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Travel Guide to Southern Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Map of the Area

Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • Costa Rica
  • Guanacaste Province 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi)
  • average between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • The Costa Rica Colon (CRC) ₡575.75 = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • (2013) 354,154
  • 10°26′N 85°24′W

Southern Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Beaches, culture and mangroves

This region includes the southwest coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Its north limit is the Punta Cerritos and its south with river Bongo outfall, with a length of approximately 110 kilometers in front of the coast. The main tourist center is Nicoya city, located at 30 kilometers of the coast and works as a distribution center and stop break for the tourist that travels to the south Guanacaste beaches and the travelers to other passages. The main resources of Southern Guanacaste are the beaches. It is also well known for its natural resources such as the spectacular arriving of the turtles Lora in the Wild Life National Refuge Ostional and the estuary and mangrove swamp of the south side, specially those who divide the beaches of Islita, Bejuco, San Miguel, Coyote and Guiones. The mangrove swamp are excellent conserved and are ideal sites for the bird sight and other type of fauna as well as the practice of light sports as the “kayaking”. The bridge over the Tempisque River gives a quick access to all the central and south region of the Peninsula. Airports in Tamarindo, Carrillo and Islita make possible the quick and safe entrance to the main tourist destinations of south Guanacaste.

Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Main attractions in Southern Guanacaste, Costa Rica

The most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica are waiting for you. The beaches are clean and appealing. The water is pure and at just the right temperature. The beautiful scenery is just amazing! And the pictures you will send home are absolutely inspiring.

Guanacaste is famous for its spectacular beaches in the Pacific coast with more than 125 miles of extension. You can fish, swim, dive, surf or take the sun, some of the so many things you can do.

Guanacaste beaches are ideal for surfing, known as one of the five points of the world for the practice of this sport. The fishing in high sea is also excellent since they are carried out championships of this discipline annually.

Some of the beaches are ancestral places where the turtles spawn their eggs.

Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery


Before the Spanish arrived, this territory was inhabited by Chorotega Indians from the towns of Zapati, Nacaome, Paro, Cangel, Nicopasaya, Pocosí, Diriá, Papagayo, Namiapí and Orosi. The Corobicies lived on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Nicoya and the Nahuas or Aztecan in the zone of Bagaces. In the 18th Century some neighbors of Rivas established their houses and cattle farms in the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula at crossroads that connected the towns of Bagaces, Nicoya and Rivas. The place was baptized after a famous Guanacaste tree that grows in the neighborhood. In 1824-25 the territory of Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica. In 1836 the town of Guanacaste was declared the capital of the Guanacaste province. In 1854 the town of Guanacaste was renamed Liberia.
Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Tours in the Tamarindo/Flamingo/Conchal, Costa Rica

Ecotourism, Nature & Adventure

The Tamarindo/Flamingo/Conchal Region is a great base for exciting tours and activities. Due to its constant waves, it is also one of the favorite places for surfers. North of Tamarindo, Las Baulas Marine National park protects the world’s largest visitation of nesting Giant Leatherback Turtles. The adjacent Tamarindo Wildlife refuge, a mangrove estuary, is also great for bird watching. Tropical Discovery is offering you a variety of tours for all interests to discover the entire splendor of the Tamarindo/Flamingo/Conchal Region and its surrounding:

