Guanacaste Dreams Vacations

North Pacific Coast Costa Rica

  /  North Pacific Coast Costa Rica

North Pacific Coast

Sunny days, awesome surf and stunning beaches are three ways that best describe the North Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Entirely encompassed by Guanacaste province, this part of the country is the most visited, yet it is also one of the least populated parts of Costa Rica.

Among the best and most easily accessible diving sites in the country, the North Pacific Coast has an abundance of marine life, especially around the Isla Santa Catalina area, Playas del Coco and Playa Ocotal.

Playas del Coco

If your dream vacation includes partying at the beach, water sports and the option to get in some fishing, you should book your flight to Costa Rica right now. Fly into Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport and you’ll be just a short drive away from the beach of your dreams, Playas del Coco. This beach is easily accessible to the public, and is one of Costa Rica’s most well-known since it draws scores of local and international tourists each year. This beach isn’t for the traveler that is looking for serenity and peace, this beach is for the traveler that is looking to mix and mingle.

As the largest village in the province of Guanacaste, Playas del Coco offers an abundance of accommodations and services for visitors. Savvy travelers can find budget hotels to help them save a little money, which they can use in the village for shopping and eating at restaurants. Playas del Coco makes an excellent base camp for those visitors that are planning to explore the general Guanacaste province.

Daytime in Playas del Coco.

Daytime at Playas del Coco is laid back, with plenty of activites to please any traveler, from thrill-seekers to families. Due to the area’s popularity, roads have been built in the village so you can easily access the markets, shops, casinos and restaurants.

If you prefer to spend your day by the beach, you’re in for some fun. The views are gorgeous, as this tropical beach is surrounded by hills. You can also head to a few close-by islands and national parks where you can spot sharks while scuba diving or you may run into huge marine turtles nesting on the beach.

If you are looking for activities off of the beach, you can find a tour operator that will offer horseback riding, surfing, sport fishing, scuba diving, hiking, snorkeling or even just simple bird-watching.

Nightlife at Coco.

Nightlife in town is truly something to experience, if you’re looking for a party. Not the quiet, serene atmosphere that you’d find at a luxury resort, a nighttime party in Playas del Cocos will give you the opportunity to meet both Ticos that are on holiday, and international visitors from all over the world. Attend a beach-style party in the town’s plaza and you may find yourself having the time of your life at a casino, a disco or a local bar.

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Playa Tamarindo

Picture a tropical paradise and you’re likely thinking of somewhere that resembles Tamarindo, which is situated in Costa Rica along the north Pacific Coast. While some of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches might be difficult to access, Tamarindo has made its roads tourist-friendly, so that all visitors can experience the beauty of this Guanacaste beach town. This destination is popular with tourists because of its modern development, like paved roads, but don’t worry about it being too crowded or too commercial. There are so many activities for all types of people, that you won’t see everyone heading to one place and causing overcrowding. Of course, beaches can sometimes be crowded in Costa Rica, but you’ll be too busy soaking in the bright sunshine and splashing around in the stunning turquoise water to care about sharing the beach with other happy visitors and laid-back Ticos.

Tamarindo is easier to get to than ever before; with development that includes not only paved roads, but also a bridge over the river. There are several options, depending on which airport you are coming from. You can get to Tamarindo in about four hours if you drive from the San Jose International Airport. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, you can take a domestic flight from San Jose Airport right into Tamarindo's own airport. Flying is faster, of course, but driving can be an adventure that lets you experience the authentic countryside of Costa Rica. You can also fly into Liberia International Airport; it is even easier to reach Tamarindo through this route, in about 1 hour.

Splash Around.

Water is obviously the main feature of many coastal locations in Costa Rica, and in Tamarindo it certainly takes center stage. Whether you are looking to get into the water, or just skim the top of it, there is something for all types of aquatic lovers. Those looking to dive in the water can just head to the beach with a towel and have a day filled with fun swimming. Those that are more adventurous can rent scuba gear and spend the day exploring what is underneath the surface of the pristine water. Costa Rica is known for its diverse animal life so be prepared to see some amazing creatures!

