An overview of this beautiful province north of Costa Rica .
Traveling from the central valley to Guanacaste is almost a surreal experience. Gradually the steep, winding roads become straight, flat roads.
The green leafy, humid and moist life gives way to the dry tropical forest…and the mountains get lost in the horizon, replaced by vast savannas traveling west to meet sea and nearly 200 km of coastline bathed by the Pacific Ocean.
Beautiful beaches, fascinating national parks and a variety of activities, including fishing and world class diving, await for you in Guanacaste, the largest province of Costa Rica, with an area larger than 625 square miles.
Miravalles Volcano is the highest volcano in the Guanacaste mountain range and is also a protected area that houses humid rainforest, moorland, montane forest and tropical dry forest, as well as a wide variety of wildlife.
Miravalles is also the energetic engine of Guanacaste, thanks to the use of its geothermal energy for the production of electricity. In this area, you will find several thermal pools and you can also visit fountains where the volcanic mud emerges to the surface.
Nicoya and surroundings
Nicoya is a large peninsula that houses the entire southern part of Guanacaste and is also the name of the city with more evidence of pre-Columbian Chorotega culture. Nicoya means "country with water on both sides" in Nahuatl language.
In the town of Nicoya, you can also find tourist hubs to visit the southern beaches of Guanacaste, tour the coffee plantations or venture into the magnificent caverns of Barra Honda. Various holidays that combine folklore and religion are other attractions tourists can enjoy in this area.
Santa Cruz and Palo Verde
Santa Cruz, a city full of culture and traditions is the epicenter of folklore in Costa Rica. Pre-Columbian history, music, dance, cuisine and colorful festivals are some of the manifestations that visitors can enjoy in Santa Cruz.
The town of Guaitil near Santa Cruz, is the cradle of the Chorotega ceramic you see in every corner of the country.
The Papagayo Peninsula is a strip of whimsical offshore geology that emerges from the center of the Gulf of Papagayo. It houses in its shores, tens of pristine beaches, breathtaking landscapes and lush tropical vegetation. Caves, cliffs, forests and mangroves complement its rich coastal landscape.
Those natural virtues, combined with its proximity to the International Airport (LIR) and the presence of beautiful hotels and luxury villas, have made Papagayo one of the tourism stars and a recurring destination for international celebrities who find luxury, relaxation and total privacy.
Tilaran and Nuevo Arenal
Among the evergreen zones of Guanacaste, we have the area of Tilarán and Nuevo Arenal, where the characteristic dry season of Guanacaste is barely perceived.
This area, traditionally devoted to livestock, was for decades only a crossing point between Guanacaste and the Arenal volcano.
Today, however, it has become a tourist destination with its own personality, developing services and attractions as adventure centers and wildlife watching in the surrounding forests or windsurfing, parasailing, boat tours, fishing and other water activities in the waters of lake Arenal.
Sámara and Nosara
Sámara and Nosara postcard-picture beaches with clear sand and abundant palm trees characterize the tourist belt of Ostional, Sámara, Nosara, Carrillo and Guiones, on the south coast of Guanacaste.
The beautiful bay of Samara houses coral reefs and calm waters, while Guiones is the favorite beach for surfers.
Ostional is the largest nesting area for the olive ridley turtle in Costa Rica and also a wildlife world famous refuge.
Originally a destination for adventurous tourists, the area has been differentiated towards an "organic tourism", where yoga, meditation centers and naturist kitchen are taking place among the surf schools, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants on the beach.
Liberia and Surrounding Areas
Liberia is the capital of the province of Guanacaste, and a valuable cultural treasure of Costa Rica. A must-see place for tourists interested in local culture, because they can learn about the rich colonial history and discover the colors and flavors of traditional life in Guanacaste.
The oldest residential buildings in the city, which still stand today, date back to the mid-nineteenth century, and consist of single level homes made of mud and adobe, with clay tile roofs. Its architectural line shows a clear colonial Nicaraguan origin and influence, as many of these homes were built by master builders of the neighboring country. Many houses had a central courtyard, which served to organize the internal spaces: kitchen, bedrooms and troja or maize deposit.
