With a total of 5,921 sq. miles and more than 400 miles of coast line, the Guanacaste tourism area comprises the Pacific Coast area from the border of Nicaragua to the Bongo River estuary in the Nicoya Peninsula. This tourism area is home to a very important section of Costa Rica’s cultural and natural heritage. This area boasts a significant number of protected areas including water, land, mountain, and coastal ecosystems that are teaming with life.
The incomparable beauty of its landscapes, which ranges from tropical dry forests to lowland mountain forests, its warm climate, as well as its flourishing nature have made Guanacaste one of the most heavily visited areas by locals as well as international tourists and is one of the most developed areas because of its high level of investment in the hotel industry that is in high demand. It also relies on important support by the Tourism Development Center of the Gulf of Papagayo and also relies on the Daniel Oduber International Airport through which arrive a number of charter and commercial flights from the United States.
All along the Guanacaste coastline are a number of beaches where you can swim in their warm Pacific Ocean waters. The coastal landscape is exceptional. There is an array of white-sand beaches and calm, intense-blue waters.
There are two commercial centers located in the northern area: Liberia and Santa Cruz, which, in turn, are linked with five important tourism development centers: Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo. In the southern area, the commercial center is Nicoya with Samara being the development center.
This is a beautiful beach with soft waves and a coastline full of vegetation as well as a beautiful ocean view with little islands scattered about. This place is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, rest and relaxation. You can also go hiking and take great photos.
This beach is part of the Baulas National Marine Park. Its name comes from its extensive beach, which extends south until the Tamarindo estuary where there is an important mangrove (Tamarindo Wildlife National Refuge) which can be traveled by boat to observe the flora and fauna. This beach is especially popular among surfers and those who want to observe the Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting area. This area is also good for sunbathing, hiking, and swimming. It carries the Blue Flag Ecological certification.
PLAYA BLANCA (FLAMINGO)
Es una ensenada de oleaje moderado apta para el baño. Cuenta con un manglar y al norte se hallan la isla Plata y la punta Salinas, las cuales separan a las bahías Brasilito y Potrero. Desde esta punta se disfruta de una espectacular vista de ambas bahías. Por su belleza escénica y natural, así como por los excelentes y variados servicios que posee, es ideal para quienes desean disfrutar de la playa durante el día y divertirse en la noche.
DANTA AND PAN DE AZÚCAR BEACHES
These beaches are two inlets less than a mile long and surrounded by hills from which you may observe a magnificent panorama of the Brasilito and Potrero bays. These are beaches with calm waters making it ideal for swimming. From Playa Danta, you can see the Pitahayas islets and the Santa Catalina Islands. The latter, which is some five miles out, is popular among divers.
This is an extensive beach with the Bolaños Islands directly in front of it, which can be reached by boat or kayak. During the windy months, it is a great place for windsurfing. It is also ideal for relaxation, hiking, and horseback riding, as well as exploring nearby areas by mountain bike.
This beach is located south of Brasilito, which is separated by a rocky headland (Punta Conchal), from which you can see a beautiful panoramic view of the beach and the entire coastline to the south. This inlet is about a mile longand gets its name from the fact that the beach’s sand is composed of millions of shell fragments. It is lined with lush vegetation, a mangrove, and crystal clear waters. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and is ideal for swimming, hiking, horseback riding, boat excursions, and other water sports, including diving. This beach has been awarded the Blue Flag Ecological certification, which identifies it as a clean and safe beach.
PLAYAS DEL COCO
This is one of the most popular and traditional beaches in Costa Rica. It is located in a bay with soft waves and is very suitable for swimming and boat docking. Its grey sands extend almost a mile and a half. To the south there is the Centinela Islet where there is a cove with white sands. Playas del Coco has a wide range of recreational and sporting activities, including sport fishing, diving, boat excursions, etc. It is also ideal for hiking and horseback riding.
PLAYA CHOROTEGA (PANAMÁ)
This is a wide bay lined with fine sand. It is bordered mainly by the trees from Brasil, Manchineel trees and mesquite trees. The waters are calm and there is the Rocha estuary where there is a mangrove. It is a popular beach for swimming, relaxation, hiking, and camping. It is frequently visited by families that enjoy viewing the ocean scenery that extends to the white beaches on the other side where Culebra Bay is located.
