Guanacaste

normal imageGuanacaste is a very popular tourism destination. The scenic beauty of its beaches, as well as the region’s warm and usually dry climate, intense biodiversity, and enjoyable cultural events combine to provide visitors with a very rich and diverse experience.

One of the greatest strengths of this region is that it is home to Costa Rica’s second international airport, located in Liberia. The Daniel Oduber Airport welcomes both commercial flights and charter planes.

Another of the region’s special features is that it is home to the Gulf of Papagayo Tourism Development Project. Still another highlight of Northern Guanacaste is that it has a very developed tourism industry that features everything from small hotels to medium and large resorts.

Above all, Guanacaste is special due to its culture and unique traditions

Nicoya

This is the oldest city in Costa Rica. Additionally, given its historical value and heritage value, it is considered a colonial city. During pre-Columbian times, the Chorotega indigenous tribe inhabited the area. In fact, it’s name, Nicoya, means “trail of the warriors.” The city features well defined blocks, a central park, Catholic church, and a diverse selection of commercial stores, which include stands selling local merchandise and restaurants serving traditional dishes and drinks. In recent years, urban and tourism development has increased; Nicoya is also home to an important hospital. The city is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the beaches of Samara and Carrillo.

Celebration of the Annexation of Guanacaste – July 25

This annual celebration commemorates the 1824 annexation of Guanacaste to Costa Rica; the region used to belong to Nicaragua. July 25 is a national holiday, but is primarily celebrated in the province of Guanacaste and especially in the city of Nicoya

San Blas Colonial Church

This church, which has enormous historical value, is located in downtown Nicoya. It sits on the same spot as the first parish church in Costa Rica, which was built by Spanish settlers in 1544. The church boasts a small religion and history museum. Next to the church, a park invites visitors to relax for a while and enjoy the scenery

Santa Cruz, the City of Folklore

This city, considered to be of great historical value, is considered Costa Rica’s “city of folklore” – the town has strong ties to the area’s traditions and rich culture. For this reason, Santa Cruz is an excellent day trip for all visitors who wish to explore and share in many local traditions that are still conserved here. To commemorate the town’s cultural role, it was provided a very special seal that announces Santa Cruz’s history to tourists passing through. The town offerings a wide range of visitor services.

Another distinctive aspect of Santa Cruz is its farm life. Firmly entrenched in ranching tradition, the town is often host to bullfights and rodeos. Marimba music, played on a type of wooden xylophone, is another reason why Santa Cruz is an enjoyable place to visit.

Activities

A wide range of tourist activities are available for your enjoyment, some focusing on relaxation, others on health, culture, adventure, or nature, and still others that emphasize sports and recreation.

Photography
Photography is one of Guanacaste’s most popular activities, given the excellent weather conditions, local plant and animal biodiversity, as well as the region’s impressive natural landscapes, architecture, and cultural events.
Sport Fishing
Sport fishing is one of the North Pacific’s main attractions, drawing anglers from around the world. Both inshore and offshore recreational fishing is common, while fishing tournaments throughout the year attract some of the world’s best in the sport. The area’s most prized catches include sailfish, roosterfish, and Marlin, among others.
Scuba Diving
This is an absolute must-do activity, considering the sport’s incredible adventure and recreation possibilities. Guanacaste offers many attractive scuba options, thanks to several excellent underwater sites served by experienced local dive shops and tour operators.

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Guanacaste is home to several locales and buildings of architectural and historic interest, including several national monuments.

Bird Watching
Bird watching is best enjoyed in one of the region’s protected zones or national parks, including Palo Verde, Curú, Isla Bolaño, and Tenorio – four of Guanacaste’s most important wildlife habitats. Other smaller protected zones are home to a wide range of bird habitats.
Gastronomy
Guanacaste’s towns and cities are full of cafeterias, restaurants, and small diners called sodas. Here, tourists are welcome to sample local dishes and drinks. Cañas, Tilarán, Liberia and primarily Santa Cruz are home to communities that specialize in the region’s most traditional food and drink.
Adventures through the Forest Canopy
Guanacaste boasts several opportunities to see the forest canopy on a zip-line tour, aerial tram, or hanging bridges. These activities offer exceptional bird and wildlife watching.
Shopping for Artisan Goods
Guaitil de Santa Cruz and San Vicente de Nicoya are both well known for their artisan goods, which are created from natural clay and elaborated using traditional techniques passed down through generations of Chorotega indigenous families. Among the items available for sale are knickknacks, jars, planters, flower vases, plates, flutes, and other figurines.
Recreational Biking
Rural roads, decorated with picturesque landscapes, invite guests to set out on leisurely bike rides. Tours along the coast and through beach areas are the most popular.
Hiking
This is one of the region’s most easily pursued activities, and many tourists take hikes to enjoy unique natural, historical, architectural, cultural, religious, or commercial attractions.
Horseback Riding
As a rural province, Guanacaste offers the ideal setting for horseback riding along the coastline, through local communities, or into the mountains. Horseback riding tours are organized by local tour agencies and ranching families that rent horses and give local tours.

