Paradisus All Inclusive Luxury Resorts - Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

With a total of 5,921 sq. miles and more than 400 miles of coast line, the Guanacaste tourism area comprises the Pacific Coast area from the border of Nicaragua to the Bongo River estuary in the Nicoya Peninsula. This tourism area is home to a very important section of Costa Rica’s cultural and natural heritage. This area boasts a significant number of protected areas including water, land, mountain, and coastal ecosystems that are teaming with life.

Guanacaste is Costa Rica's "Gold Coast" -- and not because this is where the Spanish Conquistadors found vast quantities of the brilliant metal ore. Instead, it's because more and more visitors to Costa Rica are choosing Guanacaste as their first -- and often only -- stop. Beautiful beaches abound along this coastline. Several are packed with a mix of hotels and resorts, some are still pristine and deserted, and others are backed by small fishing villages. Choices range from long, broad sections of sand stretching on for miles, to tiny pocket coves bordered by rocky headlands.

All along the Guanacaste coastline are a number of beaches where you can swim in their warm Pacific Ocean waters. The coastal landscape is exceptional. There is an array of white-sand beaches and calm, intense-blue waters. There are two commercial centers located in the northern area: Liberia and Santa Cruz, which, in turn, are linked with five important tourism development centers: Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo. In the southern area, the commercial center is Nicoya with Samara being the development center.

Inland from the beaches, Guanacaste remains Costa Rica's "Wild West," a land of dry plains populated with cattle ranches and cowboys, who are known here as sabaneros, a name that derives from the Spanish word for "savanna" or “grassland."

This is Costa Rica's driest region. The rainy season starts later and ends earlier, and overall it's more dependably sunny here than in other parts of the country. Combine this climate with a coastline that stretches south for hundreds of miles, from the Nicaraguan border, all the way to the Nicoya Peninsula, and you have an equation that yields beach bliss.

One caveat: During the dry season (mid-Nov to Apr), when sunshine is most reliable, the hillsides in Guanacaste turn browner than the chaparral of Southern California. Dust from dirt roads blankets the trees in many areas, and the vistas are far from tropical. On the other hand, if you happen to visit this area in the rainy season (particularly from May-Aug), the hillsides are a beautiful, rich green, and the sun usually shines all morning, giving way to an afternoon shower.

This is Costa Rica's most coveted vacation destination and the site of its greatest tourism development. The international airport in Liberia receives daily direct flights from several major U.S. and Canadian hub cities, allowing tourists to visit some of Costa Rica's prime destinations without having to go through San José. It also relies on important support by the Tourism Development Center of the Gulf of Papagayo. Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós) (IATA: LIR, ICAO: MRLB), also known as Liberia International Airport, is one of four international airports in Costa Rica. The airport is located in the city of Liberia in Guanacaste Province. Daniel Oduber Quirós International airport is the country's second and Central America's ninth busiest airport.


  • Guanacaste is home to several active volcanoes and some beautiful national parks, including Santa Rosa National Park, the home to massive sea turtle nesting and the site of a major battle to maintain independence; Rincón de la Vieja National Park, which features hot springs and bubbling mud pots, pristine waterfalls, and an active volcanic crater; and Palo Verde National Park, a beautiful expanse of mangroves, wetlands, and savannah.
  • The Tempisque River's dry tropical forest is an important habitat for several different species of monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, and migratory and aquatic birds such as the roseate spoonbill, white ibis, greets egret, little blue heron, tricoled heron, and bare throated tiger heron. The variety of birds in this region is the most extensive in the entire country. The southern leg of the river passes through the Palo Verde National Park, a legitimate bird watching paradise, encompassing mangroves, swamp and both fresh water and salt water lagoons. It is a calm, relaxing float through one of Costa Rica’s prized national parks, an unforgettable experience.
  • Due to the climatic conditions of Guanacaste, the rich flora and fauna, as well as many natural, cultural and architectural landscapes, photography is a popular activity among tourists.
  • Sport fishing is one of the main attractions in the Northern Pacific, whether it is commercial or recreational. There are also tournaments where various world records have been broken for long-nose fish which are returned to the sea.
  • There are sites and buildings of important architectural and historical significance as well as national monuments that are considered “must see” in Abangares, Bagaces, Cañas, Liberia, and Santa Cruz.
  • Bird watching is mainly in the protected areas like Palo Verde, Curú, Bolaños Island, and Tenorio.
  • Arts and crafts in Guaitil de Santa Cruz and San Vicente de Nicoya are made from pure clay, following traditional techniques used by the Chorotega indigenous people. They create ornaments, jars, flower pots, vases, plates, ocarinas (a musical instrument) and other pieces. You can also purchase bowls made from the Typha plant which is also used for various types of paper products.
  • Diving in Gulf of Papagayo and the Santa Catalina Islands.
  • Bolsón Eco-tourism, located in the Bolsón community, offers a number of rural tourism housing services in Ortega and Bolsón, with families prepared to receive tourists.


Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It borders Nicaragua to the north. To the east there is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq. miles) and as of 2010, had a population of 326,953. Guanacaste's capital is Liberia. Other important cities include Cañas and Nicoya.

Before the Spanish arrived, this territory was inhabited by Chorotega Indians from the town 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.

The first church was built out of grass in Nicoya in the 17th Century. 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. The inhabitants decided by their own will to be part of Costa Rica. The 25th of July 1824 the town people of Nicoya and Santa Cruz decided to join Costa Rica. In 1836 the town of Guanacaste was declared capital of Guanacaste province. In 1854 the town of Guanacaste was renamed Liberia.

The province is bounded on the east by a group of green-swathed volcanoes forming the Cordillera de Guanacaste (which features Orosi, Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes) and the Cordillera de Tilaran. The rivers that tumble out of these steep mountains flow down to rolling flatlands, forming a vast alluvial plain drained by the Rio Tempisque, which empties through swampy wetlands into de Golfo de Nicoya. The Rio Tempisque defines one side of the horsehead-shaped Peninsula de Nicoya enclosing the gulf to the west.

Guanacaste's climate and culture are unique among Costa Rican provinces. The province experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April, resulting in ubiquitous tropical dry forests as a natural adaption to the dry season conditions. Tourists seek out this dry heat during the North American winter to enjoy the Guanacastecan beaches. Irrigation of the agricultural land is necessary during the long dry period. From May to October, the climate is similar to that of San José, consisting of showers daily and moderate temperatures. Guanacaste is, however, considerably warmer than other provinces located in higher elevations.

Most of the population descends from a mix of Chorotega natives and Spaniards. The Chorotega culture and the Spanish culture have successfully integrated; among the main cultural elements are their music, literature (folklore), musical instruments, bullfighting, and religious events.


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