Bahia Garza Guanacaste National Park
PLAYA PUERTO SOLEY
Located in the northern part of Guanacaste, on wide, beautiful Bahia Salinas, this beach is very popular among residents of nearby La Cruz. The surf here is moderate, the sand soft. Famous for its sunsets, this beach invites visitors to walk along the shore and take in the splendor of the bay and Isla BolaÃ±os.
This is a large beach, in front of which lies Isla Bolas. The island can be visited by boat or kayak. A great place to windsurf during windier months, this beach is ideal for relaxing, walking and horseback riding, as well as exploring nearby places on mountain bikes.
Gentle surf makes this a perfect beach for swimming and relaxing in the shade of its lush trees. Rajada is also excellent for walking and photography.
Set in a beautiful, sheltered cove with little surf, this beach’s breathtaking scenery is complemented by its coastal greenery. It’s a great place to swim, relax and contemplate, as well as enjoy the plant and bird life.
Sheltered from winds, this bay’s main attraction is a beautiful mangrove swamp. It’s a popular place with fishermen, who find it a safe place for their boats.
Located within Santa Rosa National Park’s MurciÃ©lago sector, this beach is on the Santa Elena Peninsula, the geologically oldest region in Costa Rica. The lovely bay is bordered in the south by the Fila Carrizal mountain range, which stretches to Cabo Santa Elena. Abundant coastal greenery, ample space and calm waters make this an ideal place for relaxing, walking, swimming and observing the fascinating plant and bird life. Nearby beaches may also be visited, such as Santa Elena and El Hachal. Camping is permitted near the park’s administrative office, 17 kilometers from the beach.
This small, clear-water bay, 400 meters long, is located near Playa Virador. Like Virador and Playa Blanca, Prieta is great for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing while taking in the lovely, peaceful scenery.
This long beach is located 12 kilometers from Santa Rosa National Park’s administrative office. Its northern stretch features a tongue of dark sand surrounded by ocean and river mouths that form a wide estuary and mangrove swamp rich in plant and animal species. The beach is perfect for walking and taking in the magnificent scenery, which includes Peia de la Bruja, a rocky island popular with surfers. Camping is permitted.
PLAYA BLANCA AND PLAYA VIRADOR
With crystalline waters and gentle surf, Playa Blanca is located near Punta Mala inside Bahia Culebra. Along with other beaches, Blanca forms the Gulf of Papagayo tourism project. From this 960-meter-long beach, Playa Monte del Barco and Playa Chorotega can be seen across the way. Together, Playa Blanca and neighboring Playa Virador form a narrow natural bridge that connects them to Punta Mala. Set in a lovely cove with white sand and crystal-clear waters, Virador is great for swimming and diving.
With clear water and gentle surf ideal for swimming, walking and diving, this beach is well frequented by tourists arriving in boats from various nearby hotels or water transportation companies. Its indisputable beauty makes Nacascolo a great place to walk along the water’s edge and explore the small estuary at its southern end.
A beautiful beach at the back of Bahia Culebra, Iguanita is bordered to the north and south by two rocky points. To the south flows the Quebrada Grande, which empties into the Iguanita estuary, forming a dense mangrove swamp.
PLAYA MONTE DEL BARCO
This small beach is located between two points that give it shelter, providing a lovely environment for relaxing and swimming. From the slopes and top of the neighboring hill, visitors can see all the splendor of Bahia Culebra-spectacular at sunset. Monte del Barco has been awarded the Blue Flag.
PLAYA CHOROTEGA (PANAMÃ)
A large, fine-sand beach with little surf, Chorotega is fringed by mainly brazilwood, manchineel and mesquite trees. A small mangrove swamp occupies the Rocha estuary. Popular for swimming, relaxing, walking and camping, the beach is frequented by families wishing to enjoy the beautiful maritime landscape that stretches to the white beaches on the other side of Bahia Culebra.
Around two kilometers long, this lovely gray-sand beach is located between two mountainous points. To the south, in front of Punta Cacique, are Isla Pelona and Isla Montosa. With little surf and abundant coastal greenery, this Blue Flag beach is excellent for swimming, sunbathing, beautiful sunsets, water sports (including diving) walking and horseback riding.
PLAYAS DEL COCO
With a long tradition, this is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. Located in a bay with little surf, it is highly suitable for swimming and boat anchorage. Its gray sands stretch for almost three kilometers. To the south is Punta Centinela, which features a white-sand cove. Playas del Coco offers a wide range of services that allow tourists to enjoy all kinds of recreational and sporting activities, including sport-fishing, diving and boat tours.
