Costa Rica’s cleanest beaches are measured by a strict program called the Ecological Blue Flag, based on an international effort, and it is a fantastic way for our visitors to know the quality and cleanliness of the gorgeous Costa Rican beaches.

Guanacaste Beaches

Guanacaste Beaches


However, like anywhere else in the World, there are polluted waters and beaches, and well! Yes! Some of the most visited can be, by consequence, some of the most contaminated. In this article, however, we are congratulating the one that received stars in the Ecological logo-playasBlue Flag Program.

The Blue Flag Ecological Program was created in response to the imminent dangers of beach pollution, its repercussions on public health and the tourism industry. It has reached its twelfth year of operations, with a marked increase that began in 2002.

Criteria for Coastal Communities:

The following aspects will be evaluated:

Microbiological quality of the ocean’s water
Quality of potable water
The quality of coastal sanitation areas:
———–Garbage and garbage containers
———–Treated industrial waste
———–Treated run-off water
Environmental education
Security and administration


The categories  are the following:


One star:
If the criteria achieved is between 90% – 100%
Two stars:
If the criteria achieved is 100%

Motorized vehicle restrictions

Horse and domestic animal restrictions brought in by visitors or locals

Maritime current signals if they exist

Three stars:
Complying with that under Star two

Security and rescue teams during High season

Regulatory plan or plan of action regarding conservation zones

Four Stars:
Complying with that under star three

Easy access and security measures for those with disabilities like showers and public sanitation

Separation and Recycling of solid waste

Constant Security and Rescue measures

Local emergency committee

Member of the “Sanitary quality seal” program


Costa Rica makes significant efforts in executing various mechanisms to clean the beaches and instruct the population to avoid further contamination; tourism companies are also part of this endeavor, and as a result, today, 11 beaches proudly display the Ecological Blue Flag with 3, 4 or 5 stars, which means they comply with high cleaning standards, environmental educational programs, security and touristic services.

In total 110 Costa Rican beaches have received the flag with one or more stars, which means they are still in the process of achieving a higher standard.

Find them on this map:

Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag Beaches


With Five Stars: 

Matapalo: Located in Guanacaste
Playa Blanca: In Punta Leona, Puntarenas.

White Beach

Playa Blanca in Punta Leona

Punta el Madero: Guanacaste, between Tamarindo and Langosta beaches

With four stars: 

Playa Playitas, located in Puntarenas, next to Manuel Antonio, was the only beach to earn four stars.

Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort

Playitas Beach, Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort


The following beaches received the Ecological Blue Flag with three stars:

Puerto Vargas: Located in Limon.
Esterillos Oeste: In Parrita, Puntarenas
Tortuguero: Limon (protected area)
Bejuco: Parrita, Puntarenas
Manuel Antonio: National Park in Quepos, Puntarenas
Espadilla Sur: Quepos, Puntarenas
Junquillal: Santa Cruz, Guanacaste

During 2016, there were many volunteers cleaning different beaches. The organization of biologists, The Leatherback Trust (TLT) for instance, which works in turtle nesting sites in Guanacaste, together with local forest rangers, organized 12 cleaning sessions in Playa Grande and Ventanas in Guanacaste, during which they collected 225 kilograms of solid waste which included especially different plastic items.


The Costa Rica Star

Costa Rica Tourism Board – Essential Costa Rica 


Written by Olga Sáenz-Carbonell for Camino Travel. If you have any questions or comments you can write to