Puntarenas

& Gulf Islands

Puntarenas & Gulf Islands

Capitan Suizo Hotel

The province of Guanacaste is considered a precious treasure in the northern Pacific of Costa Rica. Here, you will find unforgettable national parks and protected areas, stunning beaches, majestic volcanoes, and fascinating folklore.

We recommend you to visit Tamarindo Beach. You can stay at Capitán Suizo Hotel.

Guanacaste has the sunniest climate in all of Costa Rica and is a preferred vacation destination for its famous beaches. Many different species of wildlife are protected in private reserves and national parks in Guanacaste. This region has much to offer; agriculture, fruit-growing, and tourism are the main economic activities. Its inhabitants are known for knowing how to celebrate in style. One of their favorite pastimes is the Tico-style bull runs, in which the bull always remains free and unharmed.

Plan your trip with ARA Tours – Trustworthy – Responsible – Relevant.

After the Central Valley, this is the most developed area in the country. The opening of the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia and the increasing frequency of charter flights, along with extensive luxury development in the Gulf of Papagayo, have significantly impacted this region. Its main attractions are sun and beach, sport fishing, golf, diving, and general recreation.

In Guanacaste, you can enjoy these activities: Sun and beach, photography, sport fishing, architectural and historical sites, gourmet cuisine, bird watching, canopy zip-line tours, handicraft shopping, recreational cycling, hiking, horseback riding, diving/snorkeling, and community rural tourism.

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TOP ATTRACTIONS IN GUANACASTE

Rincón de la Vieja National Park

The renowned Rincón de la Vieja Volcano belongs to the Guanacaste Volcanic Range and is located approximately an hour away from Liberia and two hours from the main beaches of Guanacaste. Rincón de la Vieja National Park is ideal for hiking. Trails lead to romantic waterfalls, and beyond to exciting live volcanic activity such as bubbling mud pots, steaming sulfur pools, and refreshing streams. Natural hot springs in the area create an incredible spa-like experience under the open sky. Another unforgettable experience is horseback riding in the Guanacaste cowboy style through the savannas, at the foot of the mountain range.

Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde National Park, which comprises a vast area of wetlands at the mouths of the Tempisque and Bebedero rivers, is a paradise for bird lovers. In these thick mangroves, you can see countless types of exotic birds, including many species of migratory birds, mainly during the months from December to April. This water oasis in Guanacaste is also home to huge crocodiles and iguanas.

Miravalles Volcano Protected Area

The main attraction of this protected area is the Miravalles Volcano, the highest peak (2,028 meters) in the Guanacaste volcanic range. Its slopes are famous for their hot springs, which can be enjoyed in pools located near the town of Guayabo. You can also visit the volcanic vents in the area. There are several beautiful waterfalls, such as Cabro Muco, and another one in the area of the La Fortuna high school farm; near the school are several lakes. Because the park contains a large underground heated reserve, it is the site of Costa Rica’s first geothermal power plant.

Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve

The Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve, located north of Palo Verde in Guanacaste, is particularly known for its high number of insect species, making it a special place for entomological research. The reserve includes diverse habitats such as savannas, riparian forests, primary forests, and deciduous forests. There are rivers with calm pools suitable for swimming. A notable feature of the landscape is the golden trumpet trees («Corteza Amarilla») that bloom with bright golden yellow flowers during the dry season, especially in March. Howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, deer, and numerous bird species are examples of the fauna found in Barbudal.

Junquillal Bay - National Wildlife Refuge

Part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge protects a wide area of tropical dry forest and coastal mangroves. Wildlife that can be seen here includes spider monkeys, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, white-tailed deer, iguanas, and many types of seabirds. Additionally, four species of sea turtles come to the coast to nest here during the breeding season. There are trails, camping and picnic areas, restrooms, a public phone, and other services. Junquillal Bay is the main attraction; its calm waters are splendid for swimming, snorkeling, and boating. The refuge also includes other bays: Jicote, Cuajiniquil, and the Los Muñecos islands.

Bolaños Island - National Wildlife Refuge

One of the smallest protected areas in Costa Rica, Bolaños Island Wildlife Refuge is located in Salinas Bay, near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. This small island is oval-shaped on a cliff and is only 25 hectares in size. Its greatest significance lies in being a nesting colony for seabirds, especially Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and migrating American Oystercatchers. It’s an ideal destination for bird lovers.

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Tenorio Volcano National Park shelters plant species such as orchids, bromeliads, and ferns, along with a variety of trees and natural hot springs. One of its attractions is the famous Rio Celeste, acclaimed for its sky-blue coloration resulting from the mixing of various minerals in its waters.

National Park Diriá

The watersheds, basins, waterfalls, and about 1,500 hectares of tropical forests are the main features of Diriá National Park. Elevations range from 140 to 960 meters; above 700 meters is considered cloud forest with its moss and bromeliad-covered trees.

Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Costa Rica, was founded to commemorate the Battle of Santa Rosa in 1856, where Costa Rican heroes defeated invading forces. It is the only park of its kind in the world where 10 distinctive habitats can be found, including one of the largest remaining tropical dry forests on the planet. It is home to white-tailed deer, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, peccaries, olive ridley sea turtles, coatis, and jaguarundis. The park covers most of the Santa Elena Peninsula, with winding trails offering breathtaking viewpoints, excellent camping facilities, and spectacular beaches such as Hachal, Intereses, Coquito, Santa Elena, Blanca, Nancite, and Naranjo. Nancite Beach is where olive ridley sea turtles nest, and Playa Naranjo is the location of the famous surf spot, Roca Bruja.

Las Baulas Marine National Park and Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge

The Las Baulas Marine National Park protects the largest nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles («Baulas» in Spanish) on the Pacific coast. It is an important nesting site in the world for the giant turtle, which is endangered and protected in Costa Rica. The nearby Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge is a large mangrove estuary at the mouth of the river that divides Matapalo Beach from Tamarindo Beach and Playa Grande. The most common species of mangrove trees found in Costa Rica are: red, black, white, and tea. Mangroves are the ideal habitat for fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. You can also see many reptiles, amphibians, and birds here.

Guanacaste National Park

Located in the northern part of the region, Guanacaste National Park spans an impressive 84,000 hectares and connects with Santa Rosa National Park to form one of the largest biological reserves in the world. It includes the Orosí and Cacao volcanoes. Park highlights include lowland tropical dry forest, savannas, tropical cloud forests, Caribbean wet forests, and the headwaters of several major rivers. There is a large population of wild pigs, as well as jaguars, pumas, tapirs, deer, armadillos, monkeys, and a variety of birds.

Barra Honda National Park

The main attraction of Barra Honda National Park is the limestone caves with stalactites and stalagmites. An important geological resource, the caves range in depth from a few meters to 240 meters below the surface. A guided tour is the best way to see this cave system, as you have to descend vertically using a rope and harness. There is also an extensive network of trails to explore the tropical dry forest.

Ostional Wildlife Refuge

The main objective of the refuge is to protect the thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles, as well as the Pacific leatherback and green turtles that come to these beaches throughout the year to nest and lay their eggs. From June to December, there is a phenomenon known as the «arribada» of the Olive Ridley turtles. Approximately four to 10 times during this period, and lasting three to seven days each time, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles arrive en masse to deposit their eggs – each turtle laying between 100 and 200 eggs.

Principal Beaches of Guanacaste

Papagayo

Flamingo Beach is ideal for an unforgettable vacation, with its stunning white sand, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters. Flamingo offers visitors some of the best deep-sea fishing spots in the world, and a plethora of water sports like diving and snorkeling. Additionally, Flamingo is close to the incredible natural reserves of Santa Rosa and Palo Verde.

Nacascolo Beach

In the Gulf of Papagayo, Playa Nacascolo boasts clear water and gentle waves, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Many tourists visit this beach by boat from nearby hotels. Its undeniable beauty makes Nacascolo a perfect spot in the North Pacific for strolling by the sea and enjoying the small stream found at its southern end.

Panamá Beach

Located in the expansive Culebra (Snake) Bay in the Gulf of Papagayo, Playa Panamá is a highly appealing beach with fine sand. The waves are small, and there are no rocks, making it an ideal spot for swimming. Nearby are Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and the Four Seasons Resort with its Arnold Palmer golf course.

Hermosa Beach

The aptly named Playa Hermosa, or «Beautiful Beach,» is just 20 minutes from Liberia International Airport. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing, watching beautiful sunsets, walking, horseback riding, and water sports such as diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing.

Coco Beach

Located just 40 km from Liberia International Airport, Playas del Coco is one of the most well-known and popular beaches in Costa Rica. Situated in a small bay with gentle waves, the beach is ideal for swimming. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and sport fishing are the main activities here. Playas del Coco is also the gateway to surfing at the renowned breaks of Ollie’s Point and Witches Rock. Walking and horseback riding are also popular. Being one of the largest beach towns in Guanacaste means there is very good infrastructure, with plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels, and resorts.

Ocotal

This beach is one of the best spots for snorkeling and scuba diving along the Guanacaste coast. The calm waters of Playa Ocotal and its sandy beach are also notable for swimming, sunbathing, and sport fishing.

Sugar Beach and Danta Beach

These beaches are two coves less than a kilometer long, surrounded by hills where you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of Potrero Bay and Brasilito. Sugar Beach is very secluded and rich in flora and fauna; it has been named one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Penca Beach

There is a stream and a mangrove, which along with Chocoyas Islet at its northern end, give Playa Penca a special natural appeal for relaxation and contemplation.

Potrero Beach

Estuaries and mangroves, along with beautiful scenery, characterize Playa Potrero. It’s excellent for swimming, sunbathing, walking, and horseback riding, as well as water sports like sport fishing and diving. Playa Flamingo is just a 5-minute stroll to the south.

