RE/MAX We Sell Paradise > Blog of Local Area > Beaches > Garza Beach on Garza Island

Garza Beach on Garza Island

Garza Beach on Garza Island

UPDATE: A recent storm washed out the tip of Garza Island, which has exposed the Mica Linda and surrounding buildings and land to heavy wave action. So things are a bit different and a bit wetter!


While still incredibly scenic, clean, natural and safe, the numerous beaches lining the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica can, at times, get a little busy. Locals, expats and tourists flock to these natural wonders in increasing numbers as the area becomes more popular and beach access roads turn from ‘4WD Only’ to ‘Honda Civic Compatible’.  At times parking can be an issue – this is especially true during weekends, holidays, and especially the tourist season.

But those of us who have lived here for a while can always suggest a few hidden gems, unknown to the masses and a bit off the beaten tourist path.  This is why I was somewhat reluctant to dedicate this blog to our recent trip to Garza Island, with her kilometres of beautiful, pristine, and empty Pacific beaches. A 10-minute boat ride brings you to the Costa Rica of 20 years ago.

Tropical Beach.
Ben inspecting Garza Beach at low tide.


Getting there is easy, and a bit adventurous. Heading South along the coastal highway, the turn-off is to the right just after passing Ojochal and Playa Tortuga. The turn-off may be a bit hard to spot so use your GPS and head for the Mica Linda Bar and Restaurant which sits right next to the boat launch. Once you turn off the coastal highway, a short dirt road will bring you to a little group of huts, bars and restaurants. You may be directed to park your car in a dirt field adjacent to the huts and buildings, for a small charge of 3000 Colones.

A map.
The map shows the general and close-up views of Garza Island and the boat launch area (circled). Source: Google Maps.
Ocean and greenery.
Mica Linda and surrounding buildings adjacent to the boat launch area. Garza Island is visible in the background.
Beach shacks / restaurants / pubs.
Beach shacks / restaurants / pubs.
View through car windshield.
View of the shore area.
Parking area.
Parking area.

The next point of business was a quick drink to celebrate our upcoming adventure and loosen up before the boat trip to the island. A small open-aired bar shack /restaurant, right at the edge of the water (more about that towards the end of the blog) was the perfect pit stop. A few shots of chilli water and we were all happy, well-hydrated and ready for the beach. Ask anyone around to point you to the boat drivers: the bartenders, the cooks, or the kids telling you where to park. The cost varies but should be around C3,000 round-trip per person. Arrange the pickup before you leave, whether a set time or a phone call when you are ready to go.

People at a restaurant.
A quick drink of chili water before we set off.

Time to hit the open seas – or closed seas, as we just happened to get to the shore at the peak of the King Low Tide – and so a long walk towards the water was in order. The boat and our driver were waiting by the water’s edge, ready to help us hop inside. The boat itself was fairly small but stable with no coverings overhead – our return boat was much better equipped. But all is well as the ride itself takes just a few minutes and the weather was perfect.

People walking by beach.
Ben and Heather walking across the mud flats towards the waiting boat.
People entering a boat.
Hopping into our ride.

As I mentioned, the tide was very low, one of the lowest of the year. This presented a few issues as the navigation was not as straight-forward as it was on our return trip when the tide was at its high peak. Numerous obstacles had to be carefully negated and a curved path and lower speed were necessary to safely get us across. Just 10 seconds into our journey the propeller became entangled in an anchor line which required a few minutes of work to be set free. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful and we were left to enjoy the views of the cloud shrouded mountains and take turns being on ‘crocodile watch’, as the crocs are known to inhabit this area and especially like to hang out around brackish water and mangroves.

Boat driver.
Our driver and some shore help working to untangle the propeller.
Boat approaching land.
Approaching our landing location on Garza Island.

After a few minutes we approached the ’land facing’ banks of Garza Island. The low tide uncovered a big section of the muddy bank which made for an easy exit from the boat. We jumped onto dry land, grabbed our belongings, and set off for a quick walk across to the opposite, ‘ocean facing’ side of the island.

People on beach.
Ben and Heather preparing for the walk across Garza Island. Our boat departs in the background.


It took a few minutes to walk from the ‘land’ to the ‘ocean’ side of the island. When we arrived at our destination, it was nearly deserted; just a few other people could be seen walking the beach hundreds of meters away. We quickly set up camp under a grove of dwarf coconut trees that lined sections of the beach. The extra low tide uncovered a huge section of the beach and soon we were scampering around looking for cool shells and lost treasures, with a cold drink in hand of course. Sunny weather with a few fluffy clouds and a nice sea breeze made for the perfect atmosphere.

People on beach.
Ben and Heather setting up camp under a Coconut grove.
People on beach.
Relaxing on Garza Island.
Relaxing on Garza Island. At this point, the tide was coming in fast.

Many hours were spent in conversation, listening to music, walking along the beach, collecting coconuts and swimming in the waves. A thunderstorm stayed far offshore sending a stiff and refreshing breeze our way. We also pulled some fishing nets out of the water as they were drifting in the waves and could have spelled trouble for fish, turtles and seabirds. The nets were placed in one of the rubbish bins next to a beach shack that, in busier times, probably awakens as a tropical bar and restaurant. After packing up and saying goodbye to this amazing beach we made our way to the ‘land’ side of the island where our driver arrived shortly thereafter. This boat was bigger and included a canopy. And because we were now at the height of the King High Tide, the ride back was quick and direct.

People in a boat.
On the way back to the mainland.


Now back to the bar shack where we downed a few chili waters before our departure – the King High Tide made for a spectacle as the waves were now crashing into the floor and flowing across into the kitchen. Frolicking kids had a hell of a time playing in the waves; and other patrons were amused and taking plenty of photos. We joined in, stopping for a quick drink and taking part in the watery fun. This bar has now re-located about 20 meters inland so an encroaching tide should not be a problem for a while.

People in watery restaurant.
The King Tide creating a very unique atmosphere.

We soon decided a proper meal was in order, so a quick drive saw us inside the Terraba restaurant, finishing the day with a delicious meal of steak and shrimps. It was a great day that felt like a mini-vacation even though everything we did was right in our back yard – I highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to have ‘day at the beach’ with a bit of extra fun and adventure.

People in restaurant.
Finishing the day with steak and shrimps at Terraba Restaurant.

We love our weekend gateways – the kind of places tourists come to see on a once-in-a-lifetime trip are ours to enjoy on any given Sunday. Playa Ventanas, El Pavon waterfall, Garza Island, and many others we will be writing about in the coming weeks and months – in our South Pacific paradise a quick car ride is all that separates you from an unforgettable weekend adventure. Come join us – visit the RE/MAX We Sell Paradise website to view the hot properties in our local area: