Where to stay in Uvita Costa Rica – Best 3 AREAS and hotels
Where to stay in Uvita? The best area is between the main road and the stunning beach, however, there are another 2 options that may work better and I will tell you why.
Uvita is a small town south of San Jose, a fantastic spot to relax and enjoy the stunning National Park shaped like a whale tale. The center of the town is along the main road, the Ruta Nacional 34, a place to avoid because of the car noise and lack of character.
You can decide to turn toward the beach, where you will find plenty of accommodations, or toward the famous waterfalls, where you will find the greenest and wildest part of town.
There is however another option located 5km (3 miles) northwest of Uvita where you will find Playa Hermosa, one of the most beautiful beaches to stay in Costa Rica.
These 3 areas are so different, and that is why I have decided to write this guide, with all the pros and cons of each place, together with a few suggested accommodations for your stay. I have also organized a quick reference table to compare the 3 best areas to stay in Uvita, just to have the full picture in front of you.
Where to stay in Uvita – Key Points
Here is the quick comparative table. Click on the area name to jump to the full description including all the pros, cons, and a few suggested hotels and accommodations.
On a mobile, swipe left or right to see all the columns.
|Area/Town||Ideal for||Pros||Cons||Accessibility||Restaurants||Families||Character of the area|
|Uvita Beach||First-time visitors||Close to beach, residential vibe, quiet nights, surfing opportunities||$6 daily fee for beach access||Mostly unpaved but accessible roads||Falafel Uvita, other local eateries||Ideal||Mixed community, original vibe|
|Uvita Falls||Nature lovers, waterfall fans||Close to waterfalls, jungle setting, great views||2 miles from the beach||Main road access, walkable||Por El Camino and other options||Good||Jungle setting, close to the rainforest|
|Playa Hermosa||Seclusion, surfing enthusiasts||Great for surfing, peaceful, stunning beach||No facilities around||You need a car||Gusto Italiano|
|Good||Wild, quiet setup, coastal charm|
If you are in a hurry, here are my 3 suggested places to stay in Uvita and around.
Driving in Costa Rica is honestly not as complicated, however, you do not need a car if you plan to visit uniquely Uvita and nearby. You can walk to the beach and to the waterfalls too. You can take a quick taxi to Hermosa Beach from Uvita.
Being Uvita on the main road means that you will have also frequent buses going north to Jaco, Dominical, San Jose, and the International Airport. Go south and in 2-2.5 hours you will be at the Panama border.
In saying that, hiring a car in Costa Rica will take your vacation to another level. There are so many amazing places close to Uvita itself reachable mostly by car. The Parque Nacional Corcovado is a quick drive south.
Dominicalito and the Nauyaca Waterfalls are just north of Uvita. Rent a 4×4 in Costa Rica to experience the most inaccessible and hidden parts of the country, like the Eco Chontales Waterfalls. So many options.
I usually rent my cars through DiscoverCars, a great comparative site that works with international and local rental companies providing the best deal in Costa Rica, a real money saver. Plus, for just $7 a day, I get full insurance (watch out for the types of insurance in Costa Rica, avoid these scams).
Uvita Beach – Best place to stay in Uvita for first-time visitors
Where to stay in Uvita on your first trip? I personally suggest the part of town between the main road and the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, the national park that takes its name from the shape of the small peninsula that emerges in low tide, the shape of a whale tail (balena).
This is the closest area to the beach that you can enter through the National Park gate. Just keep in mind that there is a $6 daily fee, doesn’t matter what time of the day you enter. And I may add that there is no way to avoid that by entering along the river (Rio Uvita) because of the presence of crocodiles.
To save on the $6 fee, head instead to Play Hermosa, 5 km north of Uvita, or Arco Beach, 3km South, accessible through La Cusinga Restaurant, an incredible spot to visit in low tide, famous for its cave formation.
Surfing is possible only on high tide. You can rent the boards ($10) before entering the gate. The street leading there has a few restaurants and surfing shops.
The area between the road and the beach is very residential, with bungalows, villas, and small apartment blocks (max 2 floors). It’s a mixed community of locals and travelers, which is great because it is still keeping the original vibe.
There are a few restaurants and bars, however, there is no nightlife which means you will have a quiet night’s sleep wherever you are. If you are looking for nightlife by the sea, you should head to other towns like Jaco or the beautiful Tamarindo.
Besides walking along the beach and surfing on high tide, you can also book a day out scuba diving. With $182 I organized two dives at the Parque Nacional Corcovado (1 hour south of Uvita). The meeting point was at the PADI center located next to the Park gate.
Most of the streets in the area are unpaved but easily doable with a 2WD car. It gets messy when raining but it dries up very quickly as soon as the sun comes out.
My favorite restaurant in the area is the Falafel Uvita, offering a wide choice of Mediterranean food, with an Israeli influence, and of course, specializing in falafels. There are not as many tables, so first in best dressed.