This beach, along with Conchal, makes up the Brasilito Bay. It is a beach with waves that are soft to moderate, depending on the area. To the far south, there is a mangrove and the Loros Island. It is an ideal beach for sunbathing, swimming, hiking, watching the ocean and the beautiful sunsets.
PLAYAS BLANCA AND VIRADOR
The first is a beach with crystal clear water and soft waves located close to Punta Mala in Culebra Bay and along with other beaches belong to the Papagayo Gulf tourism project. From its coastline, which is some 3,000 ft. long, you can see the Monte del Barco and Chorotega beaches. Playa Blanca, with Playa Virador, located on the other side and just a few meters away forms a natural bridge that connects them to Punta Mala. Virador is a beautiful inlet with white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, which are ideal for swimming and diving.
PLAYA BLANCA (FLAMINGO)
This is an inlet with moderate waves, which makes it suitable for swimming. There is a mangrove and to the north you can see Plata Island and Punta Salinas, which separates the Brasilito and Potrero bays. From here you can have a spectacular view of both bays. Because of its scenic and natural beauty, as well as its variety of high-quality services, it is ideal for those who want to enjoy the beach during the day, and party at night.
This beach is located 2 and a half miles south of Langosta. It has a rocky coastline that extends several miles and is lined with coastal vegetation. There are strong waves with two different areas that are good for surfing. Other activities include: hiking, swimming, and looking for little fish and mollusks in the tide pools during the low tide among the rocky areas.
FARALLÓN NATIONAL MONUMENT
Located on Las Lomas estate, El Farallón is an enormous rock wall, 60 ft. long, and full of indigenous engravings, which was declared a National Monument in 1998. The petroglyphs, according to studies, were created by indigenous people during the early years of the Christian era and 800 years before Christ.
In order to get there, you must enter Cañas and head to the Sandillal. From there the road gets a little treacherous and at certain places it is little more than a trail. Once on the estate, visitors will be welcomed by the López brothers, who will accompany you to El Farallón, located on the Cabuya River.
THE POPULAR BULL RING
In almost every town in Guanacaste, there are bull rings, where a popular activity is held, whereby riders try to stay on the bull as long as possible. Riders include men, young people, and sometimes even children.
Currently it is so popular that there is a riding championship where riders from all over the country participate.
LA LAGARTEADA (THE CROCODILE HUNT) IN ORTEGA, THE DISTRICT OF BOLSÓN. SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
For many years, and based on the local interest in crocodile fat, that, according to local tradition, has many curative qualities. It is held on Holy Friday, which is known as La Lagarteada, and is held in the Ortega community, in the Bolsón District. A group of men look for the largest crocodile possible along the Tempisque River on the Holy Friday and with ten to fifteen people, tries to capture it with a net (without killing it). Then they put it in a basin designed for this purpose in the center of Ortega for all to see. The following Monday, after Resurrection Day, they return it to its habitat. Along with the hunt, there are activities such as typical Guanacaste food and beverage sales.
NUESTRO SEÑOR DE LA AGONÍA CHAPEL
This picturesque chapel located in Liberia, in Los Cerros, at the end of the central avenue, represents typical Colonial architecture constructed in adobe, which are not very common in Costa Rica. The construction of the building dates back to 1850, and in 1866, they added bells. It has been declared a historical and architectural landmark.
ECO-MUSEUM OF THE ABANGARES MINES
The eco-museum is located on a 22 acre piece of land and is designed to receive visitors. You can see the Gunpowder House, the foundation of the hammer shops, the walls over which the train passed, the quarry, and the machines they used to mine and transport gold.
This is a historical site, both socially and economically, when Minor Keith was the owner of the Abangares Gold Field of Costa Rica. It is located in the Abangares Mountain Range and is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enter through Las Juntas.