If you’re not looking to get down in the water, there is always surfing, kayaking, sailing, and sportfishing fun to be had. Surfing is very popular on the shores of Tamarindo, and you can either get in on the fun, or just watch from the beach. This area is a good place for even novice surfers – the waves and the wind are known to be consistent, and aren’t too harsh, so those with only some experience should still be able to navigate the waters. If you aren’t experienced, you can always just sign up for some surf lessons. Tamarindo would be an unforgettable spot to learn the basics of surfing. If you are more experienced, you can sign up to take a surf trip that is customized for you.

Head Outdoors.

While there is some amazing local food that may make you want to stay in and eat all day, or take a nap after a big meal, Costa Rica is a place where you have to get outdoors. In Tamarindo, visitors have their choice of activity, from horseback riding, bicycling and rafting, to hiking and golfing.

One of the most popular outdoor experiences in Tamarindo is the Marino Las Baulas National Park. Costa Rica is a country that believes in preserving the natural beauty of the land and protecting endangered animals, and this park does just that. This National Park is a protected area that serves as a safe place for the leatherback sea turtle population. They are able to use this area as a nesting site, without fear of being captured or having their eggs stolen. You can also see many other animals in the park, including over 150 species of birds.

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Ollie's Point

  Best Swell Direction: Low to Medium.

  Best Tide: Low to Mid.

  Best Wind Direction: Northeast.

  Best Surf Season: Late March – October.

  Wave Quality: Right point break with fast, long and powerful waves. For the experienced surfer. Needs a strong swell from the southwest or northwest to break.

  Paddle Out: Moderate.

  Skill Level:Advanced.

  Bottom: Some rocks, mostly sand.

  Watch Out For: Rocks.

  Water Condition: Clean

Surf Location North Pacific Coast near Nicarguan boarder. Only accessible by boat. Trips run from Playas del Coco.

Every surfer has heard of Rincon Point in Santa Barbara. Ollie’s is its tropical twin, however you’re only surfing with several of your best buddies. It holds anywhere from 3-12 feet and any regular footer will never want to leave. Located thirty minutes away, Playa Portrero’s northern tip creates the best right hander in Central America. It is the sand bottom point break lined with cobble stones on the shore that create its perfect shape. It is best on a strong SSW swell, which will send waves into the bay up to 300 yards long. It offers multiple barrel sections and on your average four foot day there will be 6-12 turns on tap… your legs will be burning after getting a good one! It favors a low-medium tide, basically when Witches is walled out on low tide you head to Ollie’s and score there! This wave works with any wind. Off-shores are most consistent here but if the occasional onshore flow comes into the bay the wave just becomes perfect for airs. If theres swell in the water, this phenomenal right hander will never disappoint.

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Witches Rock (Playa Naranjo)

  Best Swell Direction: South, Southwest.

  Best Tide: Medium high.

  Best Wind Direction: Northeast.

  Best Surf Season: Biggest and best swell in summer. Winter has steady offshore winds for clean conditions.

  Wave Quality: Fast, hollow rights and lefts. Best waves are in front of the rock.

  Paddle Out: Moderate, but can be a horrific paddle if the swell is maxing.

  Skill Level:Beginner to Advanced.

  Watch Out For: Poor road conditions, big crocs called Caymen from the estuary, the bugs and mosquitoes are thicker than the waves.

  Water Condition: Clean

Surf Location Boat trips run from Playas del Coco. Very hard to access by car.

Playa Naranjo consists of 2 1/2 miles of perfect, peaky, A-frames lining its warm white sand. On the northern end of the beach sits Roca Bruja towering 300 feet above this paradise. This is Witches Rock and has became the face of this iconic beach break that has swell over 330 days of the year with perfect off shores from November to August. After a beautiful twenty minute boat ride, you arrive choose your own peak that will provide some of the best barrels and fun, long, rippable lines. Witches accepts any swell from a SW to a NW, it is the most consistent wave around. Every tide works except for a dead low tide, due to walled out sections. Fun sized swells from 2-5 feet are ideal for perfect peaks that can provide you with barrels and many turns. On larger swells, the river mouth directly in front of the Rock will hold anywhere between 8-12 feet and will line up like a left hand point break. This wave can provide power but also is very friendly and forgiving. It is a picture perfect beach break and one of the best waves throughout the entire Costa Rican coast. You will never want to get out of the water!

