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Costa Rica’s 15 Top Vacation Rental Destinations in 2024

Written by James Dyde


This is the original article written by James at CentralAmerica.com


Explore a booming tourism market with a look at the top 15 vacation rental destinations in Costa Rica for both vacationers and investors. Discover unique attractions, diverse accommodations, and the growing popularity of this Central American destination.


Costa Rica’s vacation rental market has experienced massive growth in recent years, cementing its position as a top destination for tourists and investors alike. Since 2018, the number of Airbnb listings in the country has surged, reflecting the increasing demand for diverse accommodation options. This growth trend has continued into 2024, with the market reaching new heights in both property availability and visitor numbers.


At the end of last month (June 2024), Costa Rica Investments, a consultancy that helps those interested in investing in Costa Rica, published a blog post on the booming vacation rental market in the country. They highlighted a few locations around Costa Rica mentioning some of the most popular places with the most AirBnB listings. And it got us thinking. What exactly are the hottest locations for vacation rentals in Costa Rica?


Top 15 Vacation Rental Destinations in Costa Rica


If you’re interested in either renting a home for your vacation or investing in a rental home, where are the most popular places? Below, we look at the top 15 destinations. As we explore these locations, we’ll look at what makes each area unique and why they’ve become favorites among vacation renters.


1. Jacó (2,376 listings)

The beach town of Jacó, on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast, has the largest number of vacation rental listings in Costa Rica. Known for its surfing, lively nightlife, and access to world-class fishing and golf, Jacó attracts a diverse crowd of tourists and long-term visitors. The area offers a mix of budget-friendly apartments and luxury condos, particularly in the nearby Los Sueños Resort in Playa Herradura. Just an hour or so from San José and Juan Santamaría International Airport, Jacó is a consistently popular choice for both local and foreign visitors. Jacó’s large inventory of rentals provides visitors with plenty of options to suit various preferences and budgets.


2. Tamarindo (1,778 listings)

The Guanacaste community of Tamarindo has the second highest number of listings and is now a major hub for vacation rentals. Surfers come for Tamarindo’s consistent waves, suitable for beginners and experienced riders alike. Beyond surfing, the area offers sport fishing, snorkeling, and yoga retreats. Nearby Playa Grande, part of Las Baulas National Marine Park, is a crucial nesting site for leatherback turtles. Tamarindo has an international atmosphere, reflected in its extensive restaurant and nightlife scenes. The town’s development has brought a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly apartments to luxury villas, catering to different types of traveler's.


3. Cahuita/Puerto Viejo (1,588 listings)

Cahuita and Puerto Viejo are two separate communities on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, but count as one area in this list. Together, the Afro-Caribbean influences of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo offer a distinct cultural experience different from elsewhere in Costa Rica. Travelers come for a more relaxed, off-the-beaten-path vacation. Puerto Viejo is famous for its powerful surf breaks, while Cahuita National Park offers excellent snorkeling and hiking opportunities. The region’s unique cuisine, reggae-infused atmosphere, and eco-friendly ethos appeal to travelers looking for an authentic Costa Rican experience, making it a popular choice for vacation rentals.


4. Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa (1,551 listings)

Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa, in Guanacaste, offer a perfect blend of beach life and modern conveniences. Coco is a bustling community with a variety of restaurants, shops, and nightlife options. Playa Hermosa, just a short drive away, is a quieter, more laid-back Bach known for its calm waters and family-friendly atmosphere. Both areas are popular for their proximity to Guanacaste International Airport, making them easily accessible for international travelers.


5. Cóbano/Santa Teresa (1,489 listings)

Santa Teresa and the surrounding Cóbano area, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, have gained international recognition as a bohemian surf paradise. Once a remote fishing village, Santa Teresa has transformed into a trendy destination known for its consistent waves, yoga retreats, and health-conscious lifestyle. The area’s long stretches of white-sand beaches, backed by lush jungle, create a picturesque setting for vacation rentals. Despite its growing popularity, Santa Teresa maintains a laid-back, small-town feel. The nearby Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve offers excellent hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities, adding to the area’s appeal for nature lovers.


6. San José (1,359 listings)

As the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, San José offers a different vacation rental experience compared to the beach destinations. The city is a cultural and economic hub, attracting business travelers, students, and tourists interested in urban experiences. San José’s vacation rentals cater to those looking to explore museums, theaters, and historical sites, as well as travelers using the city as a base for day trips to nearby attractions like Poás Volcano or the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The city’s vibrant food scene and nightlife make it a convenient and interesting stop for many visitors.


7. Bahía Ballena (994 listings)

Bahía Ballena, part of the Uvita area in the South Pacific zone, is best known for its whale-watching and the unique whale-tail shaped sandbar visible at low tide in the Marino Ballena National Park. The area attracts nature enthusiasts and those seeking a more secluded and high-end vacation experience. Vacation rentals here often provide stunning ocean views set in a jungle surrounding. The area’s commitment to sustainable tourism and its relatively undeveloped coastline appeal to travelers looking for an eco-friendly experience.


8. Manuel Antonio (956 listings)

Manuel Antonio is a premier vacation destination on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, known for its national park and beautiful beaches. With 956 listings, it has the highest occupancy rate among locations with over 150 vacation rentals. The area’s main draw is Manuel Antonio National Park, which attracts over a million visitors each year with its diverse wildlife, hiking trails, and beaches. Vacation rentals here range from luxury villas with ocean views to more modest accommodations near the park. The community offers a mix of upscale dining, adventure activities, and nightlife, catering to a wide range of travelers from families to honeymooners. This area is also considered the most LGBT-friendly part of Costa Rica.