FIELDWORKER AND COOK DAY AT THE SANTA ROSA RANCH
Celebrated in the Santa Rosa National Park on the second Sunday of November. A mass is held in honor of fieldworkers and cooks that work on the ranch. Afterwards, there is a bull run, and activities involving field work chores, food and music.
Liberia is known as the “White City,” it is a typical fishing town with wide streets, old buildings, and Bahareque homes.
This city is a combination of old structures, customs, and traditions with modern facilities and stores such as the malls and business services.
The last few years have seen urban development and new installations such as the Daniel Oduber International Airport, which receives commercial and charter flights from cities in Canada and the United States.
This is a place from where you can visit many different protected areas, among them are: the national parks of Santa Rosa, which is close to the small town of La Cruz, Rincón de la Vieja, or beaches around the Gulf of Papagayo.
You can also enjoy the Guanacaste National Band on Fridays and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Las Juntas is a town with cobblestone streets that is still used for gold mining endeavors. It has a variety of commercial sites. It is located 500 ft. above sea level and is a place to pass through to reach various attractions in the Monteverde area, among them being the Monteverde Biological Reserve, Santa Elena, and neighboring towns to Tilarán.
Among the more popular attractions is the Abangares Mines Eco-Museum, in the town’s park where you can see locomotives used for transporting gold.
Cañas is a town located in the plains and is tangent to the surrounding counties of Tilarán, Bagaces, and Abangares, and has commercial developments such as services and tourism businesses. It is 282 ft. above sea level and some of the more popular attractions are the Corobicí River, which is used by adventure tourists and naturalists to observe its flora and fauna, as well as the Pelado Volcano, and El Farallón archeological site.
CELEBRATING CULTURAL WEEK IN LIBERIA, THE WHITE CITY
Cultural Week is celebrated in Liberia, the White City, during the first week of September, which is also a remembrance of September 4, 1769, when Guanacaste was founded and September 3, 1836, when Liberia was established. The event has been held for 17 years by the Cultural Association, and every year has a different theme such as education, culture, and architecture. There is always music and dance activities; art from Guanacaste, and typical foods and drinks.
LLANOS DEL CORTÉS WATERFALLS
These are located a few miles north of Bagaces, off the highway to Liberia, where there is a turn off on the road to the left that leads to this place. These waterfalls are surrounded by lush vegetation and are 30 ft. high. Its cascading waters form a beautiful sheet descending into a pool where you can swim and also has a unique little white sand beach.
LIBERIA RIVER CANYON
A few miles from Liberia and on the road that leads to Santa María in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, is a deep canyon formed by the Liberia River and it’s a very scenic location. From the canyon you can see the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. The vegetation here is distinct from that of the lower areas.
MAIN STREET IN LIBERIA
The main street stretch, extending various blocks, north to south, from the central avenue in Liberia, is lined with ancestral homes and is part of the historic district. These historical constructions have been restored and give the city its identity, using adobe and bahareque materials as well as lime, which give them their white color.
This bay is well protected against the winds and has a beautiful mangrove, which is its main attraction. It is often frequented by fishermen who find in this area a safe place to to dock their boats and is teaming with marine wildlife.
TRADITIONAL PASSING OF THE NIÑO DIOS (CHILD JESUS) IN LIBERIA
This is a long held tradition, during which a number of people from Liberia venerate the Niño Dios (Child Jesus) statue belonging to the family of Valdelomar Baltodano. It starts with a drink made from chichia (fermented corn) and pinolillo (cornmeal and caco based drink) for those who want to participate and around 7 p.m. the figure is carried to the Nuestro Señor de la Agonía chapel, where a little portal is used to hold the figure to be admired.
Around 10 p.m., mass is held.
This river originates in the foothills of the Orosí Volcano and is about a hundred miles long. Some of its tributaries are the Colorado River, Salto River, Bebedero River, Bolsón River, Diriá River, and Cañas River. It is navigable and along the way you can see many species of birds that live within the mangrove along the banks. At the lower end of the river is the Palo Verde National Park.