Tamarindo and surroundings
Tamarindo is a long beach of golden sand and long, powerful waves.
It is also a fun town that revolves around surfing, where surfers, local families and many "tourists who stayed to live" have shaped a village with colorful and lively roads.
“Tama” offers excellent hotels and services, as well as a very active nightlife, which has made it the center of action for night owls from nearby coastal communities as Flamingo, Conchal, Potrero or Brasilito.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
Despite its quaint name, it has a commanding presence. This national park and volcano is also a dry, premontane tropical rainforest.
The Rincón de la Vieja volcano massif is located in the watershed dividing the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. It is the source of 32 rivers, including Colorado, Ahogados, Pénjamo, Blanco, Azul and Azufroso, plus 16 intermittent streams. These river basins provide water to the city of Liberia, and some are also tributaries of the Tempisque river basin, the country's largest.
Playas del Coco
Playas del Coco is a coastal community located 20 minutes from the international airport. It is recognized as the epicenter of diving in Costa Rica.
It is also the largest town in the Gulf of Papagayo and, together with Panama, Hermosa and Ocotal beaches, make up the largest chain of tourist, residential and hotel services on the north coast of Guanacaste.
In addition to diving, the area is famous for the quality of its sports fishing, beautiful beaches with calm waters, a less rainy weather and a vibrant nightlife.
La Cruz and Santa Rosa National Park
La Cruz is the northernmost city of Guanacaste, not far from the border with Nicaragua. Its southeast boundary is the watershed divide of the Guanacaste volcanic range, where Orosí volcano is located.
About 70% of its economically active population works in livestock farming, agriculture and fishing. Its greatest development stemmed from the opening of the Inter-American highway. Additionally, thriving tourism as in the rest of the region has generously favored the population of this area, as many work in business and commerce; others have turned their homes into small hotels or "sodas" (cafeterias).
This volcano and national park protects a large area of premontane, rain and cloud forests.
Among the attractions of the area, the famous Celeste River reigns with its stunning turquoise waters and a beautiful sky-colored waterfall.
Chosen among the 10 most beautiful rivers in the world, Celeste River and Tenorio National Park are a perfect choice for nature lovers and wildlife viewing.
You can also enjoy hot springs and rustic hotels, strongly based on sustainability. The park is of high biological importance, it protects a vast area of primary forests and protects several endangered species such as agoutis, tapirs and pumas.
Playas de Guanacaste
En Guanacaste hay mar, sol y arenas para todos los gustos.
A lo largo de su costa, Guanacaste ostenta las playas más hermosas de Costa Rica. Playas vírgenes rodeadas de bosques y fauna silvestre, se alternan con esporádicos poblados costeros o modernos hoteles de playa.
Condiciones para disfrutar no solo del sol y de un baño en las aguas del mar, sino también de pesca deportiva, buceo, surf, esquí acuático, kayak y mucho más.
Bucear en Costa Rica es un experiencia diferente en comparación con otros destinos tradicionales, por la vasta cantidad de plankton y otros organismos vivientes encontrados en sus aguas marinas.
En el Océano Pacífico hay una asombrosa cantidad de vida que no encontrará en ningún otro lugar del mundo. La visibilidad va desde un 30% hasta el 100% y la temperatura de las aguas es de 80F˚ promedio.
Las aguas costeras del noroeste de Guanacaste ofrecen una espectacular diversidad, desde una pequeña y fluorescente damisela hasta una manta gigante.
Guanacaste es un excelente destino de surf, con reconocimiento internacional.
Sus temperaturas tropicales, aguas cálidas y buenas brisas hacen de sus playas lugares con condiciones perfectas para este deporte durante todo el año, siendo los mejores meses durante la temporada de lluvia que es cuando se forman las olas más grandes. Ofrece opciones para principiantes y experimentados.
Entre las playas más famosas está Tamarindo, sus “surf spots” son de renombre mundial, lo mismo que Roca Bruja "Witch's Rock", en el Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, y Potrero, más conocida como "Ollie's Point".
