Esterillos Oeste: Surfing, Serenity, and La Sirena

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast is filled with busy beach towns, but there are still some quiet stretches of sand to be discovered. One such place is Esterillos Oeste. This small town just south of Jaco is well known to surfers and locals but has remained off the tourist map so far. But with its proximity to San Jose, gorgeous beach, and restaurants only steps from the sand, it may not stay that way for long. In this post, we’ll share why Esterillos Oeste is worth a visit and give you some insight into what to expect for activities, restaurants, and hotels.

Destination Guide - Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica

Orientation

Esterillos Oeste is located off coastal Highway 34, about 1.5 hours from San Jose Airport and 20 minutes south of one of Costa Rica’s most developed beach towns, Jaco.

Although Jaco is only a short drive away, Esterillos Oeste remains quiet and peaceful. The town is surrounded mostly by patches of rice fields, grazing cattle, and thick tropical rainforest.

Once you arrive in the modest town center near the beach, you will find a couple of small grocery stores, a few restaurants, no-frills lodging, and a mix of simple homes with larger houses in the surrounding hills. Mostly Costa Ricans live in Esterillos Oeste, but there is also a sizeable population of expats from around the globe.

Playa Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica
The beautiful Esterillos Oeste Beach

There are two turnoffs for Esterillos Oeste. The main one is the first if you are coming from the north. Just past Esterillos Oeste (west) is Esterillos Centro (center) and Esterillos Este (east). These are separate, even smaller, beach communities with a handful of restaurants and accommodations.

Continuing south, you will reach the busy Manuel Antonio/Quepos area in about 45 minutes. Here, you’ll find one of the most well-known national parks in Costa Rica and a plethora of tourist amenities.

We highly recommend a rental car if you’re staying in Esterillos Oeste so that you can explore the surrounding area. Be sure to check out our Rental Car Discount to save 10% on a car and get free extras.

Activities in Esterillos Oeste

Playa Esterillos Oeste – Beach and Tidepools

The beach is by far the town’s biggest attraction.

Along the gray sand, you will find local families barbecuing under the palms, fishermen putting out their boats, and surfers lined up for the next big wave.

The beach is long and it’s easy to find a spot all to yourself. A beach trail/road runs along the ocean, making it convenient to pull your car right up.

With larger waves and riptides, the beach isn’t great for swimming, but you can wade in the shallow waves.

For calm water, check out the tidepools on the northern end at low tide. These are a great place to bring kids to see the crabs and fish living in the small pools.

In between rock formations, there are a few perfect places to take a dip in the tranquil water. Here is a link to the tide chart to plan your visit. Low tide is best for exploring the tidepools.

The Tidepools at Esterillos Oeste
The awesome tidepools on the northern end of Esterillos Oeste

To access the tidepools, you can park near the town center and walk along the beach.

Even easier is to turn right on the paved road after Super Sol market and follow it until the end. Here, you’ll find another parking area right in front of the tidepools.

When parking, make sure not to leave anything in your car. While the community is overall safe, car break-ins do happen occasionally.

Watch our video to get a sense of how big the tidepools are.

Mermaid Statue

Another notable attraction at Esterillos Oeste is the bronze statue of a mermaid jutting out of the tidepools. You can walk out to La Sirena at low tide to get a picture, or just view her from the shore at any tide.

This mermaid has quite a story. After being washed out to sea during a bad storm in 2023, the community came together, raising money for restoration and putting her back in her place once again.

La Sirena, the Mermaid, at Esterillos Oeste
La Sirena, the Mermaid who looks over the town of Esterillos Oeste

Surfing

Playa Esterillos Oeste is a well-known surfing beach. It is the most popular of the Esterillos beaches, but usually doesn’t get too busy.

Experienced surfers come here to take on the beach break, but it’s also a good spot for those just starting out. You will find a few different surf shops in town that offer lessons and rent boards. One good option is Aloha Surf.

Horseback Riding, Adventure Tours, and Wildlife

Not far from town are some great options for tours.

Horseback riding tours will take you through the tropical forest to explore the countryside, see wildlife, and even visit waterfalls. A nearby adventure park offers thrill seekers zip lining, waterfall rappelling, and ATV. And, of course, there are a multitude of options in Jaco and Manuel Antonio, including catamaran tours, kayak/SUP tours, and even art tours.