This beautiful river located a few miles north of Cañas can be navigated by canoe. Its rapids are class I and II, which is ideal for anyone who is interested in this activity, during which you can enjoy beautiful scenery and observe many species of birds like herons and toucans. This is more or less the only river throughout the region with rapids.
DOORS OF THE SUN
In Liberia and other towns in Guanacaste, it is customary to build homes with two corner doors, which is an interesting feature and unique in Costa Rica. Because of their placement and purpose to let the sun in, they have been given the name, Doors of the Sun. The majority are found in the center of Liberia.
LA AMISTAD BRIDGE
In April 2003, this bridge was inaugurated in order to replace the ferry that was used for many years to cross the river. It is a very important engineering project, designed with the help of the Taiwanese government. It measures 2,550 ft. in length and serves as an important feature for the development of Guanacaste.
This inlet is located northeast of Playa Grande which is linked (and separated) by a rocky cliff that, because of its shape, has been named as such. This beach is suitable for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and hiking north to Carbón beach.
Tamarindo along with Playa Grande and Ventanas forms the Tamarindo Bay. It is a beautiful beach with many rocky areas and an island (Capitán) on the far southern end. It is lined with lush vegetation like, savannah oak, tamarind trees, and coconut trees. It has a variety of high quality services that allow you to enjoy the ocean during the day and party at night. This beach is ideal for relaxing, hiking, and turtle nesting observation. From this bay and to the south is a very popular coastal area for surfing. This beach is Blue Flag certified, meaning it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
Playa Real together with Roble (to the south) and Nombre de Jesús (to the north) make up one coastline. The first two are separated from the third by Punta Real. These are white sand beaches that together stretch a little over a mile long. The beautiful coastline scenery is accented by several islets and rocky points that make it even more attractive. The waves here are soft to moderate and are suitable for swimming, hiking, and other activities like ocean kayaking.
This is a soft-wave beach, which makes it ideal for swimming and relaxing under the shady trees that line the beach. You can also go hiking and is an excellent place to take pictures.
PLAYA PUERTO SOLEY
Located in the far northern region of Guanacaste in the beautiful and extensive Salinas Bay. It is a very popular beach among locals in the area from La Cruz. It has moderate waves and soft sands. It is famous for its sunsets and is good for hiking or simply admiring the majestic scenery of the bay, where the Bolaños Islands are located.
This is a small beach to the south of Pan de Azúcar, which is separated by a rocky area. Here you will find soft waves and an abundance of coastline vegetation. To the south are Punta Prieta and the Chocoyas Islet which adds a special touch to the surrounding landscape, and are separated by Playa La Penca.
This is a bay with calm waters and measures some 2 miles long. Here you will find estuaries and mangroves, as well as beautiful views. To the far south, you will find the Flamingo Marina (Blanca). This place is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, and water sports that are organized here: sport fishing and diving.
This is another small beach with moderate to strong waves. It has an estuary and a mangrove, which, along with the Chocoyas Islet in the far north, gives this beach a very special natural beauty for rest and relaxation. It is Blue Flag certified.
This is an inlet bordered by hills with grayish sands and calm waves. To the extreme south is Punta Cirial which is surrounded by crystal clear waters. This beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like, diving and sport fishing, which are offered at different points throughout the region. From the peaks of the adjacent hills, there is a magnificent view of the Gulf of Papagayo. South of Ocotal is another smaller inlet known as Azul or Pez Vela Bay, which is popular for sport fishing. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This beach is located between Avellanas and Junquillal. In spite of its name, it has clear sand and a rocky coastline with excellent waves for surfing. To the south is another lesser known coastal area (Callejones) that is also good for surfing.
Located very close to the ferry dock, is a small beach with very little waves and lush coastline vegetation. Because of its location, this beach is ideal for relaxing and watching the marine scenery where you can also see Caballo Island, located 2 and a half miles beyond the coast. From Naranjo, you can hike, go horseback riding and mountain bike riding to other nearby points of interest.
The water here is clear with soft waves and is great for swimming, hiking, and diving. It is often frequented by tourists arriving by boat from nearby hotels and other water transport businesses. Its undeniable beauty makes Nacascalo a perfect little niche in the Northern Pacific for walking along the beach and observing the small estuary located to the far south.
