"A Must Sea" on your list of places to visit in Costa Rica, Playas Del Coco, in the northwest Pacific, Province of Guanacaste, close to the neighboring beaches of Matapalo, Ocotal, Hermosa, Panama. Easy traveling on paved roads right to the oceanfront park. Only 30 minutes to the International Airport in Liberia, the Capital of the Province of Guanacaste. This charming seaside community embraced by emerald hills, offers numerous amenities for the tourist, retiree, 2nd home owner and primary resident.
Sports-Recreation: departure point for the best diving and surf sites (Witches Rock and Ollie’s Point), sport fishing, sailing, kayaking, swimming (calm waters), soccer field, basketball court, horseback riding, and not too far from canopy tours, river rafting and hot springs. Coco Coastline offers a pedestrian and bike path (no cars allowed).
Conveniences: super markets, bakery, variety/artisan shops, mechanic shops, banks, churches, private ambulance service and medical/dental offices, pharmacies, international and local restaurants, Hard Rock Café, Subway, 10 minutes to a movie theatre, gas station.
Government Services: police department, post office, port captain (first port of entry from the North), Immigration office.
Pending and Existing Star Projects: Marina and Pier in Coco Bay (planning stage), the Four Seasons Hotel and Residential Resort (open), Occidental Grand Papagayo Resort (open), and pending: Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Bay Resort, Westin, and Regent Resorts pending in neighboring communities. We also offer the quaint B & B’s, beachfront charmers, small condos and mid-level hotels.
Entertainment: International restaurants, disco music, bars, casinos, art gallery, spa, moonlit concerts. Fun filled events; horse parades (Tope), school parades and a religious celebration when a procession of boats proudly carry the statue of the Virgin Mary, Iron Man coming 2017 (for 3 years), Marathon, Triathlon, 10K run and International Bike Races, skimboard classic competition.
Community: We have a strong sense of community with many good organizations: Cardio Safe Community Project (I wrote a grant with the U.S. Embassy and received 3 defibrillators which are available in Coco, Hermosa and we donated one to the Red Cross), CPR classes part of the above project, Toys For Tots, Care for animals (they have neutered over 4,000 dogs and cats), back pack/school supply program, International Guanacaste Veteran's Association (we will have the Warriors helping Warriors project - sponsoring 10 purple heart recipients to our area all expenses paid Nov. 2017). MisionTiburon is a Conservationist Association non profit organization, its goal is promoting the research, management and conservation of sharks.
The romantic side of Coco glimmers from past history of honeymooners arriving in Coco by ox cart. Coco’s ambience inspired local composer Hector Zuñiga to write a love song – “Amor de Temporada”.
Coco, often referred to as the “Smiling Bay”, is a true reflection of the charming people and warm welcome you will receive as you enter and upon your departure BUT only as a gesture to wish you well and to invite your return.
Playa Ocotal is a small town that is 3 km south of Playas del Coco on the northern pacific coast of Costa Rica. The beach on Playa Ocotal is one of the best places to snorkel in the area. Playa Ocotal is also one of the cleanest and quietest beaches around. Playa Ocotal is located at only 40 kms from the city of Liberia and the gateway to the Gulf of Papagayo. Playa Ocotal is a small beach protected by hills and cliffs of sedimentary metamorphic rocks of 80 million years of age. Its clear sands mix with scarce rock formations and the dry forests of the hills. Ocotal is famous for its clear waters making Scuba diving and snorkeling an unforgettable experience.
Playa Ocotal is a calm, sandy beach, about a third of a mile long; it's ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and other outdoor activities. It's also a perfect place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Playa Ocotal is a five-minute drive from Playas del Coco, a small fishing and tourist village. This tiny pocket cove features a small salt-and-pepper beach bordered by high bluffs and is quite beautiful. When it's calm there's good snorkelling around some rocky islands close to shore here.