9. Flamingo/Brasilito (826 listings)

Located north of Tamarindo in Guanacaste, the Flamingo and Brasilito areas offer visitors a taste of both luxury and local charm. Playa Flamingo is known for its upscale resorts, marina, and vacation rentals, many offering spectacular views of the crescent-shaped beach with its signature white sand. Nearby Brasilito provides a more authentic Costa Rican experience with its local restaurants and laid-back atmosphere. The area is popular for sport fishing, sailing, and scuba diving. Its proximity to other beautiful beaches like Conchal and Potrero makes it an ideal base for exploring the Gold Coast. The region’s dry climate ensures plenty of sunny days, making it a favorite among snowbirds and sun-seekers.


10. Nosara (787 listings)

Nosara has gained international recognition as a yoga and surf destination, attracting a health-conscious, eco-minded crowd. With 787 listings, it offers a range of vacation rentals from rustic jungle cabinas to luxurious beachfront villas. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, the area is famous as one of the few Blue Zones in the world. Playa Guiones, the main surf beach, offers consistent waves year-round. Beyond surfing and yoga, visitors can enjoy zip-lining, horseback riding, and wildlife watching in the nearby biological reserve. Nosara’s remote location and limited development contribute to its appeal as a peaceful retreat away from the more crowded tourist destinations.


11. Potrero/Las Catalinas (634 listings)

Located next to Flamingo, Potrero and the nearby planned community of Las Catalinas offer both local Costa Rican culture and carefully designed luxury. Potrero is a small community with a beautiful beach, popular among those seeking a quieter vacation experience. Las Catalinas features car-free streets, high-end vacation rentals, and a focus on outdoor living and wellness. The area is known for its excellent snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, and mountain biking trails. With 634 listings, the region provides a range of options from simple beachfront apartments and homes in Potrero to elegant condos and villas in Las Catalinas.


12. Playa Hermosa/Bejuco/Esterillos (559 listings)

This stretch of coastline between Jacó and Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific offers a quieter alternative to both places. Playa Hermosa is known for its powerful waves, making it a favorite among experienced surfers. Bejuco and Esterillos are more laid-back surf communities, perfect for those seeking a tranquil getaway with big waves. Non-surfing visitors can enjoy long walks on empty beaches, horseback riding, and exploring nearby national parks like Manuel Antonio. The region’s relative lack of development appeals to travelers looking for a more authentic Costa Rican beach experience.


13. Sámara (508 listings)

Located south of Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula, Sámara has a picturesque bay and relaxed atmosphere. With 508 listings, it offers a good selection of vacation rentals while maintaining a small-town feel. The beach is protected by a coral reef, creating calm waters ideal for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. Samara attracts a diverse crowd, from families with young children to retirees and young backpackers. The town center offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops, all within walking distance of the beach.


14. Monteverde (470 listings)

Monteverde is the only cloud forest destination in the top 15 and offers a cooler climate and unique biodiversity. The area’s 470 vacation rental listings range from cozy cabins to eco-lodges, many offering stunning mountain views. Monteverde is famous for its Cloud Forest Reserve, home to thousands of plant and animal species. Visitors can enjoy zip-lining, hanging bridge walks, and night tours to spot nocturnal wildlife. The village of Santa Elena provides amenities and a glimpse into local culture. Monteverde’s focus on conservation and education makes it popular among nature enthusiasts and families looking for an alternative to the beach.


15. La Fortuna (403 listings)

La Fortuna, the main town of the Arenal Volcano area, rounds out the top 15. This inland destination is the adventure capital of Costa Rica, offering activities like hiking, waterfall rappelling, white-water rafting, and zip-lining. The area’s main draw is the iconic Arenal Volcano and the surrounding national park. La Fortuna is also known for its hot springs, ranging from luxury resorts to more natural settings. The town itself offers a variety of dining options and amenities, while still retaining a local feel.


Looking Ahead: Costa Rica’s Vacation Rental Landscape

Costa Rica’s vacation rental market continues to flourish, offering a growing range of options for travelers seeking unique experiences away from hotels. There were almost 7,000 more listings on AirBnB and VRBO in May 2024 than there were in May 2023, and almost 22,000 more than May 2018. This growth definitely reflects the increasing popularity of Costa Rica as a destination, and brings both opportunities and challenges for communities around the country.


While these rentals can stimulate local economies and provides more accommodation options for travelers, it’s important to consider the broader impact on communities. For example, according to Costa Rica Investments, the average daily rate (ADR) of a vacation rental in Costa Rica ranges between around $239 and $290, depending on the time of year. This can result in a phenomenon called the AirBnB effect, which happens in tourist destinations around the world, including some of Costa Rica’s beach towns. The AirBnB effect can lead to changes in local housing markets and community dynamics, where local people find themselves priced out of their communities. As Costa Rica’s vacation rental sector continues to evolve, finding a balance between catering to visitors and preserving local communities will be crucial.

For travelers, being mindful of these dynamics can enhance the experience of visiting Costa Rica. Choosing accommodations thoughtfully, engaging with local businesses, and respecting the communities you visit all contribute to sustainable tourism. As Costa Rica moves forward, the collaboration between local communities, the tourism industry, and visitors will be key to maintaining the country’s welcoming spirit and natural beauty that make it such a sought-after destination.


James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.




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