Known as Costa Rica’s Gold Coast, Guanacaste Province boasts of sunny weather, breathtaking natural beauty, and friendly locals. Guanacaste’s distinctive biodiversity gives you a chance to experience a wonderful array of natural landscapes and exotic wildlife. The province’s unique mix of terrains is a result of varying elevations so you get to enjoy miles of pristine shoreline as well as lush rain forests, cool mountains, and even volcanoes, all in one region! So whether you are looking for a lazy beach holiday or are an outdoor/wildlife enthusiast, Guanacaste has all the adventures you seek. A true tropical paradise, the list of things to do in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica is long, but read on to know the top ones you should not miss.
Get away from Costa Rica’s crowded beaches with a trip to the distinctive San Juanillo beach. A beach that uniquely splits into two, San Juanillo offers the best beach experience with pristine waters, breathtaking scenery, and superb bays to see captivating marine life up close. You will be guided to secluded spots for swimming and snorkelling amidst coral reefs with amazing views of astounding sea creatures - from tiny blue and yellow fish schools to sea urchins and starfish!
San Juanillo beach snorkel marine wildlife tour at Nosara in Guanacaste
Duration: 5 hours
Spend a rejuvenating few hours at the Miravalles. Known popularly as the ‘Yellowstone of Costa Rica,’ this site of a dormant volcano is rich in medicinal thermal waters that can be experienced in the form of steam vents, mud baths, and hot springs. Enjoy the stark volcanic landscape, and then head to one of the many thermal pools there for a ‘mud facial.’ Be sure to observe fascinating volcanic features like steaming fumaroles and surrounding crystal formations. This tour also gives you a chance to have fun in a waterfall and enjoy sightings of exotic wildlife.
Miravalles Yellowstone of Costa Rica Volcanic Mud and Hot Springs From Guanacaste
Duration: 6 hours
Enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of zooming down a zip line and feasting your eyes on unbelievable views of the Pacific Ocean. This 4,461-foot (1,360-meter) zip line is the longest dual zip line in Costa Rica with an ocean view! You can ride down with a loved one enjoying this unforgettable experience with them. While aerial views of the ocean is the biggest highlight of Diamante Eco Adventure Park, there are many other electrifying experiences here. You can swing from a 30-foot (9.1-meter) tower, choose a bungee jump-like free fall from a high rise tower or go over crocodile-infested waters on a zip line! As you can see, an adrenalin rush is guaranteed!
Liberia Diamante Adventure Park, Ocean View Zipline Admission
Duration: 2 hours
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If you are interested in learning more about the history of Costa Rica and Guanacaste in particular, then this tour is the perfect choice for you. This erstwhile farm and one of important cattle haciendas of the region features a range of natural habitats and the historical “La Casona,” which captures the history of the various battles that took place there. As a part of this day tour, you will also visit the “white city” Liberia which is the capital of Guanacaste Province, and visit its major attractions.
Santa Rosa National Park La Casona Historical Tour with Entry
Duration: 6 hours
Enjoy intriguing volcanic landscapes, local wildlife, and lush greenery during this three-hour hike of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, one of the top attractions of Guanacaste. Led by a guide native to the region, the tour involves a moderate hike where you will get a chance to see bubbling mud pots and fumaroles created by the volcano at close quarters and perhaps even spot animals like capuchin monkeys, toucans, and of course howler monkeys. You will also get a chance to cool off with a swim under Oropendola Waterfall and partake in a lunch featuring traditional Costa Rican cuisine. To round off the day, enjoy the hot springs and thermal waters at Rio Negro Hot Springs,
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Park Hiking Tour with Lunch
Duration: 10 hours
6. Snorkel in the pristine waters of Papagayo Peninsula
Papagayo Peninsula is home to several breathtaking beaches each featuring white sands, stunning turquoise waters, and rich marine life. Head out to beaches like Playa Manzanillo or Playa Nacascolo for a chance to enjoy the unspoiled waters and try snorkelling. You can glimpse brilliantly coloured tropical fish, turtles, or even dolphins thanks the numerous prime spots along the peninsula that are perfect for snorkelling. Other water activities you can enjoy in this private peninsula include scuba diving, surfing, and sea kayaking.
Address: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Website: Papagayo Peninsula
Why not experience Costa Rica’s famed tropical forests in a new way? Go on this canopy tour that will take you to the top of forest cover via a network of 12 zip lines. Zip across over the treetops far above the ground and view the jungle and its wildlife up close, from different perspectives. Exciting yet safe and family-friendly, this zip line tour is an adventure that everyone will enjoy.
