Golden Beaches & Tropical Dry Forest Region
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2012
The Golden Beaches and Tropical Dry Forest Region encompasses the northwestern part of Costa Rica, ranging from the Nicaraguan border to the edge of Puntarenas, and includes the entire Nicoya Peninsula. To the east, the area is bordered by the majestic Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range and to the west, some of the most secluded and undiscovered beaches in Costa Rica.
In the past, these undeveloped beaches were even less frequented, but with the recent construction of the Tempisque River Bridge, locals and tourists alike have easier access to the Nicoya Peninsula. Peninsula tourism has also increased thanks to daily flights and a ferry that connects Puntarenas to Montezuma, Mal Pais, Santa Teresa and Tambor.
Northern Guanacaste’s northernmost beaches begin with Santa Rosa National Park’s sandy strips and surf paradises – world famous Witches’ Rock and Ollie’s Point are located within the park’s boundaries. Farther south, Papagayo, Playa Panama, Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco join together in a burst of golden sunsets, howling monkeys and spectacular underwater scuba diving adventures.
Just north of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Gold coast lines Guanacaste’s north Pacific shores with a picturesque stretch of beaches and seaside communities. From south to north, this alluring expanse of coastline includes Playa Negra, Avellanas, Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Brasilito, Playa Conchal, Flamingo Beach and Potrero. The Gold coast gives visitors the choice of thrilling adventure travel, world-class golfing, relaxing nature offerings, excellent entertainment and fine dining.
The region is also known for its active volcanoes, tropical dry forests (this is one of the driest areas in Costa Rica), wildlife reserves and national parks. Palo Verde National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Santa Rosa National Park and Barra Honda National Park top the region’s most-visited list, offering between them thousands of wildlife species, several active volcanic craters, miles of caves and spectacular vistas. Looming high in the sky, Orosi Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Miravalles Volcano, Tenorio Volcano and Santa Maria Volcano watch over the parks and forests below.
Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste Province, is the northernmost large city. Museums, markets, restaurants and top-notch resorts entertain even the most seasoned tourist. International flights into Liberia began in 2002, and the Daniel Oduber International Airport now welcomes direct flights from the United States, Canada and many European nations. Regional airports serve area towns as well, including Tamarindo, Tambor and Nosara.
Cowboy culture is a way of life in Guanacaste, especially in the northern grasslands near Rincon de la Vieja and the open fields just inland from the coast. At one time, farms and haciendas dominated the landscape, though many have now given way to resorts, hotels and housing. The cowboy legend lives on in the incredible hand-stacked, mortar-free stone fences and walls that line property boundaries. Tourists are invited to experience ranch life first hand: participating in cattle drives, horseback riding, or farming for a day on one of Guanacaste’s still-working ranches.
This region is arguably the most diverse in Costa Rica, inviting visitors to enjoy turquoise waters, gentle beaches, active volcanoes, extensive caves, historical sights and nesting turtles. Bursting with ecotourism options, the province combines the country’s most ideal weather with diverse habitats, adventure travel and native wildlife, creating memories and experiences that are impossible to forget.
This Region is Best Known For:
- Year-round Surf & Championship Golfing
- Cowboy Culture at Rincon de la Vieja
- World-Class Sport Fishing
- Caving in Barra Honda National Park
- Nesting Olive Ridley and Leatherback Sea Turtles
- Dec. 24 Christmas Eve
- Dec. 25 Christmas Day
- Dec. 26 National Horse Parade
- Jan. 1 New Year's Celebrations