The province of Guanacaste is situated on Costa Rica’s northwest shoulder, bordered by Nicaragua in the north and the Nicoya Peninsula in the south. Growing in popularity, the region’s “Gold Coast” boasts a variety of beautiful beaches and rich culture.
Guanacaste Costa Rica’s dry, flat plains merge with tropical dry forests to create landscapes akin to the American “wild west” and African savannas. This region supports Costa Rica’s beef and sugarcane production, and has several national parks and wildlife reserves.
Costa Rica’s national tree, the Guanacaste, naturally thrives in the region’s arid climate. Cowboys and Campesinos of the cattle-country celebrate the Guanacaste for its abundant shade and the comfort it represents. The region of Guanacaste hasn’t yet forgotten its roots as a ranching area – topes, or rodeos, can be found nearly every weekend night during the summer months (between February and April).
Liberia International Airport
The Daniel Oduber International Airport – one of two international airports in Costa Rica – is located in Guanacaste’s capital city of Liberia. The region’s best resorts and beaches are just an hour away by car.
Discover Top Guanacaste Beaches
Just west of Liberia lies the exclusive Peninsula Papagayo. This region features two of the most luxurious resorts in the country: the Andaz Papagayo and the Four Seasons. The 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course is also situated on the peninsula capturing breathtaking views of the Pacific.
Just south lie the grey-sands of Hermosa Beach which translates to “beautiful beach.” The waters here are generally calm making it a great family vacation spot. The nearby brown sands of Matapalo Beach host the guests of the all-inclusive RIU Guanacaste and RIU Palace which has created a more private resort experience for its visitors
Within Guanacaste Costa Rica is the popular town of Tamarindo which offers impressive restaurants and a bustling nightlife. The beaches of Tamarindo are some of the most popular in Costa Rica. Playa Tamarindo is a popular surfing destination, spread out beside the fast-growing beach town that was once a quiet fishing community, while the neighboring white sands of Langosta Beach are quieter and better suited to swimming.
Further south are the unique Flamingo Beach and Conchal Beach. The pinkish white sand of Flamingo Beach makes up a large section of Potrero Bay. All of the hotels on Flamingo Beach sit on a beautiful cliff overlooking the beach and ocean below. Conchal Beach, as the name suggests, was once composed primarily of crushed seashells, but have since been removed to be utilized in building and construction projects. Nearly all of Conchal Beach backs up to the Westin Playa Conchal Resort complex.
Further south, Mansita Beach hosts the guests of the JW Marriott Guanacaste. Additionally, JW vacationers enjoy the amenities of Hacienda Pinilla, an exclusive resort and residential community featuring golf, tennis, stables, a beach club, and various dining options.
Related Article: Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Explore Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park is famous for Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, it’s active crater, and the active landscape of geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles surrounding them. Additionally, there are waterfalls, a lake, and wildlife to be found within the park. There are hiking trails within the park. One of the nicest trails within the park is the 1.75-mile Las Pailas loop. It begins at the park entrance and leads you along some of the bubbling landscape. It’s possible to hike up to the summit, but it takes 7 hours for a total of just over 10 miles. Another hike is the La Cangrejo Waterfall and Blue Lake hike which is about 6 miles.
Tenorio Volcano National Park & Rio Celeste Waterfall
The remote Rio Celeste Waterfall is a naturally occurring brilliant turquoise waterfall within Tenorio Volcano National Park. Minerals in the volcanic soil combine to create the waterfall’s beautiful colors attracting travelers from around the world. It’s a roughly tw0-hour hike each way to reach Rio Celeste Waterfall.
Sea Turtle Nesting
The leatherback sea turtle, the largest in the world, returns to Playa Grande each year to bury its eggs in the sand. Sea turtle nesting times can be difficult to predict. Tours generally occur at night and must be organized with a guide to preserve these fragile ecosystems and keep the turtles coming back each year.
Santa Rosa National Park
Established in 1971, Santa Rosa National Park was the first national park in Costa Rica. It was initially founded to preserve La Casona, a ranch house celebrated for its role in Costa Rica’s independence. Today, it’s also known for its dry forest, beautiful beaches, birding, and surf. Sea turtles can also be seen nesting ashore Naranjo and Nancite Beach within the park. Nancite Beach is one of two locations in Costa Rica where Olive Ridley Sea Turtles come to shore for the annual arribada or mass sea turtle nesting.
Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde National Park is known for its wetlands with a large population of aquatic bird species and its tropical dry forests. This park is remote with over 300 species of tropical birds and alluvial planes from the Tempisque River attracting over 250,000 species of migratory geese, ducks, and other waterfowl. The park also has the only scarlet macaw colony to permanently inhabit a dry forest.
Things to Do in Guanacaste Costa Rica
- Catamaran Cruise & Snorkeling
- Snorkeling Tour of Catalina Islands
- Diving Tour of Catalina Islands
- Heliconia Hanging Bridges and Rainforest Hike
- Safari Float on the Corobici River
- Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary Kayaking Tour
- Santa Rosa National Park Tour
- Rincón de la Vieja National Park & Volcano Tour
- Palo Verde National Park and Guaitil Pottery Tour
- Canopy Zip Lining
- Whitewater Rafting Level III-IV –Tenorio River
- Horseback Riding
- Liberia City & Shopping Tour
- White Sand Beaches
- Water Sports
- SCUBA Diving
- Turtle Nesting
- Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park
- Rincón de la Vieja National Park & Volcano
Guanacaste Travel Information
Climate: It is mostly dry year-round, but greenest June through November.
Temperature: 95°F avg. high
Bring: Beach-wear, sunscreen!