We’ve been hosting couples at marriage counseling retreats in Costa Rica for a few years now. During our time here we’ve been fortunate enough to discover some hidden beaches that you can discover with your husband or wife on your retreat’s rest days. We’re talking a pink sand beach, a hidden beach you must know the name of to get past a guard, and a local favorite they tried to keep all to themselves! Without further ado, let’s dive into these unique beaches nestled alongside the romantically volcanic Guanacaste Coast.

1. Playa Penca – 13 Minutes to Playa Penca from Playa Hermosa by Car

Playa Penca is a hidden beach that is inaccessible by foot from Playa Hermosa. We recommend renting a 4×4 with high clearance to easily ascend and descend the hill to get down to the clearing for access to the white sand beach. The water is crystal clear and is perfect for snorkeling and swimming with very calm waters.

snorkeling playa penca costa rica marriage retreat

There are sea urchins and shells, so water shoes are highly recommended. You will need to hike down a short ten minutes from the area where you can park. Also, there are no trees to take shelter under, so we recommend an SPF shirt, hat, and reef-friendly sunscreen.

A simple shop with basic supplies and snacks is just around the corner in a square about 200 yards from the beach. Because supplies are so limited, we recommend you bring a picnic and everything you will need for the day.

Take Route 159 out of town from Playa Hermosa toward Playa del Coco until you almost get to the top of a hill and look out for a dirt road on your right with a guard post and security guard. The guard will ask you where you’re going and take down you vehicle’s license plate number and maybe your names as well. Access is free, however monitored. Continue down the dirt road until you come to a crest on the hill overlooking the road with cars parked. This is parking for another beach (Playa Calzon de Pobre), not Playa Penca. Continue going down the bath until it ends and you can just see the water glowing through the trees and brush and park your vehicle (parking and driving are not allowed on the beach).

Use Google maps directions from Playa Hermosa to Playa Penca here.

2. Playa Carrillo – 2 Hour and 15 Minute Drive from Playa Hermosa

Playa Carrillo is probably locals’ favorite beach on the Guanacaste Coast. Costa Ricans flock there on weekends and holidays, so don’t expect to have the beach to yourself. The beach hardly ever gets crowded, however. This family friendly beach has gentle waves, making it a family friendly choice. Although there are no stores here, you can usually find vendors pushing carts along the beach selling shaved ice (called granizados), coconut water, and even ceviche and other snacks.

Playa Carrillo is a popular destination to watch the sunset over the water in the evening. If you get a chance, hike up the concrete stairs to the lookout post (called Carrillo Mirador) at the top of the hill where you can observe beautiful views of the bay below.

Use Google Maps direction from Playa Hermosa to Playa Carrillo here.

3. Playa Buena – Short Distance from Playa Hermosa

There are actually two Playa Buena beaches in Costa Rica. The one we’re talking about is not the large one further south in Costa Rica. Rather, it is a small, secluded beach between Playa Hermosa and Playa Panama right by the Occidental Papagayo hotel. However, you don’t have to be a guest to access this beach. You can drive toward the hotel and park your car alongside the road and enter using the paved pathway. About 250 yards down the path to the beach you should see a “Playa Access” sign, that means you’re on the right path.

view from beach at playa flamingo costa rica

Because of the abundant wildlife, shells, and rock we highly recommend water shoes. From the beach you can enjoy the sound of howler monkeys in the trees and see a pink sand beach a few yards away (called Playa Flamingo) that you can access by foot. If you’re feeling curious, there’s also a small cave you can explore very close to the beach. The waves are typically gentle, and the best time to enjoy the reef at the two far ends of the beach is early in the morning at high tide.

Google map directions to Playa Buena, between Playa Hermosa and Playa Panama here. You can also find a short video explaining how to access the beach from outside the hotel.

Use the Custom Google Map with Links & Directions to these Hidden Beaches

Making the Most of Your Couples Retreat Trip

Whether you decide to explore beaches on the fourth day of your retreat (the designated full rest day), on one of your three-hour lunch breaks, or stay a few more days after the retreat is over, we hope you’ll find time to explore one of these hidden beaches together. After working on your marriage and rekindling the spark, what could be better than enjoying nature together in the volcanic paradise of Guanacaste, Costa Rica coast. What better to spark romance and bring intimacy back to your marriage than a beach adventure or three!

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Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long is a writer, author, and multiple hat wearer with experience across many different industries.