Set in a cove bordered by hills, this beach has gray sand and little surf. At its southern end is Punta Cirial, surrounded by crystalline waters. This beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports such as diving and sport-fishing, which are offered in various parts of the region. Magnificent views of the Gulf of Papagayo are enjoyable from the heights of the adjacent hills. South of Ocotal is a smaller cove called BahÃia Azul or Pez Vela (Blue or Sailfish Bay), known for its sport-fishing camp. Ocotal is a Blue Flag beach.
With gentle surf and lush greenery, this lovely beach is set amid a beautiful maritime landscape dotted with several islets. Sunbathing, swimming, walking and rest and relaxation are enjoyable activities, and the photo opportunities are excellent.
PLAYAS DANTA Y PAN DE AZACAR
These beaches are set in two coves less than a kilometer long and flanked by hills that offer magnificent panoramic views of Bahia Potrero and Bahia Brasilito. The calm waters here are ideal for swimming. The Pitahayas and Santa Catalina islands can be made out from Playa Danta. Some nine kilometers away, the Santa Catalina islands make up one of the most preferred dive sites in the entire region
This small beach lies to the south of Pan de Azacar, and is separated from it by a rocky area. It features gentle surf and lush coastal vegetation. To the south are Punta Prieta and Chocoyas island, which separate the beach from Playa Penca and lend special natural appeal to the surrounding landscape.
Also small, this Blue Flag beach has moderate to strong surf and features an estuary and mangrove swamp that, added to the presence of Chocoyas island at the north end of the beach, make it especially attractive and highly apt for relaxation and contemplation.
Set in a bay of calm waters, this beach is some four kilometers long and features estuaries and mangrove swamp, as well as beautiful scenery. At its southern end lies Marina Flamingo (Blanca). Potrero is a great place for swimming, sunbathing, walking and horseback riding. Organized sport-fishing and diving are available here.
PLAYA BLANCA ( FLAMINGO )
Set in a cove with moderate surf suitable for swimming, this beach features a mangrove swamp and, to the north, Isla Plata and Punta Salinas, which separate Brasilito and Potrero bays; Punta Salinas offers a spectacular view of both. Because of its natural beauty and the excellent and varied services it offers, Playa Blanca is ideal for those who wish to enjoy both beach and nightlife.
This beach and Conchal make up Bahia Brasilito. The surf and drop-offs are gentle to moderate, depending on the area. A mangrove swamp and Isla Loros lie at the southern end of the beach. Here, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, walking and taking in the maritime scenery, as well as gorgeous sunsets.
This beach and Conchal make up BahÃa Brasilito. The surf and drop-offs are gentle to moderate, depending on the area. A mangrove swamp and Isla Loros lie at the southern end of the beach. Here, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, walking and taking in the maritime scenery, as well as gorgeous sunsets.
Playa Real, together with Playa del Roble to the south and Playa Nombre de Jesus to the north, make up one long coast; the first two are separated from the third by Punta Real. All three are light-sand beaches that together stretch some two kilometers. The lovely coastal landscape is complemented by several islands and rocky promontories that add to the scenery. The gentle to moderate surf is suitable for swimming, walking and other activities such as sea kayaking.
This cove is located northwest of Playa Grande, from which it is connected (or separated) by a rocky promontory that, owing to its shape, gives the beach its name (“Windows Beach”). Ventanas is great for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing and walking north towards the point and diminutive Playa Carban.
Forming part of Las Baulas National Marine Park, this beach gets its name from its great size. It stretches south to the Tamarindo estuary, site of a large mangrove swamp (the Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge) that can be toured by boat to check out the flora and fauna. Playa Grande is particularly popular with surfers,
as well as visitors wishing to observe nesting giant leatherback turtles. This Blue Flag beach is also great for sunbathing, walking and swimming
Playa Tamarindo, along with Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas, make up BahÃa Tamarindo. This beautiful beach features rocky areas and an island (Capitan) at its southern end. Its luxuriant greenery includes pink trumpet trees, tamarinds and coconut palms. Excellent and varied services are offered, allowing visitors to enjoy the beach by day and the nightlife after sunset. A Blue Flag beach, Tamarindo is ideal for relaxing, walking, horseback riding and sport-fishing and diving tours, as well as visiting the mangrove swamp and observing nesting sea turtles. South of the bay lies the most important stretch of coast for surfing.
Separated from Tamarindo by Punta San Francisco, this cove has two main areas divided by the mouth of the Rao San Francisco. To the north the coast is rocky and unsuitable for swimming; to the south is a mangrove swamp. Both areas are very pleasant for walking and observing the scenery and diverse bird species. A Blue Flag beach, Langosta is quite popular with surfers.
Located five kilometers south of Langosta, this beach features a rocky coast stretching several kilometers, with lush vegetation. The surf is strong, with two distinct sections both good for surfing. Other activities include walking, swimming and observing little fish and mollusks in the tide pools that form in the rocks.