Congo Trail Canopy Tour from Playa del Coco
Duration: 4 hours
8. Watch nesting leatherback seaturtles at Marino Las Baulas National Park
This national park hosts the largest nesting colony of critically endangered leatherback sea turtles (baulas in Spanish) to be found on the Pacific Coast. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest turtles and can weigh up to 1,100 lbs (500 kgs). Though dwindling in numbers, female leatherback turtles come between October and February to Playa Grande to nest. During the spawning season, join a tour led by a certified guide, and you may be lucky enough to see turtles laying their eggs on the beach. The park is also home to numerous other wildlife found in its two mangrove estuaries so if you are keen to get a closer look, book one of the readily available boat tours to explore this unique ecosystem.
Marino Las Baulas National Park
Address: Playa Grande 933, Guanacaste Province
Website: Marino Las Baulas National Park
Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 25 USD
9. Explore the beautiful landscapes of Diria National Park
Located close to the city of Santa Cruz, Diria National Park is a great place to head if you are looking to experience Costa Rica’s tropical forests. The park offers a rich variety of landscapes and wildlife as a result of its varying elevations - it includes tropical dry forest at low levels and tropical humid forest that covers more mountainous regions. The relatively flat lands make for easy trekking - there are three trails so you can choose as per your convenience. Each will take you through some beautiful forested land set against rolling hills that are homes to exotic animals like howler monkeys, anteaters, and iguanas. The longest trail is the toughest and leads to charming Brazil Falls, a worthwhile trek during the rainy season. The park has a visitor centre offering information on the national park and guidance on planning your trek so start here. Do note, a 4WD vehicle is essential if you are making a trip of your own.
Diria National Park
Address: South of Santa Cruz, Nicoya
Opening hours: Park Ranger Office: 8am - 4pm (daily)
10. Go surfing at Playa Negra, a surfer's paradise
This black and grey sand beach is one of the most popular surfing spots in Costa Rica. Famous for its right-hand barrels, the beach offers consistent and clean waves during high tides, which attracts top surfers throughout the year. You will find that the take-off zone is small which may translate to longer wait times, but the beach’s reliable strong surf with powerful breaks makes up for it. The beach offers several surf shops and camps so even beginners can try their hand. The village of Pargos is just around 1 km (0.6 mi) away, where you’ll find restaurants, stores and hotels.
11. Climb down the underground caves of Barra Honda National Park
Explore the remarkable underground cave system of Barra Honda National Park. Created by water cutting through limestone, these caves can go deep, up to a massive 780 feet (240 meters) and feature beautiful formations inside. Guided by a professional, your caving tour will take you down into one of the two caves open to the public via stairs, and walk you through these fantastical structures which include cave grapes, curtains, stalactites, and stalagmites. Even if you choose to not visit the caves, you can still hike through trails inside the park’s dry tropical forest land and enjoy the scenic views and local wildlife sightings. You will need to travel 4 km (2.7 mi) to reach the caves, either via walking or with a 4WD from the park entrance.
Barra Honda National Park
Address: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Opening hours: Caving Tours: 7am - 1pm (daily)
12. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the pools of Vandara Hot Springs & Adventures
At Vandara Hot Springs and Adventures, let yourself sink into quietude and relaxation. Located close to the Rincon De La Vieja area, this verdant forested area contains five thermal pools that are perfect to heal and unwind. You can also enjoy a refreshing soak in a nearby hot tub. An open-air massage facility offers the services of experienced therapists who can give you customized body treatments. But if you are seeking more action-packed fun, then try out their zip lines that go over the Tizate River, slither down the water slide, or go horseback riding. A unique experience here is witnessing the Trapiche - a local method to extract juice from sugar cane. Get to observe the process and then taste its delicious end-products.
Vandara Hot Springs and Adventure
Address: Rincon de La Vieja, Costa Rica
Website: Vandara Hot Springs and Adventure
Opening hours: 8am - 3pm (daily)
Price: Full Day Pass: 67 USD
13. Walk under clouds at La Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena
A visit to the magical cloud forest at Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve (Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena) is not to be missed. A unique ecosystem featuring tree-level clouds, this forest has a distinctive lush and humid setting that fosters diverse wildlife and plant life. Trek through its dense foliage, marvelling at the thickly blanketed forest cover on top, and spotting varied birds and animals, particularly howler monkeys, through the trees.
La Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena
Address: Monteverde, Guanacaste Province
Website: Santa Elena Reserve
Opening hours: 7am - 4pm (daily)
Price: Guided Walk: 33 USD
14. Understand how coffee is made at Tio Leo Coffee
Find out all about how coffee is produced with this behind-the-scenes tour of a coffee plantation. Hosted typically by the friendly and knowledgeable plantation owner Leo, the Tio Leo Coffee Tour will give you an opportunity to walk through coffee shrubs, pick coffee beans (in the right season) and see how coffee is made. You will also learn about the several other native plants of Costa Rica grown on the plantation. Even if you are not able to tour the plantation, do visit the store to buy some awesome coffee and appreciate works of art by local artisans.
