.5 hours away. Some of the popular national parks in Guanacaste include: Rincon de la Vieja (features volcanic vents, bubbling mud pots, waterfalls, etc.) and Palo Verde National Park (riverboat tour to see birds and wildlife).
Many people also take adventure combo tours in the mountains near Rincon de la Vieja. This is another tour that is a bit of a drive away, but includes things you won’t find around the beach like hot springs, river tubing, a waterslide, and hanging bridges.
Here are some of the best restaurants that we have tried in Playa Brasilito.
Cafe del Manglar
This Italian-Costa Rican restaurant was one of our favorites on our recent visit to Playa Brasilito. It has good food, but the location is what makes it. Cafe del Manglar sits on a quiet dirt road right across the street from the beach. The atmosphere is very casual, making it a good spot to just kick back and take in the view. The menu is wide ranging. You’ll find typical Costa Rican specialties like casados and ceviche to Italian classics like pizza and risotto. Everything is reasonably priced.
Papaya Restaurant in the Conchal Hotel is where to go for more sophisticated, refined food. The menu features a mix of local meats like beef and chicken to seafood and infusion dishes. The ambiance at dinner is romantic, with white lights illuminating the upper dining area. Prices are a bit high for Costa Rica with entrees $16-25, but the food is worth it. We loved our filet minon and the tuna steak was fresh and flavorful. Closed Wednesdays.
Step into this restaurant a short drive from the main square and you’ll meet the friendly French owner, Florence. She’ll gladly walk you through the all-French menu, and tell you more about her traditional dishes, which include pate and a rich Chicken Blaquette. Be sure to save room for dessert. Prices are very reasonable, at around $10-12 an entree. Closed Mondays.
La Casita del Pescado
Translating to Little House of Fish, La Casita del Pescado features the fresh local catch. Popular choices include whole-fried snapper, fish casados, ceviche, and shrimp with garlic. Although you won’t find fancy linens at this simple, no-frills restaurant, the view doesn’t get much better. La Casita del Pescado is located right on the Playa Brasilito. It even has a few tables set up on the sand.
Next to La Casita del Pescado is the Spot. This new restaurant is open for three meals a day and features local ingredients prepared in a creative way. Many dishes are made with locally caught seafood like mahi-mahi and naturally raised meats. The menu is varied, but offers international cuisine with a French influence. At sunset, they have happy hour drink and bocas’ specials. Closed Mondays.
Right on the square in town is Soda Brasilito. This simple restaurant is popular among locals and visitors alike. It serves up all the Costa Rican classics, and the food is good and cheap. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Beach Chocolate Factory
Although not a restaurant, we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about this local chocolatier. Located in the plaza near the soccer field in Playa Potrero, Beach Chocolate Factory is making small batch chocolate from bean to bar. At their tiny storefront, you’ll find an array of bars. Our favorites were the single-source dark and milk infused with chili powder and nutmeg. They don’t do tours, but the owner will gladly come to your place for a fun and informative chocolate-making workshop.
Brasilito is still growing for tourism but it does have a few good options for hotels. Here are our picks.
Quinta Esencia B&B
We loved our recent stay at Quinta Esencia B&B. This charming, yet funky, B&B is just outside town so a good option for those traveling without a car. The four rooms are simple, yet extremely functional, clean, and nicely decorated. The owners are friendly and have done a wonderful job trying to make their guests feel comfortable. We enjoyed the traditional French breakfast and appreciated the option of having coffee or tea any time of day. All the rooms at Quinta Esencia are identical with one king bed and one twin bed, A/C, and TV. $75/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Another solid option in Playa Brasilito is Conchal Hotel. This small hotel is right on the main road before you get to town. Rooms are divided between ground level and second floor (some with balconies), and surround a small pool. The property is nicely landscaped with tropical palms and flowering plants. Rooms vary in size and set-up, with options for both couples and families/groups. Conchal Hotel has the yummy Papaya restaurant on-site (see above). $65-150. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Right on the beach is the best budget hotel in town. Hotel Brasilito has 17 basic rooms. They all have a private bathroom and most have A/C. Many people love Hotel Brasilito because it’s right in the center of town and immerses you in the local culture. Due to its location, you might hear noise from a bar, roosters calling, and dogs barking, but you can also catch the calming waves of the ocean right across the street. $40-80. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Brasilito might sit among some of the tourist giants like Tamarindo and Flamingo, but it has the perfect mixture of local culture and tourist amenities. From weathered fishing boats beached up on the sand to thrilling adventure tours in the distant hills, this little beach town has all the makings for a memorable, authentic vacation.
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Looking for more information to plan your visit to Costa Rica? Here are some more posts:
- 7 Traditional Foods in Costa Rica – To really get to know Costa Rican culture, you have to try the food. Here’s a list of some of the best typical dishes.
- Simple Spanish for Visiting Costa Rica – Want to give the local language a try? Here’s a simple list of some essential words and phrases to get your Spanish kick-started.
- Llanos de Cortez Waterfall – If you want to see a waterfall, this is one of the most spectacular in Guanacaste. Check out our guide to plan your visit.