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7 Must-Do Activities in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: May 6, 2023

Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a stunning region that offers a variety of activities and sights for visitors. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a beautiful beach, explore a national park, or try some local food and drink, Guanacaste has something for everyone. Here are seven things you shouldn’t miss when visiting this incredible part of Costa Rica.

1) Relax on the Beaches

Guanacaste is known for its beautiful beaches, and there are several that are worth visiting. Playa Conchal, for example, is a stunning beach that is famous for its white shell sand and crystal-clear water. The beach is lined with palm trees and has several restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a refreshing drink or a delicious meal while taking in the breathtaking views.

Another popular choice for beachgoers is Tamarindo Beach, which is known for its surfing and paddleboarding opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner looking to catch some waves, Tamarindo has something to offer. And if you’re looking for a quieter beach, Flamingo Beach is a great option. The beach is less crowded than some of the other popular beaches in the area, making it the perfect spot to relax and unwind.

No matter which beach you choose, be sure to take in the stunning views and soak up some sun. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot some wildlife, such as howler monkeys or sea turtles, while enjoying your time on the beach.

2) Explore the National Parks

Guanacaste is home to several national parks that offer a glimpse into the region’s unique ecosystems and wildlife. Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a great place to explore volcanic landscapes and discover the geothermal wonders of the region. The park is located near a dormant volcano and has several hiking trails that lead to hot springs, mud baths, and waterfalls.

Palo Verde National Park is another must-visit destination for nature lovers. The park is home to a variety of bird species, including the rare Jabiru stork and the American Wood Stork. You can take a boat tour of the wetlands to see these birds up close, as well as other wildlife, such as crocodiles, iguanas, and monkeys.

And if you’re interested in the region’s history, Santa Rosa National Park has several historical sites and is home to the Guanacaste Conservation Area. The park has several hiking trails that lead to historic buildings, such as the Hacienda Santa Rosa, which was a former cattle ranch and served as the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa during the Filibuster War.

3) Try Adventure Activities

For the more adventurous visitors, Guanacaste offers a variety of activities to get your heart racing. Ziplining is a popular choice, with several companies offering tours that take you through the jungle canopy. The tours allow you to experience the beauty of the region from above, as you zip from one platform to another. And if you’re feeling brave, some tours even have “Superman” lines, where you can fly through the air face-first!

ATV tours are another option for adventure seekers, allowing you to explore the region’s rugged terrain. The tours take you off-road and into the heart of Guanacaste, where you can see stunning views of the countryside and wildlife. And for a more leisurely adventure, horseback riding tours offer a chance to see the region’s beauty at a slower pace. You can ride through the jungle, across rivers, and along the beaches, enjoying the stunning scenery as you go.

Playa Buena Vista Beach at sunrise, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

4) Visit Cultural and Historical Sites

Guanacaste is also rich in culture and history, with several sites that offer a glimpse into the region’s past. The Guaitil Pottery Village, for example, is a traditional village that is known for its pottery-making. You can visit the village and watch the local artisans create beautiful pottery using traditional techniques that have been passed down for generations.

Another cultural destination is the Nicoya Colonial Church, which was built in the 16th century and is one of the oldest churches in Costa Rica. The church is a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture and is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs.

5) Sample the Local Food and Drink

Guanacaste is known for its delicious cuisine, with several local dishes that are a must-try. Gallo Pinto, for example, is a traditional breakfast dish that consists of rice and beans and is often served with eggs, plantains, and sour cream. And if you’re looking for a refreshing drink, try the Guanacaste Sour, which is made with local liquor, lemon juice, and sugar.

There are also several local markets where you can sample a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade snacks and desserts. And if you’re looking to bring home a taste of Guanacaste, be sure to visit a local coffee plantation and pick up some of the region’s delicious coffee.

6) Take a Sunset Cruise

Guanacaste’s stunning coastline is best seen from the water, and a sunset cruise is a great way to take in the views. Many companies offer cruises that take you along the coast, with stops for snorkelling and swimming. And as the sun sets, you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of the coastline and ocean.

7) Relax at a Spa

After all the adventure and exploring, it’s important to take some time to relax and recharge. Guanacaste has several spas that offer a range of treatments, from massages to facials to yoga classes. Some spas are located in beautiful settings, such as in the jungle or on the beach, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty while indulging in some well-deserved pampering.

In conclusion, Guanacaste, Costa Rica is a true paradise for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and immersion in local culture. By experiencing the stunning beaches, national parks, and cultural sites, and indulging in the delicious local cuisine, you’ll truly get a sense of what this region has to offer. If you’re looking to take your experience to the next level and make a positive impact, consider volunteering with GVI in Costa Rica. GVI offers programs that allow you to immerse yourself in local communities while contributing to sustainable development efforts. By volunteering with GVI, you can truly discover the beauty of all that Costa Rica has to offer while making a positive impact.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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