Protected Areas

Miravalles Volcano Protected Zone
Miravalles Volcano displays an inactive and partially destroyed crater. Thanks to the ancient mountain’s prior volcanic activity, a natural hot spring is located at the base of the volcano in Guayabo de Bagaces. Here, tourists are welcome to enjoy and bathe in the thermal waters. Another of the volcano’s attractions is a visit to smoking fumaroles.

The area is also home to various and very beautiful waterfalls, such as Cabro Muco. There is another exceptional waterfall located on the grounds of La Fortuna High School’s farm and, close to the school itself, several cool-water lagoons. Additionally, this area is home to the only geothermic energy and electricity-producing project in Costa Rica.

A visit to Miravalles is a very unique experience, since visitors not only experience an incredible volcano but also the distinct dry climate so well known on the Guanacastecan plains.

Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve
This biological reserve, located in San Ramón de Bagaces, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Bagaces, is particularly well known for the number of insect species known to live within its borders. For obvious reasons, the reserve is considered a special destination for entomological research. Experts estimate that there are approximately 250 species of bees and 60 species of nocturnal butterflies living at the reserve.

Within its 2,279 hectares (5,690 acres), Lomas de Barbudal is home to various habitats including open savannah, riverside forests, biological corridors, and deciduous forests. There are also rivers with ponds ideal for swimming, as well as other water sources including waterfalls and many creeks.

The reserve is an important habitat for the yellow corteza tree, which blankets the forest. During the dry season, especially in March, the tree’s foliage bursts into yellow bloom throughout Guanacaste. Howler and white-faced monkeys, as well as deer and many bird species, are just some examples of wildlife that live at Barbudal.

Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge, well known for it outdoor attractions and natural beauty, is located in the canton of La Cruz, 40 kilometers (almost 25 miles) north of the city of Liberia. It may be reached via the Interamerican Highway.

Although this is a small refuge, it is distinguished by its dry forests, which are home to several important tree species including Guanacaste, ash, and black wood. It also has various mangrove forests, home to black, red, and saltwater mangroves.

Bahía Junquillal is home to many species of animals, including spider, howler, and white-faced monkeys, white-tailed deer, iguanas, and many more. Trails wind through the park, which offers camping sites, picnic areas, restrooms, and public telephones, among other services.

Bahía Junquillal, or Junquillal Bay, is the reserve’s primary attraction, although the refuge also includes other bays such as Jicote, Cuajiniquil, and Los Muñecos Islands.

Isla Bolaños National Wildlife Refuge
This small, rocky island is located in Salinas Bay, just offshore from La Cruz, Guanacaste. It stretches out over 25 hectares (62.5 acres) and reaches a maximum altitude of 81 meters (260 feet) above sea level. The island is home to very important habitat for marine birds, especially the magnificent frigatebird and brown pelican.
Tenorio Volcano National Park
This park, located in the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range, is covered by protected primary forest. The park’s altitude reaches as high as 1,916 meters (6,130 feet) above sea level; its climate is influenced by both Pacific and Caribbean weather patterns.

Tenorio Volcano National Park is home to many plant species, among them palms, ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. You may spot many animal species as well, including white-faced and howler monkeys, anteaters, pumas, tapirs, and wild pigs. Many bird species also make their home here, such as trogons and bellbirds.

This park has various services available to visitors including parking, potable water, restrooms, lodging for researchers, an information desk, trails, and scenic lookout points created for your enjoyment. These services, as well as the hot springs, are found a short distance from the administrative area and are reached by the “Mysteries of Tenorio” trail. Bathing at the Celeste River and Waterfall, which feature baby-blue waters, is an amazing experience and the ideal setting for appreciating the park’s natural beauty.

Santa Rosa National Park
History and natural beauty join forces at this incredible national park. It modern history goes back to March 20, 1856 when the park was the setting of the first battle between Costa Rican troops and the northern invaders led by William Walker. The Casona, or “large house,” that sheltered the filibusters was reconstructed in 2002 after falling victim to fire.

The Santa Rosa park sector features the most important section of tropical dry forest in Central America. Many animal species live in the forest, including white-tailed deer, howler and white-faced monkeys, and many others. The park is also home to two beaches: Naranjo, where camping is permitted; and Nancite, which functions as a biological research station and is an important nesting habitat for olive ridley turtles.

The other sector of the park, called Murciélago (“Bat”), is located on the northern part of the Santa Elena peninsula. There you will find many beaches including Hachal, Danta, Coquito, Santa Elena, and Blanca. Near the administrative offices there is parking, picnic tables, restrooms, potable water, and a camping area available for public use.