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Playa Tamarindo

  Best Swell Direction: South, Southwest, West.

  Best Tide: Medium high.

  Best Wind Direction: East.

  Best Surf Season: Consistent and good year round. Largest waves in summer. Smaller, cleaner waves in winter.

  Wave Quality: There are a variety of good surf spots in Tamarindo Bay. The Tamarindo Rivermouth is a solid right-hand wave. Other quality local waves: Pico Pequeno – mellow reef break; Old Man’s – good longooard wave; and Playa Langosta – fun outside reef and inside beachbreak.

  Paddle Out: Moderate to easy.

  Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced.

  Bottom: Sand and rock.

  Watch Out For: Rocks and thieves, don’t leave valuables in car.

  Water Condition: Clean, can get dirty during the rainy season.

Surfing is very popular on the shores of Tamarindo, and you can either get in on the fun, or just watch from the beach. This area is a good place for even novice surfers – the waves and the wind are known to be consistent, and aren’t too harsh, so those with only some experience should still be able to navigate the waters. If you aren’t experienced, you can always just sign up for some surf lessons. Tamarindo would be an unforgettable spot to learn the basics of surfing. If you are more experienced, you can sign up to take a surf trip that is customized for you.

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Playa Grande

  Best Swell Direction: Southwest, West.

  Best Tide: Medium.

  Best Wind Direction: Northeast, East.

  Best Surf Season: Summer.

  Wave Quality: Powerful beachbreak waves with steep hollow faces that tube in some sections. Very playful waves, good for high-performance surfing.

  Paddle Out: Medium.

  Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced.

  Bottom: Sand.

  Watch Out For: Freak set waves.

  Water Condition: Clean.

Grande is just a quick thirty minute drive south. Playa Grande is quite popular for its consistency. It is a playful beach break and loves swell. It can offer fun barrels, perfect pockets, and a plethora of air sections. Playa Grande is quite the large beach, hence the name, so it is not difficult to find your own peak and score warm water beach break. Its warm white sand dotted by coconut trees makes a perfect spot for a beach day with fun rippable surf. It favors a medium tide, however, depending on size it works on almost every tide. 350 days of the year the wind will be off-shore here due to its close proximity to the northern breaks and Lake Nicaragua. Swell direction isn’t really a problem here due to the positioning of this particular beach, it accepts any direction coming from the North Pacific or the South Pacific. Everyone in the surf community in Guanacaste comes to this fun wave and enjoys its playful yet rippable spot.

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Playa Avellanas

  Best Swell Direction: Southwest, West.

  Best Tide: All.

  Best Wind Direction: East.

  Best Surf Season: Summer.

  Wave Quality: Fun beachbreak waves good for all ability levels. Find larger waves on the northern section of the bay.

  Paddle Out: Moderate.

  Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.

  Bottom: Sand, rock towards the south.

  Watch Out For: Freak set waves that roll through during larger swells.

  Water Condition: Clean.

Playa Avellanas is a gorgeous beach lined with perfectly shaped rights and lefts. Only a 40 minute drive south, you can find your self contemplating which peak to choose from. On smaller swells, this is the ideal spot to bring your longboards and play, however when a swell over five feet fills in this waves quickly becomes a skatepark in the ocean. This wave works best on a lower tide rising towards a high tide. The unique yet perfect shape of this wave creates a perfect wall and allows all levels of surfers to rip. This beach is iconic for its restaurant “Lola’s.” A superb, high quality beach front restaurant with tons of Costa Rican nature running around. Beach days here are un-beatable and when this wave is firing most people argue that it is their favorite on our coastline.

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Playa Negra

  Best Swell Direction: Southwest, West.

  Best Tide: All.

  Best Wind Direction: East.