The sea air is tinged with a whitish mist that many healers believe to be rich in negative ions, small particles charged with electricity that have beneficial effects on people animals and plants. The advantage of Ocotal is that this idyllic beach combines this kind of energy with hours and hours of brilliant sunshine, a mild climate and the warm inviting waters of the blue sea. Indeed, during the dry season (December-April) there are 9 hours of sun a day and there can be 4-5 during the rainy or green season.
Playa Ocotal is an attractive but small beach 3 - 4 km southwest of Playas del Coco. It is the cleanest and quietest beach in the area, offering good swimming and snorkelling. Scuba diving is available, and nearby Catalina island is a recommended diving spot; it's the best place to see huge schools of rays, including the giant manta ray. Accommodations are good but not cheap. Camping is possible but not that common; be discrete and you'll have a better time. The south end of the beach is recommended for snorkelling. Kayak rentals, sport fishing trips, scuba diving, snorkelings, sailing trips are also available in the area.
Playa Ocotal proudly flies the Blue Flag awarded by the Costa Rican government to the country’s cleanest and most eco-friendly beaches. Local businesses are committed to keeping the beach in pristine condition.
The beautiful Playa Hermosa located in Guanacaste is just 20 minutes from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia. One of the best maintained beaches in the country, Playa Hermosa, offers visitors crystal clear blue waters and gorgeous scenery, making it a very popular beach strip on the west coast. Playa Hermosa lies seven kilometers north of Playas del Coco. Meaning ‘beautiful beach’ in Spanish, Playa Hermosa has made a name for itself with its idyllic beauty and lush surroundings. A two-kilometer long grey sand beach, encircled by tropical forests and ridges of volcanic rock, Hermosa Beach is a great family destination for all to enjoy.
Winner of the ‘Bandera Azul’ or ‘Blue Flag’, a prize given to beaches that demonstrate high environmental standards and excellent safety facilities. This beach is relaxed, rarely crowded and laid back most of the year, making it a great retreat for those who wish to just lie back leisurely and enjoy the sun. With warm water temperatures and ideal weather conditions all year long, Playa Hermosa is the perfect haven with convenient accommodations and restaurants that line the beach shore. Recently, many luxury hotels have also set up base out in Playa Hermosa to take advantage of the pristine conditions. Perfect for swimming and scuba diving, Playa Hermosa offers amazing diving safaris and snorkeling opportunities for those who enjoy being out in the sea. With some of the best scuba diving in the country, you can also have great fun renting out kayaks, sailboards, windsurfing equipment, canoes, jet skis and water bikes from the many shops that line the beach.
Local tourist companies also offer organized fishing trips as well as catamaran rides along the Hermosa coast for those who prefer a more tranquil holiday.
For those who prefer to try their luck on land, there are guided horseback tours available in the surrounding areas, as well as trips to a nearby gorgeous mangrove swamp. If you wish, you can even take a day trip to the Arenal Volcano and relax in the hot springs found close by.
Located within Culebra or Snake Bay in the scenic Gulf of Papagayo in the Guanacaste Province, Playa Panama is one of the most attractive beaches in Guanacaste province. With close proximity to Liberia and the Daniel Oduber International Airport, Panama beach is accessible all year round through a new road that has been opened connecting the beach directly with Liberia.
A five-minute drive from the fabulous beaches of Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco, Playa Panama offers tourists stunning ocean views and laidback beaches that are within close range of some of the country’s best national parks, A key feature of this beach is also that it lies close to the airport; with international flights regularly landing from cities such as Hawaii, Houston, Atlanta, Madrid and Toronto.
A typical inner bay beach, Playa Panama has slate grey sand and beautiful blue waters, making it very visually appealing. Having no rocks, this beach is one of the best places to swim as the currents here are not strong, and the tide often remains quite low. Around two kilometers in length, Playa Panama is surrounded by a tropical forest of sarno, brazilwood, manchineel mesquite and Panama trees and shrubs. However, there are only a few Panama trees found here nowadays.
There are no shops in Panama, only few hotels, restaurants.
