First of all, Costa Rica is an outstanding place and no matter where you go, you’ll be impressed by the diversity of the relatively small country. Yet I’ve not get to know a place where beaches, volcanos, rain forest, mangroves and mountains are so close-by.
Let’s start with the parts of Guanacaste that I think are worth a trip.
Although everybody tells you “don’t go to those areas in rainy season because chances are high that it’s gonna rain a lot”. Frankly, it’s bullshit. In dry season, there will be a bit of rain as well, in rainy season there might be days where there is no rain at all or only in the afternoon. And for me as a not-latin person, most of the times I was happy there was rain to cool me down after being burned by Costa Rican sun. It’s another topic but don’t think you know Costa Rican sun just because you’ve been to Spain. I learnt it the hard way, believe me.
Dry season is officially from December to April but if visited in rainy season and despite some nice heavy short showers and fantastic thunderstorms in the afternoons, not much of a big deal. Also be aware that the seasons differ between the provinces (micro climates).
Guanacaste feels way more touristic than Limón (Caribbean side) or Puntarenas (Pacific coast) especially Tamarindo where most people will be recommended to go to. To be honest, I didn’t like it very much, not much typical Costa Rican flair there. Friends told me that for surfer’s beginner lesson it is good though.
Best thing in my opinion around that area are the beaches of Playa Grande and Playa Ventanas right next to it, endless and long and even in high season not crowded. To get there you have to cross a little river / estero (Tamarindo river). You could walk / swim through it or choose to give a guy 1$ to bring you over in a little boat. So, first reaction is: why would I do that?
When we were there, nobody said a word. Also not to that woman swimming a bit in the river. Well, she could have been a delicious meal. Too bad.
Also, there you could take a ride into the mangroves with a local boat owner. Quite interesting and a good way of enjoying the diversity of the country.
As for the Hotel, we stayed in Hotel Mamiri which offered an ample room with good breakfast and friendly hosts from Argentina. In low season we paid 50 $ which was a very fair deal. Their homepage is http://www.hotelmamiricr.com
A little above situated are several little villages and plenty of great beaches, especially Playa Dantita (see picture below), Playa Danta and Playa Conchal. All of them are definitely worth a visit. Generally for Guanacaste I’d recommend to go beach hopping and not only stay in one place / one hotel.
For the adventurers among you who also like a good ride in a 4×4, I highly recommend a day trip to Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. Don’t underestimate it, take enough water and food with you and don’t get to the idea of walking all day there, you’ll regret it.
Also be prepared to end up like this:
But if you manage to get to the end, you’ll be rewarded with empty beaches and pure Costa Rica feeling, here a picture of Playa Naranjo. Yes, there are no food stands or restaurants.
Now all the way to the South of Guanacaste coast, my favorite beach worldwide (yet), namely Playa San Juanillo. Pure nature, no big tourism, nice water, actually two beaches in one and for me just “the beach to go to”.
I almost added Santa Teresa and Mal Pais to this list, then I realized it officially belongs to Puntarenas province, so that will be featured in the next blog post.