  Best Surf Season: Summer.

  Wave Quality: Fun beachbreak waves good for all ability levels. Find larger waves on the northern section of the bay.

  Paddle Out: Moderate.

  Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.

  Bottom: Sand, rock towards the south.

  Watch Out For: Freak set waves that roll through during larger swells.

  Water Condition: Clean.

Playa Negra is a powerful right hand point break over gorgeous volcanic reef. It can be a fun, rippable point break on standard sized swells, allowing any level surfer to become comfortable over reef breaks. However, as size increases this wave reveals its power and perfection. With light ENE winds, a lower tide, and any swell over six feet in the water, Playa Negra can become one of the best waves on Costa Rica’s coastline. It offers excellent barrels that allow you to get exceptionally deep and a ton of sections for power turns and airs. Just an hour down the road, this particular spot can feel as if you were surfing somewhere on the North Shore when its pumping and the amount of stoke shared around when you make it through a true Playa Negra beast is very rewarding.

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Santa Rosa National Park

The first national park in Costa Rica, the Santa Rosa National Park, was founded in 1972 to commemorate the Hacienda Santa Rosa. This was a historic battle fought in March 1856 between the invading forces of American William Walker and a ragtag army of Costa Rican volunteers. The oldest as well as the largest national park in the country, the Santa Rosa National Park is today part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. It protects a sizable portion of the last tropical dry forest in the world.

Great Camping.

Located in Guanacaste province, the Santa Rosa National Park encompasses a huge chunk of the Santa Elena Peninsula - 49,515 hectares to be precise, and with some of the best camping facilities in the country, this park is not to be missed when visiting beautiful Costa Rica.

10 Distinctive Habits.

One of the main attractions of this park is that it is the only one of its kind on the planet, where 10 distinctive habitations can be found. Deciduous forests, oak forests, mangrove swamps, littoral woodlands, evergreen forests, marshlands and savannahs cover the entire park area, which is home to over 115 species of mammals, over 10,000 species of insects, 250 species of birds, and around 100 species of amphibians and other reptiles. Whitetail deer, jaguars, collared peccary, olive ridley turtles, coatimundis, leatherback turtles and jaguarundis are just few of the many animals that can be found roaming freely in this park.

Stunning Beaches.

Filled with lush vegetation during the rainy season, the Santa Rosa National Park turns into a topical dry forest in summer, with many meandering trails and stunning beaches. The park is divided into two zones, the Santa Rosa section and the Murcielago section. The Santa Rosa section is home to La Casona, a historical mansion, which houses photographs, pictures, drawings and military equipment commemorating the battle of the Hacienda Santa Rosa.

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Pappagayo Gulf

Papagayo Gulf is the home to many of Costa Rica's all-inclusive exclusive resorts. Located in the northern Pacific Coast just north of Playa Panama. The Papagayo Gulf is untamed and very beautiful. If you want to get away from people and experience the nature of Costa Rica at its fullest, this is a great area to explore.

Papagayo is located in Guanacaste, close to the Liberia International Airport. Rest and relaxation always go hand in hand in the Gulf of Papagayo, with mesmerizing ocean views and intimate settings and activities, as well as lush tropical greenery at every turn. If you enjoy sunny days, this is your spot. Here you can find large resort developments, as well as small intimate hotels and close proximity to lots of national parks such as Santa Rosa and Rincon de la Vieja.

The Perfect Tropical Beach.

Traditionally known as a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers, Papagayo is also a charming experience for those interested in relaxation and fun. Papagayo's beaches comply with most of the requirements upon which a good beach is usually judged. Water quality, views, texture of sand and the limited presence of mosquitoes and other pests are probably the most specified criteria. There is a general agreement that Papagayo's shores rank very well when it comes to these factors.

Generous palm trees rise up from the beaches giving shade to sunbathers. Spectacular sunsets are a regular component in the scenery along the Pacific coastline of the Gulf of Papagayo.

From calm waters with great swimming, to the finest sand beaches with magnificent panoramas, Papagayo is a perfect destination to enjoy nature and relax.

