Costa Rica: Pacific Coast vs. Caribbean Coast


After much discussion we have decided to take an extended family vacation to Costa Rica in 2018 to celebrate my grandparent’s 50th anniversary. The trip will need to accommodate 15 adults from 19-80 and 8 children from 3-12.

I’m anxious to set a date and a location since we have budgets and vacation days to accommodate, so here is my research on the first big question: which coast to visit?

Costa Rica, Choosing the Pacific or Caribbean Coast with a large group

Costa Rica Pacific Coast


  • Rental houses available to accommodate our whole group
  • More tours available
  • Generally closer to the airports
  • More developed roads
  • Better access to wi-fi
  • Closer to major hospitals or emergency flights home
  • More national parks
  • Less humidity, less rainfall
  • The waterfalls are all on this side
  • Most of the volcanos will be more accessible from this side


  • Warmer (Expect 75-95 degrees F in April)
  • More tourists
  • More large, brand name hotels and resorts
Costa Rica Pacific Coast
Photo by flickr user Arturo Sotillo. CC 2.0.

Costa Rica Caribbean Coast


  • Fewer tourists
  • More diverse
  • Cooler (Expect 72-84 degrees F in April)
  • White sand, turquoise water
  • Cheaper in the central and southern areas


  • Harder to get to, expect approximately 4-5 hours from the airport
  • More difficult to get quality medical attention if need be
  • Stronger currents and riptides, many beaches not for swimming
  • More humid
  • Roads are more likely to be potholed or damaged
  • Hard to rent a house large enough for everyone, would need to stay at a hotel or book multiple houses.
Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica
Picture by flickr user Armando Maynez. CC 2.0.


What would you choose? If it were just my small family going, I think I’d head to the Caribbean Coast to get away from the development. Since my grandparents are coming along, I have to vote for the Pacific for its accessibility and access to better healthcare. I don’t think there are any bad options here anyway πŸ˜‰

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