The park also features diverse trails and scenic lookouts, as well as other points of interest including the Monument to the Heroes of 1856 and 1955 and the Historic Casona previously mentioned.

Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Stretching out over more than 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres), this national park includes the mountain range home to the park’s namesake, Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. There are two park sectors – Las Pailas and Santa María – featuring nine cones and a lagoon called La Jilgueros.

During the last period of heavy eruption, when the volcano spewed huge clouds of ash and created tremors and subterranean noises, occurred between 1966 and 1970. Today, though there have been some small eruptions in recent years, the volcano’s current activity is generally limited to smoking fumaroles.

The park offers various trails that lead to different points of interest around the volcanic area. In the vicinity of the park’s administrative offices, there are restrooms, picnic areas, and a camping site. There is also a historic home and traditional trapiche, which is a device used to process sugar cane.

This national park is located 27 kilometers (almost 17 miles) northeast of the city of Liberia.

Las Baulas National Marine Park and Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge
Both wildlife areas are located mainly within the Playa Grande park sector and near the Tamarindo Estuary. However, they also spill into other park sectors including Carbón, Ventanas and Langosta beaches, Morro and Hermoso Mountains, and San Francisco and Ventanas mangrove swamps.

The park’s main draw is as a nesting sight for the largest marine turtle in the world, the leatherback. This endangered species is protected in Costa Rica and lays its eggs on the park’s beaches.

The mangrove swamp is filled with mature trees; the most common species of which are red, black, white, and tea mangroves. These mangrove forests are the ideal place for fish, crustacean and mollusk reproduction. Wildlife watching is also popular, and reptiles, amphibians and birds are often spotted here. Tours are available to observe leatherback turtle nesting and to visit the Tamarindo Estuary.

Guanacaste National Park
This park, located east of the Interamerican Highway and across from Santa Rosa National Park, was created in 1989 to protect the tropical forests situated on the mountainsides of Orosí and Cacao volcanoes.

At the same time, the park was also created to protect the migration routes of hundreds of animals that travel to higher altitudes during dry weather. The park, which measures more than 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres), features several hiking trails and research stations.

Diriá National Park
This national park protects an important watershed ecosystem. Located in the Santa Cruz sector of Guanacaste, the reserve sits on 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres). At its highest altitudes (above 700 meters, or 2,300 feet), the trees are covered in many species of moss and giant bromeliads.
Ostional National Wildlife Refuge
The need to protect nesting habitats for the olive ridley turtle, which visits this part of the coastline, was the motivation for establishing this refuge. The most important section, where the turtles come to nest, is located between La Roca (“The Rock”) and Ostional Estuary.

Olive ridley turtles come ashore once per year, between September and November. This natural occurrence is called an “arribada.” Their arrival lasts between three and seven days.

Olive ridley turtles are not the only species that nests at Ostional Wildlife Refuge: leatherbacks and green turtles also lay eggs here between the months of September and February. The refuge also sees the occasional hawksbill turtle. The Ostional Development Association conducts turtle watching tours led by local guides.

Barra Honda National Park
Located 22 kilometers (approximately 13 miles) northeast of the city of Nicoya, this national park encompasses 2,295 hectares (5,670 acres). Its lands, in addition to providing habitat for local flora and fauna, protect a system of open lime caverns full of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Only part of the cave system has been explored; among the areas already visited, the room named Santa Ana is considered one of the largest, measuring 240 meters (almost 800 feet) deep.

Tampa Cavern boasts the deepest precipice; from its entrance toward the first descent there is a completely vertical drop of 52 meters (170 feet). This cavern also has the largest rooms ever found, one of which is completely white, creating a very beautiful visual effect. Not to be outdone, Velvet Cavern contains the most rock formations. In 1970, a large number of human skeletons and, some time later, pre-Columbian artisan goods were found in the Nicoya Cavern.

With respect to local plant life, the majority of the area’s vegetation is made up of trees including glassywood (ronrón), Tempisque, hog plum, gumbo-limbo, proporo, Caribbean albizia, soncoya, Guanacaste, carco, mandroño, and monkey’s comb. Wildlife is very varied: white-faced monkeys, coyotes, armadillos, deer, coatimundis, opossums, skunks, orange-fronted parakeets, and red-headed turkey vultures are just some of the species that visitors can observe throughout the park.

Barra Honda offers parking, potable water, restrooms, lodging, information, hiking trails and scenic lookouts that invite tourists to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Tempisque River.

Attractions

El Farallón National Monument
Located on the Las Lomas Estate (Cañas, Guanacaste), El Farallón is an enormous rock wall, measuring 20 meters (66 feet) long and covered in indigenous engravings. It was declared a national monument in 1998.

According to studies, local indigenous groups created the petroglyphs between the 0 and 800 A.D. The rock drawings feature realistic and abstract representations of a social nature and are symbolic of pre-Hispanic cultures. They have therefore been declared an important part of Costa Rican heritage and are regarded as an important interpretation of Costa Rican ancient history.