Close to Everything.

The Papagayo Gulf is about three kilometers north of Playa Hermosa in a region slated for tremendous economic growth. It boasts a rich tropical setting overlooking the Pacific and is a development area for exclusive hotels and five star all-inclusive resorts. Stunning views, beautiful beaches, proximity to Pacific National Parks and easy access are among the features that make the Papagayo Gulf region so desirable to investors.

Costa Rica's government is dedicated to sustainable progress in the Papagayo Gulf. This growth will preserve the environment while allowing for increased real estate development and tourism. The Papagayo Tourist Project monitors expansion.

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Playa Hermosa

The beautiful Playa Hermosa located in Guanacaste is just 20 minutes from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia. One of the best maintained beaches in the country, Playa Hermosa, offers visitors crystal clear blue waters and gorgeous scenery, making it a very popular beach strip on the west coast.

Beautiful Beach.

Winner of the ‘Bandera Azul’ or ‘Blue Flag’, a prize given to beaches that demonstrate high environmental standards and excellent safety facilities, Playa Hermosa lies seven kilometers north of Playas del Coco. Meaning ‘beautiful beach’ in Spanish, Playa Hermosa has made a name for itself with its idyllic beauty and lush surroundings. A two-kilometer long grey sand beach, encircled by tropical forests and ridges of volcanic rock, Hermosa Beach is a great family destination for all to enjoy.

This beach is relaxed, rarely crowded and laid back most of the year, making it a great retreat for those who wish to just lie back leisurely and enjoy the sun. With warm water temperatures and ideal weather conditions all year long, Playa Hermosa is the perfect haven with convenient accommodations and restaurants that line the beach shore. Recently, many luxury hotels have also set up base out in Playa Hermosa to take advantage of the pristine conditions.


Perfect for swimming and scuba diving, Playa Hermosa offers amazing diving safaris and snorkeling opportunities for those who enjoy being out in the sea. With some of the best scuba diving in the country, you can also have great fun renting out kayaks, sailboards, windsurfing equipment, canoes, jet skis and water bikes from the many shops that line the beach.

The Other Playa Hermosa.

An important point that most tourists need to be aware of is the fact that there are two beaches named Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica. One is located in Guanacaste, while the other Playa Hermosa lies in Puntarenas. The Playa Hermosa that is in Puntarenas is one of the best surfing havens in the country.

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Playa Panama

Located within Culebra or Snake Bay in the scenic Gulf of Papagayo in the Gunacaste Province, Playa Panama is one of the most attractive beaches in Guanacaste province. With close proximity to Liberia and the Daniel Oduber International Airport, Panama beach is accessible all year round through a new road that has been opened connecting the beach directly with Liberia.

Laidback Beaches.

A five-minute drive from the fabulous beaches of Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco, Playa Panama offers tourists stunning ocean views and laidback beaches that are within close range of some of the country’s best national parks, such as the Refugio Costa Esmeralda and the Marino las Baulas de Guanacaste. A key feature of this beach is also that it lies close to the airport; with international flights regularly landing from cities such as Hawaii, Houston, Atlanta, Madrid and Toronto.

Great Swimming.

A typical inner bay beach, Playa Panama has slate grey sand and beautiful blue waters, making it very visually appealing. Having no rocks, this beach is one of the best places to swim as the currents here are not strong, and the tide often remains quite low. Around two kilometers in length, Playa Panama is surrounded by a tropical forest of sarno, brazilwood, manchineel mesquite and Panama trees and shrubs. However, there are only a few Panama trees found here nowadays.

Perfect Relaxation.

Relatively a tranquil and private area, Playa Panama is one of the friendliest places on the northern Guanacaste shores, as locals here mix easily with visitors to create an environment that is perfect for those who want some peace and quiet. Ideal for tourists who enjoy sunbathing, long walks along the shore, and a tranquil atmosphere, Playa Panama also has a range of luxury resorts and condominiums as well as affordable accommodations. Nearby the beach is the grand Four Seasons Hotel with its Arnold Palmer championship golf course. The presence of this hotel alone makes Playa Panama a frequent hot spot for the rich and famous.


