Guanacaste’s incredible beaches

a visual tour

 

Guanacaste

The Gold Coast

 Guanacaste is a Province on the NW coast of Costa Rica, roughly the size of Connecticut  and flanked to the West by the Pacific ocean. The  coastline is scalloped volcanic rock backed by an impenetrable jungle. We head north first from Tamarindo beach along the coast, ultimately covering the 40  primary beaches of Guanacaste’s Gold Coast in a two part series. There are many hidden beaches too numerous to name in between the beaches covered here and the feeling of discovery is real when one finds these  remote, deserted beaches. Seeing an oxen cart is not uncommon here, or 20-30 household cattle off to the watering hole.  Much of life here is  unchanged in a century. Of course there are a lot of places to hide away a beautiful home as long as you do not mind driving a long dusty road every day and watching for the occasional oxen cart or stray bull. To many, that is the appeal of Costa Rica. It  is for us.

Playa Grande

Playa  Grande Directory

Step into a cool chill vibe across the Estuary from Tamarindo (Keep an eye open for crocodiles). These two beaches provide a marvelous juxtaposition between a totally protected beach and the hottest tourist destination in the country and all that entails. While most US residents would not consider Tamarindo developed, a status we will continue to to uphold, Playa Grande on the other hand is positively sleepy in comparison.

Playa Grande beach is miles long of fine, pale sand; perfect for those who enjoy a leisurely beach stroll and a warm ocean breeze. It is important to note that the entire beach coast is protected and belongs to Las Baulas National Park, meaning you must take care with the soft upper part of the beach as it may contain delicate turtle  eggs waiting to hatch. Additionally, the beach is off limits from 6pm to 6am October through March to avoid disturbing the unique rhythm of sea turtle egg laying; the only exception for night time visitors includes a park guide and turtle watching tours.

 

 

Playa Grande Hotels

Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal directory

Playa Conchal was how Vera and I spent every Friday afternoon with the local ticos that sold beer and ceviche. Great way to spend a day and it was walking distance from the time I lived right on Brasilito Beach. Sparkling blue waters and an enchanting backdrop make this our perennial favorite and one of the most well known beaches in the country that is not about surfing

 

Brasilito is where I first arrived after my 11 day drive from Boston and  where I spent several weeks looking for a place. Brasilito is where all the employees of the big Conchal resort live and have small businesses and like many areas just outside of a resort its where the service employees come to unwind after work. Brasilito features a number of hole in the wall bars where the natives congregate and the party is occasionally raucous and always runs late sometime supported with man made jet fuel (If you know what I mean) anyway its lively and fun and the Brasilitenos embraced me once I showed my desire to master the local dialect. The Ticos will not correct  bad Spanish ( they consider it bad manners) unless of course you entreat them to do so which I did with a lot of Pilsen beers and a genuine desire to turn my college French into passable Spanish. (An admitted head start.) Once convinced of my sincerity and eagerness to learn I had many willing friends to help. This was not in any way a cultural exercise. I simply wanted to be able to talk to girls. HA!

Playa Flamingo

 Playa Flamingo Directory

10 minutes drive from Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo is  a favorite of the Costa Ricans from San Jose at Easter and Christmas. The beach truly deserves a spot on the best beaches in Guanacaste.with some of the most beautiful sunsets on the Gold Coast. Those who love sportfishing will fall in love with Playa Flamingo. Every July, Flamingo hosts an annual sailfish tournament where you’ll find tuna, snapper, sailfish and more!

For those who partake in aquatic activities, Playa Flamingo can provide a variety of ocean excursions for you to enjoy. Scuba diving is offered year-round  For those who partake in aquatic activities, Playa Flamingo can provide a variety of ocean excursions for you to enjoy. Scuba diving is offered year-round where the shores are packed with marine life – starfish, coral reef, eels and reef sharks galore.

For the nature lovers, check out Santa Rosa national Park the country’s first national park and a major component of one of the most impressive ecological efforts in the world The Guanacaste Conservation Area

 

 

*Note- The Flamingo Marina will open this year after 18 years of political wrangling and environmental impact studies. It is an exciting time for the community.

Read about the opening of the Flamingo Marina

Puerto Potrero

Playa Potrero directory

Puerto Potrero is a sprawling quiet village with very tasteful and subdued beachfront development.The main feature of this town is simple beauty. The road remained unpaved until quite recently because the locals chose to keep it that way; on Sundays you can still see children playing soccer in ‘la plaza’ and the locals going to church. Hotels or massive developments haven’t found their way to the coast and you can see people lying in a hammock on their own land, just few steps away from the sea– pretty  much like it used to be in every Guanacaste coast village. until it was”discovered.”

Although there are several small hotels and villas around with their own facilities, there are only few supermarkets and local restaurants to go to in town.  This is the place for people seeking quiet and relaxing time..