Bull Riding and Bullfighting
This is a very traditional event that is found in most towns throughout Guanacaste, where facilities called “redondeles,” or bull rings,” are very common. Here, locals practice the sports of recreational bull riding and bullfighting, during which a rider mounts a bull and hangs to the animal’s back for as long as possible. The bull is not killed.

Adult men, young adults and even children practice these sports. Bull riding championships are common.

La Lagarteada in Barrio Ortega, Bolsón District, Santa Cruz Canton
Throughout the years, La Lagarteada has been celebrated as a means to obtain crocodile fat, which according to Guanacastecan tradition has healing powers, The event is held every year on Good Friday, in the community of Orotega in the district of Bolsón.

A group of men are responsible for finding the largest crocodile in the Tempisque River and, with the help of neighbors and a basic fishing net, they capture (but do not kill) the reptile. Later they transport it to the town of Ortega, where they put the giant crocodile in a pool constructed just for this purpose, and leave it there so that visitors from the community may watch it. The following Monday, after Easter Sunday, they return the animal to its natural habitat.

In addition to the ritual capture, the community hosts activities and sells the traditional foods and drinks of Guanacaste.

Nuestro Señor de La Agonía Hermitage
This adobe hermitage, or chapel, has both a spiritual significance and a historical and architectural importance. It was built in 1866, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in the city of Liberia and one of the most important relics in the province of Guanacaste. It is located in the Los Cerros neighborhood, at the end of Central Avenue.
Abangares Mines Eco-Museum
As opposed to that of other countries, there is not a long history of mining in Costa Rica. Therefore, Abangares is proud to be the premier mining canton of Costa Rica, thanks to the mining activity that occurred between 1887 and 1931.

The Eco-Museum is located on a 10-hectare (25-acre) property and allows visitors to experience a different side of Costa Rica. For example, visit the gunpowder house, the foundations of mallet buildings, the walls over which the train used to run, the quarries, and any machinery with which the miners extracted and transported gold.

In 2001, this important site was declared a national monument and incorporated into the Historical and Architectural Heritage of Costa Rica.

Cowboy and Cooks Day at La Hacienda Santa Rosa
This local festival takes place at Santa Rosa National Park on every second Sunday of November. The day is celebrated with a Workers’ Mass in homage to the cowboys and cooks that once labored in the hacienda. Later, there is food, music, a bullfight, and activities related to the work of a cowboy.
City of Liberia
Liberia, where tradition merges with all that is modern, is commonly known as the “white city.” This nickname comes courtesy of the fact that its streets used to be paved with an off-white material. This is place where old buildings (adobe houses, for example), local customs, and traditions combine with modern touches and new buildings, among them commercial centers and service companies.

In recent years this modernization has included urban development and new facilities such as the Daniel Oduber International Airport, which is capable of receiving regular commercial flights as well as charter flights from many cities in Canada and the United States.

Liberia is also an ideal base from which to visit many protected areas, among them Santa Rosa National Park, located near the community of La Cruz, and Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Additionally, the beaches of Guanacaste, in particular the popular Gulf of Papagayo, are a short drive away.

Calle Real in Liberia
The stretch of Central Street, which measures many blocks from north to south beginning at Central Avenue, is very attractive due to the type of buildings and ancestral homes that form its old quarter and characterize the area. These old buildings have been restored to their former splendor and are considered part of the city’s identity. Liberia’s traditional architecture featured adobe and mud as well as lime, which lent a white sheen to the town’s buildings.
City of Las Juntas
Las Juntas de Abangares is known for its cobblestone roads. It is an excellent spot for passing through on the way to visit the diverse attractions of Monteverde, among them the Monteverde Biological Reserve, Santa Elena, and the towns neighboring Tilarán.

Among the city’s most popular attractions are the Abangares Mining Eco-Museum; located in the community’s central park, here it is possible to visit the locomotives that were once used to transport the area’s mined materials.