The amenities here are top notch, and there are many local restaurants, bars and shopping areas just a stone's throw away. With prefect weather, most of the year, this beach is excellent for all kinds of water sports and fishing. Snorkeling, kayaking and sailing are also popular here. When at the beach don’t forget to visit the Rocha estuary with its lovely mangrove and the nearby tropical dry forest, both of which are within walking distance from the shore.

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Playa Ocotal

Playa Ocotal is a small village that is 3 km south of Playas del Coco on the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica. The beach on Playa Ocotal is one of the best places to snorkel in the area. Playa Ocotal is also one of the cleanest and quietest beaches around.

Beautiful Beach.

Playa Ocotal is a calm, sandy beach, about a third of a mile long; it's ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other outdoor activities. It's also a perfect place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Playa Ocotal is a five-minute drive from Playas del Coco, a small fishing and tourist village. This tiny pocket cove features a small salt-and-pepper beach bordered by high bluffs and is quite beautiful. When it's calm there's good snorkeling around some rocky islands close to shore here.

Magical Energy.

A typical inner bay beach, Playa Panama has slate grey sand and beautiful blue waters, making it very visually appealing. Having no rocks, this beach is one of the best places to swim as the currents here are not strong, and the tide often remains quite low. Around two kilometers in length, Playa Panama is surrounded by a tropical forest of sarno, brazilwood, manchineel mesquite and Panama trees and shrubs. However, there are only a few Panama trees found here nowadays.

Perfect Relaxation.

The sea air is tinged with a whitish mist that many healers believe to be rich in negative ions, small particles charged with electricity that have beneficial effects on people animals and plants. The advantage of Ocotal is that this idyllic beach combines this kind of energy with hours and hours of brilliant sunshine, a mild climate and the warm inviting waters of the blue sea. Indeed, during the dry season (December-April) there are 9 hours of sun a day and there can be 4-5 during the rainy or green season.

Best Snorkeling Around.

Playa Ocotal is an attractive but small beach 3 - 4 km southwest of Playas del Coco. It is the cleanest and quietest beach in the area, offering good swimming and snorkelling. Scuba diving is available, and nearby Catalina island is a recommended diving spot; it's the best place to see huge schools of rays, including the giant manta ray. Accommodations are good but not cheap. Camping is possible but not that common; be discrete and you'll have a better time. The south end of the beach is recommended for snorkelling.

Playa Ocotal is located at only 40 kms from the city of Liberia and the gateway to the Gulf of Papagayo. Playa Ocotal is a small beach protected by hills and cliffs of sedimentary metamorphic rocks of 80 million years of age. Its clear sands mix with scarce rock formations and the dry forests of the hills. Ocotal is famous for its clear waters making Scuba diving and snorkeling an unforgettable experience.

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Marinos Las Baulas National Park

Marino las Baulas de Guanacaste National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most important sea turtle nesting sites. Located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast in the Northern Province of Guanacaste near the tourist town and surf mecca Tamarindo, this national park is a significant Leatherback sea turtle nesting spot in the world. Created in 1990, this national park was made in order to protect the endangered Leatherback turtles, who come every year to nest on the shores of the beautiful Playa Grande.

Location & Size of the Park.

Encompassing an area of roughly 445 hectares of mangrove swamps and coastline, the Marino las Baulas National Park is made up of the four beaches, Playa Grande, Playa Langosta, Playa Ventanas and Playa Carbon. The two mangrove estuaries in the park are the Estero de Tamarindo and the Estero de San Francisco, the former of which is the biggest mangrove estuary in Latin America. This national park also extends 12 miles off shore as well, to protect the sea turtles from poachers and tourists alike.

Marine Turtle Nesting Site.

The nesting ground for thousands of Leatherback turtles who make the journey every year to this national park, Marino las Baulas National Park also protects 174 species of birds and a number of different animals that live in the estuaries here. Home to the white ibis, the cattle egret, the blue-winged teal and the muscovy duck, this park also looks after capuchin monkeys, howler monkies, raccoons, crocodiles, pacas and grey squirrels as well.

