As with any country, zoning laws in Costa Rica place restraints on land ownership. Almost 95% of beachfront property is governed by Maritime Zone Law; the first 200 meters of land (measured horizontally from the high tide line) defines the boundary of the Maritime Zone. The Maritime Zone is divided into two areas: the Public Area and the Restricted Area.
The Public Area is the first 50 meters of land in the Maritime Zone (measured horizontally from the high tide line), and it is not available for ownership of any kind. This means that in Costa Rica, you cannot be the owner of a private beach. Any foreign owner of beachfront property, however, has the right to use the property, sell it, lease it and improve upon it, just as a local land owner would.
The following 150 meters (i.e. the Restricted Area), is very valuable and heavily regulated, therefore it is often difficult to develop. This land is subject to concession rights and concession cannot be granted to a foreigner that has not lived in the country for at least 5 years. However, foreigners can own land within the Restricted Area via a Costa Rican corporation and the use of a lawyer to hold a percentage of property.
Other zoning laws near Puerto Viejo exist to preserve the natural beauty of Costa Rica. From Cahuita National Park to BriBri Indigenous Reserve, there are countless national treasures that foreigners and locals are prohibited from altering or purchasing. Despite these restrictions, Costa Rica is still considered one of the easiest places for foreigners to purchase land – just be sure to consult Puerto Viejo Group to ensure that you’re making a safe and sound investment.