Top 8 Beach Towns in Latin America for Studying Spanish

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Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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Top 8 Beach Towns in Latin America for Studying Spanish

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I am willing to argue that the Caribbean has the most paradisiacal beaches on the planet.

Bocas del Toro: somewhere in Panama's Caribbean...
Bocas del Toro: somewhere in Panama's Caribbean...

Am I right?

Students hanging out at Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Students hanging out at Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Photo by Travel and Share.

Well, as the proverb says, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." So get your ass out of that office chair and on to the next plane to one of these hot beach locations in Latin America!

If you're familiar with the rest of the proverb, "All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy," you would be wise to book some Spanish lessons too. Whether you just want to learn some helpful phrases to get around town or you plan to stay for an extended immersion experience, these 8 beach towns in Latin America are your best pick for a quality education in an awesome town or city by the sea (and we've narrowed down the search for you by mainly choosing Instituto Cervantes Accredited Schools).

1. Bocas del Toro, Panama

If you're looking for an off the beaten path destination to learn Spanish, check out Bocas del Toro. Crawl Cay in Bocas del Toro, Panama
If you're wanting an off the beaten path destination to learn Spanish, check out Bocas del Toro. Crawl Cay in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Looking for paradise in an eco-friendly, laid-back, and multicultural location? Bocas del Toro in Panama is known for its funky vibes and vibrant nightlife. Comprised of seven Caribbean islands (and more than 52 cays and 200 islets) boasting numerous white and yellow sand uninhabited beaches, there is never a shortage of places to explore. Whether you want to kick it with the locals in hammocks over the ocean, surf and scuba dive, or chat up with travelers from all over the world in low key watering holes, there is enough "Bocas Love" to go around. You also can't miss the opportunity to get up and close with Bocas' wildlife at The Bastimentos Marine National Park, including 4 species of sea turtles, dolphins, poison dart frogs, sloths and monkeys, just to name a few.

Isla Colon is quite flat so you can cycle to loads of beaches without having to spend on public transport.
Isla Colon is quite flat so you can cycle to loads of beaches without having to spend on public transport.

"Even though being a very tranquilo part of the town, from the school one could take a five minute walk and be in the city center, which is vibrant while still being totally chill. Boca’s life is all about forgetting time actually moves on and things need to be done in the real world somewhere else. And it’s awesome." - Marten Palmefors, Sweden.

Without a doubt, the place to hit the Spanish books is at Habla Ya Spanish School located on the main island, Isla Colon. They can set you up with group and/or private lessons, a stay with a local family (quality family who will actually include you in their daily life!) or discounts on hotel lodgings close to the school. Habla Ya will also arrange tours with local tour operators at discounted prices. The school is known for having multiple weekly get-togethers and outings amongst the students and teachers/staff so that you have many opportunities to practice Spanish in real life and experience an amazing vacation (the best way to learn!).

Habla Ya in Bocas is literally only a block away from the Caribbean Sea. You'll feel the fresh breeze in its gardens and balcony for sure.
Habla Ya in Bocas is literally only a block away from the Caribbean Sea. You'll feel the fresh breeze in its gardens and balcony for sure.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HABLA YA SPANISH SCHOOL IN BOCAS DEL TORO... »

2. Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

For surfers and outdoor enthusiasts, Jaco Beach, Costa Rica is a gem. This lucky stretch of 2 miles on the Pacific Ocean receives beginner and pro-level waves nearly all year long. Just nearby is Miro Mountain, Trillos Colorada Park, Carara National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park, all of which offer hiking and some biking trails, too. If you want something more extreme, try out the two ziplines or bungee jump! What's also great about Jaco Beach is the fact that it's a modern town with lots of restaurants, hotels for all budgets, shopping and nightlife. ¡Pura vida, mae!

Academia Tica in Jaco, Costa Rica.
Academia Tica in Jaco, Costa Rica.

For studying Spanish, you cannot go wrong at Academia Tica. Owned and operated by Costa Ricans since 1986, they are the premier school in the region for serious students. You have all sorts of options for your Spanish course and lodging, and they can set you up in a surf course with a reputable local school as well. Interested in volunteering or an internship? The school has these additional programs too!

3. Tamarindo, Costa Rica

The waves at Tamarindo Beach are great if you'd like to learn how to surf. Photo by Tamarindo, Costa Rica Daily Photo
The waves at Tamarindo Beach are great if you'd like to learn how to surf. Photo by Tamarindo, Costa Rica Daily Photo

If you prefer small beach towns with a lot of local culture, Tamarindo, Costa Rica is an excellent place to visit. Home to just about 1,000 residents, the "tica" culture is alive and kicking. It's common to see bull riding, horse parades, cowboys mounted on their horses with lassos in the streets, and night dance parties with live music. The beaches in this region are virtually "untouched" and are some of the least-visited in Costa Rica, so you are guaranteed a relaxed stay. Even though the town is small, there are plenty of lodging options, restaurants and tour operators with a variety of adventure-lover tours available.

The classrooms at Wayra in Tamarindo blend in nicely with nature.
The classrooms at Wayra in Tamarindo blend in nicely with nature.

WAYRA Instituto de Español is an excellent Spanish school in Tamarindo. It has multiple international accreditations including Instituto Cervantes, DELE Exam Center, and Bildungsurlaub. They have courses for every need, from catering to business professionals all the way to children's classes. For accommodations, they offer home stays, student housing or hotels.