PENINSULA DE PAPAGAYO
Papagayo is located in Guanacaste, close to the Liberia International Airport. Rest and relaxation always go hand in hand in the Gulf of Papagayo, with mesmerizing ocean views and intimate settings and activities, as well as lush tropical greenery at every turn. If you enjoy sunny days, this is your spot. Here you can find large resort developments, as well as small intimate hotels and close proximity to lots of national parks such as Santa Rosa and Rincon de la Vieja.The Papagayo Gulf is about three kilometers north of Playa Hermosa in a region slated for tremendous economic growth. It boasts a rich tropical setting overlooking the Pacific and is a development area for exclusive hotels and five star all-inclusive resorts. Stunning views, beautiful beaches, proximity to Pacific National Parks and easy access are among the features that make the Papagayo Gulf region so desirable to investors.
Papagayo Gulf is the home to many of Costa Rica's all-inclusive exclusive resorts. Located in the northern Pacific Coast just north of Playa Panama. The Papagayo Gulf is untamed and very beautiful. If you want to get away from people and experience the nature of Costa Rica at its fullest, this is a great area to explore.
osta Rica's government is dedicated to sustainable progress in the Papagayo Gulf. This growth will preserve the environment while allowing for increased real estate development and tourism. The Papagayo Tourist Project monitors expansion.
Traditionally known as a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers, Papagayo is also a charming experience for those interested in relaxation and fun. Papagayo's beaches comply with most of the requirements upon which a good beach is usually judged. Water quality, views, texture of sand and the limited presence of mosquitoes and other pests are probably the most specified criteria. There is a general agreement that Papagayo's shores rank very well when it comes to these factors.
From calm waters with great swimming, to the finest sand beaches with magnificent panoramas, Papagayo is a perfect destination to enjoy nature and relax.
Playa Potrero is spread out around a palm-fringed bay on the northern Pacific coast.
To reach the small paradise of Playa Potrero, a drive from Liberia's International Airport takes 45 minutes, or it is four and a half hours from San Jose.
The quiet and gorgeous bay of Playa Potrero is situated in the province of Guanacaste, where visitors enjoy dreamy summer days along the numerous beaches and warm turquoise waters. The area is rich with exotic plant and wildlife, and to the east, a string of volcanic mountain ranges boarder the Province.
In the Playa Potrero area, visitors can choose from a wide variety of water sports such as Scuba Diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. They can also enjoy world-class deep-sea fishing for Marlin, Tuna and Swordfish. The Playa Flamingo community to the south, maintains a full service marina, offering boating excursions and water sport rentals. For those wanting to get off the beach and discover the surrounding rainforest, Santa Rosa National Park and Palo Verde Natural Reserve are not far away.
Playa Potrero has a range of accommodations choices to suit a variety of budgets.
While Tamarindo maybe the most developed beach resort along the Guanacaste coastline, Playa Flamingo is still one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Situated on the country’s Gold Coast, Playa Flamingo is located in Punta Salinas, northwest of Bahia Brasilito, 75 km southwest of Liberia. Located in between the beaches of Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito.
With its stunning white sand, unspoiled beaches and pristine clear blue waters, Playa Flamingo is the ideal vacation getaway, offering visitors some of the best deep sea fishing in the world. Marlin, tuna, swordfish and snapper can be found off the coast all year around, making this beach an extremely popular tourist destination. Every July, this beautiful beach also plays host to a fantastic international sailfish tournament sponsored by the Costa Rican Amateur Fishermen’s Club.
Besides deep sea fishing, Playa Flamingo also offers a wealth of water sports along with close proximity to the amazing Santa Rosa National Park and the Palo Verde natural reserve. Nearby, for the golfing enthusiast is also an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Scuba diving is available here all year round, allowing tourists to experience the excitement of swimming with white-fin sharks and an array of other stunning tropical fish and marine life. Sailing and diving expeditions and tours can also be arranged to the close by island of Plata.
