Guanacaste province in northwestern Costa Rica features many attractions, ranging from quiet beach havens to lively oceanfront towns. Its varied landscape includes underground caves, a volcano and large nature reserves. Enjoy many outdoor activities; you can even go on an “African Safari.”
Visit the 34,800-acre (14,100-hectare) Rincón de la Vieja National Park north of Guanacaste. Travel to the main attraction, a cinder volcano. Amble through tropical forests with picturesque views of the Guanacaste Mountains.
Explore Santa Rosa National Park, a northwestern conservation area originally established to protect the scene of the Battle of Santa Rosa. It’s now an ideal retreat for campers, who enjoy its plants, animals and beaches.
Spend several hours at Africa Mía Natural Private Reserve in the center of the province. Take the African Safari Tour for a realistic animal experience without leaving Central America.
Travel south to Barra Honda National Park near the Colorado Gulf. Climb down ladders to explore the site’s well-preserved underground limestone caves. Spot rare species, such as blind salamanders, that have evolved to live without light.
Soak in the sun at one of Guanacaste’s famous Pacific Ocean beaches. Panama Beach, a serene retreat in the northwestern part of the region, has calm waters. Neighboring Coco Beach is a lively coastal town packed full of restaurants and bars. Drive farther south to relax on the white sand of Flamingo Beach.
Continue south to the seaside settlement of Tamarindo Beach to browse restaurants, hotels and bars. Try surfing in the rougher waters. Book ahead for a tour between October and May to see nesting leatherback turtles in nearby Marino las Baulas National Park. A bit farther on the Nicoya Peninsula, find Samara Beach, a sunbather’s dream with vast stretches of white sand.
Guanacaste is generally hot and dry from November to April and rainy the rest of the year.
Fly in through the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, just 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the ocean.