Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste

Last Updated: October 1, 2019

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 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: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste

Orientation

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 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 30 minutes away.

While many of the surrounding beach communities in northern Guanacaste are developed in this way, Playa Brasilito still has 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.

Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste

Tip: Many of the area’s best beaches and restaurants are a drive from Playa Brasilito so 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.

Activities in Brasilito

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 few tours you can do locally, as well as some popular activities that are farther away.

Beaches

Playa Brasilito

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).

Playa Conchal

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.

Playa Conchal |Brasilito - An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste
Playa Conchal – Shell Beach

Lesser-Known Beaches

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 Piratas

Bahia de los Piratas (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 Piratas 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.

Bahia de los Pirates |Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste
Bahia de los Piratas

Directions to Bahia de los Piratas: Bahia de los Piratas 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.

Playa Mina

Not far from Bahia de los Piratas 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.

Playa Mina |Playa Brasilito - An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste
Playa Mina

Directions to Playa Mina: Follow the directions for Bahia de los Piratas, 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.

Catamaran Sailing Tour

We highly recommend a catamaran tour during your time in Guanacaste. These are available out of Playa Flamingo just to the north and take you along the beautiful coastline and to a remote cove for some time to swim and snorkel. Tours are around $85 per person and include unlimited drinks and lunch. They start at 8:30 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. for sunset. We work with an excellent boat for this experience if you would like help making the arrangements. See the Booking a Tour section, below, for more info.

Adventure Park with Wildlife

About a half-hour from Brasilito is an eco-adventure park that offers lots of different activities to check off your list. You can zip line, explore the tropical dry forest by horse or ATV, and do a cultural tour to learn about coffee, sugar cane, and chocolate. They also have a really nice animal sanctuary for wildlife that has been injured or kept as pets. This makes it easy to see wildlife close up that is otherwise very hard to see in Guanacaste like sloths and toucans. A popular option is their day pass, which includes a few different activities for around $120 per person adults. See below to learn more about how to book a visit here.

Spider Monkey at Diamante Ecopark Guanacaste
A beautiful spider monkey at the nearby animal sanctuary and adventure park

National Parks

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, mud baths, river tubing, a waterslide, and hanging bridges.

We work with a company with excellent, bilingual naturalist guides for tours to Rincon and Palo Verde. For more information or to book, see the Booking a Tour section, below.

Volcanic Activity at Rincon de la Vieja | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Steam produced by the volcanoes at Rincon de la Vieja

Booking a Tour

If you’re interested in booking a tour for your time in Brasilito, contact us through our Tour Booking Service page or email us at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com with (1) the tour you’re interested in, (2) number of people in your party (adults and children), and (3) date and time you’re interested in. Booking through us costs the same and helps support our website!

Restaurants in Brasilito

Here are some of the best restaurants that we have tried in Playa Brasilito.

Papaya

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.

Tuna Steak Papaya Restaurant
Fresh tuna steak at Papaya restaurant

Soda Brasilito

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.

Agua y Sal

This little cafe just past the center of town is a great stop for breakfast or a simple lunch. We loved their homemade breads, pastries, and treats. Has sandwiches to go for beach days. Cash only.

Enchilada de Papa at Agua y Sal
Enchilada with potato at Agua y Sal

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 also now offer a chocolate tour. Contact them through their website to schedule a visit.

Hotels in Brasilito

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 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. $80/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Quinta Esencia B&B - Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste
Quinta Esencia B&B

Conchal Hotel

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). $50-160. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Conchal Hotel - Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste
Conchal Hotel

Brasilito might sit among some of the tourist giants like Tamarindo and Flamingo, but it has the perfect mix 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.  

Last Updated: October 1, 2019   

Have a question about visiting Brasilito? Ask us below. 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you book a hotel using one of the links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

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.