Guanacaste es un excelente destino para la pesca deportiva.
Sus aguas cálidas son propicias para una gran cantidad de fauna marina.
Playa Flamingo es el más importante centro de pesca deportiva en el Pacífico Norte pero los botes también salen cerca de Playas del Coco, Tamarindo, Ocotal, Potrero, Brasilito y algunos puntos intermedios.
Un poco más abajo, algunas embarcaciones navegan hacia Cabo Blanco, saliendo de Nosara, Garza, Sámara y Carrillo, una región muy protegida de los vientos que normalmente soplan desde diciembre hasta abril en el Pacífico Central.
Los viajeros de aventura pueden encontrar en Guanacaste decenas de opciones para tours de canopy, los cuales permiten a los turistas deslizarse sobre las copas de los árboles, junto a una cascada, sobre un río o por el medio de cañones en la montaña.
Varias reservas biológicas cuentan también con plataformas en las copas de grandes árboles en las que la gente es izada.
Una reserva privada incluso tiene una pequeña habitación de hotel construida en la copa de un árbol, para aquellos que quieran pasar una noche en las alturas.
One of the biggest advantages of Guanacaste vocational destination is its abundance of sunny days: More than 200 days of sunshine guaranteed each year.
That is why Guanacaste + beach + sun are 3 words that get along so well. Below, a view of the climate in the province for the next 10 days.
Forecast for Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Sea, sun and sand for everyone.
Along the coast, Guanacaste boasts the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. Virgin beaches surrounded by forests and wildlife, alternate with sporadic modern coastal villages or beach hotels.
Conditions to enjoy not only the sun and a swim in the ocean, but also to enjoy diving, surfing, water skiing, kayaking, fishing among many other options.
Beaches in the North of Guanacaste
Playas en zona costera del Cantón de La Cruz:
1. PLAYA PUERTO SOLEY: Se ubica en Bahía Salinas. De suaves arenas y olas moderadas es muy popular para el disfrute de las puestas de sol. En ella se puede practicar pesca deportiva y desde ahí se puede observar la Isla Bolaños que es un santuario de aves.
2. PLAYA COYOTERA: Es un lugar muy apetecido para el windsurf y desde ella se puede ir en bote o kayak hasta la Isla Bolaños que queda muy cerca. Es ideal para caminatas, la cabalgata y andar en bicicleta de montaña.
3. PLAYA RAJADA: El paisaje es ideal para tomar fotografías y hacer caminatas. Bajo muchos árboles se puede descansar y disfrutar de las olas calmas del mar. Se localiza 8 km al oeste de Puerto Soley. Casi todo el camino está lastreado.
4. PLAYA NUBES: Es una playa de poca pendiente y arenas blancuzcas, protegida por promontorios que le proporcionan un oleaje suave. Es una playa virgen de gran riqueza en flora y fauna terrestre y marina. Su belleza natural la complementa su manglar y el estero. Ideal para baño, pesca deportiva, buceo, camping y fotografía.
5. PLAYA CUAJINIQUIL: Es una playa de arenas grises. Es un asentamiento de pescadores, rodeada totalmente por el manglar del Río Cuajiniquil, presenta vegetación litoral intercalada con vivienda privada. En su fauna se destacan dos grupos de animales: los peces, y las aves. Se puede realizar en ella pesca deportiva.
6. PLAYA NABOS: Es una playa de arenas blancas y suave oleaje. Ofrece un gratísimo escenario natural, tanto terrestre como marino ya que es aún playa virgen, por lo que no ofrece ningún tipo de servicio.
7. PLAYA JOBO: En una pequeña ensenada con oleaje mínimo y arenas blancas. La playa es virgen de bosque tropical seco y gran riqueza en fauna marina. La belleza de su paisaje la hacen ideal para la contemplación, el descanso y disfrutar de sus aguas, además de pesca, buceo y camping.
