Beach bars aren’t as ubiquitous as you might expect in a country with 912 miles of picturesque Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. The reason is that within about 650 feet of the high-tide line, every beach in the country is public property. Some of that land can be leased but not owned, so the whole thing can get really messy. Just ask the town of Puerto Viejo, which recently went through an epic battle to keep it’s longstanding homes, restaurants, and bars from being torn down.
Of course, that’s all the more reason to appreciate the great beach bars the country does have. These chill spots are often daily gathering places at sunset and are therefore at the center of local social life. They’re also fantastic places to meet other travelers or to just kick back with friends for a guaro sour, or five. When you’re going to have that many drinks, it’s important to get some food in the stomach, so I also took the food menu into account.
This ever-popular bar and restaurant in Playa Avellanas in Guanacaste is famous for its namesake, a massive pig named Lola known to enjoy playing in the surf. But the bar is also superlative for its view of expert surfing, its healthy smoothies, and its oversized, delicious salads, pizzas, and sandwiches.
The Lazy Mon
On the Caribbean Coast in Puerto Viejo, this dive-y outpost is a place to hang late into the night, drinking cheap Imperial, listening to reggae, and watching fire dancers. It also features pool and ping-pong tables, and games can get extremely competitive. When I’m on the Caribbean, I basically live here.
With a prime, elevated view of Playa Hermosa’s enormous but surfable waves, I stop at this chic beach bar and eatery every time I’m passing through. The reason is the tuna poki bowl, which is a huge portion of fresh fish, rice, sesame seeds, and teriyaki sauce. But the watermelon and ginger smoothie is just as tempting.
In the dusty surf town of Dominical, on the southern Pacific coast, this beach bar is famous for its margaritas and guacamole. It’s a reasonably priced gathering place for surfers and expats, and it gets major points for serving craft beers like Segua Red Ale and Libertas Tropical Golden Ale.