Among the first beaches to attract international attention along Costa Rica’s ‘Gold Coast,’ Playa Brasilito along with Playa Flamingo and Playa Conchal sit on the northwestern shore ofGuanacaste province. A tiny fishing village offering a wonderful beach stretch to relax and enjoy, Playa Brasilito is located 70 km from Liberia and around 45 km from the town of Santa Cruz. Easily accessible by bus and taxi, many people land at the Liberia International Airport to get here.
A 2-kilometer long beach of great scenic beauty, Playa Brasilito is a 10-minute walk from Playa Conchal and a 5-minute drive from Playa Flamingo. With just a few hotels and cabins, much of this beach retains a local flavor with many Ticos (Costa Ricans) coming here to spend the weekend away from the city. A small town in the center of Playa Brasilito is a soccer field or Plaza, while around the edge of the village you will find a few small pulperias or general stores. A surprisingly pleasant place to spend some quiet time, tourists can experience Tico life at its most natural out here.
Considered to be one of the most exotic beaches on the Costa Rican Gold Coast, Playa Conchal is situated in the north of Guanacaste province on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Two kilometers from Playa Brasilito, this marvelous beach is also a stone’s throw away from the famous Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo. Together with Playa Brasilito, this beach is separated by a rocky headland known as Punta Conchal, which gets its name from the sand found here that is composed of hundreds of millions of tiny crushed shells.
This four kilometer beach stretch is accessible by air from San Jose to Tamarindo Domestic Airport, from where you can take a 10-minute taxi ride into town. However, you can also get here by taxi from the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, but it is around a 45-minute drive. If you don’t mind the traveling, you can enjoy a lovely scenic drive from San Jose to Playa Conchal, which takes around 4 hours.
A fabulous beach that has near perfect weather all year long, Playa Conchal, is bathed in sunshine most of the time, with over 10 hours of daylight from December to April. The water here always remains at a comfortable temperature and is ideal for swimming or snorkeling.
With some of the clearest waters on the Gold Coast, snorkeling is a must-indulge activity for anyone who knows how to swim. With a fantastic array of marine life on display, you can swim with the many tropical fish that dwell here, and even catch a glimpse of stingrays that swim in the area. For the more adventurous, deep seas fishing, scuba diving, and other water sports are offered as well. If you get tired of the beach, Playa Conchal is also close to a few national parks and nature reserves.
For the avid golfer, the ‘Garra de Leon’ Golf Course is just a few paces away from the beach. This championship course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is considered to be one of the best golf courses in Central America with its breathtaking scenic beauty of the Pacific coast. Bordered by a forest on one side, you can often catch sight of howler monkeys that live there.
The nearby resort destination of Tamarindo presents lots of options for nightlife, dining and accommodations. Located one hour from International Liberia Airport.
Serene, relatively secluded Playa Grande presents an expanse of white sand beach fringed by tropical jungle. At low tide, beachgoers enjoy exploring the tide pools. A favorite with surfers and eco-tourists, the beach of Playa Grande belongs to the National Park Las Baulas, which protects the nesting sites of endangered leatherback sea turtles.
Tamarindo is a town and distrito located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Province of Guanacaste. The district has a population of 6,869, although the town itself is about 500. It can swell to 5,000 people or more during the tourist season and during special holidays. The main attractions are surfing and eco-tourism.
The beaches in the area are generally clean and recent efforts by the government and local business organizations are proving themselves. However, the area has become a boon to developers who have cut corners and not installed proper infrastructure including black water treatment. While the beach has not regained its Blue Flag Status, in September 2008, it did get a clean bill of health from the Costa Rican Government. The town is trying to regain its Blue Flag Status.
The average driving time from the Liberia international airport to Tamarindo is about an hour along route 21 through Palmira, Filedelfia, and Belen, and then on route 155 through Huacas. This route is on paved roads all the way, but just one lane in each direction. However, just as you reach the small town of Villareal, there is a busy 3-way intersection with route 152. It has no traffic lights or stop signs in any direction. Nonetheless, the drivers tend to be fairly polite, as elsewhere in Guanacaste, and mostly wait their turn.