Tio Leo Coffee
Address: La Gran Nicoya, Rta 21, Guardia de Liberia, Guanacaste
Website: Tio Leo Coffee
Opening hours: Coffee Tour: 8am - 11am (daily); Store: 8am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 25 USD
15. Look for Olive Ridley turtles at Ostional Wildlife Refuge
One of the most important nesting spots of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle, Ostional Wildlife Refuge is a large protected national park in Costa Rica. The park’s main feature includes the beach where the turtles come to lay their eggs every year from July up until December, a phenomenon called ‘arribadas’. If you are there at the right time, you are highly likely to experience the marvellous spectacle of turtles dragging themselves onto the beach to lay their eggs or the sight of hatchlings making their way into the sea. You will need to hire a certified guide if you are planning to go on your own as tourists are not allowed on the beach otherwise. Early morning tours are ideal if you want to see the moving spectacle of little turtles crawling their way to the sea while afternoon and night tours are for the turtles coming onto the beach for nesting.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Address: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Website: Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)
16. Appreciate works by local artists at Hidden Garden Art Gallery
Spend a morning in this gallery admiring wonderful pieces of art created by local artists. The gallery hosts art across a variety of mediums including paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings. Spread over 3,500 sq. ft (325 sq. m), the gallery has over 15 separate rooms featuring over 400 works of art. Even the building itself is a wonderful representation of Costa Rica’s native architectural style! So make a stopover at this gallery and support local artisans.
Hidden Garden Art Gallery
Address: Rte 21, Guanacaste Province
Website: Hidden Garden Art Gallery
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Mon & Sun)
17. Enjoy craft beer at Volcano Brewing Company
What would be more perfect than to enjoy the sunset off the gorgeous Playa Tamarindo with a glass of craft beer in your hand? Well, you can do just that with a visit to one of Guanacaste’s top microbreweries. Head here for a tour of their facility and to taste their handcrafted beers which are of three kinds - pale ale, dark amber, and lastly Indian Pale Ale. Buy your favoured drink and spend a laid-back evening in their outdoor area, soaking in the divine beauty of your Costa Rican surroundings!
Volcano Brewing Company
Address: Calle Cerritos, Guanacaste Province
Website: Volcano Brewing Company
Opening hours: 11am - 9pm (daily)
18. Go for a fishing trip of a lifetime with Kingpin Sportfishing
The waters off Playa Tamarindo is one of the best places for fishing in Costa Rica - fishing grounds are easy to access and highly active, making sports fishing here rewarding and exciting. Head out to these rich waters by booking a sports fishing trip with Kingpin Fishing. When you charter a boat with them you will be assured of a fully safe and comfortable trip - the team is bilingual and you will have access to top quality gear, friendly and encouraging guidance, and a delicious lunch!
Address: Calle Principal, Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province
Website: Kingpin Sportfishing
Price: Half-day Charters: 678 USD (starting price)
19. Buy charming souvenirs at Tamarindo Farmers Market
This weekly outdoor market near Playa Tamarindo features a dazzlingly abundant range of organic products, handmade products, local crafts, jewellery, arts, local cuisine, and so much more! Walk around taking in the local colour and enjoy great local dishes made fresh. The market is set up every Saturday.
Tamarindo Farmer's Market
Address: Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province
Website: Tamarindo Farmer’s Market
Opening hours: Sat: 7am - 1pm (closed from Sun - Fri)
20. Have an unforgettable gourmet experience at Villa Deevena
Located minutes away from Playa Negra, the celebrated restaurant in this hotel is known for its attentive service, delectable food, and heavenly ambience. Enjoy gourmet seafood, exclusive desserts and refreshing cocktails amid the beautiful pool setting that captures the beauty of its surroundings. The fine dining restaurant, run by a celebrity chef, is a bit on the expensive side and reservations are recommended.
Address: Los Pargos, Playa Negra, Guanacaste Province
Website: Villa Deevena
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 7:15am - 9:30pm (closed on Mon)
21. Spend an evening watching sports at Bar Arriba
For great food and a fun evening, head to Bar Arriba a sports bar where you can also enjoy American, British, and Canadian sports on large-screen TVs! Welcoming with a casual dining vibe, the bar nonetheless serves fantastic food. Be sure to try out the chicken wrap, wasabi tuna burger, and plantain chips with bean dip. Evenings turn the second floor into a night club with DJ shows and live music.
