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Top 20 Things to Do in Guanacaste Costa Rica You Can’t Miss

You will never get bored in Costa Rica’s Gulf of Papagayo. It is formed by 12 beaches outlined by great resorts and rainforests filled with wildlife. Here are the best things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

What Do You Need to Know About Guanacaste?

Guanacaste is a province located on the northwest side of Costa Rica, bordering the Nicoya peninsula in the south. It’s often called the region “gold coast”, has grown a lot in popularity, due to its many beaches and culture. A place where the dry and flat plain merges with a dry tropical forest to make a unique landscape that looks like scenery from a “wild west” movie.

Liberia and International Airport

The capital city of Guanacaste is Liberia, that’s where you can also find one of the two international airports in the country, it’s called The Daniel Oduber International Airport. The best beaches in the country are just 1-hour away from the Liberia International airport, to the south you can find Hermosa Beach or you can head to Matapalo Beach.

Tamarindo Town and Beach

But the biggest draw of Guanacaste is the popular town of Tamarindo, this town has grown a lot in popularity due to its amazing beaches, which are some of the most popular too, and the nightlife and great restaurants. Playa Tamarindo is a well-known place for surfing.  But don’t let this fool you, there are a ton of things to do in Guanacaste, from canopy tours to ATV and parasailing.

Things to Do in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Canopy Tour

Canopy Tours may include a combination of heart-stopping cables, hanging bridges, and family-friendly courses. There are two options in the area. The first one is near Santa Rosa National Park, the area’s most thrilling canopy tour. The other one is just outside Playa Ocotal, it’s family-friendly and lasts approximately one hour.

Canopy tour in guanacaste, costa rica

Parasailing

Get ready to feel the adrenaline of flying through the air with only a parachute behind you and a speedboat below.

ATV Tours

Race through sugar cane fields and maneuver along the coast’s rocky terrain as you discover the area. Often you will be accompanied by birds, butterflies, and inquisitive howler monkeys.

Hiking tour in guanacaste costa rica

Bird and Wildlife Watching in Guanacaste

Palo Verde National Park, The Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve, and Africa Mia are home to several plant and animals species such as:

  • 300 bird species
  • 145 mammal species
  • 250 bee species
  • Many endangered tree species
  • 60 species of nocturnal butterflies
  • 14 animal species from the savannah

Day Spas

You can choose from many different treatments like a natural mud mask or a deep tissue massage at one of the local day spas. Most of the spas are located in the Papagayo’s all-inclusive hotels.

Hiking

Santa Rosa National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, and Barra Honda National Park are threaded with some of the country’s most well-groomed and beautiful hiking trails. If you don’t want to go too, far in Papagayo you will find many beach walkways, forgotten roads, and hiking paths to explore.

Horseback Riding

There are many places in the area where you can rent horses for trips to exhilarating waterfalls, hidden beaches, and favorite local spots.

Horseback riding in guanacaste costa rica

Golfing

The Northern Pacific’s golf courses in Costa Rica offer sweeping ocean views, beautiful greens, and championship holes. The golf country clubs range from fancy to decidedly informal, so you will find the right one for you.

Mountain Biking

Rent a bike and enjoy the quieter side of Papagayo, where birds, monkeys, and other wildlife live. Footpaths and dirt roads create the perfect biking ambiance.

Shopping

Small stands dot the beaches and streets, with wares of coconut shell jewelry, hand-beaded belts, beautiful wood crafts, and many other unique gifts.

Banana Boats

Hop aboard a banana boat and prepare for a wet afternoon of splashing and falling. Banana boat tours typically leave from Papagayo’s biggest hotels, and are perfect for groups.

Canoeing and Sea Kayaking

Rent a canoe or sea kayak and paddle out onto the open Pacific. Along the Papagayo Gulf, sea kayaking is especially wonderful because of all the tiny, secluded beaches that dot the coast.

Jet Skis

You can rent jet skis along the coast or go on a tour that generally last two to three hours.

River Tours

Float down the peaceful Tempisque River or through Palo Verde’s canals. On both trips, you’ll see American crocodiles, birds, monkeys, and many other species.

Sailboat Tours

Sailing tours will take you to some of the coast’s most tranquil islands and quiet beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles, and the occasional whale. Many sailboat tours will allow you to snorkel.

Snorkeling

There are half and full-day snorkeling tours that will take you to islands, hard-to-reach beaches, or secluded coral reefs.

Scuba Diving

Nearby Playa del Coco is particularly well known for its dive shops, and is considered one of the best scuba diving locations in Costa Rica. Bull sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, giant Manta rays, eagle rays, diamond stingrays, and octopus promise colorful and exciting ocean explorations.

Sunset Tours

Most of the area’s sailboat companies offer spectacular sunset and dinner tours. These tours give you the opportunity to dine on gourmet fare and watch as the sun sets turns into brilliant reds, oranges, and relaxed pinks.

Sailing tours in guanacaste costa rica

Sport Fishing

Spend an afternoon or an entire week aboard a sportfishing boat, reeling in some of the strongest fighters in Costa Rica. Common catches are:

  • Sailfish
  • Marlin
  • Roosterfish

Surfing

Waves are very gentle in Papagayo’s protected cove, but Playa del Coco, just 15 minutes south, is perfect for the hunt for first-class waves. No matter your skill level, this slice of paradise has waves to match. Witch’s Rock at Playa Naranjo is home to some of the best breaks in Costa Rica.

How to Get There and Around

The best way to get to Guanacaste is by flying. A ton of international airports in the United States have flights that arrive at the Liberia International Airport (LIR) in Guanacaste. After you’re in Liberia, getting around in Guanacaste is easy and the best option you have is by taxi, private shuttles, or renting a car if you want to fully experience the driving culture of the area.

You can also opt for the bus, this way can immerse yourself a lot in the culture. Costa Rica’s public transport is good, so, getting around Guanacaste won’t be a problem.

Where to Stay

Guanacaste is such an amazing place that I can safely say, anywhere you choose to stay within the province will be a good choice. You can’t go wrong here. But one of the most popular places to stay in Guanacaste is the Northern Nicoya Peninsula Coast, which can be reached easily from the Liberia International airport.

On the Northern Nicoya Peninsula Coast, you’ll find the towns of Matapalo,  Playa Hermosa, Culebra, and Playas del Coco, which are busy tourist areas.  This is where you’ll find the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, one of the most luxurious hotels in the area.

Packing List

Guanacaste is a great place for beach lovers, and it has many beaches to offer to tourists. So, you can go wrong here, just bring beach gear. Don’t forget your favorite book and your towel, but in case you do, here’s a list:

  • Sandals
  • Beach Towels
  • Swimwear
  • Sun Protector
  • After Sun lotion
  • Hats or Caps
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach Bags
  • First Aid Kit

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Travel Guide to Things to Do in Guanacaste Costa Rica

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