Nature and Adventure

  • Corobici River is perfect if you have been dreaming about the joys of white water rafting. The waters are not rough, but you have to work out to manage them. (The river is class I - II). The tour is two hours of rubber boat trip down the river which is bordered by tropical dry forest, where you will see trees like Ceiba, Mahogany and Guanacaste. You may see exotic birds, Jesus Christ lizards and monkeys. Before you board the rubber raft, a certified guide will instruct you on safety procedures.
  • This National Park was created to protect the biodiversity around Rincon de la Vieja Volcano area. It extends over 14083 hectares of semi-deciduous forest and very moist forest and includes a barren rocky terrain at altitudes that range from 1950 feet to 5748 feet above the sea level on the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range. Fumaroles, hot mud pools and the eerie steam holes of Las Pailas create an amazing landscape. The hiking tour takes about two hours. During this hike you will get to see the secondary waterfall, which is about 195 feet high and is located on a rocky terrain devastated by the volcanic eruptions. The tour not only provides the opportunity to appreciate Rincon de la Vieja´s geothermal wonders, it also allows a close view of an ancient forest hundreds of years old. Huge trees protect spider monkeys, leaf-cutter ants, toucans and all kind of great and small creatures.
  • Buena Vista is located near the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. In this tour you will enjoy the primary forest in a different way: on trails built in the top of the trees (about 105 feet high). A small hike takes you to the first platform, from there you start swinging to the other 12 platforms, which are connected by 9 cables from 150 to 400 feet long. During the canopy, that last almost three hours, you will have the opportunity to observe the surrounding forest from a new perspective.. just like Tarzan!! Then, it is time to cool off on the 1200 ft. long water slide. After having lunch at the Lodge, we start the third part of the tour: Horseback riding to the thermal waters, steam bath and natural spa, located at the foot of Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Here, you will enjoy the rejuvenating treatments with volcanic mud and mineral waters. On your way there you will enjoy the wildlife of a transitional forest (between dry and rain forest), where you might be able to spot monkeys, squirrels and a variety of butterflies and birds such as wood peckers and toucans.
  • The perfectly cone shaped volcano raises 4.899 feet above the sea level. It has been active since 1968, when it made its largest eruption. Its loud rumblings and frequent explosions of lava and ash during the day create a show that will stun you from miles away. On your way there, you will ride through the heavenly landscape of Lake Arenal, a man made lake that provides water for an hydroelectric plant and for irrigation in the low lands of Guanacaste province during the dry season. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a hiking tour at the surroundings of the volcano, in an area called El Silencio. After that, you will experience the mineral hot springs. After nightfall, the glow of flowing lava can be seen from several points in the area (if it´s not cloudy). During the tour it is possible to spot toucans, guans, oropendolas, monkeys and coatis.
  • Palo Verde is one of the most important and interesting National Parks of Costa Rica. It has 12 different habitats within the park including mangroves, swamps, swamps forests, saltwater and freshwater lagoons and marshes. Enjoy a two hour-boat ride on the Tempisque River watching the fabulous array of wild birds and a myriad of creatures such as howler and white-faced monkeys, green iguanas and coatis, anteaters and crocodiles.
  • Paddle and enjoy for one and a half hour riding on the Colorado River. Get to see the natural and impressive canyon, one of the most intimate and exiting ways to enjoy your vacations by rafting down of this unforgettable scenery. Then relax at the greats swimming holes on this spectacular river. Class II,III (No experience necessary.)
  • The Tenorio River will test you courage with its rapids class III and IV. For those already rafters this trip is a must. Its continuing challenges await you as you plunge through twists, turns, and drops down 10 miles of intense, challenging rapids. All participants must be in a good physical condition. This is a pure magic trip, unsurpassed beauty and stunning wildlife scenery that will take your breath away!
  • A legend tells that after God was done painting the sky, he washed the brushes in Rio Celeste (River Light Blue). Rio Celeste is one of the most wonderful places where you can observe flora and fauna. Once in the Tenorio National Park you will begin hiking through a primary forest with your naturalist guide who will teach you about the jungle and point out troops of howler monkeys prancing in the branches along with many other animals. You will have a strong hike in a real wild trail and a full contact with rain forest, with the naturist tour guide who can explain everything that you see. As you descend you will get to see the spectacular Rio Celeste Waterfall with its unique blue color.
  • Hike in the Barra Honda National Park. The main attraction is an intricately large system of limestone caverns which house a multitude of capricious forms and figures. Reef rocks constitute Barra Honda hill, 300mts tall, created by an elevation provoked by tectonics faults 60 millions of years ago. You can enjoy these caves, see the flora and fauna of this place, and might even see coatis, agutis, anteaters and monkeys. Your guide will also point out different species of trees and medical plants. This hike takes around one hour and is quite difficult, depending on your physical condition.
    * Please inquire for recent prices and schedules   * Please note: Information on this page is believed to be correct but not guaranteed

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Casa Chameleon Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica

Casa Chameleon is situated on the magnificent remote southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Malpaís, Costa Rica

avg/night$296.00 SELECT

Hotel Punta Islita Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica

Hotel Punta Islita is a secluded paradise of spectacular ocean views, charming luxury, and exciting activities underscored by a genuine commitment to responsible tourism.

avg/night$310.00 SELECT

Sol Samara Hotel Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica

Hotel Sol Sámara is located within walking distance of Playa Sámara and very close to Puerto Carrillo Beach, two of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and Central America.

avg/night$85.00 SELECT

The Harmony Hotel Southern Guanacaste Costa Rica

The Harmony Hotel is located at Playa Guiones, one of the best surf spots in Nosara and Guanacaste and one of them most beautiful beaches at the same time. The water like the air is an inviting 80ish degrees all year round.

avg/night$240.00 SELECT

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