The beaches of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific are already just about picture perfect. Most have backdrops with lush green mountains, swishing waves, and rows of palm trees for shade. But a little south of Uvita is a beach that takes this beauty one step further. Playa Ventanas is a smaller cove with a rocky hill on one end that has intriguing caves. These caves are big enough to walk into and explore at low tide. In this post, we’ll share more about Playa Ventanas, Puntarenas and how you can plan a visit.
One important thing to note about Playa Ventanas is that there are two beaches in Costa Rica by this name. The beach we are covering in this post is in Puntarenas Province, along the southern Pacific coast. More specifically, it is between the towns of Uvita and Ojochal. This area, stretching up to Dominical, is considered the Costa Ballena or Whale Coast.
The other Playa Ventanas is located next to Playa Grande in northwestern Costa Rica. Read more about that beautiful beach in our post, Playa Ventanas, Guanacaste.
Though very different, the two beaches are often confused with each other just because of the name.
About Playa Ventanas, Puntarenas
Playa Ventanas is a small gray-sand beach that from end to end is less than 500 meters (0.3 miles) long. It is backed by a wide row of palm trees that provide ample shade.
In recent years, local vendors have set up within the palm trees selling food, drinks, and shaved ice treats. They also rent chairs and shade canopies.
While this takes away from the simple beauty of the beach, it does create a festive atmosphere for those looking to get a taste of the local culture. Sundays and holidays are the most popular with locals, who gather and picnic with family and friends.
About halfway down Playa Ventanas, a small stream crosses the beach and empties into the ocean. The water from this stream is easy to cross when walking, as long as the rains haven’t been too heavy.
Where the stream goes back into the forest can be a great place for birding or wildlife viewing. We’ve seen lizards and iguanas plus some wading birds.
Often kids are splashing around here in the calm freshwater.
Southern End of Playa Ventanas
On the southern end of the beach are some cool rock formations to check out and climb on. These have interesting shapes with different layers. A few tide pools also can be found at the southern end during low tide.
It is the northern end of the beach, though, that is the biggest attraction.
The Caves at Playa Ventanas
Playa Ventanas’ northern end features the famous caves.
These caves or windows (ventanas in Spanish) are what gave the beach its name. There are two big ones, just at the base of a steep, jungle-filled hill.
The cave to the right is the largest and easiest to explore. The one to the left is smaller and narrower, but you can still peek inside.
Going Inside the Caves
The caves at Playa Ventanas tunnel deep into the hillside and actually have an exit on the ocean side. The pounding waves have naturally carved out the rock over thousands of years.
At the lowest tides, you can venture in and walk almost the entire way through. The walls of the cave are wet and occasionally drip water on your head.
Towards the ocean end, you can reach a point inside the biggest cave where another cave has started to form off to the right. It is best to have a waterproof flashlight if you are going in this deep.
Caution: Be very careful when exploring the caves. Waves come through from the ocean side quickly and can catch you by surprise. This can be dangerous, and people have drowned. We don’t recommend going into the water within the cave past your ankles/calves. If the water level starts to rise, be sure to back your way out.
Typically, people explore just inside the entrance of the caves, walk maybe 15 or 20 feet in (4-6 meters), and then come back out. Lots of people take pictures near the entrances, since you still have some light.
Visiting the caves at low tide is best. Here’s a link to the tide chart.
Besides the caves, Playa Ventanas can be a nice place to splash around. Though small-to-medium sized waves make it difficult to really swim, you can wade into the water or bring a boogie board to ride the whitewater.
Along the sand at low and mid tide, there are also some watery pools in the sand for kids to play and dig.
In the past, lifeguards have not been that common on Costa Rica’s beaches because of funding issues. However, during our last visit to Playa Ventanas, there was a lifeguard on duty. If you aren’t sure about which areas are safe along the beach, be sure to check in with them.
Getting to Playa Ventanas
Playa Ventanas is located about 12 km (7.5 miles) from the center of Uvita.
As you drive south on Highway 34 (the Costanera), you will see a small sign on your right. Take a right onto the dirt road and follow it to the end.
At one point on this back road, you will need to cross a small stream. Usually, the water level is low and it’s fine to cross. If you aren’t sure (or there is swift water moving through), it would be better to watch another car cross first, so that you know it is safe.
We have visited many times and have seen all types of cars, SUVs, trucks, and even motorcycles make it down to the beach without a problem. A 4×4 should not be necessary unless there has been a recent storm.
Just before the beach, you will arrive at a small booth. There is a small fee to pay. Proceeds go to the local association of Playa Ventanas and Playa Tortuga (a nearby turtle-nesting beach).
Parking is 2,000 colones (about $3) for the day if you arrive before 2:00 p.m., and 1,500 colones (about $2.50) if you arrive after 2:00 p.m. They will give you a ticket as a receipt.
The parking is closed off but not really guarded. We wouldn’t recommend leaving valuables inside the car, just to be safe. Car break-ins are, unfortunately, somewhat common in the Uvita area but can be easily avoided if there is nothing of interest left in the car.
Playa Ventanas, Puntarenas is a special beach on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. From the fun local vibe to the cool caves, you are sure to have a good day exploring and relaxing under the shade of a palm tree.
Have a question about visiting Playa Ventanas? Ask us below.
Looking for more trip planning info? Check out these posts.
Playa Arco: A Secret Beach Near Uvita – This beach is close to Playa Ventanas. It’s much more of an adventure to access and for that reason sees a lot less foot traffic. Playa Arco also has a fun cave to explore.
Renting a Car in Costa Rica: Clearing up the Confusion – If you are visiting the Uvita area, we’d highly recommend having your own set of wheels. Read this post to find out what to look for when reserving a car.
Whale Watching in Costa Rica – Find out when and where to see whales during their seasonal migrations along the Pacific coast.