8. PLAYA JUNQUILLAL: Es amplia y con un paisaje variado que le permite realizar caminatas y cabalgatas. Pero en ella también se puede hacer pesca deportiva, bucear, practicar kayak de mar y surfear. Forma parte del Parque Nacional Santa Rosa y para llegar a ella se camina desde la caseta de entrada o se puede ir en vehículo de doble tracción.
Está localizada a 4 km al norte de la comunidad pesquera de Cuajiniquil, 34 km al suroeste de La Cruz por carretera interamericana o 18 km por puerto Soley y a 58 km al noroeste de Liberia.
Playas en el Parque Nacional Santa Rosa:
9. PLAYA POTRERO GRANDE: Está ubicada dentro del Parque Nacional Santa Rosa y no tiene camino de acceso, por lo que solo se puede llegar por bote desde Playas del Coco o Cuajiniquil.
Es una bahía casi inalterada. En la desembocadura del río Potrero Grande se crea un precioso estuario donde se puede observar el manglar de mayor desarrollo en toda la región noroeste del país. Por su tamaño es importante para la anidación de tortugas marinas, además de un paraíso para los practicantes del surf.
10. PLAYA NANCITE: Es uno de los únicos lugares del mundo para la anidación de la tortuga baula. Más de 175 mil tortugas llegan en arribadas a poner sus huevos sobre todo entre los meses de agosto y diciembre. Forma parte del Parque Nacional Santa Rosa y su acceso está restringido por ser un área ecológica crítica.
11. PLAYA NARANJO: Al igual que Nancite está protegida para la anidación de las tortugas. Posee un área de manglar en Estero Real y Laguna El Limbo. Es una de las mejores playas del país para la práctica del surf, especialmente en el sector conocido como "Roca Bruja", con fuertes vientos de diciembre a marzo. También tiene excelentes olas frente al estero y tres km al sur.
Costa Rica is worldwide known for its efforts to protect the biodiversity of flora and fauna on its territory. More than 25% of the territory of Costa Rica consists of national parks and protected areas. A good part of them are in Guanacaste.
Barra Honda National Park
Barra Honda National Park will surprise adventure and natural beauty lovers. Its network of limestone caverns is decorated with rock formations, thanks to the action of water on calcium carbonate. Although only one of the 19 explored caves is open to the public, it is more than enough to find a unique treasure. Descend over 20 meters to start discovering an unforgettable underground world that will leave you with your mouth open. It is also a special place to walk through the dry forest and be charmed by the beauty of the natural scenarios you can enjoy from their viewpoints.
Schedule: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm for regular tours and from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm to get down to the caverns.
Rate: ¢600 for locals and $ 6 for foreigners. The rental of equipment for the cavern and guide service has an additional cost
Access: Gravel road with some difficulty for small vehicles during the winter.
Routes: From La Amistad Bridge 31 kilometers to the entrance to the village of Barra Honda and 10 kilometers to the park. Another option is 13 kilometers from Nicoya, until you find the entrance to the village of Barra Honda, after that, the signs will guide you.
Services and facilities: Camping area, guide services and caving equipment, food, accommodation, parking, drinking water, public phone within 3 km, radio and tourist information.
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park
The lush primary dry forest that characterizes this park is home to thousands of species of orchids and diverse ecosystems that host around 300 types of birds like the great curassow, the turquoise-browed motmot, black-faced solitaire and toucanet, as well as several mammals such as the mountain goat, the peccary, the agouti, the tayra, armadillo, northern tamandua, two-toed sloth and howler, white-faced and red monkeys.
But the biggest attraction in this park are the pailas: silent boiling fumarolic lagoons amid the premontane forest, trying to go unnoticed, but at the same time, letting their plumes call the attention of visitors.
This amazing haven of peace and tranquility is divided along paths that lead to the pailas and even the volcanic cones through a path where you will see the most active, volcanic mud baths, geysers, caverns, natural saunas, steam baths and pools of hot water in the country.
The Santa Maria crater is inactive and overgrown, and it is the highest point at 1916 meters above sea level.
