Guanacaste Travel Guide
Guanacaste is the province located in the northwestern corner of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean. Home to traditional Costa Rican culture, Guanacaste is an excellent area to soak up the rays of endless summer. There are dozens of picturesque beaches, unsurpassed sunsets, and charming countryside getaways. Guanacaste is the driest province in the country, so you can enjoy the beaches and sun with little interruption from the rain.
Guanacaste was named after the Guanacaste Tree. Sometimes known as the ear pod tree, the Guanacaste tree is national tree of Costa Rica. While driving through the countryside, you can see these beautiful trees dotted all over the “fincas” (farms) and national parks of this Pacific province.
Guanacaste is home to the traditional bakery items known as rosquilla, rosquetes, and tanela. These are all a “must-try” when you visit the area, as they are not always readily available in other areas of the country. Like the other coastal provinces, the seafood in Guanacaste is fresh, delicious, and plentiful.
Guanacaste has what you need to make your vacation unforgettable. Unwind on a pristine beach, explore an active volcano, relax in the hot springs, or bathe in the clear pools of majestic waterfalls. With the international airport located in Liberia in the heart of Guanacaste, travelers can easily access the various parts of the province with efficiency and ease.
No trip to Guanacaste is complete without a visit to Tamarindo. In Tamarindo, you will find a lively beach town dotted with shops, restaurants, bars and all things surf. Here you will see some of the most awe-inspiring sunsets in the world. A catamaran tour is an excellent way to enjoy these Pacific sunsets. This is a great area to explore by ATV as there are many beaches nearby.
One nearby beach that some locals refer to as, “Little Hawaii” is Playa Avellana. Here you can find a gorgeous beach that is great for surfing. Playa Avellana is also home to a mangrove forest which is a truly unique sight to see. Also famous at Playa Avellana is Lola’s, a beachfront restaurant with delicious pizza. Lola’s was named after the owner’s large pet pig who can be seen bathing in the ocean at times.
Playas del Coco
Located a short drive from the Liberia airport, you can find one of the oldest, yet most rapidly growing beach communities in Costa Rica. Playas del Coco, or “Coconut Beach”, is home to a beautiful beach complete with a charming walkway, park, basketball court, and playground for all ages to enjoy. This area is great to explore via golf cart or bike which can be rented from various shops along this beach town.
Playas del Coco is the perfect spot to relax on the beach during the daytime and then enjoy a night out on the town. Here you can find many types of cuisine and seafood that is caught right there at Coco Beach earlier in the day. Some area fisherman will even allow you to go on a fishing tour with them! Then, you can then take the fish you catch to selected restaurants where they will cook your fish for your dinner. After dinner, you can enjoy a local beer or tropical cocktail. Afterwards, dance the night away in one of the many bars and restaurants that are located within an easy walking distance from one another.
Playas del Coco is also located in close proximity to several other beaches, such as Playa Hermosa and Playa Ocotal. If you visit Playa Ocotal at the right time, you can see both white and black sand scattered in almost a striped pattern throughout the beach. The black “sand” is actually an iron runoff from area volcanoes which gives the beach a “zebra” look. Here stunning blue waters are dotted with sailboats, making this beach excellent place for photographs.
About a one hour drive from the Liberia Airport, you can find the small beach town of Brasilito. Brasilito is a large, tranquil beach which is perfect for swimming. There are many delicious local restaurants for dining in Brasilito. Just a 2 minute walk from Brasilito in Playa Conchal you will see the most clear waters of the Pacific.
Conchal is named after the seashell because the sand there is a combination of tiny crushed seashells that give the sand its white color. On a nice day, you can see all the way to your toes as you walk through the turquoise waters of Conchal. There are always adventures in Conchal whether it be jet skiing, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.
Rincón de la Vieja
Located close to the Guanacaste capital of Liberia, Rincón de la Vieja, or “Old Woman’s Corner.” This is an adventure-filled national park that makes for a great addition to any vacation. The park is named after the active volcano which is the highest point of the park. This area of Guanacaste is known for its farming and cattle ranching. This makes it commonplace to see cowboys and vast fields with grazing cattle.
In this area, you can also find numerous waterfalls which pour into the Colorado River. Cool off while bathing under the falls or relax in a tubing adventure down the river. Do you like hiking, mountain biking, zipline, canyoning? This area of Costa Rica is great for it.
Hot Springs & Waterfalls
A favorite activity of visitors to Rincón de la Vieja is the hot springs. Due to geothermic activity in the area, the national park is the most active area of the Guanacaste Mountain Range. Conditions here provide for the soothing combination of hot springs and bubbling pools of mud. This warm mud is thought to be therapeutic. It is an excellent way to relax your muscles after a day of adventures. It can also work wonders for your skin.
Cool off under a majestic waterfall or relieve your body in warm mud bath. Rincón de la Vieja is for you! Oh – and don’t forget to or explore the park on horseback!
Deep in the heart of the Nicoya Peninsula is the quaint and picturesque town of Santa Cruz. Serving as the capital of the Santa Cruz canton, Santa Cruz, is a typical rural and local town. Its inhabitants include large numbers of ranchers, farmers, fishermen, workers and employees. The town is well known for its cultural traditions and its history. Two of the most important and largest traditions in this area are the Easter week (Holy Week, or Semana Santa) celebration and Guanacaste’s famed bullfights. In January the city honors its patron saint, Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, with dances, parties and delicious local food and delicacies.
Santa Cruz holds the distinction of serving as Costa Rica’s national folklore city. It is committed to keeping the area’s traditions and customs alive. Santa Cruz strives to maintain all parts of its history and folklore, such as traditional dance, musical instruments, food and drink. The city was declared the ¨Folklore City” by the Central American Institute of Tourism.