However, it is still wise to be careful, as motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians will often go right through the intersection without stopping, or even slowing down.
Route 152 into Tamarindo has a steep hill with a blind curve, so additional care is needed, both entering and leaving Tamarindo. There are also many shops along this route, so it is common for cars to appear without warning. The last turn into town, just as the ocean appears, has a tall cliff on the left, so it also has a limited view of oncoming traffic. At that point, the road gets narrower, as you pass the police station on the right. There are often cars and trucks parked on both sides of the road, sometimes leaving only a single lane for vehicles in both directions. As with the 3-way intersection, drivers are usually courteous, and rarely honk their horns. This can be a surprise to drivers from more populous countries, such as the USA.
Tamarindo offers all services There are 5 supermarkets in the area, There is a fair-sized farmers market between the beginning of the road to Langosta every Saturday morning, which has a variety of items for sale, not just food. You will usually find at least a few dozen vendors there. There is also a smaller farmers market in Villareal, at the corner of the soccer field, every Friday morning, but it only has fruits and vegetables. There are 3 banks in Tamarindo and 22 hotels in Tamarindo, Several shops in Tamarindo that sell and rent surf boards. They also sell related equipment and clothing.
ATV Tours - Combo Tours - Estuary Safari - Horseback Riding - Kayak Tours - Massages - White Water Rafting class or Tubing - Rincon de la Vieja Tours - Scuba Diving - Shuttles & Transfers - Snorkeling - Spa & Beauty - Sport Fishing - Sailing - Sunset Sailing - Surfing Lessons - Tennis Classes - Turtle Nesting Tours - Zip Line / Canopy Tours are available in the area.
A small, Pacific coastal town in a remote corner of Costa Rica's Guanacaste region, blessed with a stunning natural beauty unlike anywhere on earth. Either on an airplane or a car, getting to Nosara is just easy. At 159 miles away from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, the road to Nosara is as wonderful as the destination itself. You’ll find a beautiful and continuous green scenery that will amaze you with every mile. If you’re getting here by air, you can either arrive at the main airport in San Jose, Juan Santamaria International Airport, in which you’ll find lower ticket prices to Nosara. If you’re flying from Liberia’s airport, Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, you’ll most likely find tickets a bit more expensive. If you’re starting your trip by land, either on a bus, shuttle, taxi, rented or on your own car, check the directions and the weather just to make sure you have a safe road trip. San Jose is about a 4 to 5 hour drive from Nosara, meanwhile, from Liberia you’ll get a 2 hour drive.
Despite it's wealth of natural treasures Nosara's enduring magic can be largely attributed to the pioneering developmental approach taken by the founders of the American Project in the late 1970s. The first people to plant flags were an eclectic mix of surfers, yogis and environmentalists. Their enduring efforts, often in the face of significant opposition, to manifest a vision of responsible, ecologically aware development is the reason that Nosara has successfully sidestepped the usual pitfalls of progress.
With a seemingly endless array of biodiversity, great people, a perfect climate, world class surf, verdant jungle and palm fringed white sand beaches it's little wonder that more and more people are targeting Nosara as their chosen vacation destination. In addition to Nosara being the perfect spot for those looking to relax and rejuvenate it's also a town famed for good times, exhilarating adventures and memories to last a life time.
A sublimely beautiful stretch of golden sand which for decades remained known only to a select few traveling surfers and yogis with the tenacity to get to, and survive in this stunningly rugged jungle environment.
As word spread of it’s natural beauty, crazy good waves, and jaw dropping array of biodiversity visitor numbers increased, accessibility improved and the town evolved at a leisurely pace into the holistic yoga, surfing and lifestyle Shangri-La that it is today. Despite increasing development, town residents have worked diligently to ensure the natural beauty that first attracted them does not fall prey to the rampant commercialism that have affected many of the neighboring tourist towns.
