Some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica require a bit more effort to visit. Their remote location keeps away the average beachgoer and gives those willing to explore the prize. This is the case with Playa Dantita in Guanacaste Province. This beautiful cove sits just a few hundred meters north of a developed beach but gives the feeling of seclusion. In this post, we’ll explain how to access this relaxing beach and what it’s like once you arrive.
Playa Dantita is located on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast in the Guanacaste region. Just north of the community of Las Catalinas, it overlooks a larger beach named Playa Danta.
This area is about 10-20 minutes from the towns of Potrero and Playa Flamingo. Tamarindo is about 45 minutes to the south. Liberia Airport is a little over one hour, while San Jose’s international airport is about 4.5 hours away.
If you are coming from outside the immediate area, you will need to drive to Playa Danta first and park there. See parking details below.
From Liberia or Beaches to the South
From Liberia or Tamarindo, you’ll drive towards Huacas (Route 155) to connect with Route 180. On Route 180, you’ll travel through Brasilito and Potrero. At Flamingo/Potrero, the road turns to Route 911.
Follow Route 911 as it zigzags north until the “T” in the road (Hotel Bahia Esmeralda in front of you), then go left. Take a right after the Potrero soccer field onto Calle Las Catalinas and follow the road to the end.
The area has fairly good signage (follow signs for Las Catalinas). The entire route is paved.
From the North
For those coming from the north (e.g., Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama, or Playas del Coco), Route 911 is a faster way to get to Potrero. This road, known as the Monkey Trail, was recently paved but is very narrow. There are also still some areas that can be impacted by rivers or washouts.
This route should be fine in the drier months (January to around August, depending on recent rainfall). But we recommend going around, using Route 21 and Route 155, during the rainiest months (September and October).
From Potrero, take a right at the soccer field and follow Calle Las Catalinas north until it ends.
Parking for Playa Danta and Playa Dantita
Once you arrive at the end of the road, you’ll find the community of Las Catalinas on your left. Continue straight through and look for a small dirt parking area on the left as you’re coming down the hill. It’s located at the very end of the road. All beaches in Costa Rica are public, so even though the community of Las Catalinas blocks most of the beach, they’re required to keep public access.
During our visit, there were parking attendants to show us where to go. This parking area is for both Playa Danta and Playa Dantita so it can get busy, especially on weekends and holidays.
The attendants will help you find a spot and watch your car, even if it is outside the main parking area. We think that the attendants are paid by Las Catalinas development, but gave them a small tip anyway for their help.
Important: Even in a parking lot like this, it is best to not leave anything valuable in your car. The parking staff have a lot of cars to watch and can’t be everywhere at once. Read our Safety in Costa Rica post for more tips.
Access to Playa Danta and Playa Dantita
From the parking area, a short trail leads through the woods to Playa Danta. This is the beach that is next to Playa Dantita, right in front of Las Catalinas. It’s a very pretty ivory sand beach with rocky outcroppings at the northern end. Playa Danta is more commonly visited since it’s easier to get to. The walk from the parking lot is only about 3-5 minutes.
To access Playa Dantita, the smaller beach just north, you have two options.
Option 1 for Accessing Playa Dantita – Hiking Along the Rocks
For this option, you need to time your visit with the tide (see tide tables here). At lower tides, you can walk north along Playa Danta, over some volcanic rocks, and around the point to Playa Dantita.
The rocks are smooth in some areas but very uneven and bumpy in others. You are also walking in full sun. When the tide gets high, these rocks are mostly covered with water and waves so be sure to leave enough time to return if you want to go back this same way.
It would be ideal to visit as the tide is going out and return before it gets high again. The walk is about 5-10 minutes each way, depending on how slow you go. We stopped a couple of times to check out the cool rock formations and shallow caves along the hillside.
For this option, we would recommend footwear with a good grip. But people do it in flip-flops as well.
Option 2 for Accessing Playa Dantita – Hiking the Short Trail
If the tide isn’t right during your visit or you would rather hike on land to get to Playa Dantita, this option is for you.
