Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region is well known for its beaches. Although places like Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo get most of the hype, there are some amazing lesser known beaches as well. One of our favorites is Playa Avellanas. Not only is Playa Avellanas a beautiful beach, but there’s also a fun restaurant right on the sand that is the perfect place to relax the day away.
Although Playa Avellanas is close to Tamarindo, it still takes about 20-30 minutes to get there because of road conditions. The drive itself, though, is all part of the experience. On the way, you pass through small Tico towns and can get a sense of what life is like outside the big tourist destinations.
For more information on the area, read our full destination guide, The Playa Avellanas Area: Going Off-the-Beaten Path in Guanacaste.
Driving Directions to Playa Avellanas
Coming from the Tamarindo area, you will head inland to connect to Route 152 in the busy town of Villareal. From Villareal, go south on Route 152 for about 3.5 km (2.2 miles). Before the road turns sharply to the left, you will take a right towards the resort, Hacienda Pinilla. After the turn, the road is partially paved (with many potholes). At the turnoff for Hacienda Pinilla, keep left, the road turns from pavement to dirt (bumpy at times but nicely graded and smooth in some areas). Overall, the road is very flat, so you don’t need a 4×4 vehicle.
After passing through the small town of Pinilla (there will be a church and soccer field), you will follow the road to the right, following signs for Avellanas. The beach is about 10 minutes from there.
There’s a parking area right next to Lola’s restaurant that is guarded. Just give the attendants a small tip to help watch your car.
At Playa Avellanas, you’ll enjoy light sand and rolling turquoise waves. This long beach stretches from Hacienda Pinilla, north of the river mouth, all the way south to Playa Lagartillo. The beach doesn’t see the same crowds as Tamarindo, so there’s always a place to put down a towel.
Surfing is one of the most popular activities at Playa Avellanas. With seven different points, it offers a lot of variety for experts as well as those just starting out.
The biggest wave is known by locals as Little Hawaii. This spot is near the river mouth and has a left and right-hand break that can top 12 feet on really good days. Before that, you’ll find a few different beach breaks during mid or high tide.
Beginners are usually near the parking lot and Lola’s restaurant. This is a popular spot for surf companies to take people for lessons. You can also catch some of the smaller waves for boogie boarding here.
To learn more about surf conditions at Playa Avellanas, check out this link.
Aside from surfing, the beach is backed by shrubby trees, which provide some nice shade for lounging. Just beware that some of the trees have fruit that is poisonous if touched.
Another fun activity, especially with kids, is exploring the rocks. Low tide uncovers huge rock formations with lots of little pools. We’ve seen some gorgeous, huge shells hidden in the rock crevices. Here is a link to the tide chart.
Lola’s Beach Bar and Restaurant
The beach itself is spectacular, but what makes the trip worth it is Lola’s. This popular beach bar and restaurant is just steps from the shore. The grounds of Lola’s are stunning, with grand shady palm trees and handcrafted wooden tables and lounge chairs.
Lola’s mixes up delicious cocktails and has excellent, no-nonsense food with an emphasis on natural ingredients. They have an array of choices, including things like burgers, a Mediterranean pita, and pizza. Some nice small plates for snacking like hand-cut fries with garlic aioli and tuna poke are available too.
But the best part, aside from the ocean view, of course, is how Lola’s got its name. More than 20 years ago when the restaurant opened, a special pig was the mascot. Lola, weighing almost 800 pounds (363 kg), was her name. She was always very friendly with the customers and even splashed in the waves.
Though Lola herself has passed, the restaurant has kept pigs on the premises as a tradition. You can find them wandering around in the fenced in area next to the restaurant if your timing is right. On our last visit, we missed them. They were out of sight out back. The staff says the morning is an easier time to see them. Here’s a picture of one we met on a past visit.
If you’re visiting Tamarindo or are just looking for a small beach town to explore, grab your beach hat and head to Playa Avellanas. Chill out on the sand, jump in the warm Pacific, and don’t forget to grab a cerveza and some ceviche with the pigs at Lola’s!
Have a question about Playa Avellanas? Ask us in the comments below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
The Playa Avellanas Area: Going Off-the-Beaten Path in Guanacaste: Complete guide to exploring the Avellanas area. Includes info about surrounding beaches, restaurants, and a promo code to save 10% on a nearby eco lodge!
Tamarindo: Where Paradise Meets Convenience – Read our updated article to learn the best places to stay and eat in the busy beach town of Tamarindo.
Potrero: A Home Base for Beaches in Guanacaste – If you’re looking to explore more off-the-beaten path beaches, Potrero is another good option. This small community has easy access to more than eight amazing beaches.
Rental Car Discount: To get to more remote beaches like Playa Avellanas, you need a rental car. Check out our discount to save at least 10%. Get a free second driver and other freebies like surf racks, a cooler, and delivery to your hotel.