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Things to Do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, relaxing hot springs, active volcanoes, and incredible national parks in Central America.

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, consider staying in the Guanacaste Province, located on the country’s Pacific Coast. Here, you’ll find laid-back white sand beaches, dry tropical rainforests, volcanoes, and more. You’ll also be ideally situated to explore the rest of the country’s most popular attractions.

Explore this overview of the best things to do in Guanacaste and beyond to discover why this region is the perfect “home base” for your vacation.

Costa Rica Attractions

Playa Flamingo beach

Guanacaste Beaches


Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, found along the country’s Pacific coastline, is home to some of the country’s most popular beach towns.


Costa Rica is home to several dormant and active volcanoes—in Guanacaste and beyond.


Rejuvenating in Costa Rica’s mineral-laden natural hot springs is an incredible way to relax while surrounding yourself with the country’s tropical beauty.


Costa Rica’s stunning waterfalls are admired by locals and tourists alike. Here are a few picturesque waterfalls, in Guanacaste and beyond, to see during your vacation.


One of the most popular natural attractions to explore in Costa Rica is the rainforest, home to hundreds of unique animal species and thousands of diverse plants.

Costa Rica has both dry tropical rainforests, found in low elevation regions, like Guanacaste, and high-elevation rainforests, where you can explore the awe-inspiring cloud forests. Here’s a look at what makes Costa Rica’s rainforests and their surrounding natural environment unique.

Several tourists viewing a volcano's crater

National Parks


Did you know that Costa Rica has protected over 25% of its land in national parks?

With so many unique parks to visit in diverse ecoregions, you can immerse yourself in dozens of beautiful environments during your trip to Costa Rica. Here is a brief overview of many of the country’s most popular parks, emphasizing the parks found in or near the Guanacaste Province.

Costa Rica Activities

things to do in costa rica like whale watching

Whale Watching


Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is an excellent spot for whale watching, especially if you’re hoping to see humpback whales. In Guanacaste, you can go on a humpback whale-watching excursion in the Gulf of Papagayo or the Gulf of Nicoya in July, August, and September.

If you want to see humpback whales from December to March, you’ll need to travel to Uvita Beach, south of Guanacaste along the Pacific Coast in the Puntarenas Province.

Scuba diver swimming along the ocean floor

Scuba Diving


There are tons of places to go scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica, where you’ll be able to encounter vibrant coral, tropical marine life, manta rays, bull sharks, and more.

In Guanacaste, popular diving locations include the Bat Islands, Catalina Islands, and Tamarindo, all located off the country’s Pacific coast, and the Tortuga Islands, located off the southeastern edge of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can access most of Costa Rica’s diving locations with a short boat ride.

Group of tourists on a blue raft

Rafting


Though many of the country’s premier white water rafting opportunities are found in and around La Fortuna, there are many great rivers for white water rafting in Guanacaste.

You can experience the thrill of Class III and IV rapids on the Pacuare River or ease into your rafting experience on Class I and II rapids on the Corobici River and Tenorio River, located in the heart of Guanacaste.

woman kayaking in Costa Rica

Kayaking


Costa Rica is one of the best destinations in the world for those who want a perfect kayaking experience. The clear water, warm climate, and tropical forests full of wildlife provide a memorable experience that people only come to Costa Rica for. There are plenty of great rivers to kayak on, as well as opportunities for fishing on the coast.

Surfer on wave

Surfing


Guanacaste’s Pacific coast is filled with adventurous opportunities for surfing. If you’re a beginner, learn how to surf on the calm waves at Playa Tamarindo, then show you skills at Playa Avellanas, nicknamed “Little Hawaii,” or the black sand beaches at Playa Negra.

Group of people displaying their newly caught fish on a boat

Fishing


Costa Rica offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the world thanks to the abundance of river, lakes, and oceans that are present throughout the country. Fly fishing has become one of the most popular forms of sport fishing in Costa Rica thanks to its popularity among many different regions. The best time to go fishing is during the rainy season – which lasts from May to November – because this provides for better water levels and less interference with other wildlife.

woman paddle boarding in costa rica

Paddle Boarding


Paddle boarding in Costa Rica is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. There are many places to go paddle boarding in Costa Rica, but one of the best places to go is Playa Hermosa. This beach has calm waters with plenty of space for beginners to learn how to paddle board without getting into trouble with waves or currents.