Located between Avellanas and Junquillal, this beach features a rocky coast, excellent surfing conditions and, despite its name (Black Beach), light sand. To the south lies a less frequented stretch of coast (Callejones) that is also good for surfing.
Long and wide, this beach has a varied landscape good for walking and horseback riding. Junquillal features coastal greenery, rocky areas and very good diving and surfing, for which it is well known. Fishing and kayaking are also possible at this Blue Flag beach.
Born on the slopes of OrosÃ volcano, this river runs 159 kilometers. Its tributaries include the Colorado, Salto, Bebedero, Bolon, Diria and Cars rivers. Tours on this navigable river offer sightings of the numerous bird species that inhabit the mangrove swamps on its banks. The Tempisque’s lower basin is home to Palo Verde National Park.
LA AMISTAD BRIDGE
Inaugurated in 2003, this bridge has replaced the ferry service that for many years allowed crossing of this river. A significant work of engineering built with cooperation from the Taiwanese government, the bridge spans 780 meters and serves as a launching point for major development of the Guanacaste region.
Located a few kilometers from the city of Calas, this beautiful river can be run in rafts. Its Class I and II rapids are suitable for anyone wanting to take the trip featuring lovely river scenery and observation of birds such as herons and toucans. The CorobicÃ is one of the only rivers in the entire region with rapids.
LLANOS DEL CORTES WATERFALLS
These are located a few kilometers north of the town of Bagaces, on the highway to Liberia, where a turnoff to the left leads to this spot. Several meters tall and surrounded by lush greenery, the waterfalls form a beautiful curtain that falls into a pool where visitors can enjoy a swim and a small, light-sand beach.
RÃO LIBERIA CANYON
A few kilometers from Liberia on the road to the Santa Mara sector of Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a deep canyon carved by the Rao Liberia. From a scenic point of view the canyon is breathtaking; in addition to the canyon itself, the Rincon de la Vieja volcano may be seen, and the vegetation here is different from that in the lower parts of the region.
Known as the “white city,” Liberia is a typical flatland town with wide streets, old buildings and houses of bahareque (a material similar to adobe but made with cattle dung and straw). The city has managed to combine old edifices, customs and traditions with modernism and new buildings, including malls and various services.
Recent years have seen much urban development, and the new facilities of the Daniel Oduber Airport allow it to receive regular and charter flights from several cities in Canada and the United States.
Several protected areas may be visited from Liberia, including Santa Rosa National Park near the town of La Cruz and Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The beaches near the Gulf of Papagayo may also be enjoyed. In addition, the National Band of Guanacaste holds its traditional concert in Liberia every Friday and Sunday at seven p.m.
GUANACASTE CULTURAL EXPRESSION
Guanacaste is known for its music, which is the most popular form of artistic expression in the province. “Music is an important character to be respected and appreciated,” and seems to be a natural ability among Guanacaste’s sabaneros.
As a complement to music, Guanacaste’s traditional dances have been preserved throughout time like oral tradition, and are the truest representation of what social and cultural life once was in the Guanacaste province. Greatly influenced by the Andalusian zapateado from Spain, dances include El Punto Guanacasteco, Los Amores de Laco, La Cajeta, La Flor de Cara, El Torito, El Zapateado, El Pavo and La Botijuela, among others.
One of Guanacaste’s most important staples, corn is the base of many of the region’s typical foods and beverages: tortillas guanacastecas, tanelas, tayuyas, tamales, pisques, tamal dulce, arroz de maz, nacatamales, rosquillas, bizcochos, pozol, atol, chicheme, chicha, pinol and more.
Most houses have clay ovens, in which all kinds of breads and many of the foods above are baked. It’s interesting to know how some of these foods are prepared, such as arroz de maz, made with white corn soaked and then ground-in the old days-by hand on metates (table-shaped stones, with stone pestles used for grinding); today this dish is made in machines, cooked with lard, seasonings and chicken broth, and made only from yellow corn.
As for beverages, there’s pinol, made from finely ground white corn roasted on a comal (a cast-iron plate used for baking tortillas). Chicha de maÃz is prepared differently in several parts of the country; in Guanacaste, this beverage is made by browning and grinding the corn, adding a fair amount of pallastan, brown sugar and ginger, then allowing the mixture to ferment in earthenware jars for two to three days. Chicheme is a nutritious beverage popular at parties and prayer groups. This drink is an atol de maz (a thick, hearty beverage made from corn) that is allowed to ferment naturally, with sugar, ginger, water and ground cloves added to it. Key places to enjoy these foods and beverages are the markets in Liberia and Nicoya, and the famous Cooperativa de Mujeres (Women’s Cooperative) in Santa Cruz.