Under Playa Guiones rustic exterior lies a dynamic and modern infrastructure which offers visitors all they could need from delicious dining experiences to swanky hotels. Despite a range of quality nightlife options generally it’s a go to bed early, and get up at sunrise type of town, which given the range of activities on offer is understandable. After rising to the sounds of breaking waves and monkeys howling many visitors kick off their day with a dawn patrol surf session as this is when the offshore winds are usually at their best.
For less experienced surfers there’s no shortage of surf schools happy to take you under their wing and show you the ropes. After a morning spent battling the waves it’s up to you whether you want to walk on the beach, take a bike ride, an ATV or horse back tour, a stand up paddle or kayaking session, a sport fishing trip or just spend the day idling away the hours from the comfort of a hammock.
Sunset at Guiones has become almost a ceremonial event for the many locals and tourists who gather in the early evening to witness this spectacular light show, catch up with friends over a cerveza, and if they’re lucky catch a glimpse of the ‘green flash’ a second as the sun dips below the horizon. As night falls Playa Guiones chefs, bar staff and live musicians begin preparing a huge variety of culinary and entertainment options for you to enjoy, most of which are only a short walk away.
Lying between Playa Manzanillo and Playa Ostional, the beautiful and picturesque town of Marbella is full of character and charm. The gorgeous Playa Marbella or Marbella beach with its stunning white sands and clear blue waters is within easy walking distance from town.
The beach here is one of the best in the area for surfers, as it offers world class consistent surf breaks due to offshore winds. With these excellent conditions, it is no wonder that many local as well as foreign surfers come here on a regular basis. However, it should be noted that Playa Marbella is meant for the more experienced and skilled surfers, as the waves here can get pretty big. The beach is normally quite quiet and is rarely crowded, making it ideal for the surfer who wishes to get away.
If you wish to go swimming or indulge in any other water sport activities, the beaches of Playa Manzanillo and Playa Azul are much better. Also, near by is the Ostional Wildlife Reserve, which houses an important nesting ground for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in Costa Rica. This turtle refuge is the second most important of its kind in the country. The nearest large towns to Marbella are Santa Cruz and Tamarindo, which are at least an hour’s journey by bus or car. Marbella is also a great base camp if you wish to visit the historic Marino las Baulas de Guanacaste National Park which is close to Tamarindo.
A 20 minute drive North from Playa Guiones lies a beach that at certain times of the year hosts one of the true wonders of the natural world. The World Wildlife Fund has pinpointed Playa Ostional as one of the two most important nesting sites in the world for the Olive Ridley turtle. During this event tens of thousands of these incredible creatures make their way ashore to dig nests and lay eggs. This unique spectacle is named “Arribada” and is at its best in rainy season (September and October) a few days before each new moon.
Although ‘Arribada’ is a huge draw there’s far more to Ostional than just turtles. Ostional is an expansive stretch of beautiful, black volcanic sand and home to a huge array of species both in the water and on land. Ostional’s powerful, hollow waves are also a huge magnet for surfers looking to test their skills in the challenging yet highly rewarding conditions.
The booming surf village of Santa Teresa provides a great opportunity for visitors to enjoy international cuisine, daily yoga classes, year round surf and a generally cool vibe. There are excellent place to enjoy the incredible natural surroundings in relative peace. Reflecting this relaxed attitude, the village of Santa Teresa and nearby Malpais offers relatively few services with regard to tours. However, Canopy Tours are available, and one can also take Horseback rides along the beach.The hamlet of Santa Teresa and Malpais is accessible by road via Highway 160, or you can take the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera or Naranjo Beach, and ride a bus or drive the rest of the way. Flights to the nearby town of Tambor are also available via San Jose and Liberia.
The beaches of Santa Teresa are soft, sandy and with a consistent surf break while Malpais alternates between long stretches of sand and large patches of rock. A green jungle with its mischievous monkeys lines the shore. For the most part, beaches in Malpais have been spared of development. Development has largely taken place in areas to the north, around the Beaches of Santa Teresa.
The nearby Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve can make an excellent day trip from Santa Teresa and Malpais. Check with locals before heading to the Reserve. Usually a visit requires entering the town of Montezuma. There is a road closer to Malpais, but unfortunately, it is often in disrepair.