group of people on atvs

ATVs


Renting an ATV in Costa Rica is an experience like no other. There are many places that you can rent ATVs in Costa Rica, but the best place to go for this activity is the Arenal Volcano area. This area has many different trails that you can take your ATV on and get up close with nature.

woman rappelling near rapids

Rappelling


Costa Rica is a world-renowned destination for adventure seekers and thrill-seekers. There is an abundance of activities that can be enjoyed, such as rappelling or rock climbing, and the land’s natural beauty includes rainforests.

group of tourists ziplining

Ziplines


Soar above the rainforest on a zipline. Diamante Eco Adventure Park offers some of the best, top-rated ziplining experiences in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Hiker coming down a trail in Costa Rica

Hiking


Many of Costa Rica’s national parks, located in Guanacaste, offer excellent hiking trails. You can trek along on the rugged trails in Santa Rosa National Park, wind through the rock formations in Barra Honda National Park, or hike to see waterfalls, mud pools, and lush greenery in Rincón de la Vieja National Park.

Beautiful Costa Rican bird on a branch

Birding


Costa Rica has over 800 species of birds, making it the most biodiverse country in the world. In addition to that, Costa Rica has a variety of habitats that make it perfect for birdwatching.

Costa Rica is also home to many different national parks and reserves that are great for birdwatching. One example is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which is home to over 400 species of birds.

View of golf course

Golf


The Guanacaste region is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in Costa Rica. The area has over 20 world-class courses, and it’s only a short drive from San Jose, making it an ideal destination for both locals and tourists alike.

Yoga teacher teaching a yoga class

Yoga


Yoga is a great way to stay healthy and fit. The experience of yoga in Costa Rica is something that you should not miss. There are many yoga classes in Guanacaste, some of which are on the beach. Yoga is a good way to end your day with some relaxation exercises before going to bed.

Group of people riding horses

Horseback Riding


Horseback riding in Costa Rica can be done on the beach or through the rainforest. You can also go horseback riding on a volcano or just enjoy the view from one of them.

Horseback riding tours are available for all levels of riders and there are many different types to choose from including day tours, multi-day tours and overnight trips to volcanoes or other remote destinations.

two mountain bikers riding on a trail

Mountain Biking


Costa Rica is the perfect place for mountain bike riding. Guanacaste is one of the best places to go mountain biking in Costa Rica.

Mountain bike riding in Guanacaste offers an experience of a lifetime. The landscape is breathtaking and the trails are challenging and fun. There are many different routes to choose from, so you can pick one that suits your skill level and desired difficulty.

Plenty of Things to Do in Costa Rica like relax on the beach
Don’t forget to relax after a long day of fun activities in Costa Rica.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is there to do in Guanacaste Costa Rica?


Guanacaste is known for its beautiful coastline, sandy beaches, and unique national parks, filled with gorgeous scenery! Some of the best things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, include wildlife spotting, ziplining through the rainforest, surfing and snorkeling at the beach, hiking to volcanoes and waterfalls, relaxing at hot springs, and more.

What should you not miss in Costa Rica?


While you’re visiting Costa Rica, you can’t miss the chance to trek or zipline through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and visit the charming town of La Fortuna to see the Arenal Volcano. You should also explore the lush rainforests and white sand beaches in the Manuel Antonio National Park, spot sea turtles in Tortuguero, and soak up the sun on the famous beaches in the Guanacaste Province, like Playa Hermosa and Playa Flamingo.

What is Costa Rica best known for?


Costa Rica is known for its diverse national parks, where visitors can go on thrilling adventures, like hiking, rafting, ziplining, and more, as well as its biodiverse wildlife, including sloths, sea turtles, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Costa Rica is also known for its impressive volcanoes, pristine beaches, colorful culture, relaxing spas, authentic cuisine, great coffee, towering waterfalls, and more!

What do visitors do in Costa Rica?


Costa Rica is unique because it appeals to both luxury travelers and rugged explorers. Visitors can lounge on the beautiful beaches in the Guanacaste Province and the Nicoya Peninsula or relax at the thermal Tabacón Hot Springs for a restful vacation. Travelers looking for an adventure can hike the trails near the Arenal Volcano, go wildlife spotting in the Corcovado National Park, zipline through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, as well as surf, snorkel, or scuba dive at Costa Rica’s amazing beaches.

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