Fishing: North Pacific
It’s easy to understand why so many visitors are naturally drawn to northern Guanacaste. This region has it all: beautiful beaches, colossal volcanoes, forests, culture and nightlife.
Sabaneros, Costa Rican cowboys, dominate the place and can still be seen herding cattle across the widespread savanna. Traditional landscapes blend with the booming tourism industry creating the ideal vacation hideaway.
Liberia, Gateway to Paradise
Considered the most colonial of Costa Rican cities, Liberia safeguards its heritage through simple adobe architecture topped with red-tile-roofs. It’s locally known as the “white city” because many of its buildings are built with ignimbrite, a rock that gives them a pale washed color.
Culture and tradition come alive every July in Liberia, where colorful fiestas feature rodeos, typical dancing, savory food and plenty of partying.
No matter where visitors come from and no matter their final destination, Liberia is a mandatory stop. If traveling by land, the city is the perfect place to take a break from the driving and enjoy a wide variety of restaurants and museums.
Still, the fastest way to get to Liberia is to fly directly into the Daniel Oduber International Airport.
Some 40 flights arrive every week from the United States through four different airlines. Flying from San José via charter services is also convenient, since it saves about three hours on the road and low rates make it quite affordable. Public transportation, taxis and car rentals are available at the Liberia airport.
Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco
The hills at Hermosa beach raise offer great panoramic views of the ocean and down on the shore, blue waters and mild waves offer a refreshing splash.
Luxury accommodations and inexpensive lodging are available in this beautiful cove surrounded by dry forest. Hermosa is a popular destination among those looking for the perfect tropical setting.
The possibilities are endless at Coco beach, the most developed coastal town in the region. Although it still retains much of its fishing village aura, hotels, restaurants and bars now cater to young visitors looking to have fun in the sun.
Palm trees and benches are found in the central plaza, the perfect spot to relax with a cooling snow cone, the whisper of the crashing waves and the view of the grand ocean.
Small and cozy, Ocotal beach offers its visitors a surprisingly large menu of fun adventures to choose from. Snorkeling aficionados enjoy its soft corals where sea horses are frequently spotted. Many scuba diving and fishing tours use Ocotal as their starting point because it’s simply beautiful and conveniently close to the Gulf of Papagayo.
Ocotal is the perfect spot to take it easy on the beach and relax in warm and crystal waters.
Flamingo beach is picture perfect where mild breeze comes in from the ocean, bringing foamy waves into the land. Turquoise waters, white sand, a mile-long (1.6 km) shore, deluxe resorts, nightlife and restaurants complete the paradisiacal scenery.
Many ex-pats and foreigners find a new home in the charming hills of Flamingo and real estate has become a prosperous business. In addition to all its tropical paradise qualities, this region offers all the benefits of a larger city including an internationally renowned English speaking high school.
Everything about Conchal beach is enticing …
The shell-powder sand is unique in the region, the sparkling waters are snorkeling heaven and the deluxe infrastructure makes visitors want to stay on permanent vacation.
Costa Rica’s largest luxury resort is located in Playa Conchal where a first-class mega development boasts an 18-hole golf course and superb architecture.
Tamarindo beach is a fishing village turned surfing town, resort district and ecological haven. Simply put, Tamarindo has it all as restaurants, bed and breakfasts, hotels, cabins and lodges are found left and right. With so many options, its no wonder this beach is every visitor’s favorite.
When the clock strikes 5:00 p.m., visitors head to the sand and enjoy the collage of yellows, oranges and blues in the sky. The view of the sunset at Tamarindo is beyond compare.
Go Local at Santa Cruz
Folklore comes alive in Santa Cruz during its civic celebrations. Town residents honor this legacy with rodeos, cattle exhibitions, traditional cuisine and the harmonious beat of the marimba (a native version of a xylophone).
Visitors can experience Costa Rica’s cowboy culture at several ranches located throughout the region. Local tourism is the new trend which consists of large, working ranches opened up to the public by their owners. Visitors can horseback ride through the savanna and dry forests, milk cows, herd cattle, dine with the family and become a sabanero for a day.
Parque Nacional Santa Roca
The shore may be Guanacaste’s prime destination, but its biggest ecological assets are located inland. Santa Rosa National Park heads the list with its historic value and 10 different habitats including mangroves, swamps, and evergreen and dry forests.
The park provides a home to more than 150 species of mammals, 250 birds, 100 reptiles and amphibious, and more than 10,000 varieties of insects, including 3,140 species of day and night butterflies.
Two beaches, Nancite and Naranjo, are located within the park and more than 10,000 ridley and hawksbill turtles visit them every year to lay their eggs. The nesting site is protected by the National Park System in the hopes of rescuing the endangered species.
Santa Rosa also marks the historical spot where Costa Ricans defended their independence during a battle against foreign invaders in 1856.