Related Posts

Beaches for Families in Costa Rica
Best Beaches for Families in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Destination Summary Guide - Esterillos Oeste
Esterillos Oeste: Surfing, Serenity, and La Sirena
Cahuita: Culture and Calm on the Caribbean
Cahuita: Culture and Calm on the Caribbean
La Fortuna Hotel Guide: Where to Stay Near Arenal Volcano
La Fortuna Hotel Guide: Where to Stay Near Arenal Volcano

20 Comments

  1. On the Map from Brasilto to Playa Mina, it looks like there is a road along the beach, that goes past Playa Conchal. This would seem like a quicker route than to go out to 933. Is this not an actual road? We will be there next week! Thanks!

    1. Hi Leanne, That’s not a real road so you’ll want to go around the long way. It’s fine for a while but then gets pretty sandy and you would get stuck. Okay for a horse or quad but not a car/SUV. Hope you enjoy Playa Mina!

  2. Hello, Thank you very much for all your information.. I have googled Costa Rica questions often and your page always comes up! I am wondering the route from Santa Teresa to Samara and then from Samara to Brasilito. We do not have a 4×4, but are not afraid of dirt roads either, we live in the ‘bush’ up in Canada 🙂 Any tips would be greatly appreciated… did I mention we have three kiddos in the car with us so the most direct is always best !!! Pura Vida

    1. Hi Marina, You really need a 4×4 for Santa Teresa but I guess if you’re coming in the dry season, you could ask your hotel where you are staying what the road is currently like. Maybe it is possible? For Santa Teresa to Samara, you will take the road to Cobano to connect with Route 21, which goes all around the peninsula to Tambor, Paquera, etc. That first stretch is the part that is rough dirt with some loose gravel and hills. You’ll take 21 all the way to the small city of Nicoya and get on 150 to Samara. For Samara to Brasilito, it is an easy non-4×4 drive. You go back up to Nicoya, take 21 north to 155 in Belen. In Huacas, you take a right to get on 180 towards Flamingo and Brasilito. We have super detailed info about the conditions on these roads in our post Road Conditions on Specific Routes in Costa Rica. Hope your family has a great trip!

  3. Having been travelling around Costa Rica including visits to many of its totally undeveloped and stunning southern beaches, arrival at Brasilito was a shock? We certainly don’t agree that this place has charm and a local feel. In fact, the whole place was a mess, with endless quads, trucks and cars rumbling noisily through on route to playa conchal. The bars were threatening to say the least and during two visits to the slightly out of town ATM, we were kerb crawled by ticos offering cocaine! Pretty scary! The restaurants offered little choice and what there was to eat was crazy expensive. Personally, I would avoid playa brasilito like the plague! It’s without doubt the worst place we’ve been in Costa Rica. We checked out early and moved south to Playa Grande. Little there but an awesome beach and friendly, not drunken locals! I’m sorry if your view is not mine, but there are far finer spots than Brasilito!

    1. Hi Kevin, That’s too bad that you had a bad experience in Brasilito. We have traveled the whole country (and live here) and feel it does represent a typical Guanacaste beach town–not the super developed tourist towns that are so prevalent in this region–but a real locals’ town where you can find everyday Ticos. We could do without the driving on the beach and it is a little rough around the edges, but we still enjoy visiting. We’ve never had any problems ourselves there or felt unsafe. Sorry you had to experience that. We do know a lot of people from Europe, the US, and Canada who moved there and love it. To each his own, I suppose or maybe it was a case of wrong place at the wrong time.

      1. Maybe. We’d originally planned on staying three nights but knew, almost straight away that we didn’t like the vibe. After several hours, already having checked into our hotel, I soke to the manager, particularly about having been offered cocaine, and told them politely that we would be leaving in the morning. To her credit, she ‘acknowledged the local problems’, (her words not mine) and said that even though we still had the night to spend, she wouldn’t charge us at all. We moved on to Samara via Playa Grande both of which have magnificent curves of beach and although not over touristed like Manuel Antonio, to us had a more pleasant less threatening feel. But as you say, maybe we were in Brasilito on the wrong day 🙂

  4. Having spent the last month in Costa Rica travelling the country-my parents living themselves in flamingo~ I have to say brasilito is a very typical tico town. It’s different from nearby Tamarindo- which is more geared towards tourists… but part of the charm of Costa Rica is the diversity. I’ve never felt concerned about my safety in the area as well and unfortunately sounds like just bad timing. Hope the rest of your stay was amazing Kevin!! And Jenn and Matt thanks so much for your blog! It’s given me some amazing tips and advice this past month living in paradise! PURA VIDA!?? Angella

  5. I am going to be at the Westin, I’m looking for a Catholic church in the area, I arrive at 2ish to the hotel. Do you know what the mass schedule is?