The park protects and preserves watersheds that supply water to the city of Liberia. It hides a surprising wonder: Lago Azul Waterfall (Blue Lake Waterfall), at 90 feet high and completely blue waters due to the copper content in the water.
Access: From Liberia, continue 5 Km. North, then turn right and drive 20 kilometers, passing the town of Curubandé. Four wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
Schedule: The schedule varies according to the sector. Las Pailas: Tuesday-Sunday from 7:00 to 12:00 md to enter and until 3:00 pm to exit. Santamaría sector: From 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. without restriction. From Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays
Rate: ¢600 for locals and $ 6 for foreigners. Furthermore, an additional ¢700 is charged for entering the private road if you go to Las Pailas.
Services and facilities: Picnic areas, restrooms and camping areas in the Santamaria sector, drinking water, showers, information booth and trails with different degrees of difficulty.
Guanacaste and Santa Rosa National Parks
Located 36 kilometers north of the city of Liberia, Guanacaste and Santa Rosa National Parks have a great ecological diversity distributed in different types of forests: very humid, tropical dry, tropical humid, cloudy and tropical forests. The highest parts of the park are the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. The Tempisque River, the primary freshwater collector in Guanacaste, origins in this park.
About 3,000 types of plants have been identified in this park, as well as 300 species of birds, about 140 species of mammals like the armadillo, puma, white-faced monkeys and deer. According to scientists, you can find 5,000 species of butterflies and moths, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles and more than 10,000 species of insects. The most common animals are monkeys, howler monkeys, armadillos, mice, cougars and black hawks, among others.
Guanacaste National Park was established in 1989 for the protection of tropical forests on the slopes of volcanoes and in order to protect the migratory routes of hundreds of animals migrating to higher lands during dry seasons.
Given the diversity of wildlife it houses, it was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1996. Access to visitors is only for Santa Rosa, as the Guanacaste Park is restricted due to conservation.
Santa Rosa: The main attraction of this park is the old house of Santa Rosa and the stone corrals of great historical importance for the country because they were the scene of the largest national heroic: The Battle of Santa Rosa, which occurred on March 20, 1856, against American filibusters from Nicaragua. The monument was lost in May 2001 during a fire but it was completely rebuilt in 2002.
Santa Rosa preserves the largest sample of dry forest in Central America and its beaches Nancite and Naranjo are of great beauty as well as a very important nesting of olive ridley and leatherback turtles. Playa Naranjo is surrounded by mangroves and its route can be done only on foot or by four-wheel drive during the dry season, following the trails. Access to Nancite is restricted due to its ecological character.
The forest shelters 115 species of mammals such as deer, howler and white-faced monkeys, tapir, jaguar, cougar, raccoon and coati. In addition, there are 253 species of birds, 100 of amphibians and reptiles, and over 10 thousand insect species, including some 3,140 species of butterflies and moths. Some of the most outstanding birds are magpie, orange-fronted parakeets, collared trogon, band-backed wren, caracara plancus, great curassow, and long-tailed black hawk.
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Rate: ¢700 for locals and $ 6 for foreigners.
Access: 36 kilometers on the road from Liberia Nicaragua and from there just follow the signs.
Services and facilities: Camping areas with barbecue, tables, drinking water, sanitation and toilets, telephone and dining by reservation only. Hostel $ 10 per person for local and $ 15 for foreigners.
Palo Verde National Park
With an area of 16,804 hectares, Palo Verde is one of the most ecologically diverse places of the country. It consists of a set of diverse habitats of flood plains, rivers and is bordered by a row of limestone hills. Among these habitats, there are lakes and brackish and freshwater marshes, large areas of salty mangrove grasslands, coastal scrub forest, and mixed forests, waterlogged and evergreen forests.
The natural hydrologic system of Palo Verde creates the right conditions for the largest concentration of all Central American waterfowl and wading birds, both resident and migratory. From September to March, thousands of egrets, herons, egrets, grebes, ibis, ducks and water cockerels are concentrated in the lagoons and neighboring areas to feed and reproduce.
