The distinct sound of a million tiny seashells gently shuffling with each lapping wave will forever be what we imagine when thinking of Playa Conchal. Usually specific beaches don’t make our destinations’ list, but for Playa Conchal in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, we’ve made an exception. Not only is the beach itself stunning, but its location, tucked away in a private cove, makes it the perfect place to escape all of the stresses of life. This post will give you everything you need to plan your own visit, whether it’s a relaxing day with the kids or a romantic week-long getaway.
The Setting at Playa Conchal
Costa Rica has dozens of gorgeous beaches, but what makes Playa Conchal so special? In one word, location. Playa Conchal is virtually cut off from the rest of the world. This is because to get there you either have to walk along the shore from the adjacent fishing village of Playa Brasilito or be a guest at the Westin Golf Resort and Spa. Although it does take a bit of effort, once you arrive, you’ll be glad you did.
Situated between two rocky points, Playa Conchal has calm, aquamarine water, which is great for swimming. To further entice, there are picturesque islets offshore and craggy cliffs on the far southern end.
But what makes Playa Conchal most unique is its sand. As we eluded to, this beach seems to be a magnet for seashells. Unlike anywhere else in the country, pink, white, and tan shells make up the sand. A gentle tumbling of waves breaks these treasures into polished granules that are not only pleasing to the eye, but easy on the feet too. It is these tiny fragments that earned Playa Conchal (Shell Beach) its name.
Available right on the beach in Playa Conchal are snorkel masks, jet skis, and kayaks. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas and there are usually vendors around selling pipas frias (cold coconuts), BBQ kabobs, and even frosty beers if you get thirsty for an Imperial. The beach usually isn’t too crowded so there’s plenty of room to lay down a towel, although shade on the sand can be sparse if you don’t rent an umbrella. The first time we went, we spent most of our time snorkeling in the clear water near the rocks at the northern end. The conditions weren’t the best, but it was still nice to spot some colorful fish right from the shore.
If you’re looking for more to do, the area has plenty of other activities. Horseback riding, ATV tours, sunset cruises, sport-fishing, and scuba diving are all available locally. On one of our visits, we booked a two-hour horseback tour from Playa Brasilito and rode along the beach, past Playa Conchal, and out to a scenic vantage point on the nearby cliffs. After we got back, we had a tasty lunch at one of the small, locally owned seafood restaurants in Brasilito and shopped for souvenirs in a few of the stores nearby.
For those staying at the Westin, there are some more things to do. The resort has a professional 18-hole golf course, spa, workout facility, tennis courts, and a kids’ club to keep the little ones busy. For when you just want to relax with a fruity cocktail, there’s also the massive lagoon-style swimming pool.
Playa Conchal is located on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast. It is less than an hour from Liberia International Airport (62 km away) and only 20 minutes north of the popular surfing and tourist town of Tamarindo. As we mentioned above, the closest town to Playa Conchal is Brasilito, which has a good mixture of local culture and tourist amenities.
There are two ways to access Playa Conchal. Guests of the Westin can pass through a wide gate and stroll right onto the beach. For everyone else, the best way is to follow the beach south from Brasilito. It is possible to drive on the sand (like everyone else does), but it’s not a good idea. Driving on the beach is illegal in Costa Rica, and if you need a better reason, it isn’t good for the wildlife or for keeping Conchal pristine and gorgeous. What we usually do is park along the soccer field in Brasilito and walk the ten or 15 minutes down the sand. It’s a really nice walk, especially if you splash your way along the water’s edge.
Tip: If you are worried about leaving your car, ask a local restaurant how much it would cost for them to keep an eye on it. The area is generally safe, but rental cars are easily identifiable to thieves so don’t leave anything valuable in sight.
Westin Golf Resort and Spa
The obvious choice for lodging in Playa Conchal is the Westin Golf Resort and Spa (formerly Paradisus Playa Conchal) since it borders the beach. The Westin has rooms for almost every type of traveler, from the Family Beach Club if you’re coming with kids to the luxurious, adults-only Royal Beach Club for a more romantic setting. The resort is highly regarded for service, and though it is all-inclusive, the food at the 10+ restaurants is said to be above average. $400-750/night all-inclusive, double occupancy. Check Rates and Availability Here.
Slightly farther from the beach is Reserva Conchal. Reserva Conchal is next to the Westin and offers spacious, condo-style units that are great for groups. It has its own beach club and restaurant, but guests can also access the amenities at the Westin Resort. 1 bedroom units starting at $200-350/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.
For those looking for a more economical option but who would still like to experience the beauty of the area, consider staying in neighboring Playa Brasilito. Hotel Conchal is a smaller, family-run hotel in Brasilito, only a short walk to Playa Conchal. Although this hotel is located on the main road to town, the brightly colored building and nicely landscaped grounds make for a tropical escape. $65-150/night, double occupancy. Check Rates and Availability Here.
For more accommodation options in nearby Playa Brasilito, read our post Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste.
With such a serene setting, comfortable accommodations, and activities for all, it’s easy to see why Playa Conchal makes our list of Costa Rica’s most spectacular beaches. Whenever we are back up in Guanacaste for a visit, we always make sure to go to Playa Conchal. Until next time, we’ll just have to dream of those tiny seashells swooshing between our toes.
Have you been to Playa Conchal? What was the highlight of your time there?
Post Updated: June 24, 2017