Address: Main Street, Playa Samara, Guanacaste Province
Website: Sports Bar Arriba
Opening hours: Sun - Mon, Wed - Fri: 10am - 2am; Tue: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 12am
22. Dance to awesome house music at El Garito
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
If house music is your thing, then El Garito is a must-visit destination. This nightclub is known for its buzzing scene - best house/electronic music of Tamarindo, a fantastic drinks menu and a chilled out fun vibe. Experience a taste of Guanacaste’s nightlife at this happening bar!
El Garito Tamarindo
Address: Cerca de Arenas Surf and Skate, Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province
Website: El Garito Tamarindo
Opening hours: Mon - Tue, Thu - Sat: 7pm - 2:30pm (closed on Wed & Sun)
23. Head to Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club for a round of golf
Ready to showcase the best of your abilities on the greens? Golf Foursome on Friday's – Bring 4 players and only pay 9-...Posted by Hacienda Pinilla Beach & Golf Resort on Thursday, 9 May 2019
Enjoy teeing off from a golf course with one of the most breathtaking backdrops. The course at Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club has been designed to meld with its beautiful natural surroundings. Set amid tropical forest land beside the Pacific Ocean, the par 72 golf course is a gorgeous 7,200 yards (6.6 km) and offers wide fairways, ocean-fronting holes, long par 4s, plus several challenging drives. Walk around its lush grounds enjoying the wonderful scenic views as well as local wildlife.
Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club
Address: Hacienda Pinilla Drive, Hacienda Pinilla, Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province
Website: Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club
24. Unwind with a movie at the cozy Beach Cinema Hermosa
This is a small neighbourhood cinema house with cozy interiors and excellent surround sound that shows the latest movies. Chill out here after a day at the beach or after sightseeing and don’t forget to try its flavoured sweet and salty popcorn combo!
Beach Cinema Hermosa
Address: Hermosa Heights Complex, Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste Province
Website: Beach Cinema Hermosa
Price: 2,900 CRC/ 5 USD
25. Feed carrots to giraffes at Africa Safari Adventure Park
African wildlife in South America? Yes, this unique private wildlife park hosts a number of exotic African animals such as giraffes, zebras, and bonges (antelopes)! Hop onto a safari tour where you will drive through woodland resembling the African plains and see these amazing animals. There is much more to be enjoyed at this park - opt for a zip line tour where you will skim over tree cover of the dry tropical forest and over the El Salto River, or to kayak in the El Salto River to two waterfalls. Or go on the dedicated waterfall tour where you can spend time frolicking in two waterfalls.
Africa Safari Adventure Park(Ponderosa Adventure Park)
Address: El Salto de Liberia, Guanacaste Province
Website: Ponderosa Adventure Park
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Price: Full Tour: 63 USD
26. Catch sight of colourful birds at Palo Verde National Park
Located the banks of the Tempisque River, this national park is the best place for bird-watching. Palo Verde National Park has a fascinating landscape since it not only contains vast wetlands but also tropical dry forests so you can experience wildlife native to both geographies. The wetlands make it a prime spot for migratory birds and aquatic species so it offers you the opportunity to see birds such as ibis, kites, storks, egrets, and more. In other parts of the park, you are likely to come across exotic animal life like howler and capuchin monkeys.
Palo Verde National Park
Address: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Website: Palo Verde National Park
Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)
Spend a day cruising the Tempisque River that’s located inside Palo Verde National Park which is one of Costa Rica’s most important wetlands. On this tour you will go along the dense jungle, mangroves, and marshland on the river banks, which are well-positioned for spotting for birds, crocodiles, howler monkeys and iguanas among other local wildlife. The trip also includes a visit to a coffee plantation where you will get an inside look at the coffee-producing process and taste the famed Diriá coffee.
Guanacaste Full-Day Jungle Boat Cruise and Coffee Tour
Duration: 8 hour
Spend a day filled with thrilling adventure exploring the glorious attractions of the river Rio Tenorio. This day-long tour kicks off with a road trip along Lake Arenal during which you can appreciate views of the volcano, before reaching the Rio Tenorio where a 2.5-hour river rafting trip awaits. Go over nearly 20 Class Three and Four rapids through the awe-inspiring canyons that’ll give you the adrenalin rush of a lifetime. The tour also includes hiking through woodland to a waterfall, sighting local wildlife like tropical birds and monkeys, and then an exhilarating 10-foot (3 m) waterfall drop! Lunch and sunset viewing at Guanacaste Beach are also included.
Guanacaste White Water Rafting and Transfer from Arenal
Duration: 1 day
Experience 'pura vida' in Costa Rica
As this list of things to do in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica shows, you are spoilt for choice. Costa Rica is a country blessed with the most amazing natural attractions and you will find some of the best here in Guanacaste. Every corner of the province has something special so you can pick out destinations to create your own special vacation and enjoy ‘pura vida’–the simple life. Don’t forget to spend some time amid the locals and enjoy their laid-back culture.
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