From the parking area, walk on the path towards the main beach, Playa Danta. On the way, you’ll see two separate trail entrances. The first one on the right with the large trail map is for Las Catalinas’ trail system. This can work (as we found out, see more below) but is not the most direct.
Instead, keep walking towards the beach (straight), and in about one minute more, you will see the trail split. To the right is the trail to Playa Dantita and to the left is the trail to Playa Danta. The trailhead for Playa Dantita is clearly marked, and the short hike is about 10-20 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
Playa Dantita Trail Conditions
The trail to Playa Dantita is short (0.7 km/0.4 miles) but steep in some spots. It has fairly smooth dirt with occasional roots, rocks, and rustic steps to traverse. During the hike, you go right through the tropical dry forest. The trees provided us with some nice shade during our visit in September. In drier months, you many only get partial shade since many trees seasonally lose their leaves.
About halfway along the trail, you’ll come to a nice viewpoint. This is the perfect spot to rest and take some pictures. The elevation overall goes from sea level to around 100 feet (30 meters), then back down to the beach again. Like we said in the section above, walking the entire trail takes only about 10-20 minutes.
We highly recommend sneakers or athletic sandals like Keens if you go this way.
Other Trail Options
If you are up for more rigorous hiking, or want to get some great views, you could also check out the first trail from the parking area. We hiked the beginning of this trail (Las Catalinas Trail) as it winds up the back and side of the hill. Near the top of the first ridge, you can see the Playa Dantita Trail below and easily connect with it on a secondary path.
This hike goes higher in elevation so offers some great viewpoints. There’s more of a chance to see wildlife as well. We saw a beautiful Turquoise-browed Motmot (bird) during our hike. The hike partially along Las Catalinas Trail and partially on the Playa Dantita Trail took us about 25 minutes.
If you’d like to continue on more trails, you can use a map of Las Catalinas’ trail system to plan. Some trails go to higher spots, while others visit points where you can see more secluded beaches and coves. These trails are also popular for mountain biking.
Playa Dantita – The Reward!
Whichever way you choose to get to Playa Dantita, you won’t be disappointed. The beach feels pristine and peaceful. The white sand is soft and the water is refreshing. Offshore there are beautiful islands. Along the upper edge of the sand are some nice trees to provide shade. Our kids really enjoyed playing with the many colorful hermit crabs.
We had seen pictures of clear turquoise water when researching our visit beforehand. When we were there in the rainy season, the water was still mostly clear, despite some recent heavy rains. The waves weren’t too intense, and some people were even snorkeling along the rocks. We explored the tidepools on the northern end of the beach and found lots of tiny reef fish in one big pool. We were also surprised when a big ray jumped straight out of the water just past the rocks.
Since the beach is secluded, it doesn’t have any amenities so be sure to pack everything you will need for the day.
Playa Dantita, though a little harder to access, still attracts a small crowd especially on weekends. Even so, there were a lot less people during our visit than at the other beaches in the area, and we really enjoyed it. We recommend getting there early to find a private spot under the trees. Bring a lunch, spend the day, and enjoy!
Planning a visit to Playa Dantita? Already been? Let us know in the comments below.
Looking for more information to help you plan? Check out these articles:
Best Beaches for Families in Costa Rica – Looking for more spots to splash and play with the kids? Check out this post for some great options.
Playa Conchal: The Allure of Shell Beach – Just a half-hour from Playa Dantita, Playa Conchal in Brasilito is a must-see for beach lovers. The sand here is made up of tiny pieces of shell.
Rental Car Discount – If you’re looking to explore the beaches of Guanacaste, we recommend renting a car for a few days. Use our rental car discount to get a great deal and free delivery to your hotel or vacation rental.
Great, detailed description. Just wish the post had a date, trails in Costa Rica can change due to heavy rains within months!
Hi Nina, This post is from a couple of years ago but I don’t think the trail will have changed much. It’s a popular beach with locals so it’s well trodden.