PLAYA MONTE DEL BARCO
This small beach is located between two points that connect it and the surrounding beauty makes it ideal for relaxing and swimming. From the sides and top of the joining hills, you can catch a beautiful view of Culebra Bay, particularly during the sunsets. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This inlet is separated from Tamarindo by Punta San Francisco. There are two main areas that are divided by the mouth of the San Francisco River. To the north, the coast is rocky and not suitable for swimming. To the south, is the San Francisco Estuary, whose mangrove is an important place for bird nesting.
Playa Langosta is also an important site for the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelyscoriacea) nesting and is part of the Las Baulas National Marine Park.
Hiking through both areas of the this beach is great for observing the scenery and its diverse species of birds. Langosta is also very popular among surfers. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This extensive and wide open beach has a mix of scenic views and is great for hiking and horseback riding. There are rocky areas and the waves are good for diving and surfing, for which it is well-known. There is also coastline vegetation and you can go fishing and kayaking. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This is a beautiful and protected inlet with very little waves. It has gorgeous scenery because of its coastline vegetation. It is ideal for swimming, relaxing, and meditating, as well as enjoying other activities like bird watching and observing the flora.
This is a beautiful beach located at the back of Culebra Bay. It is bordered on the far north and south by rocky tips. To the south, flows the Grande Stream which empties into the Iguanita Estuary, forming an intricate mangrove.
This bay is around a mile long and has grayish sands. It is located between two rocky tips. To the south and facing Punta Cacique are the Pelonas and Montosa Islands. The waves here are very small with an abundance of coastline vegetation. It is great for swimming, sunbathing, watching the sunsets, and water sports, including diving, hiking, and horseback riding.
This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
PLAYAS SAN MIGUEL AND COYOTE
The access road that connects these beaches runs along the San Miguel Hill, from which there is an impressive view of the open coast. Both beaches belong to the same coastal area, but they are separated by La Jabilla river mouth and estuary, forming an extensive mangrove. The waves of these beached are strong and consistent. San Miguel is a mile and a half long while Coyote stretches two and a half miles up to the estuary with the same name. This coastline is great for small boat rides, relaxing, watching the ocean, hiking, horseback riding, as well as observing the flora and the fauna among the mangroves.
This is a bay that measures a few miles long with moderate waves. There are mangroves and coastline vegetation: Manchineel trees, coconut trees, and vine plants like the frijol de playa (beach bean), etc. In the center of the beach is a large old strangler fig tree for which Sámara is recognized. To the far south and facing Punta Indio is Chora Island.
Sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, mountain biking, boat rides or ocean kayaking, are just some of the activities this beach provides, as well as, tourist services that make for enjoying the beach during the day and music and good food at night. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is a small horseshoe-shaped bay with soft waves. The surrounding coastline is very beautiful and you can see the Palmitas Islands (Huevos).
PLAYAS PLEITO AND SAN JUANILLO
These small little inlets are abundant with coastal vegetation. Both are linked by a rocky surface that joins Punta Trinidad and Punta Pleito. The later, on its far southern end has a small bend, which is ideal for swimming. On the other hand, San Juanillo has a unique little tip (Trinidad), which has waves of fine sand that form a small cove with calm waves. It extends south several hundred feet creating Cocal Beach.
At the far north end is Punta Nosara, which separates this last beach. It is great for hiking and relaxing. At the southern end is a rocky point, where you can catch a beautiful panoramic view of the beach and Playa Guiones, which is to the south. Here you can go hiking, horseback riding, sunbathing, and do sport fishing and snorkeling.
This an extensive and wide open beach with strong waves that is connected on its southern end to Nosara, which is separated by División. This beach is internationally known because here and in Nancite (San Rosa National Park) is where the largest number of Olive Ridley sea turtles come to nest, especially from July to November. That’s why this beach and the entire coast to the south until Punta Guiones belong to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. The most scenic part of this beach is located toward the north along the rocky coast.
