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.
As this region is covered by dry tropical forest, this makes it quite 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 one of Costa Rica's two international airports in Liberia.
With the opening of the new international airport at Liberia (LIR) in Guanacaste, you can now fly from many US gateways including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami directly to Guanacaste. From there you can drive or fly to all Pacific beach cities in a few hours.
To access Guanacaste's beaches from San Jose, a ferry can be taken from Puntarenas, a hot coastal town with about 40,000 inhabittants, to the other side of the Golfo de Nicoya. From there, a long ride on poorly paved roads can take you to any number of great beaches. However, skipping the ferry and instead taking the Puente de la Amistad (literally "Bridge of the Friendship") is probably preferable. It's about four hours to most Guanacaste beaches from San Jose 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, Nosara amongst many more. Don't go to Samara, Tamarindo, Coco or Carrillo just because those are most visited by tourists. You will get the most beautiful beaches and nature where you are not surrounded by hundreds of other tourists. Try some of the other beaches as well. The beach resort and residential community Hacienda Pinilla, located along three miles of Pacific coastline, boasts 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.
Although Coco Beach is "touristy" location, you shouldn't write it off so quickly. You can get some great fishing boats that do not charge insane prices like many other places. This is a fisherman town. You can get a boat to take you out fishing for $50 per person for 6 hours. It's also a fun party town and a great place to scout out a condo or home for retirement. There is a large community of retirees that live in Coco from all over the world. There are other secret beaches around Coco that are isolated 80% of the time and offer white sand beach and turquoise colored water. Tamarindo is similar but the difference is that it's been created to emulate the US, hence the nickname, "Tamagringo". But beside that, it's a great place to party and learn to surf. Playa Avellanas and Langosta are great for surfing as well as Negra, but more for the experienced.
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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, just to name a few. 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 highlighted 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 spot for you to discover. Guided surf tours are available for anyone looking to explore the Guanacaste waves. The 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.
There are a number of golf courses and services throughout the region.
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 1000 dollars.
Just south of Guanacaste along the Pacific Coast is the surfers paradise of the Nicoya Peninsula.