Refugio de Vida Silvestre Isla Bolaños
Colonies of brown pelican seek protection in Bolaños Island Wild Life Refuge. The 61-acre (25-hectare) island is one of only four reproduction sites for their species as well as the sole nesting location for frigate birds, American oystercatchers and boobies.
Located a mile (1.5 km) off the coast, near Punta Descartes in northwestern Guanacaste, this stony mountain is made up of accumulated sediment rock dating back to 40 million years ago.
Because of the rough terrain vegetation is scarce and the existing forest looses its foliage completely during the dry months. The white-sand beaches around the island are filled with seashells and all kinds of crustaceans.
Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas
Giant leatherback sea turtles may travel all over the world but they always come back to Costa Rica to lay their eggs. The main nesting sites are located in Las Baulas National Marine Park which includes beaches Grande and Langosta, and the offshore area where the turtles spend the majority of their breeding season.
Leatherbacks are the largest of the planet’s seven species of turtles, averaging 770 pounds (350 kg) and more than 5 feet (1.5 m) in length. Witnessing the life cycle of these ancient giants is a moving experience that reminds how fragile nature is and what a great responsibility we have to protect it for future generations.
Considered the oldest settlement in the country, Nicoya’s history dates back to centuries before conquistador Gil González Dávila took over in the early 1500s. Back then, it served as an administrative center for the agricultural communities nearby, with well-defined trade routes traced as far as the Nicaraguan border.
Ox-drawn plows, machetes and straw hats are common in the countryside where farmers make the most out of their land. Traditional pottery is still an important commodity and can be purchased on the streets.
The 500-year-old church of San Blas is another living testament to Nicoya’s charisma, an old fashioned adobe construction surrounded by a beautiful tree-shaded plaza.
Parque Nacional Barra Honda
Ages ago, nature started a detailed carving process that rendered Barra Honda National Park’s famous caverns. So far, 42 have been explored but scientists believe that many underground wonders are yet to be discovered.
The park protects 5,670 acres (2,295 hectares) of wild limestone highlands located west of the Tempisque river flood plain. The adventure will take visitors through an exhilarating 100-foot (30 m) roped descent and into the caverns where they’ll encounter amazing dripstone formations, delicate stalagmites and stalactites, evidence of pre-Columbian exploration, and exclusive species of animals that have evolved to better suit the dark.
Other activities include above-ground hiking through the dry forest, where monkeys, anteaters and scarlet macaws wander freely. Visitors that climb up to the top of Cerro Barra Honda (1,459 feet, 445 m) are rewarded with a superb view of the Guanacaste landscape around the park.
Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional
At Ostional Nacional Wild Life Refuge, tens of thousands of Pacific ridley sea turtles lay more than a million eggs on its sand.
Female turtles come ashore during the rainy months of July through November and these massive nesting episodes are known by local residents as arribadas (arrivals).
More than 100,000 nests may be made in one week in the hopes that a large percentage of hatchlings will survive predators such as crabs, coyotes, birds and humans.
After seven weeks in the sand, baby turtles dig their way up to the surface and wait until the cover of night to sprint towards the water. Many years later, as grown ups, these hatchlings will come back to the same shore to lay their eggs and continue the life cycle.
The beaches in southern Guanacaste have an aura of their own: they’re laid back, wild and unexplored.
Sámara beach, with its off-beat fishing village atmosphere, is a perfect example. Located in a hidden basin that faces a gorgeous bay, Sámara’s waters are pushed inland by the enticing ocean breeze attracting swimmers and surfers .
A few upscale developments cater to demanding tourists, but in general, accommodations are rustic and affordable drawing travelers on a budget and young Costa Ricans.
Playa Guiones and Nosara
Relaxation is the name of the game at Nosara and Guiones beach. The wide coral-colored shore stretches for 2 miles (3.2 km) offering dozens of tide pools where visitors can unwind in knee-deep natural jacuzzis.
Luxurious residential areas surround Nosara and rise up on the nearby mountains. Small hotels have also taken advantage of this charming natural setting where howler monkeys wander without restraint.
An in-town airstrip guarantees a stress-free journey.
The North Pacific coast in Costa Rica offers beaches tucked away in coves or protected by mountains. Langosta, Avellana, Pan de Azúcar, Grande, Brasilito, La Penca and other nearby beaches are popular among visitors.
Unspoiled beaches line up along southern Guanacaste’s coast welcoming nature lovers. Sand is cooled down by pristine forests full of rare birds and howler monkeys that like to tease unsuspecting visitors in this unique destination.
Beautiful beaches include Carrillo, Corozalito, San Miguel, Coyote, Bongo, Junquillal and many more.
Costa Rica Travel: Travel Information & Tips
No matter how beautiful a destination may be, it needs easy access and be reachable within the limitations of an average vacation period. Costa Rica is only two and a half hours away from Miami!