The largest marine reptiles in the world, the Leatherback Sea Turtles or Baulas as they are known in Spanish, come here in huge numbers during the months of November to April to mate and lay their eggs. Also the world’s largest turtles, Leatherbacks can weigh up to 1,100 lbs (500 kgs). Unlike other turtle species that have a hard shell, Leatherback turtles have a black tough leathery skin that is almost rubbery. These amazing marine turtle travel about 3,700 miles from their feeding ground to mate and lay their eggs, making it the furthest migrating sea turtle.

Getting to Marino las Baulas National Park.

To get to Marino las Baulas de Guanacaste National Park, you can fly into the Liberia International Airport and then drive west toward the town of Tamarindo; from here, you need to go north to Playa Grande by a rough dirt road. Another way of reaching this national park is by boat across the Estero de Tamarindo.

It is important that visitors be aware of certain things when touring this national park. Do not use cameras with flashes or flashlights, do not approach the turtles and do not walk on the dry sand that lies above the high tide markings. In order to see the turtle you will have to go on a tour with a certified guide, without a guide you will not be allowed on the beach at night, as this is when the turtles come to nest. Marino las Baulas National Parks is a great place to visit with family, this national park also has a turtle museum and certified night tours during the turtle nesting season.

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Playa Conchal

Considered to be one of the most exotic beaches on the Costa Rican Gold Coast, Playa Conchal is situated in the north of Guanacaste provinceon the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Two kilometers from Playa Brasilito, this marvelous beach is also a stone’s throw away from the famousPlaya Flamingo and Tamarindo. Together with Playa Brasilito, this beach is separated by a rocky headland known as Punta Conchal, which gets its name from the sand found here that is composed of hundreds of millions of tiny crushed shells.

Bathed in Sunshine.

A fabulous beach that has near perfect weather all year long, Playa Conchal, is bathed in sunshine most of the time, with over 10 hours of daylight from December to April. The water here always remains at a comfortable temperature and is ideal for swimming or snorkeling.

Best Places to Stay.

Close to the beach is the impressive resort of The Westin Playa Conchal, one of the best hotels on the coast. You can consider staying here as this beach has no adjoining town. However, do keep in mind that a resort of this caliber is on the pricey side. For those traveling on a budget or just backpacking through, you can stay in the town of Brasilito.


With some of the clearest waters on the Gold Coast, snorkeling is a must-indulge activity for anyone who knows how to swim. With a fantastic array of marine life on display, you can swim with the many tropical fish that dwell here, and even catch a glimpse of stingrays that swim in the area. For the more adventurous, deep seas fishing, scuba diving, and other water sports are offered as well. If you get tired of the beach, Playa Conchal is also close to a few national parks and nature reserves. Nearby is a small estuary as well. Surrounded by a number of cattle ranches, Playa Conchal also has quite a few areas where one can camp out and sleep under the stars.

For the avid golfer, the ‘Garra de Leon’ Golf Course is just a few paces away from the beach. This championship course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is considered to be one of the best golf courses in Central America with its breathtaking scenic beauty of the Pacific coast. Bordered by a forest on one side, you can often catch sight of howler monkeys that live there.

Getting to Playa Conchal.

This four kilometer beach stretch is accessible by air from San Jose to Tamarindo Domestic Airport, from where you can take a 10-minute taxi ride into town. However, you can also get here by taxi from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, but it is around a 45-minute drive. If you don’t mind the traveling, you can enjoy a lovely scenic drive from San Jose to Playa Conchal, which takes around 4 hours.

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Playa Flamingo

While Tamarindo maybe the most developed beach resort along the Guanacaste coastline, Playa Flamingo is still one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Situated on the country’s Gold Coast, Playa Flamingo is located in Punta Salinas, northwest of Bahia Brasilito, 75 km southwest of Liberia. Located in between the beaches of Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito, Playa Flamingo or Flamingo Beach is the sole full-service marina between Acapulco and Panama on the Pacific coast of Central America.

