CENTRAL PACIFIC BEACHES
Best Beaches for Family Portraits
As you well know Costa Rica is a beautiful country with too many stunning vistas to count. With that in mind, how can you decide where to go for family portraits on the beach in Costa Rica?
Let me help narrow it down for you. Here I’ll share with you my top picks for the best places for family portraits on the Central and South Pacific Coast and what I love about them. With my experience and photographer’s eye, I’ve found that these beaches consistently provide gorgeous light and stunning views to turn out amazing photos.
Here is my list of the best beaches for family photos from north to south along the Central Pacific.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and learn about the best spots for family photos in Costa Rica!
South Side of Jacó
Jacó is a great spot because of its proximity to San José. The 27 takes you most of the way there with a short stint on the Costanera Sur to arrive in Jacó. In other words, you can enjoy the best roads Costa Rica has to offer.
There’s a lot to do in Jacó, which is nice if you want to turn your trip into a fun mini-vacation. The beach is known for its fabulous surfing so you might want to check it out while you’re here.
My favorite section of the beach for photographs is on the far south side of town. This section of the beach is near Hotel Club del Mar, which by the way is a great place to stay for families. I like it because it’s farther away from the center of town, which means fewer people. The last thing you want is a bunch of random strangers cluttering up the background of your photos!
There is also more greenery on this side of the beach as opposed to buildings and hotels that are more prominent closer to the center of town.
Playa Hermosa is the beach just south of Jaco. It is a long beach known for surfing as it has some of the best waves in the whole country. But there are some parts of the beach that are far from the waves and are great places to get photos of the family. A lot of Villas are located right on the beach so you just have to walk through the back yard and you are at your portrait session location! Also, there are way fewer people at Playa Hermosa so it is easy to have the beach to ourselves for the photos.
Tulemar Private Beach
Tulemar resort in Manuel Antonio is another hotel with a private beach. Sheltered as well, the swell can’t make it to the beach and the waves are usually perfect for little kids. As just the guests from the hotel make it down to this beach, it is very easy to find a spot where there will be no other people in the background. One side of the beach has some awesome rocks for photos, while the other side sports a lush green hill. It really is a great place for family portraits.
Arenas del Mar Private Beach
If you are staying at the fabulous Arenas del Mar Hotel in Manuel Antonio, then you will have access to their private beach. This is just north of the public beach in Manuel Antonio and has a lush background and stunning rocks for photos. It is a little bay that is protected so normally the waves aren’t too big so we can get into the water for the family session if you would like It also has an amazing wooden swing in the shape of a circle that is ideal for photos.
North Side of Manuel Antonio
You can get to the north end of the beach one of two ways. First, you can leave your car at a public parking lot (usually there’s a watchie there) and walk along the beach until you reach the end — about 700-800 meters.
If you’re not up for the walk, there is a road that will take you straight to the north end. It is not well-known to out-of-towners and you’ll definitely need a 4×4 vehicle to make it down to the beach, but you won’t have to walk. That is an advantage if you don’t want to appear extraordinarily sweaty in your photos. Because it’s harder to get to, there also tend to be fewer people here, another nice advantage.
There is a larger, more awesome rock on this side of the beach that is fun for climbing on, but you will have to be a bit more adventurous to trek up this one. This short section of the beach also encompasses a green area with grass and palm trees and a rocky section all the way to the end. It’s great for getting a variety of backdrops in your images.
Oh, and did I mention that for much of the year this is a fantastic spot to get breathtaking sunset photos? In my opinion, this is hands down one of the best family portrait locations in all of Costa Rica.
South Side of Manuel Antonio
If you stay on the Costanera for another hour or so, you’ll reach Manuel Antonio. The beaches in Manuel Antonio are world-renowned for being absolutely gorgeous. For this reason, this is one of my favorite places to shoot family portraits.
Unlike Jacó, the buildings don’t encroach on the beach as much here in Manuel Antonio. However, the main section of the beach by the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park is nearly always crowded with sunbathing tourists, umbrella chairs, and Ticos selling granizados, tours, and trinkets.
Because of this, I prefer to shoot on the extreme ends of the beach. The south side is easier to get to than the north side which we’ll get to in a second.
The south side of the beach butts up against the Park and is a short walk from the main section of the beach. There is also a small parking lot at this end where you can leave your car and easily access this portion of the beach.
This area boasts a large rock that you can climb on for photos as well as a picturesque inlet at the south end. Because it butts up against the Park there is plenty of greenery and interesting nature backdrops to shoot against.
However, because it’s pretty easy to access, this area can get crowded and it’s also not the best location for sunset shots if you want those as part of your session. For that, you’ll want to head to the north side.
Another 40 minutes or so south from Manuel Antonio, you’ll find Dominical. The town is tiny and there isn’t much there, although there is almost always a little market set up by the beach that is great for buying beachy attire, accessories, and souvenirs.
The beach, however, is breathtaking. You can drive right up to it and park for easy access, which is nice. Whereas Manuel Antonio and Jacó are pretty sandy, Dominical has a few rocks here and there, which adds a different texture to your family photos in Costa Rica.
This beach is very popular among surfers, but the town attracts far fewer tourists, keeping the beach a little more open. There is lots of greenery and nature along this beach and you can’t really see the buildings, which is perfect if you want a more natural look for your family photoshoot.
Just a mile south of Dominical, you can find Dominicalito. This quaint little beach is lesser-known than Dominical so, yep you guessed it, there are fewer people.
It’s also even rockier than Dominical giving your photos a strong, textured background. Between the rocky outcroppings, you can find little tide pools where you might see interesting wildlife like crabs.
Local surfers love the spot, but they stay away from the beach because of the rocks. For photos, it’s a gorgeous spot with few distractions, no buildings, and just a superb stretch of beach.
The sunsets here are also absolutely stunning, by the way, making it a more than worthy spot for your family photo session.
To round out our list, let’s take a look at Playa Ventanas.
This little wonder of a beach is tucked between Uvita and Ojochal. Access is easy as you can drive right up to the beach and park.
It gets its name from the large outcropping of rocks that has a hole all the way through it, like a window. In front of the outcropping, there is a pile of rocks that can be fun to climb on as well as provide an interesting stage for photos.
The original owners of the beach planted over 300 coconut palms and so there are plenty of these tropical trees dotted around providing shade and a great place to hang a hammock. It’s also fun to interact with the trees for some creative photos.
Again, sunsets on this beach are magical and paint a stunning picture for the background in your family portraits.
The Best Beaches for Family Photos in Costa Rica
There you have it! My top picks for best beaches for family portraits on the Central and South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. I hope you’ve had fun learning about these different spots and seeing some of the possibilities for your family photos in Costa Rica.
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