Costa Rica is full of gorgeous beaches, but if its beaches competed in a beauty contest, Conchal might just walk off with the crown.
Playa Conchal is a magnificent expanse of white sand and transparent blue-green waters that are ideal for snorkelling, against a background of lush green jungle. The word “conchal” comes from the Spanish for shells, “conchas,” and Conchal’s unique sand is actually composed of millions of tiny seashells crushed by the breaking waves.
This destination is a favorite amongst locals and tourists, and can get somewhat crowded, particularly on weekends, so if possible, plan to visit during the week to avoid getting hassled by vendors (and the masses) and enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Conchal all to yourself.
Playa Conchal is located just a short walk or drive from Playa Brasilito. It is approximately 45 minutes from Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia and just a 15-minute drive from the Tamarindo airport in the northern province of Guanacaste.
Conchal: An All-inclusive Paradise
It’s hard to miss the 2,400 hectare Westin Golf Resort & Spa during your visit to Playa Conchal. This massive resort has more than 400 rooms, including luxury villas, several international restaurants, a spa, pools, a gym, tennis courts, a kids’ club and its main attraction is certainly the first-class Reserva Conchal golf course, touted as one of the country’s best.
Those who are not into all-inclusive vacations or are not looking to spend a lot on accommodation, might be interested in splurging on a day pass to get a cheaper taste of luxury and enjoy the Westin’s facilities.
Costa Rican law promotes public enjoyment of the country’s natural beauty, and unlike many other countries, all of Costa Rica’s beaches are public property. This means that whether you’re staying at the Westin or not, Playa Conchal is there for all to enjoy!
Another sprawling resort is in the works at Conchal, in the grounds of Reserva Conchal. The W Hotel & Spa – Playa Conchal is a 151-room luxury hotel expected to open its doors in 2019.
If you want to escape the all-inclusive resort vibe, just head to the southern end of the beach, which is usually much more tranquilo.
What the Weather is Like in Conchal
Like most tourist destinations in the province of Guanacaste and across Costa Rica, Conchal sees more visitors during the dry season, which is synonymous to tourism high season.
Conchal is also a favorite among locals from neighboring communities and from the capital, so you can expect to meet and mingle with a fair share of Costa Ricans at the beach.
In spite of the occasional downpour, the green season is an excellent time to consider visiting Playa Conchal. During rainy season, you can usually expect plenty of sunshine and fair weather, cooler temperatures and you get to enjoy a considerably less crowded paradisiacal beach. The rainy season usually gets the most rain in September and October.
Activities & Things to Do in Playa Conchal: Golf, Snorkelling & Beach-time!
While most visitors to Playa Conchal visit with the intention of soaking in the unrivalled beauty of this beach paradise, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your visit to this amazing beach.
Whatever you choose to do, try to refrain from taking any seashells with you or purchasing shell jewelry. Seashells are beautiful, but are even more beautiful when they are left in their natural environment, and are often home to minute creatures that need them for protection.
Playa Conchal is one of the most ideal snorkelling destinations on the Guanacaste coastline. If you make your way to the northern part of the beach, you’ll find the volcanic reef where most snorkelers plunge in to explore this beach’s underwater beauty. You can bring your own snorkelling gear or rent equipment on the beach. Waves and currents can be strong here sometimes, so be cautious, particularly with your mini-snorkelers.
Conchal is very much a golf destination, and a lot of guests at the resort visit exclusively for this purpose. It’s no wonder, Reserva Conchal’s outstandingly beautiful 18-hole golf course was designed by the famous Robert Trent Jones II. The 71-par championship course hosted the first international professional golf tournament ever played in Guanacaste in 2008, and continues hosting world golf tournaments.
Conchal is ideally located near some idyllic beaches, and some less idyllic ones where you might find cheap accommodation and restaurants. No matter where you are staying, you could take a day or two to explore some of the neighboring, less touristy destinations. These include the isolated and gorgeous Playa Mina, which is right next to Conchal and can be accessed by 4×4 or if you’re very careful, by car. Further south you’ll find another tranquil gem, Playa Real.
A 20-minute drive north will lead you to the more built-up but nonetheless beautiful Playa Flamingo. And if you keep going north you’ll find Playa Potrero, with plenty of options for accommodation.
Catch a Glimpse of Local Life
A 15-minute walk will take you from Conchal to Playa Brasilito, a fishing village that is worlds apart from the top tourism destinations that surround it. Brasilito offers a unique peek into local life on the Guanacaste coast, and it’s definitely worth roaming through its streets and sitting down to eat at one of its not very glamorous restaurants.
Special Note: Brasilito happens to be one of Guanacaste’s most impoverished town, and most of its residents work as staff at the neighboring tourist destinations. If you feel inclined to contribute to improving life in this village, check out The Guanacaste Community Fund’s website www.guanacastefund.org. This NGO offers concerned visitors the opportunity to help out as volunteers or by making donations to improve living conditions in Guanacaste, and runs several educational programs in Brasilito.