Guanacaste, Costa Rica Travel Guide

Guanacaste Summary


  • Remote, beautiful beaches
  • Excellent snorkeling, scuba diving, and sportfishing
  • Home to some of Costa Rica's most luxurious resorts
  • Average yearly temperature of 81 degrees Farenheit
  • Exotic wildlife, including sloths, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and crocodiles
  • Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, with boiling mud pots and smoking fissures
  • Santa Rosa National Park, with beautiful beaches and surfer-friendly waves
  • Great horseback riding: Guanacaste is Costa Rican cowboy country


  • Less lush than other areas of the country, with hot, arid climate and dry tropical forests
  • Huge region with long, bumpy rides on unpaved roads
  • Many resorts are isolated, with no towns nearby
  • Deforestation a problem due to the prevalence of cattle raising
  • Slash-and-burn agriculture a problem

What It's Like

Guanacaste is a dry, sparsely populated area of the country that's known for its beautiful beaches (including ones where sea turtles nest), surfing, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, and its string of large resorts. The region is home to seven national parks, including Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, where visitors can hike past boiling mud pots and smoking fissures. Guanacaste has a lower elevation than other areas of the country and an arid climate, so there are no rain forests here, but the dry tropical forests are still wildlife rich: Visitors can spot howler monkeys, sloths, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and iguanas.

Where to Stay

This is a large region, and most of the hotels here are going to feel very isolated, with few or no restaurants, shops, and nightclubs nearby. Many visitors who choose to stay in Guanacaste will spend most of their time at the resort, heading beyond the security gates only for organized tours (such as hiking, horseback riding, or zip-lining). Roads in Guanacaste are in poor condition -- many are unpaved -- so expect bumpy rides wherever you go.

Stay in the northern area of the country, closest to Liberia airport, if you want to avoid travel time and expense. For lusher landscapes, stay in the southern region. If you like the convenience of being near a town, consider staying in or near Tamarindo.


View all Guanacaste Hotels


Languages: Spanish
Airports: Liberia International Airport (LIR)
Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Tamarindo Airport (TNO)
Peak: December - April (dry season), Easter week
Off-Peak: May - November
Visa: No
Vaccines: No, though some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination
Currency: Colon, but US dollars are widely accepted
Electricity: 120 V, 60 Hz
Tipping: Not required for taxis; automatically included in the bill at most restaurants

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