Deep Sea Fishing.

With its stunning white sand, unspoiled beaches and pristine clear blue waters, Playa Flamingo is the ideal vacation getaway, offering visitors some of the best deep sea fishing in the world. Marlin, tuna, swordfish and snapper can be found off the coast all year around, making this beach an extremely popular tourist destination. Every July, this beautiful beach also plays host to a fantastic international sailfish tournament sponsored by the Costa Rican Amateur Fishermen’s Club.

Other Activities.

Besides deep sea fishing, Playa Flamingo also offers a wealth of water sports along with close proximity to the amazing Santa Rosa National Park and the Palo Verde natural reserve. Nearby, for the golfing enthusiast is also an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Scuba diving is available here all year round, allowing tourists to experience the excitement of swimming with white-fin sharks and an array of other stunning tropical fish and marine life.

Sailing and diving expeditions and tours can also be arranged to the close by island of Plata.

Beautiful Hotels.

Home to some of the most beautiful hotels, condos and private residences on the coast, the Playa Flamingo is a fabulous holiday spot if you prefer taking advantage of the world class fishing out here, or if you prefer a simple sunset cruise. The best time to visit here is from December to April, when the beaches are bathed in sunshine and the average annual temperature hovers around 28°C (82°F).

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Playa Langosta

Sitting just south of Tamarindo, the small beachside community of Playa Langosta is an exotic locale with excellent surfing conditions. The sprawling sandy beach at Playa Langosta is much quieter than its neighbor, and is one of the best places in this region to let your hair down and relax. Although it tends to get crowded during high season, Playa Langosta is commonly less crowded than Tamarindo and it sits right next to Marino Las Baulas National Park.

Hitting the Waves.

One of the most common reasons for visiting Playa Langosta is its unbelievable surf. At the southern end of the sandy shoreline, the mouth of an estuary has an excellent surf break that often attracts boarders who prefer to hit the waves in a low-key, quiet area. The rivermouth waves are short and fast, and are ideal for experienced surfers. Boasting both right and left breaks, Playa Langosta's waves typically peak at the same place, but surfers should still keep an eye out for rocks and coral here. Most of the coral head is exposed during low tide and sits just below the surface during high tide.

Surfers will love coming to this area, as there are several other beaches in the region that feature great conditions. Tamarindo, Playa Negra,Playa Grande and El Estero are all within arm's reach, so to speak. Playa Grande has the most consistent breaks in the region and is popular for its surf spot called "La Casita." Playa Negra is another great spot to catch a wave, but is only recommended for expert riders as the break is very fast. You can check out our Surfers Guide to see all of the best surfing breaks in Costa Rica.

Making the trek.

Located just 2.5 kilometers south from Tamarindo, Playa Langosta is easily reachable from the Tamarindo's local airport. Travelers landing atDaniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia can be in Playa Langosta in about an hour, as it is about 70 kilometers away. Those renting a car will be able to reach Playa Langosta via Route 21 and 155. Those planning on landing in San Jose will likely want to take a domestic flight to Tamarindo airport, as San Jose is roughly 263 kilometers away.

Surfers will love coming to the small town of Playa Langosta, but it's not necessary to catch some waves to enjoy a stay here. Anyone seeking a getaway to a beach town with a small population of tourists should make it a point to come to Playa Langosta.

Golfers have a different definition of paradise than some other travelers might, but Tamarindo can meet the expectations of golfers too. There are courses in this area that of course offer fairways that will stun, but also let golfers experience the local views and wildlife. That isn’t something that most golf courses can offer!

Food and Dancing.

Food is always exciting in Costa Rica, and Tamarindo offers some of the best dining experiences, available in the local restaurants. For those that are staying at a vacation rental that allows them to cook, there are also traditional local markets where they can do their shopping to pick up authentic Costa Rican flavors.

After a full, exciting day exploring the lands and waters of Tamarindo, you might be tempted to head in for the night as the sun sets. But the fun isn’t over in Tamarindo! There are still lots of bars and discos open for you to have a drink and get down on the dance floor.

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