About half an hour west of Liberia, visitors relax on the Gold Coast's sun-kissed sands. The beaches surrounding the Gulf of Papagayo are wonderful places to sunbathe, swim and snorkel, and include Playa Hermosa, Playa Panama, Playa del Coco and Playa Ocotal. Farther south you’ll find Playa Ostional, known for its mass turtle migrations, and the neighboring beaches of Nosara and Samara.
Iglesia la Ermita de Nuestro Senor de la Agonia
This stunning church dates back to 1866. It is blindingly white on a sunny day, typifying the whitewashed fashion that earns Liberia’s nickname of The White City. The building’s museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and exhibits illustrate XIX century Liberian art, culture, and daily life through antique sculptures, clothes, books and furniture. To get there, follow Avenida Central away from the traffic light until it dead ends at the church.
A popular gathering spot for locals, central park is cozy and often hosts live music on weekends. Vendors sell refreshing cold coconuts from a pushcart, and benches offer a shady respite on a hot day.
Casa de Vico (Newspaper House)
Along Calle Central sits a building that the locals continuously plaster with newspaper clippings. The building permits citizens of Liberia to express themselves uniquely and collectively, to powerfully render their city’s history with their bare hands. Many articles are ancient, and it is not uncommon to see a Liberian pasting over older pieces with more exciting and recent news. Located on Calle Real, two blocks north of the park.
Hacienda La Chacara
Though La Chacara Hacienda sits just five minutes from downtown Liberia, the secluded hacienda feels like a world apart. Guided tours introduce visitors to life on a working ranch – oxcart rides, races on horseback, and lessons in lassoing and roping young calves are just part of the fun. A traditional wooden home acts as the hacienda's museum, displaying pre-Columbian art, antique photos and tools used on early 20th-century farms.
La Casa de los Zuniga Clachar
Two blocks from the Newspaper House, headed away from the park, this old house is worthy of investigation for its ancient typical Costa Rican roof tiles alone. While the dwelling is being renovated into a cafeteria, women’s gymnasium, massage and beauty parlor, and furniture expo, it will always be open for historians who wish to wander the grounds. Tel. 2666-1224
National Parks, Private Parks and Wildlife Refuges:
Africa Mia safari park, the first and only zoo in Guanacaste, is a treat for the entire family. The private facility does not believe in caging wild animals, so residents – giraffes, zebras, and antelope – roam the open savannah. A complete tour includes a visit to El Salto waterfall, a wide ribbon of water that cascades into a natural pool below.
Guanacaste National Park
This 86,000-acre national park sits adjacent to Santa Rosa National Park, and hosts habitats from coastal dry forest to mountainous cloud forest at higher altitudes. Home to the Orosi and Cacao Volcanoes, as well as diverse wildlife and fantastic views, Guanacaste National Park offers visitors a slice of rural paradise. Since this is the primary domain of scientists and researchers, not tourists, visitors can hike all day without encountering a soul.
Palo Verde National Park
Home to 45,000 acres of wetlands and wildlife sanctuary, Palo Verde National Park is an important component of the larger Tempisque Megapark, which also encompasses Barra Honda National Park, Caballero Wildlife Refuge, Cipanci Wildlife Refuge, and Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve. More than 300 bird species, both migratory and resident, inhabit Palo Verde throughout the year, among them herons, egrets, toucans, storks, scarlet macaws, and spoonbills.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Serious hikers should not miss a hike to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The park's popular Las Pailas trail meanders past a waterfall, small volcanic crater, natural steam pools, and bubbling mud pots. For a serious challenge, adventurers brave the eight-hour hike to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, where isolated trails promise animal sightings and a stunning view of the crater. Be sure to go armed with plenty of snacks, water, and long pants – the grasslands of Rincon are full of ticks.
Santa Rosa National Park
One of the oldest national parks in the country, Santa Rosa’s dry tropical forests protect innumerable species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals ambling about watering holes. The park plays a vital role not only environmentally, but also historically. It was created in 1971 to protect the grounds of the momentous Battle of Santa Rosa. Take the Interamerican highway about 20 miles to Potrerillos. The entrance to Santa Rosa Sector is six miles past Potrerillos on the left.
Barra Honda National Park
Go spelunking in Costa Rica's largest underground cave system! The subterranean labyrinth at Barra Honda National Park is estimated at over 50 million years old, and is full of spectacular rock formations and serpentine waterways. Though Barra Honda is located just 60 miles from Liberia, the park hike and spelunking constitutes a full-day excursion.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
One- and two-day tours depart daily from Liberia en route to Monteverde, Costa Rica's premier cloud forest destination. Here, visitors choose from exhilarating canopy tours, hanging bridges, and day and night hikes through beautiful forests. On a clear day, the view stretches down the mountains and out to the picturesque Gulf of Nicoya.