Pájaros Island, 2.3 hectares located opposite the park, is extremely important for its largest colony of country-crowned night herons and for being a nesting area for the glossy ibis, anhinga, pink heron, heron, heron and cattle egret. The park nestles storks an endangered species, and houses the only population of scarlet macaws in theDry Pacific.
Some of the most abundant mammals are howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, raccoons, deer, red squirrels, porcupines and coyotes. Up to five-meter-long crocodiles have been observed in the Tempisque River. The pens and the old existing buildings, are a reflection of the life of the lowland cattle rancher, a very important role in the cultural heritage of ancient Guanacaste.
Schedule: 6:00 a.m. To 6:00 p.m.
Rate: ¢600 for locals and $6 for foreigners.
Access: Four wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
Services and facilities: Hostel with 6 bedrooms, to accommodate 6 people each, especially for groups. It has drinking water, telephone, sanitary facilities.
Tenorio Volcano National Park
The slopes of the volcano are populated by dense forest and are home to a large number of mammals and birds. The park covers an area of 12,871 hectares and the cone of Tenorio has an elevation of 1,916 meters. Few tourists visit this place because of its remoteness but those who enjoy challenging trails will be rewarded with the sight of a variety of life in the cloud forests that surround it.
Among the biggest attractions of the place is the famous Celeste River, with its waterfall and nature trail called "Mysteries of the Tenorio", a distance of 3,200 mts., which you can make in about three hours. Celeste River, Río Celeste owes its name to the blue color, almost milky turquoise, resulting from a chemical reaction in a place where two rivers with completely different chemical properties come together and cause its reaction color. The river, with its almost surreal color, flows through the forest without losing their color even in the nearby waterfall. You can also enjoy steam, hot springs and beautiful panoramic views.
The flora is very diverse; high diversity of palms stands, heliconias, ferns, bromeliads, orchids and others. Among the fauna, we can mention tapirs, donkeys, mountain goats, squirrels, howler and white-faced monkeys, pumas, jaguars, ocelots, anteaters, and birds like the bellbirds, turkeys, trogons and others.
Schedule: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Rate: ¢500 for locals and $ 6 for foreigners.
Access: Four wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
Routes: From the entrance to Upala, follow the road to Liberia, follow the signs to Bijagua and drive 13 kilometers from there.
Services and facilities: Information, drinking water, restrooms, laboratory and accommodation for researchers several shelters near the site.
Las Baulas Marine National Park
This park protects Playa Grande, one of the most important places of the world for the nesting of the leatherback, which is the largest turtle of the world and grows to 2.5 meters long and weighs more than 700 kg. With its dark tone, the leatherback is the only turtle that has a very tough skin, leather-like appearance, instead of a shell. It is very easy to identify by their large front flippers. It is nomadic and its favorite food is the poisonous jellyfish.
Its spawning period is from November to April. They dig a large nest of one meter deep which they cover after laying their eggs.
Olive ridley sea turtle also spawn in Playa Grande. Another interesting place in Las Baulas Marine Park are the mangroves in Tamarindo, with 440 hectares, where large amounts of clay and mud have been deposited. In this beautiful mangrove we can find 6 mangrove species native to the Pacific Coast: two species of salty mangrove, Laguncularia racemosa, red mangrove, piñuela and botoncillo mangrove.
Access: There are two routes: the first is Santa Cruz-Belén-Matapalo-Temples-Playa Grande, with a distance of 52 km. The second route is, Liberia-Guardia-Filadelfia-Matapalo-Temples-Playa Grande, which is 70 km.
Rate: ¢1,000 for locals and $6 for foreigners. The fee is charged only during the spawning season, running from October 20 to 15 February.
Schedule: Free access except during spawning season, when access is restricted from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am. To enter you need to make your reservation at 2653-0470.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Worlwide famous worldwide for its arrivals, Ostional Wildlife Refuge is considered the most important nesting site for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle. From July to November, thousands of them gather at 1 kilometer of beach to lay around a million eggs in arrivals lasting from 3-7 days.