City of Cañas
Located in the plains or prairies of Northern Guanacaste, the city of Cañas is home to a strong infrastructure and a wide availability of services. Among the most significant attractions are the Corobicí River, which is used by tour companies for nature and adventure activities and especially so that visitors can spot native flora and fauna. Other popular day trips include Pelado Volcano and the El Farallón architectural site.
Liberia River Canyon
Just a few kilometers from the city of Liberia and located on the road to Santa María that originates from Rincón de la Vieja National Park, there is a deep canyon created by the Liberia River. The canyon is very valuable from a scenic point of view; in addition to the beauty of its immediate surroundings, the canyon also affords views of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The canyon’s vegetation is also special, as it is very different from the flora found at Northern Guanacaste’s lower altitude areas.
Cuajiniquil Bay
This bay is very protected against strong winds and features beautiful mangrove swamp as its primary point of interest. The area boasts a rich marine environment, and is popular for anglers who wish to fish the great Pacific Ocean.
Tempiqsue River
This river begins at the base of Orosí Volcano and has a total length of 159 kilometers (almost 99 miles). It is navigable and during boat trips, many species of birds are spotted residing the mangrove trees along the river’s shores. Palo Verde National Park is located in the Tempisque’s lower river basin.
Guanacastecan Culture
Without a doubt, Guanacaste is an incredible province. Its music and popular art, among other things, are unique to the area. As the ideal complement to the region’s music, Guanacaste’s typical dances are one-of-a-kind, displaying strong influences of Flamenco steps, inherited from Andalusia (Spain). Some of the region’s most typical dances are El Punto Guanacasteco (The Guanacastecan Point), Los Amores de Laco (The Lovers of Laco), La Cajeta (The Caramel Treat), La Flor de Caña (The Sugarcane Flower), El Torito (The Little Bull), El Zapateado (similar to Flamenco), El Pavo (The Wild Turkey) and La Botijuela, among others.

Gastronomically speaking, corn is one of the region’s main crops, as this grain is the base ingredient in many typical dishes and drinks. Among them: Guanacastecan tortillas, tanelas, tamales, pisques, sweel tamales, arroz de maíz (a savory corn and chicken dish), nacatamales, donuts, sponge cake, pozol, atole (a hot corn drink), chicheme, chichi (an alcoholic drink), and pinol, among others.

Some of Guanacaste’s home cooks still use traditional mud ovens, where many traditional dishes, including all kinds of bread, are baked.

Festival Honoring the Patron Saint Holy Christ of Esquipulas
This image of Christ, which is the origin of the festival that takes place in Venado Cola Blanca de Santa Cruz, in Guanacaste, was brought from Guatemala in 1840. The celebration is sectioned into stages: first is the Vespers, which takes place on January 13, when the Christ of Esquipulas is taken to a home located on the outskirts of Santa Cruz in Arado, where it will stay until the following day. There, the statue is made ready for its afternoon Entrance on January 14, the second stage of celebration.

This is how residents prepare, with much excitement, to go meet Christ, which is the origin for the procession of believers. The streets through which the Christ statue passes are decorated with palm fronds, malinche flowers, and brightly colored confetti.

The Festival is another of the stages, this one celebrated on January 15, the town’s Patron Saint Day. In honor of the patron saint, a parade winds through the city of Santa Cruz, accompanied by members of the Promesano indigenous tribe, as well as the Traditional Queen of Costa Rica and her Royal Court, the Priest, and Christ’s followers. After the parade, mass is held at church in honor of the saint.

In addition to this event, from January 14-18, there are many cultural presentations offered: traditional dances, Guanacastecan marimba music, theater shows, poetry readings, and performances of typical “bombas” (witty verses), along with all the playful mischief that accompanies these celebratory events. Santa Cruz is known as the national capital of folklore, and the town’s residents take pride in their traditions.

All of this celebration is complemented by the sale of artisan goods and typical souvenirs throughout Santa Cruz’s festivals, which are celebrated in two main locations: Los Mangos Plaza, home to the rodeo stage; and Bernabela Ramos Park, which hosts most of the cultural activities.

Beaches

Guacamaya Beach
Gentle surf and coastal vegetation join forces to create an impressive maritime landscape, making this beach an ideal destination for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. It is also a wonderful place for long walks and photography.
Playa Grande
This beach, located in Las Baulas National Marine Park, gets its name, which means “big beach,” from its exceptional length. It is especially attractive for surfers and for those who wish to observe leatherback turtle nesting. It is also ideal for sunbathing, hiking, and swimming.
Danta and Sugarloaf Beaches
Due to their short lengths, these two beaches, both of which feature white sand and calm waters, are exceptionally beautiful. They are surrounded by hills, the perfect viewpoints from which to observe a magnificent panorama of Potrero and Brasilito Bays.
Coyotera Beach
This is a very wide beach and faces Isla Bolaños, which can be visited by boat or kayak. During the year’s windiest months, this is a very popular destination for practicing windsurfing. The beach is also ideal for relaxing, taking beach hikes, horseback riding, and as a starting point for mountain bike explorations to nearby points of interest.
Conchal Beach
Located south of Brasilito Beach, which is separated from Conchal Beach by only a rocky outcropping, this inlet measures just over two kilometers (less than 1.5 miles) in length. Its name, which means “shell beach,” is very appropriate, as the northern part of the beach is covered in millions of tiny, glittering shell fragments.

Lush vegetation and a mangrove swamp surround the beach. Its crystalline waters make it a perfect destination for swimming, taking leisurely boat rides, and engaging in all type of aquatic sports, including snorkeling and scuba diving. Hiking and horseback riding are also popular activities.

Playas del Coco
One of the most popular and most visited beaches in Costa Rica, Playas del Coco is located in a bay with gentle surf, making it ideal for swimming and as a port for small yachts and boats. To the south, Centinela Point, a small island, is home to a quiet cove and beautiful white sand.

