Situated between Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the South, Costa Rica has gained a reputation as a safe and exotic travel destination in Latin America. The immense popularity of this Central American nation can be attributed to its stunning beaches, rich biodiversity and friendly locals (commonly referred to as Ticos).
While Costa Rica's tourism industry has been rapidly increasing over the last forty years, the development is primarily limited to several specific destinations around the mountainous country: Tamarindo, San Jose, Monteverde, Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Jaco and Limon.
Those looking to experience authenticity can venture outside of these popular destinations and find quiet towns that better represent true life in Costa Rica. One such location is located just 12 miles north of Tamarindo.
I visited Brasilito for two weeks during my second trip to Costa Rica in late 2017.
Brasilito is a town of around 5,000 residents in Costa Rica's Northwestern Guanacaste Province. It's so small that the town center consists of two small markets, two souvenir shops, two local restaurants (which are called sodas in Costa Rica) and a hotel. There are more restaurants and hotels outside of the town center that can be accessed through a short walk. The size of the town can be a pro or a con depending on what any given traveler is looking for. Some may find Brasilito's limitations frustrating while others may feel liberated by the tranquil and authentic nature of the town.
I stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel close to the town center called Conchal Hotel. The hotel has various lodging options, a pool and a vibrant restaurant that's open all day. The staff can also help plan excursions that will pick you up and drop you off directly at the property. The reception helped me book a sunset sail boat tour and a day tour to Nicaragua, both of which were incredible!
Time to hit the beach! Playa Conchal can be reached by entering Brasilito Beach and walking Southwest for about ten minutes. Strangely enough, it can't be accessed from the road.
The entire beach is composed of crushed shells that help lend the water a magnificent hue. While you may be convinced that you've stumbled upon a Caribbean paradise, you'll soon remember that this is in fact the Pacific Ocean!
Aside from swimming in the turquoise waters, you can also jet ski, kayak or receive a massage directly on the beach. If you're lucky, you'll be greeted by a troop of Howler Monkeys making loud vocalizations from the trees behind the beach.
The Conchal Vendor Delimma
Remember when I said that Playa Conchal can't be accessed from the road? Vendors must first drive their car through Brasilito Beach (yes on the actual beach) to reach Conchal. The problem lies in the fact that the Pacific Ocean connects to a river running through Brasilito Beach. This creates a situation where cars that attempt to cross at the wrong time of day often become trapped in the water.
The solution? All they can do is wait for the tide to change and hope that they'll soon have enough traction to drive away.
Brasilito & Playa Conchal are perfect Costa Rican destinations for travelers who prefer to be surrounded by more locals than tourists. There's an undeniable sense of authenticity that can be somewhat rare in Costa Rica's modern tourism industry. Sit back, relax and enjoy life in a destination that most people have never heard of.
What's your favorite destination in Costa Rica? Give us your input by leaving a comment below.