Nestled amid a striking and varied landscape, Montezuma posses a unique open-air comfort and culture. It is a favorite of jovial spirits looking to take part in its ongoing, relaxed party. At night, the town's generally relaxed-vibe transitions to a more upbeat fiesta, once locals and visitors have had time to rejuvenate from a full day in the sun. For such a small town, the nightlife is exceptional, featuring a host of small bars and clubs to dance the night away. Also, Montezuma's notable restaurants host excellent cuisine. Vegetarian visitors will find plenty of options, and despite the Pacific coast location, Mediterranean dishes are a Montezuma hallmark.
While Montezuma offers many cheap accommodations for those on a budget, the area also features upscale resorts, catering to luxury and comfort travelers. All types of traveler's will enjoy Montezuma's intimate and romantic scenery.
Mal Pais is a small tranquil neighborhood, loosely spread out along five kilometers of road.
On Playa Carmen Mal Pais merges with the booming beach town of Santa Teresa with its lively surfer scene, lots of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops, while on its southern side it abuts Cabo Blanco on the very tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Many people refer to the entire beach area as Mal Pais, so when you hear of Mal Pais being one of the top surf destinations in Costa Rica, it actually means the surf beaches of Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen and Montezuma.
Mal Pais is the more peaceful part of the combined villages of Santa Teresa and Malpais. While in recent years Santa Teresa has seen a boom in development, Mal Pais has retained its laid-back, small village atmosphere with large patches of unspoiled nature. The coast of Mal Pais is rocky in most parts, with some bizarre volcanic formations creating fascinating scenery. Old jungle forest grows down to the shore where rocky outcroppings alternate with pockets of beaches, some made up entirely of tiny seashells.
Located within the national park but still accessible from Mal Pais is the scenic beach of Playa Cuevas, also called "the secret beach" although it isn't a secret anymore. The small white-sand cove is surrounded by a rocky outcrop and offers good snorkeling at low tide.
There are only few hotels in Mal Pais, and no supermarkets or shops. Instead you find many nature activities and adventures. From the small fishermen port you can go on a tour by panga boat or on a SUP paddle board. The maritime sanctuary of Cabo Blanco protects many aquatic species and you can see dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles or whales. A fishing excursion might bring you red snapper, wahoo, roosterfish and mackeral for your dinner. Tours are arranged by any hotel in Mal Pais or Santa Teresa.
Although Malpais directly borders the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve there is no entrance to the park from this side. You can however explore its neighborhood on a canopy tour on the edge of the nature reserve. Or go on a horse tour along the beach of Mal Pais and into the countryside. The undisturbed mountains and coastal areas of Mal Pais are also great for bird watching.
Quepos allows tourists to experience a once in a lifetime nature experience in Manuel Antonio National Park without leaving any of the familiar amenities behind. The close proximity of the park, located just 4.3 miles (7 km) to the south, and a wide array of services makes Quepos the perfect place to stay for those who wish to explore this enchanting area. The amenities available include everything from banks, restaurants, hotels, gift shops, bakeries, bars, a hospital, supermarket and even a post office.
The area was once dependent on banana plantations which used to line the surrounding area. After disease infiltrated the harvest, interest transferred to African Palms as the prominent crop. Now, tourism has deemed itself the major economic factor, contributing to just about everything in the area.
Quepos lures in many tourists for its fantastic sportfishing. In fact, some have come solely to participate in this world class experience and have never left. The main attraction here is marlin fishing, especially during the months of December to April. Many outfitters will be more than happy to accompany eager anglers on the high seas for an unforgettable outing.