Playas del Coco has an enormous range of services catering to visitors and allowing tourists to arrange many recreational and sport activities including sport fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat rides, among others. This is also an ideal location for taking walks along the beach and going horseback riding.

Chorotega (Panama) Beach
Fine sand, gentle surf, and many lush trees define Chorotega Beach, also known as Panama Beach. This is a popular destination for swimming in the ocean, relaxing, taking walks, and camping. Families that enjoy Northern Guanacaste’s characteristic and beautiful scenery are traditionally the beach’s most frequent visitors.
Brasilito Beach
Brasilito Bay is located between Brasilito Beach and Conchal Beach. The surf and grade of slope range from gentle to moderate, depending on the section of beach. To the extreme south, those who like to hike always enjoy a walk through the mangrove swamp.

Brasilito is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, taking hikes or simply contemplating the scenery and spectacular sunsets.

Playa Blanca and Virador Beach
Playa Blanca, meaning “white beach,” is known for its crystal-clear waters and very calm waves. It is located close to Mala Point, in Culebra Bay, and joins other beaches to create the Papagayo Development Tourism Project.

Together with Virador Beach, coastline located on the opposite side and just a few feet away, Playa Blanca forms a stretch of natural bridge that joins these two beaches to Mala Point. Virador is a beautiful inlet of white sand and clear ocean, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Flamingo Beach
This inlet features moderate waves, ideal for swimming. To one side sits a mangrove swamp and to the north sit Plata Island and Salinas Point, which separate the bays of Brasilito and Potrero.

From this point, there is an incredible view of both bays. Due to its scenic and natural beauty, as well the beach’s excellent and varied services, Flamingo is popular amongst those who prefer to enjoy the beach by day and hit the town at night.

Avellanas Beach
Located five kilometers (three miles) south of Langosta Beach, this stretch of sand features rocky coastline that stretches for several kilometers. Here, abundant vegetation lines the coast and the Pacific Ocean stirs up big waves, creating two areas ideal for surfing. In addition to surfing, hiking, swimming and wildlife watching are best enjoyed during low tide, when small fish and mollusks are visible in the tide pools that form along Avellanas’ rocky coast.
Ventanas Beach
This inlet is located to the northeast of Playa Grande, from which it is separated by only a small and rocky headland. Ventanas Beach, which means “windows beach,” is so named due to its shape. It is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and walking, especial north to the point, which is home to the small Carbón Beach.
Tamarindo Beach
Together with Playa Grande and Ventanas Beach, Tamarindo Beach helps form Tamarindo Bay. It is a beautiful area that features rocky bluffs and Capitán Island to its extreme southern boundary. Lush vegetation – savannah oak, tamarinds, and coconut palms – surrounds the beach. Tamarindo boasts excellent and varied services that welcome tourists and encourage visitors to enjoy the beach during the day and go out on the town at night.

This beach is ideal for relaxation, taking walks, horseback riding, and participating in fishing and snorkeling tours, as well as visiting the mangrove swamp and observing turtle nesting.

Real Beach
Playa Real, together with Roble Beach (to the south) and Name of Jesus Beach (to the north), shape one coastal unit. The beaches feature white sand that, when counted as one contiguous beach, stretch for two kilometers (over a mile). The beautiful coastal scenery is complemented by the presence of various small islands and rocky outcroppings that make the landscape even more magnificent. Playa Real boasts gentle to moderate surf, ideal for swimming, hiking, and other activities such as sea kayaking.
Rajada Beach
This beach is home to gentle waves, creating the perfect setting for swimming and relaxing under the leafy trees. Hiking is excellent, and nature photography is top notch at Rajada Beach.
Puerto Soley Beach
Located in extreme northern Guanacaste, in the beautiful and wide Salinas Bay, Puerto Soley Beach is a popular destination for residents from the neighboring town of La Cruz. It features moderate surf and soft sand, and is famous for incredible sunsets that invite visitors to take romantic walks and contemplate the majestic bay. Isla Bolaños, a small island, sits just offshore from the beach.
Prieta Beach
This small beach is located south of Sugarloaf Beach, from which it is separated by only a rocky area. It features gentle waves and abundant coastal vegetation. To the south sit Prieta Point and the small island of Chocoyas, both of which add to the beach’s natural beauty and provide a natural boundary between Prieta and Penca Beaches.
Potrero Beach
Located in a calm bay, the soft sands of Potrero Beach stretch for four kilometers (2.5 miles). The beach features both estuaries and mangroves, forming a beautiful landscape. Flamingo (Blanca) Beach borders Potrero to the south. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, taking hikes, horseback riding, and practicing aquatic sports organized in the area, including sport fishing and snorkeling.
Penca Beach
Another small beach, this stretch of sand boasts moderate to strong surf. Penca’s estuary and mangrove swamp, coupled with the small island of Cocoyas off its northern shore, create a very attractive setting. Penca Beach is a popular destination for relaxation and contemplation.
Ocotal Beach
This inlet is bordered by two hills and features gray sand and very gentle waves. To the southern end is Cririal Point, surrounded by crystal-clear waters. Ocotal Beach is idea for swimming, sunbathing, and practicing aquatic sports, such as sporting fishing, that are offered in the area. From the highest points of adjacent hills, there are incredible views of the Gulf of Papagayo. To the south of Ocotal, another inlet, this one of smaller size, is known as Blue Bay or Sailfish Bay, and is a very important hub for sport fishing.
Playa Negra
This beach, located between Avellanas Beach and Junquillal Beach, belies its name: although it’s called the “black beach,” in reality its sands are white. The beach’s coastline is rocky and features strong waves ideal for surfing. To the south lies a lesser-known beach called Callejones; this is also an excellent place to surf.
Naranjo Beach
Located very close to the ferry wharf, this small beach has gentle waves and little vegetation. Due to its location, Naranjo Beach is ideal for relaxation and for admiring ocean scenery – just five kilometers (three miles) off the beach lies Caballo Island. From Naranjo, visitors can take walks, horseback rides, and mountain biking trips to other nearby points of interest.