Often, the nests are poached by raccoons, coatis and white-faced monkeys; moreover, the hatched turtles are coveted delicacy for gulls, frigates and crabs. Although egg poaching is illegal, the locals have the right to collect and sell the eggs of first arrival in the following 24 hours after spawning as nests would be destroyed in any case by the following turtles coming. The flora of the refuge consists of trees and plants that grow in sandy soils, such as pipe sticks, royal palm and piñuelas. Animal life is abundant.
Access: Follow the route from Nicoya to Nosara; however during the rainy season it is necessary to call the Ostional Development Association, telephone 682-0428 to order transfer from Nosara as the rivers rise and there is no bridge.
Rate: ¢700 for locals and $7 for foreigners.
Schedule: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. During the turtle arrivals visitors can only enter with a guide.
Season: The arrivals during the rainy season, from June to December, are the largest and reach their peak in August and September. The arrivals in summer run from January to May and they are smaller.
Facilities: Cabins with bathrooms, restaurant and some small restaurants, drinking water, restrooms, telephone and bilingual guides.
Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge
Located in the Gulf of Santa Elena, in the canton of La Cruz, comprising 505 hectares of forest patches, plains, beaches and mangroves.
Junquillal is an excellent refuge for seabirds such as brown pelicans and sea frigates. Furthermore, its beaches receive spawning of Kemp's ridley, Hawksbill, Green and Leatherback sea turtles.
The clear waters of the wide and beautiful beach that stretches over two kilometers, moderate wind and plenty of sunshine, are optimal for enjoying the sun and recreational boat rides.
In addition, there are trails to observe seabirds, contemplate the mountains of Guanacaste and to appreciate the scenic beauty of the small bay. One path leads to the swamp, from where you can see the Orosi volcano.
Access: On the Interamerican Highway, travel 45 kilometers to the intersection of Cuajiniquil. From the crossing to the village of Cuajiniquil, there is a distance of 9 kilometers.
Schedule: From 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. everyday.
Rate: ¢600 for locals and $4 for foreigners, $2 p/p for camping.
Facilities: Campsites with grills, drinking water, toilets and bathrooms, Horizontes Experimental Station.
Isla Bolaños Wildlife Refuge
The Bolaños Island is a rocky mountain of 25 hectares and 81 meters high, located on Salinas Bay, 1.1 km. from Punta Zacate, and 3.5 km. away from Nicaragua. Its rugged terrain consists of sedimentary rock layers dating from 40 million years ago.
This small island is heavily windswept with annual temperatures of 27° C with a rainfall lower than average -less than 1,500 mm-, concentrated from May to November.
Rain is insufficient to meet the needs of the site so the vegetation is sparse and consists of difficult to penetrate bushes, which prevent the growth of other species.
Isla Bolaños is especially important for the conservation of seabirds. This site is one of the few places where there are colonies of brown pelicans and is the only known breeding site for the magnificent frigate birds. For this reason it was declared a wildlife refuge on February 13, 1981. There are small beaches around the island, on the eastern side are white sand beaches with occasional shells and crustaceans scattered on the floor.
Access: Follow the Interamerican Highway up to La Cruz and then follow the road to Bahia Salinas.
You can rent small boats.
Los Pumas Private Shelter
This private sanctuary, an initiative of a Swiss couple, Lilly and Werner Hagnauer, it is the largest in Latin America for wild cats. It is also the only one with six species of native wild cats of Costa Rica: ocelot, ocelots, jaguarondi, margays, two beautiful jaguar and pumas.
Located in Cañas, it has become a haven for animals confiscated or found injured by government authorities.
Here they are cared for; some of them are returned to their habitat, others are kept in the shelter because they could die outside of it. The cats live there in large enclosures with some of the conditions that need: shade, sun exposure, vegetation and water.
Access: Follow the main route to Liberia, from Cañas drive 4 .5 km, first entrance on the right.
Schedule: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Rate: Voluntary contribution.
Facilities: You can watch 50 animal species in danger of extinction, labeled trails, picnic area, restrooms, a classroom for environmental education, souvenirs, information office, and guided tours. Tel: 2669-6096