4. Montañita, Ecuador

Could you think of a better place than the beach to learn Spanish? We can't either. Montañita Beach in Ecuador.
Could you think of a better place than the beach to learn Spanish? We can't either. Montañita Beach in Ecuador.

Ecuador is gaining ground as being the next hotspot for tourism in Latin America. The best beach town is Montañita, located almost in the center of the 1,398 mile (2,237 km) coastline. It's a huge draw for surfers, hosting many international surf competitions annually. If you enjoy scuba diving or are interesting in becoming certified, Montañita offers great prices and the flora and fauna is similar to what you find in the famous Galapagos Islands.

Nice sunny day? Let's have Spanish class outside!
Nice sunny day? Let's have Spanish class outside!

Your pick for a Spanish school is Montañita Spanish School located on a little hill right above the middle of the town. This school is great from all angles - the native teachers are well-trained, the staff goes out of their way to help you, and they offer many extra programs such as surf lessons, yoga, volunteering and more. It's not uncommon for students to fall in love with the school and the town and extend for extra weeks!

5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta at Sunset.
Puerto Vallarta at Sunset.

If resorts and city life are your style, you will love Puerto Vallarta. It's located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in a calm bay surrounded by pristine beaches. There are over 40 four and five star hotels in the city. To accommodate the huge tourist population, you will find all kinds of shopping, restaurants and night clubs. There are more beaches than you can count on two hands, so get ready to soak in the sun in comfort and style in PV (common nickname for the city)!

Of all the destinations featured here, Puerto is the one with most resorts and tourists.
Of all the destinations featured here, Puerto is the one with most resorts and tourists.

The Spanish school that I would recommend is the Spanish Experience Center. They are located in a beautifully renovated traditional "hacienda" right in the center of town, just one block from the beach and famous "Malecón" boardwalk. They are a smaller school that is committed to excellence - all of their professors are Mexican and have college degrees in teaching Spanish as a second language. Whether you want to learn key phrases during your vacation or you plan to fully immerse yourself in the Spanish language for an extended period of time, the Spanish Experience Center can accommodate you!

6. Montevideo, Uruguay

If you're looking for a large city by the beach to learn Spanish, then Montevideo might tick all the boxes.
If you're looking for a large city by the beach to learn Spanish, then Montevideo might tick all the boxes.

Montevideo, Uruguay has been rated as having the best quality of life in Latin America. It's a relatively quiet capital city that enjoys a stable political climate, low levels of contamination, and low crime. The city is located in a bay with a long stretch of beach called the "Rambla." It's a popular location for walking, jogging, biking, families, and just hanging out and drinking "mate" with friends.

Uruguay is further away from the Equator than Panama, Costa Rica or Mexico, which means it actually isn't warm all year round. Remember to consider when planning when it's summer up North, it will be winter down South.
Uruguay is further away from the Equator than Panama, Costa Rica or Mexico, which means it actually isn't warm all year round. Remember to consider when planning when it's summer up North, it will be winter down South.

The leading language school in Montevideo is Academia Uruguay. Based on the principles of academic excellence, professional service and full immersion, they are committed to giving their students the best experience possible. They have earned accreditation through the prestigious Cervantes Institute and they are a member of the TANDEM international language schools network. They also have two sister campuses in Argentina if you are in the mood to travel!

7. Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este is one of South America's beach towns where the rich and famous come out and play. Bumping into Paris Hilton is a real possibility.
Punta del Este is one of South America's beach towns where the rich and famous come out and play. Bumping into Paris Hilton is a real possibility.

If you like Rio de Janeiro and Miami, put Punta del Este, Uruguay on your list as your next beach destination! It has multiple beaches (some with white sand and some with yellow sand) for relaxing days in the sun or trying out the surf. Nights are spent bouncing around the many hip and glitzy clubs and bars, possibly spotting some celebrities who have homes in Punta del Este. The town is known for high-end tourism, so be prepared to spend more than in other parts of Uruguay and South America.

Students and staff hanging out at Mi Puente Language School
Dorm Room at Hostal Gaia

The recommended Spanish school in Punta del Este is Mi Puente ("my bridge" in Spanish). Their school methodology focuses on communication and the class materials are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR/CEF). It's very impressive that all of their teachers hold Masters degrees in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language! They offer group and private lessons and can arrange your accommodation in a local host family or student apartment.

8. Isla Margarita, Venezuela

If you are traveling on a tight budget, you should check out Isla Margarita, Venezuela. Prices for tourists are very favorable (a beer on the beach is less than $0.50!). Isla Margarita has it all - surfing, kitesurfing, at least 50 beaches, hiking, indigenous villages, exciting beach bars and clubs, spas, and even duty-free shopping. As with many Caribbean island non-resort locations, the vibe is chill and hotel/restaurant standards are not like the U.S. and Europe.

Isla Margarita's turquoise waters can't be mistaken: it's the Caribbean!
Isla Margarita's turquoise waters can't be mistaken: it's the Caribbean!

Centro de Linguistica Aplicada (CELA) in Isla Margarita is a distinguished school offering group, private and specialized Spanish courses. For German students, they are recognized by six states for Bildungsurlaub. They can even help you prepare for the DELE exam ("Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera"), though they are not a DELE exam center. For accommodations, they offer stays with host families, student apartments, and hotel reservations.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LEARNING SPANISH BY THE BEACH IN PANAMA... »

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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