This beach has a beautiful estuary and a large mangrove (Nosara River) that can be navigated by boat and kayak in order to observe its flora and fauna, especially birds. In the town of Nosara and surrounding areas there are all kinds of tourist services, including horseback riding and kayaking.
PLAYA LAGARTO · PLAYA PITAHAYA
This coastal area has rocky beaches to the north (Lagarto, Manzanillo) and sandy beaches to the south. On the north end, Lagarto is known for its fishing industry. This stretch of coastline is beautiful, but very few services for tourists. On the south end, there are beaches like, El Coco, Marbella, and Pitahaya, where you can go hiking and swimming. In Pitahaya, at the far northern end, there is a beautiful inlet. These beaches are frequented by surfers because of their waves.
This is a half moon-shaped inlet with soft waves. Its name comes from a small rocky islet adjacent to Punta Islita on the far north end of the bay. There are two estuaries that add to its beautiful landscape, which can be seen in full from the high part of the road that runs south to Corozalito, where you can also see high cliffs. Some activities that you can do here are swimming, sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, four wheeler tours, mountain biking, and boat rides for fishing and diving. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is an extensive and wide beach and is great for hiking and horseback riding, sunbathing, and surfing, because of its adequate waves. Close to this beach and other beaches toward the north, you can find a variety of services for tourists.
This is a beautiful bay with moderate waves. To the south is an estuary where the Garza River empties into the ocean forming a mangrove; to the north and on the other side of Punta Garza, is a rocky beach called Rosada, due to the color of its sand. Garza is a small fishing town where you can sunbathe, swim, hike, and go on sport fishing tours.
This little beach has a large estuary and mangrove, which is great for observing flora and fauna. It is visited by tourists arriving on horseback.
This beautiful bay is located 2 and a half mile from Sámara. It has a beautiful beach with calm waves, and is very safe for swimming, sunbathing and hiking, especially on the southern end where the beach runs parallel to the road. There are a number of coconut trees that provide shade to visitors and make the coastline attractive. At the southern end, there is a rocky hill from which you can view the entire bay. Surrounding this point is a bay that is used as a docking area for sport and commercial fishing boats. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is a wide open beach and a mile and a half or so long with moderate to strong waves. At the far end is the mouth of the Ora River, which you must wade across, with caution, to the other side to get to this and other beaches to the south (Islita, Bejuco, San Miguel) or to the north (Carrillo, Sámara). Camaronal is known for Leatherback and Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting. There is a wildlife refuge here that protects these creatures. This area is also good for camping and fishing.
PLAYA BUENA VISTA
This is an extensive beach with moderate waves and coastline vegetation. To the far north is an estuary and to the south is the mouth of the Buena Vista River. This area is great for sunbathing and hiking. In some areas of its coast, there is a slightly steep slope. From here, small engine plane rides are organized.
This is an extensive beach that is located south of Coyote. It is wide open and several miles long. To the far north, is an area called Caletas that is great for surfing. From this later area, 2 and a half miles south, is the mouth and estuary of the Bongo River whose river bed marks the border between Guanacaste and Puntarenas. A mile and a half further south of this point is Playa Manzanillo, which is beautiful and full of vegetation. This beach is often frequented by locals from Cóbano and other surrounding towns. Here you can rent horses, go hiking, enjoy the ocean, go boating, kayaking, and camping.
This is a wide-open beach. Its waves are moderate to strong. It has an extensive mangrove that runs from the beach to the mouth of the Bejuco River. To the far south, is Punta Bejuco, which adds to the paradise – like – beauty of this beach that is frequented by surfers.
PLAYA BARCO QUEBRADO
This is a beautiful inlet with moderate waves. It is surrounded by rocky cliffs that make the area especially attractive. This beach is ideal for swimming and taking in the scenery which is largely made up of forest area. To the south of Barco Quebrado is another attractive beach called Barrigona.
This is a smaller beach with strong waves and deep blue waters. In the center toward the north is a rocky hill (Punta Eriza) from which there is a great view of the entire coast that runs north to south until Punta Trinidad (San Juanillo). This area is great for hiking, or taking in the scenery. Swim with caution, especially on the southern end.