Flamingo Beach

Playa Flamingo is ideal for an unforgettable vacation, with its stunning white sand, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters. Flamingo offers visitors some of the best deep-sea fishing spots in the world, as well as plenty of water sports like diving and snorkeling. Additionally, Flamingo is close to the incredible natural reserves of Santa Rosa and Palo Verde.

Conchal

With its white crushed shell sand and clear, calm waters, Conchal is one of the most beautiful beaches on the northern Nicoya Peninsula. There are several resorts here with world-class golf courses.

Ventanas Beach

It’s a beautiful small bay beach, next to Playa Grande, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, walking, and relaxing.

Grande Beach

This beach is part of Las Baulas Marine National Park, a protected area for leatherback turtles that come to nest between October and March.

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo is one of the most easily accessible beach towns on the North Pacific coast. It’s a lively surf town with shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, round-the-clock centers, and water sports rentals. Surfing is one of the main activities in Tamarindo.

Langosta Beach

The expansive sandy beach of Playa Langosta is just south of Tamarindo and is excellent for surfing. The Las Baulas Marine National Park, an important nesting site for leatherback sea turtles, is nearby.

Avellanas

Just 10 km south of Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas is a surfer’s paradise dream. This is a beach for experienced surfers due to the big waves.

Negra Beach

This dark sand beach has a rocky reef offshore that creates excellent waves for surfing. It is located just south of Playa Avellanas.

Junquillal Beach

Quiet and serene, Playa Junquillal is an untouched beach like no other on the Guanacaste Pacific coast. The beach here is backed by grasslands and there are only a few hotels and restaurants. It’s a better beach for surfing rather than swimming as the waters tend to be very rough. Hiking and horseback riding are very popular here.

Ostional Beach

This beach is part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, the setting for massive arrivals of sea turtles to nest and lay their eggs – the peak season is from June to December. There are a few nice boutique hotels, but the beach is wild and not suitable for swimming.

Nosara

The relaxed, international community of Nosara, in the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, is known for its beautiful beaches, natural surroundings, surfing, and yoga. The village is simple and charming with restaurants, bars, and shops. Most hotels in the village are simple and comfortable; there are several luxury hotels outside of town along the beach. This area is also part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

Guiones Beach

Located next to Nosara Beach, Guiones Beach is a long, wide beach that is wonderful for surfing, snorkeling, walking, and horseback riding. There is a wide variety of tourist services available here, and the area offers peace and tranquility, perfect for beach relaxation.

Garza Beach

In Garza, a small fishing village south of Playa Guiones, you can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, hiking, surfing, and sport fishing trips.

Barco Quebrado Beach

Near Playa Garza, this beach known as «Playa Barco Quebrado» (Broken Ship Beach) is a beautiful cove with moderate waves. It is surrounded by high rocky cliffs that give it a special appeal. This beach is perfect for swimming and relaxing. South of Playa Barco Quebrado is another attractive beach called Barrigona.

Sámara - Carrillo

Sitting along the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Samara is a small sunny town with expansive scenic beaches. Surfing is small, and it’s an excellent vacation spot for families. Abundant coastal vegetation includes Manzanillo trees, coconut palms, and plants like beach morning glory. Towards the middle of the beach is a huge, old strangler fig tree that is a distinctive hallmark of Samara. Here you can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, swimming in the sea, mountain biking, boat rides, and kayaking. Most hotels are simple and comfortable. Not as developed as Samara, Playa Carrillo is located just to the south. Lined with palm trees, and with white sand and sea of seawater, Playa Carrillo is incredibly picturesque.

Caletas Beach

Considered a hidden treasure, Playa Caletas is a beautiful sandy beach with a nearly constant onshore breeze keeping a pleasant temperature. The secluded area is south of Playa Coyote and is known as one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica for experienced surfers. Five kilometers south is the mouth of the Bongo River and the estuary; the channel marks the border between the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas. About 4 kilometers south of the river is Playa Manzanillo, which is beautiful and features abundant vegetation. At Playa Caletas, you can rent horses, hike, enjoy the sea, walk, kayak, sail, camp, and enjoy sport fishing excursions.

Coyote Beach

A beautiful and remote beach along the Nicoya Peninsula, south of Samara and Carrillo, Playa Coyote is tranquil and relaxing. The beach faces Isla Bolaños, which can be visited by boat or kayak. During windier months, it’s a great spot for windsurfing. Other fun activities include hiking, horseback riding, and exploring the surrounding area on mountain bikes.

Bejuco Beach

Located 17 km south of Playa Carrillo, the expansive Playa Bejuco beach is very calm and relaxing. The waves range from moderate to strong. There is an extensive mangrove forest that extends behind the beach at the mouth of the Bejuco River. The beach also features some rocky areas and excellent coves for tide pools and swimming.

Islita Beach

On the Nicoya Peninsula, secluded Playa Islita is a hotspot for honeymoons and romantic getaways. It’s a crescent-shaped cove with gentle waves. Hotel Punta Islita is a renowned luxury resort here. The most popular activities in the area include hiking, horseback riding, 4×4 tours, ATV tours, mountain biking, and sailing for fishing and diving trips.

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