  6. Hello we will be visiting on nov 7-13 2017 with 4 in our group 2 adventurous and 2 not as much what would be some good closeby trips for each couple separate and then combined?What is best local drinks?best local foods and best local secret?

    1. Hi Lennie, You have lots of choices for activities. For the adventurous, there’s zip lining, a new kind of scuba diving called snuba, ocean SUP, jet skiing, etc. More mellow things are horseback riding, guided nature walks, visiting Llanos de Cortes Waterfall, and sunset catamaran cruises.

      For drinks, guaro is a popular spirit that is made in Costa Rica and used in mixed drinks. Vino de Coyol is a kind of home brew wine that is popular in the countryside of Guanacaste. For food recs, check out our recommendations in this post, and for info on traditional Costa Rican foods, read this. Seafood is definitely the local specialty in Brasilito.

  7. My wife and I stayed at what was then the Mella Conchal like 17 years ago. We loved Brasilito!
    We had a rental car and drove over to Arenal and stayed the night there and then down to Jaco. Over the crocodile bridge etc…
    We plan on returning next December with another couple.
    We would like to stay like 3 nights in Brasalit and the retrace our route for a night or so by Arenal and do the hot springs etc and then down to Jaco and then maybe a few nights near Manual Antonio.
    Are the roads improved since we were there last time? Easy to navigate with WAZE?
    Would you have any suggestion differing from my planned itinerary?

    1. Hi Doug, We think you will find that the roads are significantly better than they were 17 years ago. All of them between those destinations are paved. There are some dirt roads around Brasilito but the main ones are in very good shape. Brasilito has grown with the popularity of Playa Conchal but is still a very authentic place to visit. Your itinerary sounds great and it will be fun to recreate your last trip to see how things have changed (Jaco has grown A LOT). One suggestion would be to spend 2 nights in La Fortuna since there is so much to do there, but if one night worked for you before, it will now too. Waze works fairly well around the country or we like Google Maps. You can read our Driving post and Road Conditions post to see what might have changed.

  8. Curious what company you used for the horseback riding in Brasilito? I’d like to lock something down before we go as to not miss the opportunity.

    1. Hi Tom, We used one of the guys who is usually set up around the town square. It was an adventure, but in hindsight, we would recommend going with a more professional company (we didn’t even get helmets!). We know of a great company that does a tour along Playa Conchal. Let us know if you’re interested in us helping you with the booking.

  9. I’m looking to rent a place for two weeks while my children attend a nearby camp with pickups in either Playa Grande, Huacas, Brasilito. Of the three, which do you think has the most charm. We’d like to be able to walk to shops/restaurants. Thanks!

    1. Hi Michael, Playa Grande has the most charm of those towns. It doesn’t have a lot as far as amenities but does have a handful of good restaurants and small grocery stores. The beach is beautiful, and a lot of the vacation rentals are only a short walk away. It’s also close to Tamarindo. Parts of Brasilito are nice too. We like it but some people do find it a little seedy (see prior comments).

  10. Going to be in Guanacaste for a week in January and trying to decide where to stay on the coast. Won’t have a rental car, but enjoy walking and biking. Thinking about staying some place from Playa Flamingo on down to Brasilito. Prefer some place a little quiet (and safe) but within walking distances of restaurants tour operators, beaches. Brasilito vs Flamingo vs any other place in that area? Thanks

    1. Hi George, Either of those places would work. You’ll be able to get around on foot or bike in both places. Flamingo has a more upscale feel, while Brasilito is more of a small typical Costa Rican beach town with more locals around. It depends on the vibe you’re looking for.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.