For wildlife, in Esterillos Oeste you will see Scarlet Macaw parrots flying overhead, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and many kinds of birds.

To see the most during your visit, we recommend also checking out Manuel Antonio National Park for the day. This park has thick tropical rainforest filled with birds and animals.

Scarlet Macaw in Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica
A Scarlet Macaw in an almond tree

Restaurants in Esterillos Oeste

Esterillos Oeste has a few small local restaurants and new options have started popping up, offering more contemporary food.

Los Almendros

Los Almendros is the most well-known restaurant in town and for good reason. The cuisine is fresh and made with local ingredients and house-made sauces. Asian-Caribbean fusion dishes like Pad Thai, Caribbean-style Chicken, and Jamaican Jerk fill the menu. Also features a fresh catch like mahi mahi or tuna and has vegan and vegetarian options. Located one block up from the beach, near the soccer field and under the almond trees.

Restaurante El Patio

Restaurante El Patio offers casual fare and friendly service. They have lots of traditional Costa Rican dishes as well as pizza, tacos, and other Tex Mex options. Open for lunch and dinner. Located next to Super Sol grocery store, about a hundred meters from the beach.

Soda Margarita

For authentic Costa Rican food, there’s Soda Margarita. This super rustic restaurant is run by a local lady who serves up delicious traditional meals for breakfast and lunch. We loved the arroz con camarones, a fried rice plate that was perfectly seasoned and full of shrimp. Located in a neighborhood on the very northern end of town. Look for the path to the left before you reach the parking area. The small restaurant is set back (near a large tree) and has a palm thatched roof.

Restaurant Recommendations in Esterillos Oeste - Soda Margarita
Rice with Shrimp at Soda Margarita

Accommodations in and Around Esterillos Oeste

Being a small town, Esterillos Oeste doesn’t have a ton of accommodations. A few simple hotels and campgrounds are spread out along the beach. Airbnbs and vacation rentals can be found seaside or up in the hills just outside town, many with ocean views.

The Spot

Backpackers love the Spot, one block inland. This simple hostel has colorful rooms made from old shipping containers. Visitors love the owner who makes the place feel like home. Private rooms with AC, $50-75/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

The Spot hostel Esterillos Oeste
Common area at the Spot

La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is another budget-friendly option in a great location. The basic hotel is right on the beach in the center of town. Rooms are small and simple, but have AC and a kitchen for cooking. One room has a direct ocean view. La Dolce Vita has a small pool. $55-85/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Higher End Options Nearby

Alma del Pacifico Hotel

Our pick for a high-end stay is Alma del Pacifico Hotel in neighboring Esterillos Este. This is a beautiful boutique hotel with 20 villas and bungalows on the ocean. The architecture of the hotel has unique artistic flair, with bright colors and lots of curvature. Some rooms have direct ocean views and private plunge pools. $200-700/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Hotel Recommendations in Esterillos, Costa Rica - Alma del Pacifico
Garden Bungalow at Alma del Pacifico Hotel

Marala Hotel

A newer hotel in the Esterillos area is Marala. Marala is located off the highway a short drive to town, but is situated on a hill so has nice ocean views. The small hotel has a handful of nicely decorated rooms as well as a couple of more basic bungalows. The infinity pool has a lovely sea view. A good restaurant serving upscale cuisine is located onsite. $105-400/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Marala Hotel Esterillos Oeste
Boutique hotel, Marala

Conclusion

We lived in Esterillos Oeste for several years and loved the beautiful natural surrounds. Our whole family loved to soak up the laid back beach vibe and enjoy the good food at the seaside restaurants. If you’re coming to the central Pacific coast, make sure to check it out too!

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

Have a question about visiting Esterillos Oeste? Ask us in the comments below.

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Looking for more information to plan your trip to Esterillos Oeste? Check out these posts:

Rainmaker Nature Reserve: About 45 minutes from Esterillos Oeste is Rainmaker, a nature reserve with hiking through dense rainforest, hanging bridges, and waterfalls. Plan your visit with this post.

Jaco: Costa Rica’s Booming Beach Town: Learn what Jaco offers for activities and restaurants. Includes some gorgeous secluded beaches, info on the weekly farmers market, and more.

Rental Car Discount: Esterillos Oeste is best explored with a rental car so that you can check out other area towns and things to do. Use our discount to save 10% and get free extras

 

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