Guanacaste & the Nicoya Peninsula

Looking for a destination that sums up Costa Rica’s vibrant, diverse spirit? To sample in one go the full range of beauties it has to offer? Thanks to Guanacaste, you can do just that.

Located in the country’s northwest corner, this vacation hotspot is a microcosm of tico charm. From jade-green coves to geothermal springs, soaring volcanoes to monkey-teeming jungles, Guanacaste hits all the high notes in the tropical canción that is Costa Rica. This means that surfers, birders, and spa-goers alike can all get their fix in this lush Pacific panorama.

Guanacaste is first and foremost about beaches—miles and miles of them, with limpid waters and gently surging swells. The coastline here is amazingly varied: luxury travelers will welcome the pampering at the posh resorts, while bohemians will seek out the deserted coves and fishing villages of the Nicoya Peninsula. If you surf, bring your soft-top: the latter was one of the backdrops for the classic Endless Summer documentaries.

Heading inland, Guanacaste’s geography starts to change. After crossing the dry grasslands, with their cattle ranches and sabaneros (cowboys), you’ll come to the Cordillera de Guanacaste, home to several stunning national parks. One of them, Rincón de la Vieja, sports therapeutic hot springs that well from beneath an active volcanic crater, as well as bathing pools fed by showers of cascading spray.

Guanacaste doesn’t lack for wildlife. The 76 square miles of the Parque Nacional Palo Verde afford rare viewing opportunities, with woods crowded with collared peccaries, monkeys, and the country’s biggest array of waterfowl. Or, for a remoter option, check out the Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve, located at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Here anteaters and jaguars rub elbows with green herons and cattle egrets.

Beaches, wildlife, volcanic peaks: Guanacaste offers a taste of what’s best in Costa Rica. A short version of a country long on beauty.
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