[accordion title="Nacascolo Beach"]

Home to clear water and gentle wave, this beach is perfect for swimming, taking walks, and snorkeling. It is very popular among tourists who arrive via boat from nearby hotels and from companies offering aquatic transportation. Nacascolo’s indisputable beauty makes it an ideal North Pacific destination to walk along the shore and enjoy the small estuary located at the beach’s southern end.

Monte del Barco Beach
This small beach is located between two points that wrap around its borders and help create a beautiful setting. Monte del Barcho is ideal for both relaxation and swimming in the ocean. From the hillsides and highest parts of the beach bluffs, views out to Culebra Bay are spectacular, especially as the sun sets over the wide Pacific Ocean.
Langosta Beach
San Francisco Point separates this inlet, which is very popular among surfers, from Tamarindo Beach. It features two main areas, which are vivisected by the San Francisco estuary: to the north, there is rocky coastline and swimming is not recommended; to the south sits the San Francisco River, whose mangrove swamp provides an important habitat for nesting birds. Playa Langosta is also an important nesting ground for the leatherback turtle; the beach is part of Las Baulas National Marine Park.
Junquillal Beach
This long beach features abundant coastal vegetation and a very varied landscape, ideal for both hiking and horseback riding. It has several rocky areas and boasts good waves for snorkeling and surfing, activities for which the beach is well known. Fishing and kayaking are also popular at Junquillal Beach.
Jobo Beach
Located in a beautiful and protected inlet, Jobo Beach boasts gentle surf. It is known for its scenic beauty, in large part due to its lush and beautiful coastal vegetation. This beach is ideal for swimming, relaxing and contemplating the picturesque setting. Bird and wildlife watching is another favorite activity.
Iguanita Beach
This is a very beautiful beach, located at the base of Culebra Bay. It is bordered to the north and south by two rocky points. To the south flows the Grande (Big) River, which empties into the Iguanita (Little Iguana) Estuary, forming an interwoven mangrove swamp.
Hermosa Beach
With close to two kilometers (more than a mile) of sandy coastline, this gray sand beach is located between two mountainous points. Another of its characteristics is the abundant vegetation that lines its sands. This is an ideal place for swimming, enjoying the sun, and watching spectacular sunset.
Samara Beach
This is a gorgeous beach that normally boasts moderate surf. The bay in which it is sheltered measures almost 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in length and is surrounded by mangroves and coastal vegetation including bearberry, coconut palms, and creeping plants like beach bean, among others. Toward the center of the beach is an old and massive strangler fig that is unique to Samara Beach. Chora Island is located at the extreme southern tip of the beach, in front of Indio Point.

Sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, mountain biking, boating, and sea kayaking are popular activities at Samara. The beach also offers various tourism services, which invite travelers to visit the beach by day and enjoy great music and gastronomic goodies by night.

The town of Samara is located 35 kilometers (almost 22 miles) south of Nicoya and 245 kilometers (152 miles) west of the capital city of San José. It is also possible to arrive by air, using the international airport in Liberia or the small regional airport near Samara.

