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Snorkeling at Sándalo beach: in search of a reef populated by rays

Playa Sándalo (Costa Rica) is located about 10 minutes by bus from Puerto Jiménez. Its location makes it perfect for a getaway and snorkeling in the placid waters of Golfo Dulce.

I tell you how to get there, what snorkeling is like and what to do near Sándalo beach

Best Travel insurance for Costa Rica

Here is what you will find:

Snorkeling in playa Sándalo (Puerto Jiménez)

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica (👉COSTA RICA GUIDE), you should know that it is a country characterized by the beauty of its beaches, mountains, volcanoes and the diversity of its wildlife.

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Getting to the reef in playa Sándalo

The best time to go is when the tide is low, this way you can get to the reef part more easily. There are two options to explore the area:

  1. The first would be swimming from the beach. Keep in mind that this is a rocky, muddy and very very flat beach, so it is best to wear beach shoes and then change them when the water starts to cover you, or put on some snorkel socks to protect your feet.
  2. The other would be renting a kayak on a nearby beach (in Sándalo they do not offer this service), and from the kayak go snorkeling. This second one is much more practical since it allows you to move with more flexibility and take breaks when you are tired. The price of the kayak is around $6 or $8 for both singles and doubles.
snorkel en puerto jiménez costa rica
La imagen no es de playa Sándalo (no pude hacer fotos)

In my case, I swam out from shore. Depending on the area, the visibility varies from fairly good to poor, but this should not deter you from taking an excursion to Sándalo Beach.

I didn’t get to what must be the reef reef, I stayed at the beginning, because I was snorkeling alone, the beach was deserted and I was afraid to go ahead. But, even if you don’t get that far, you’re still going to have a great time and you’ll see lots of fish among the rocks.

Underwater life in Sándalo beach

What is good about Costa Rica is the variety of different species that they have, and under the water it is not for less. There are schools of small tuna (one meter or so), zebra fish, puffer fish and parrot fish, and many many more. In addition, it is a breeding area for the hammerhead shark and with luck you can see the young.

I was surprised when I was already swimming back towards the coast, suddenly a huge and beautiful stingray passed me by the side, I could see it from below and appreciate the lower part where it has its mouth. It was incredible.

I think there are quite a few in Golfo Dulce and I don’t think they are hard to see. In Playa Blanca (which is quite close) I also suddenly came across two (of the ones with black and smooth tops, and the ones with white dots).

snorkel en playa sándalo (puerto jiménez) en costa rica
La imagen no es de playa Sándalo (no pude hacer fotos)

So, if in the end I have convinced you and you want to go, don’t forget my recommendations: low tide, protection to walk on the stones and fins in case the flies, you will be far from the mainland.

How to get to playa Sándalo

To get there you just have to take the bus in Puerto Jiménez and get off next to the path that will take you to Sándalo. The ride costs 500 CRC and if you’re not sure where to get off, you can always ask Google Maps or the driver.

Below is the map with the exact location of Sándalo beach.

Useful stuff for your trip to Costa Rica

Below, you will find some products that will be very useful during your trip to Costa Rica.

In addition, the options that I recommend are committed to the environment/social causes and are vegan.

Waterproof windbreaker

vegan+ environment commitment

Carrying a waterproof windbreaker in your suitcase is essential in case temperatures drop, it rains unexpectedly, or to go hiking.

When traveling, it’s important to choose a jacket that is lightweight, takes up little space and that you can use in different situations; that is to say, that transpires, is waterproof and has a hood to protect you properly from bad weather.

👉 Price windbreaker for MAN and windbreaker for WOMAN

Gopro 11 Black

The GOPRO 11 (👉 PRICE) is a great choice if you are visiting natural areas, practicing adventure sports or want to make videos underwater, e.g. while scuba diving or snorkeling.

In addition, with its stabilization and Horizon Lock function, it will allow you to make incredibly stable videos even in adverse situations (such as walking, running or riding a motorcycle). In addition, it comes with an amazing 5.3k image quality.

👉 GOPRO 11 PRICE + specs

3-in-1 hiking shoes

vegan + environment commitment

These La Sportiva shoes are designed to run in the mountains, thanks to this you can use them for hiking, go out to run and do tourism ; saving space in your suitcase.

They are made with goretex, which means they protect you from the inclement weather weather (such as rain, ice or cold) and are adherent to the ground. This makes them ideal for traveling due to their versatility.

👉 Price shoes for MAN and for shoes for WOMAN

Where to stay in Puerto Jiménez

There are two areas that I recommend to stay in Puerto Jiménez, depending on whether you are looking for something calmer or to have more facilities.

More facilities

First there is the most central area (that of the town itself), here you will have several restaurants and a large supermarket. Within the town, the best area to stay is next to the beach, since the views are more beautiful and there is more atmosphere. The only drawback I see is that it is a bit far from the main supermarket.