Besides sportfishing, many other activities are available. Visiting the nearby Butterfly Botanical Gardens is sure to impress as there are informative exhibits, night walks and a stunning collection of butterflies, all housed in one incredible location. For some wildlife viewing that’s a little more untamed, check out the Damas Estuary. Exploring this maze of wetlands by boat or by kayak is the only way to see crocodiles, monkeys, herons, raccoons and more. For something a bit more equestrian, horseback riding excursions are available, so don’t forget your spurs! Depending on the time of year, white-water rafting on the Naranjo River can reach up to class IV in intensity, but most who experience this river would rate it a ten out of ten. North of Quepos are the Damas Caves, a surreal experience for anyone brave enough to crawl and hike between stalagmites and stalactites witnessing bats and insects close up.
San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is on a plateau in the Central Valley at 1200 m (3,700 ft) elevation. It is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. The population of this city is probably half of the whole country. It contains the primary airport, the University of Costa Rica, the US' and other embassies and many museums, cultural venues, hotels, markets, etc. It is the hub of the country
San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north. The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial buildings, like the ornate, neoclassical National Theatre of Costa Rica overlooking downtown’s Plaza de la Cultura, a popular gathering spot. Below the plaza, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum displays hundreds of gleaming artifacts.
Escazú is considered by most to be one of the most posh, trendy and upscale suburb of the San José metropolitan area. Located 7.5 miles (12 km) from San José and just 3 miles (5 km) west of Sábana Park in the capital city, it is a great place to enjoy the same amenities of the larger, busier city, but with a more laid back feel. Just like Beverly Hills, CA, the city has tons of shopping, restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, gyms and even golf at the exclusive Costa Rica Country Club where you'll find an 18-hole championship golf course.
In town there are a wide variety of little shops, boutiques, cafés and restaurants to keep your shopping bags full and your taste buds dancing. If that’s not enough, the country’s largest shopping center, Multiplaza, is located just five minutes away from San Rafael de Escazú. This is where you can check out the latest fashion, watch a movie, or just walk around the enormous commercial center. Weekends attract locals from all over and pack the huge two-story mall.
Escazú is situated along the slopes of Cerro Escazú and is divided into three neighborhoods. The lowest in elevation and closest to San José is San Rafael de Escazú. This is definitely the most trendy, developed section of the city. High rising condos and fancy restaurants line sections of town, especially close to the country club. Upon arrival to San Rafael don’t be fooled by the international restaurants, and upscale accommodations; you are still in Costa Rica. To add to the mix, there are aspects that celebrate the local culture as well, such as the central plaza, where you’ll see the elegant all-white colonial style church. Across the street, visitors will find Plaza Colonial, a nice multi-level shopping plaza with a small movie theater inside. One of the attractive features of Escazú is the assortment of flowers and delightful shrubbery that accentuate homes and businesses. Walking through town it’s hard to miss the large English-speaking ex-pat community; even the US Ambassador has a home here!
A mile up the hill will lead you to San Miguel de Escazú, also known as Escazú Centro. This delightful barrio was the original town of Escazú and is laid out around the old colonial-era town square. Around the square is a magnificent high-rising church with a red roof, which dominates the town’s center. In front of the church is a shaded park with a basketball court, drawing-in locals to exercise or just simply relax on the benches. Many great local restaurants and bars can be found around here, as well as bookstores, ATMs, supermarkets and the city’s main gas station. This area is less modern than San Rafael but still provides many modern conveniences.
A little further north will take you to the smallest and quietest neighborhood of the three, San Antonio de Escazú. This small district has an elegant church adjacent to the central square. Across the street is a charming little park, normally full of children shouting humorously and playing fútbol (soccer). Encompassing the area is a mix of luxurious homes with those that are more rural. This is a favorite among ex-pats, as it is quieter and has more of a small town feel than other parts of Escazú. There are some nice restaurants as well as some Bed & Breakfasts worth checking out.
Heading north through the winding hills above Escazú will lead you to some excellent views. You can especially get a feel for the rural town ambiance, full of friendly people. There is a giant cemetery full of colorful flowers and further up the coffee-clad road is the White House, a luxurious hotel/spa/casino that offers a great view of the valley below while you relax and enjoy your stay. There are even hiking trails once you get far enough above the rural houses at The Escazú Hills Sanctuary, a private reserve that offers great areas to explore.