Guanacaste is a province in Costa Rica. This region is covered by dry tropical forest, which makes it popular among tourists looking to escape the humidity found in most of Central America. There are many all inclusive resorts in this area, served by an international airport in Liberia.
- 1 Liberia — Guanacaste's main city, home to the international airport
- 2 Nicoya - main city on the Nicoya Peninsula, easy access to beach areas and national parks
- 3 Nosara
- 4 Las Catalinas
- 5 Playas del Coco
- 6 Tamarindo
- 7 Tilarán
- 8 Brasilito
- 9 Potrero
- 10 Sámara
- 11 Playa Carrillo
- 12 Playa Grande
The Area de Conservación Guanacaste is a UNESCO World Heritage site that encompasses a large area of the Guanacaste province, including several national parks.
- 1 Barra Honda National Park - limestone caverns with cave tours and surface hiking trails
- 2 Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park - national park centered on a volcano with surrounding tropical dry forests and bubbling mud pits
- 3 Santa Rosa National Park - large national park that is part of the Guanacaste conservation area, the park has 10 discrete ecosystems, it was the site of an historic battle in 1856 and a historical museum is in the park
- 4 Tenorio Volcano National Park - inactive volcano with four peaks and two craters, source of 3 rivers, the Rio Celestun is popular for its waterfalls and other-worldly blue waters
- 5 Guanacaste National Park - national park created in 1989 to provide a wildlife corridor between the tropical dry forest and the rainforest
For a plethora of information about Guanacaste, visit the online resource centre for the province.
Tropical Dry Forest
Guanacaste covers the majority of the territory of Northern Pacific region, whose climatic conditions of a season with no rainfall, warmness and blue sky has been created the Tropical Dry Forest, a forest of plants and animals adapted to the drought from December to May. This is the habitat of the Howler Monkey, the Black Iguana, the White-throated Magpie-Jay and the Turquoise-browed Motmot.
- 1 Liberia International Airport (LIR IATA) (Aeropuerto Daniel Uduber Quiros). - served by many large U.S. carriers, including American Airlines from Dallas and Miami, United from Houston, and Delta from Atlanta. From the Liberia airport, it is an easy drive to many Pacific beach cities.
To access Guanacaste's beaches from San José, a ferry can be taken from Puntarenas to Naranjo on the other side of the Golfo de Nicoya. From there, a long ride on poor pavement can take you to any number of great beaches. Ferries leave Puntarenas at 6:30 am, 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 5:30 pm. The fare is US$1.50 for a person or US$24 for a car.
Skip the ferry and instead take the Puente de la Amistad (literally "Bridge of the Friendship"). It's about four hours to most Guanacaste beaches from San José by car, a little bit more by bus.
Many tourists like Tamarindo, Coco, Samara and Carrillo beaches. Samara is the home of a lively beach scene while Carrillo is a more family oriented community and home to one of the most beautiful resorts in the world, Las Ventanas del Mar. Other fantastic beaches are: Cuajiniquil, Ocotal, Pan de Azucar, Potrero, Flamingo, Brasilito, Conchal, Langosta, Avellana, Junquillal, Manzanillo, Ostinal, and Nosara. Samara, Tamarindo, Coco or Carrillo are most visited by tourists, and can be crowded.
The beach resort and residential community Hacienda Pinilla, which stretches along 4.8 km (3.0 mi) of Pacific coastline, has six beaches: Playa Mansita; Playa Bonita; Playa Bajo Grande; Playa Robalo; Playa Avellanas; and Playa Langosta, a beach awarded the Blue Flag for the beauty and purity of the water and the superior services offered.
Guanacaste offers so much more than beaches, like national parks (everything from wetlands to savannahs to volcanoes) and not to forget a fantastic view.
This region offers a wide variety of activities, such as world class surfing and sport fishing along with volcano tours and horse country. It is famous for its fine and vibrant fiestas. Guanacaste is a tropical desert and you will see a great change of seasons here from the hot and dry to the wet and windy. It makes this part of Costa Rica so desirable with tourists and expats alike.
Guanacaste has everything an adventurous traveler would want to do while on vacation. There are beaches, volcanoes, cloud forests, jungles, rivers, and waterfalls, where you can participate in a vast assortment of adventure and activities: whitewater rafting, canopy/zip line tours, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, crocodile tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, ATV/motorcycle/off-road tours, mountain biking, rock climbing, turtle nesting tours, sailing, volcano tours, tubing, horseback riding, canyoneering, trekking, surfing lessons and surf tours. One of the top attractions is Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, famous for its abundant volcanic activity and diverse wild life. Sportfishing in Costa Rica is legendary, and many fishing charters operate from ports in the Guanacaste, like Playa Flamingo, Playa Coco and Playa Tamarindo. Naturally fed hot springs relax and invite. And world-class golf has arrived in Guanacaste as well, with the arrival of the Four Seasons, Paradisus Playa Conchal and Hacienda Pinilla resorts. Scuba dive the Catalina Islands or snorkel Playa Conchal and see the abundance of sea life that Costa Rica has to offer.
Guanacaste's beaches are famous as surfing destinations and have been since Playa Negra was featured in the movie Endless Summer II. The surf breaks in Playa Negra and Tamarindo in northwest Guanacaste have made that area a magnet for visitors and investors alike. Despite the region's wild popularity, there is still plenty of surf spots for you to discover. Guided surf tours are available for anyone looking to explore the Guanacaste waves. Guanacaste Province has a variety of surfing spots for all levels of ability, from beginner to pro. The long peeling point breaks, peaky beach breaks and hollow reef breaks and consistent swell make this area of Costa Rica a surfer's paradise.
Gallo Pinto (literally 'spotted rooster') is the national dish of rice and beans. You haven't visited Costa Rica till you've had it - with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Local cervezas (beers) are Imperial and Pilsen. Both are worth a try! There is also Rock Ice (regular, lemon and ginseng) and Bavaria (regular, dark and light).
A "safe" area, but don't leave anything valuable in your car. Obey all speed limits posted. Fines can be as much as a US$1000.
Just south of Guanacaste along the Pacific Coast is the surfer's paradise of the Nicoya Peninsula.