More relaxed

If you are looking for something further from the downtown area to be able to enjoy the beach and relax, I recommend that you stay at Playa Preciosa. It is a beach not far from the center of Puerto Jiménez (you can get there by bike) and the beach is long and quiet. You can spend the afternoon on a sun lounger and enjoy nature.

relaxed and a bit far

There are also quite a few accommodations in Cabo Matapalo; although they are far from the center of Puerto Jiménez. The advantage of staying here is that the beaches are very beautiful, you will be in the middle of the jungle and you can visit the waterfalls!

There are very nice hotels next to the beach, and they will be perfect to unwind for a few days. You can get to Cabo Matapalo by private transport or by bus.

Tours in Puerto Jiménez

Puerto Jiménez is a region abundant in wildlife and nature, boasting opportunities for visiting pristine beaches, snorkeling, birdwatching, crocodile viewing, kayaking, and more.

There are different TOURS and ACTIVITIES that you can do during your trip, so you can make the most of your stay:

What to do in Puerto Jiménez

Puerto Jiménez is not one of the main tourist places in the country, and most people who end up here aim to visit the Corcovado National Park.

It is a great idea to spend a few extra days in this corner of Costa Rica, since it has beautiful places that are worth visiting. For me, it was one of the best stops on the route.

See the dolphins and CROCODILEs by kayak

In the dock area they rent kayaks to make an excursion in Puerto Jiménez from the sea to the lagoons. You can venture alone or go with a guide, so that he can tell you things about the place.

The mouth of the river that leads to the lagoon area is an ideal location since it is crocodile territory and, at the same time, dolphins can be seen.

It is a very beautiful excursion to do, both for the natural landscape and for the fauna that you can see.


It is a nice place because of the atmosphere. The main area of Puerto Jiménez is made up of a street with some restaurants and a viewpoint by the sea.

At the end of everything there is a beach where people gather to spend the afternoon, they sell food, coconuts and there is music.

Although there are restaurants, this place is not non-touristy or overwhelming, and you can eat something and enjoy the views of the bay.

PLAYA Preciosa

Playa Preciosa is a very long beach that is quite close to the center of Puerto Jiménez and has some accommodations.

It is a wild beach with an area of palapas and the sea is suitable for taking a dip. The landscape is very natural, and it is a quiet place away from the crowds.

It’s a good option for a half-day excursion, but take sunscreen because there’s not much shade on this beach!

crocodile park

It is a park next to the lagoon where wild crocodiles calmly inhabit. But without bars or any kind of protection, they run around freely while people stroll or sit quietly on a bench.

You can also observe other animals such as monkeys and different types of birds. I recommend that you go as it is a fun place and in the heart of Puerto Jiménez.

To complete the experience of this crocodile park, the entrance is half hidden in the bushes and makes it an adventure out of a book.

PLaya Blanca

Playa Blanca is located in the upper part of Golfo Dulce and its waters are very calm, as if it were a lake; although the beach itself is not particularly pretty.

People usually get together to ride to have lunch on the beach and swim for a while and, in addition, you can snorkel. I spent the afternoon there and was able to see two rays, puffer fish, a giant tortoise and a dolphin from afar.

For me it was one of the best excursions I did in Puerto Jiménez, due to the authenticity of the place and the enormous turtle that I managed to see.

Is Costa Rica SAFE to Travel? 

Costa Rica is a moderately dangerous country, where nothing should happen to you if you go carefully and take precautions. Remember to follow these recommendations:

  • In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
  • Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
  • Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
  • Thefts are usual, so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
  • Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.

Personally, I spent 3 months traveling alone in Costa Rica (I visited San José, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Bay Drake and Puerto Jiménez) and I did not find myself in any really serious situation.

Going down the street with the camera, several Costa Rican people approached and warned me that they were carefully with robberies, since they told me that they are very frequent.

In my case, during the trip they tried to steal 2 times and, luckily, I realized on time and I could avoid it. In any case, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance (👉5% discount) that can compensate you financially and help you if a medical emergency occurs.

If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article about the reasons and benefits of traveling alone and this other article with tips for traveling alone being a woman. I encourage you to try it since it is a great and very profitable experience for oneself.

Eating VEGAN in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not a country faced with vegan food. Anyway, they have some traditional dishes that are vegan or that you can ask without egg or sauces such as the pico of rooster (rice with beans for breakfast), black bean soup or rice with vegetables.

You should always ask if the purés or soups are made with some type of dairy product or meat broth, since at first glance they might seem vegan dishes but not be.

In San José you can find some vegan restaurants, but when you leave the capital the offer is very limited or non -existent. Next, I make three recommendations and in this link you can read tips to travel vegan.

  1. Try to stay in hotels that are characterized by cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. This is the best option and the most practical for not having to be looking for places where to eat comfortable without always repeating the same dishes.
  2. Before going on a tour that includes a meal, always mention that you are vegan or vegetarian, so that they can adapt the food.
  3. Costa Rica is a country where you can find a variety of fresh products (fruits and vegetables) to prepare salads and breakfast with fruits. In any city or town, you will easily find some supermarket or stalls on the street where you can buy groceries.

I hope you have a great time at Sándalo beach and enjoy Costa Rica to the fullest!

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