If you have a kitchen and you want to cook your own food or just have a small breakfast to start the day, head to the small Steve’s Supermarket, not too far off the main road. They have a small but good selection of ingredients.
Alternatively, to save some money too, walk to the Pacifico Supermarket, in the town center on the main road, where you can find a much much bigger selection and overall better value for money. Supermercado BM is another possible alternative, also on the main road.
Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Uvita Beach:
Hotel FAREMITI ($$$): Boutique gem in Uvita. Relaxing vibe, modern rooms, and exceptional hospitality
Bungalows Ballena ($$$-$$$$): Splendid beachside stay with spacious 2BR villas, refreshing pools, and friendly staff. Ideal for families and beach lovers
Valle Hermoso ($): Very cheap and cozy place with friendly hosts, mountain views, and comfortable amenities. An excellent choice for a peaceful stay.
Uvita Falls – Where to stay in Uvita in the forest
If you prefer to be in closer contact with nature then one of the best places to stay in Uvita is between the main road and the waterfalls. You will be practically right at the start of the rainforest.
From there you can easily walk to the famous Uvita Waterfalls. You can enter through the restaurant (well-signed) for less than $5. In the upper part, you will find the 5-6 meters fall (around 15-20 feet) that you can slide down, actually great fun. In the lower part, there are a couple of waterholes that you can jump in from a small trampoline.
Most of the accommodations on this side of Uvita are right in the middle of the jungle, some located on the hills with a gorgeous view over the famous Uvita whale tale.
In this area of town, I highly suggest eating at the Por El Camino, a low-key pizzeria run by an Italian couple that built their own wood oven to make the best pizza I have experienced so far in Costa Rica. The setup is very boutique (read small), I think they can do only 4 pizzas at a time, so take it easy, there is some waiting time but totally worth it!
You will be very close to the Pacifico Supermarket and the bus stop, which is great, but you will be around 2 miles (3.5km) or around 40 minutes walk from the beach, which is not ideal.
This is the best area to stay in Uvita if you plan some trekking and waterfalls exploration, however, if you plan more beach time, then head to the other side of the main road, you will have an easier time.
Playa Hermosa – Where to stay near Uvita for Seclusion and surfing
Playa Hermosa is one of the best places in Costa Rica for beginner surfers. The waves are regular and big enough to have fun but not as big to be intimidating. The spot is quite large with a section that works better for intermediate and experienced surfers.
Overall is a great place to stay near Uvita for surfing and seclusion, because besides you, nature, and the amazing tropical beach, there is not much around, just peace and quiet. This beach reminds me a lot of another Playa Hermosa in Santa Teresa, with a similar wild and quiet setup.
At the beach, you will find a couple of small local eateries and a tiny place renting surfboards and offering surfing lessons. Unfortunately, they close at 5 pm, which is a pity because you will miss the best part of the day to be in the water, right at sunset time.
Most of the accommodations in the area are either full villas, bungalows, or apartments. I have not seen any hotel.
There are a couple of restaurants in the area, Lori and Gusto Italiano. They both have a great view over the bay, with Gusto Italiano, run by a Roman couple, making their own pasta (superb). Both of them close around 8 pm, so for a later dinner head instead to Uvita.
In saying that do not expect any late-hour place in this part of Costa Rica. Most restaurants shut the kitchen by 9 pm (10 pm if you are lucky).
Here are 2 of the best accommodations in Playa Hermosa:
Ranchos Remo Lodge ($$-$$$): A coastal gem with stunning ocean views, charming bungalows, and Italian cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Jungle Home ($$): Modern jungle 2BR home! Stunning views, comfy beds, great AC. Highly recommended for families
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Uvita worth visiting Costa Rica?
Yes, Uvita is worth visiting for its stunning beaches, Marino Ballena National Park, and opportunities for whale watching and snorkeling.
Is Uvita walkable?
Uvita’s town center is walkable, but to explore the beaches and surrounding areas, transportation like a car or bike may be preferable.
Is there a free beach in Uvita?
Access to Marino Ballena National Park requires an entrance fee. Head to Hermosa Beach or Arco Beach for free access.
When should I visit Uvita?
The best time to visit Uvita is during the dry season, from December to April, for pleasant weather and outdoor activities.
Can you swim in Uvita Beach?
Yes, swimming is possible in Uvita Beach, but caution is advised as currents can be strong; always heed local warnings.
What is the best side of Costa Rica to stay on?
The Pacific side offers beautiful beaches and resorts, while the Caribbean side has a unique culture and lush landscapes; both have their appeals.
What part of Costa Rica is best to stay?
The best part depends on interests: Guanacaste for beaches, San José for city life, Arenal for nature, and Manuel Antonio for wildlife.
Where do Kardashians vacation in Costa Rica?
The Kardashians have vacationed in the Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica, staying at a luxurious private villa in the region.
How do you compare Uvita to Santa Teresa and Tamarindo
I have written extensively about Tamarindo Vs Santa Teresa. Uvita is closer to Santa Teresa in life style, probably even more wilder and off the beaten path.