San Miguel and Coyote Beaches
The access path to this area, when entered via the northern section of the San Miguel Mountains, offers a spectacular view of the coastline. Although both beaches are part of the same area, they are separated by the Jabilla River outlet and estuary that form a natural boundary between the beaches. Both at San Miguel Beach and Coyote Beach, the waves are strong and continuous, making this an ideal destination for ocean boating. The beaches are also prime destinations for horseback riding, hiking and bird and wildlife watching among the mangroves.
Pochote Beach
Although this bay is short in length, its gentle waves and gorgeous surrounding scenery make it an incredible destination for rest and relaxation. In addition, the Palmitas (Huevos) Islands, located north of Pochote, can be seen from the beach.
Pleito and San Juanillo Beaches
Though both beaches are relatively small, they offer abundant and beautiful coastal vegetation. Pleito Beach, for example, boasts a cozy and natural “swimming pool” that is ideal for swimming. San Juanillo Beach offers its picturesque Trinidad Point, which is comprised of a sandy tongue that forms the northern part of the cove and boasts gentle waves. To the south the beach runs another few hundred meters, forming the inlet of Cocal Beach.
Pelada Beach
This is an ideal place to take walks on the beach, go horseback riding, practice sport fishing, go snorkeling, or simply relax in the sun. At the southern end of the beach, a rocky outcropping offers scenic views of Pelada and other nearby beaches, including Guiones.
Ostional Beach
This beach, together with Nancite Beach (at Santa Rosa National Park), is world-renowned as an important nesting habitat for olive ridley turtles. For this reason, Ostional Beach, and all coastline south until Guiones Point, is part of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. The most scenic section of beach is located at the northern end, where the coast becomes rocky.
Nosara Beach
An estuary, as well as a large mangrove forest located at the Nosara River outlet, are the two main attractions at Nosara Beach. Both the estuary and mangrove swamp are easily navigable in kayak; these peaceful outings offer an excellent opportunity for bird and wildlife watching. The town of Nosara and neighboring areas offer a full range of tourism services, including horseback riding and guided kayak excursions.
Lagarto and Pitahaya Beaches
Rocky beaches, such as Lagarto and Manzanillo in the north, and sandy stretches to the south characterize this section of coastline. Artisan fishing is a pastime unique to Lagarto Beach. At points further south, other beaches such as El Coco, Marbella and Pitahaya are ideal for taking hikes or swimming. Due to their consistent waves, these beaches are favorites among surfers.
Islita Beach
This beach boasts very gentle waves and a half-moon shaped inlet that gives the beach a very unique look. Two area estuaries complete the beauty of the beach’s landscape. Along part of its coastline, Islita Beach offers beautiful scenery that includes estuaries and magnificent cliffs. There, tourists can go swimming, sunbathe, take hikes, go horseback riding, take ATV (4×4) tours, mountain bike, go boating, snorkel, and fish.
Guiones Beach
Given its length and width, this beach is perfect for taking walks and riding horses. It is also ideal for sunbathing and surfing, thanks to its consistent waves. Guiones Beach offers a wide range of services for tourists.
Garza Beach
This is a bay offering moderate surf and, to the south, an estuary and mangrove swamp located at the Garza River outlet. To the north and on the other side of Garza Point, there is a rocky outcropping known as Rosada, or Rose-Colored, due to the color of its sand. A small group of fisherman lives in the town of Garza. The beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, taking hikes, and going on sport fishing tours.
Corozalito Beach
This beach, though small, boasts a wide estuary and mangrove swamp. These natural attractions provide hours of enjoyment, offering visitors bird and wildlife watching and photographic opportunities. This beach is also a popular stop on area horseback rides.

[accordion title="Corralillo Beach"]

Located five kilometers (three miles) from Samara, Corralillo is characterized not only by its incredible natural beauty but also by its calm surf, which makes it very safe for swimming, especially at the beach’s southern limits. Corralillo is also ideal for sunbathing and taking long walks beside the ocean. A rocky outcropping at the beach’s southern end offers views of the entire beach and bay.

Bejuco Beach
This long beach, which is very long, offers moderate to heavy surf. It is home to a beautiful mangrove swamp that stretches the entire length of the beach and down into the Bejuco River outlet. At the southern tip of the beach, Bejuco Point adds to the beach’s already spectacular scenery; the point’s consistent waves are a favorite among surfers.

Annual Events Schedule

A lo largo del año se dan actividades, ligadas a comunidades, que festeja aspectos históricos, religiosos, deportivos, cívicos o artísticos.

January
10. Festival Honoring the Patron Saint Holy Christ of Esquipulas. Santa Cruz.
February
Last weekend. Liberia Civic Fiestas
April
Good Friday. La Lagarteada. Orotega de Bolsón, Santa Cruz.
July
25. Nicoya-Chorotega Tourism Expo Fair and the Liberia-Guanacaste Expo.

25. Annexation of Guanacaste Day

August
1. Pilgrimage to Cartago

2. Virgin of Los Angeles Day

24. National Parks Day

September
7. Culture Week. Liberia, the White City.
November
Second Sunday. Cowboy and Cooks Day at the Hacienda Santa Rosa
December
11-12. Festival of Our Lady the Virgin of Guadalupe. Nicoya.

24. Baby Jesus Parade, from the Valdelomar Baltodano family to the Nuetro Señor de la Agonia Hermitage. Liberia.

25. Christmas