Ladies night at Las Brisas beachfront bar at the end of Potrero beach is always raucous on Wednesday nights and  it was walking distance to my first place and the place where I met my girlfriend Vera.  I really love Potrero

Playa Danta (Las Catalinas)

Las Catalinas directory

 I used to hike this area before a shovel was ever turned and it was magnificent. It pains me to see it developed but developed it is and it is  well worth a visit. Do you like big resort towns? Have you been looking for the pearliest marina on the Costa Rican coastline? Then you might consider skipping this little Mediterranean hamlet. Danta is not your average Guanacaste beach. While most beaches in Costa Rica are famous for either surfing or fishing, this one is really neither. Although, the fishing is pretty good, and if you count Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) as a cousin to surfing, then maybe it isn’t so different

 

Playa Matapalo

Playa Matapalo Directory

Playa Matapalo is a one horse town thats pretty cool since that one horse is the Riu Grand Palace resort. I did hike here once from Potrero with a 5 gallon jug of Water and my dog Seikan ( about 10 miles) and it was pristine. I remember coming across an empty beach with discarded Oyster and Scallop shells and not another soul In fact on that hike I came face to face with a Capuchin Monkey as the tops of the trees hit the mountain trail the only one I have seen as they are elusive. Very cool and indicative of the densely packed possibilities for nature and adventure tourism in this area Playa Matapalo is a palm-lined, grey-sand Beach  that enjoys the kind of wild beauty that characterizes Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast. Largely off the beaten path, this long flat beach has long attracted the surfer crowd with its strong riptides and two river mouth breaks. A couple sleepy hotels and beach bungalows offer surf-side accommodations, but walk a few minutes in either direction, and you’ll likely have the beach completely to yourself.

While Playa Matapalo’s strong currents and big waves mean it isn’t ideal for swimming, it is a wonderful beach for secluded sunbathing or for catching a sunset over the Pacific.

 

Playa Matapalo Tourism Services

Playa Ocotal

Playa Ocotal directory

3 km (1.85 miles) south of Playa del Coco lies Playa Ocotal, which is known to be one of the cleanest and quietest of Guanacaste beaches.What’s special about Ocotal is the misty air which has been said to be rich in negative ions, which in turn have positive benefits on the people, animals and plants.

If you’re looking for a great snorkelling location, Playa Ocotal is it. Because of cleanliness of the beach and the crystal clear waters, Ocotal offers great swimming and snorkelling. Here you will most likely be able to spot schools of fish, giant manta rays, turtles and even sharks.Close by you can explore the Catalina Islands which offer amazing scuba diving sites for the avid diver.

 

Playa Ocotal Hotels

Playa del Coco

del Coco directory

 

 Peninsula Papagayo (Lanzarote)

Papagayo directory

In the south of Lanzarote is one of the most popular beaches of the island, Papagayo, a cove of white sand, reduced size and great beauty. In the shape of a bay or shell (some locals prefer to call it the latter), Papagayo wins you over with its crystal clear, emerald green water which remains still all day long just like in a swimming pool. It’s perfect for taking up snorkeling and for enjoying the beauty of its depths or for letting the children splash about without having to worry.

Enjoy the Natural Monument of Los Ajaches

Situated in a hollow, which you can get to in just a few minutes by going along a track, it is in almost untamed surroundings but is well sheltered from the wind. In spite of where it is located, in the Natural Monument of Los Ajaches, there is a small beach bar on the hillside where you can buy drinks or have something to eat. The best time to enjoy it is evening time. It should be said that access to the area for vehicles is not free of charge and there is a car park and camping area nearby.

 

Papagayo Vacation Rentals

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa

 

Playa Hermosa directory

 

Playa Hermosa is one of the more popular beaches in the North of Guanacaste. This is the type of beach to escape to if all you want to do is get some much needed R&R.Hermosa means ‘beautiful’ in Spanish, which is a no-brainer to describe the beauty of this aquatic gem. Although located between Playa del Coco and Playa Panama, Hermosa doesn’t see as many crowds as its close neighbours. Stretching 2 km (1.25 miles) wide, Hermosa boasts plenty of trees for optimal shade.Hermosa means ‘beautiful’ in Spanish, which is a no-brainer to describe the beauty of this aquatic gem. Although located between Playa del Coco and Playa Panama, Hermosa doesn’t see as many crowds as its close neighbours. Stretching 2 km (1.25 miles) wide, Hermosa boasts plenty of trees for optimal shade.

When it comes to sustainability, Playa Hermosa demonstrates high environmental standards and excellent safety facilities, making it a winner of the Bandera Azul or Blue Flag award.

Hermosa has a small selection of dining options for you to choose from, which tend to do be on the higher end in comparison to other spots in Costa Rica.

When it comes to sustainability, Playa Hermosa demonstrates high environmental standards and excellent safety facilities, making it a winner of the Bandera Azul or Blue Flag award.

Hermosa has a small selection of dining options for you to choose from, which tend to do be on the higher end in comparison to other spots in Costa Rica.

Located within Bahía Culebra or Snake Bay in the scenic Gulf of Papagayo in the Gunacaste Province, Playa Panama is one of the most attractive beaches in GuanacasteWith 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. province.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.

Playa el Jobo

el Jobo directory

The quiet fishing village of El Jobo is well-known to locals for its gorgeous beaches.  It is located on a small peninsula in the northwest corner of Guanacaste, near the Nicaragua border making it one of the most secluded beach destinations in Costa Rica.  The El Jobo Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the picturesque Pacific Ocean which is lined with scenic rock outcroppings separated by beautiful tropical beaches. To the north, there is the wind-blown Bahia Salinas.  The protected Bahia Jobo is to the west and the Golfo de Santa Elena is to the south.

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