GUANACASTE


Guanacaste is a province located in the west of Costa Rica, by the Pacific coast. It has beautiful beaches. Surfing is considered among the best in the world.

 

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation options range from hostels to the exclusive Four Seasons Eco Luxury Resort on Peninsula Papagayo.

We rented a house through Airbnb. I think that was the key to the success of our trip. The house was fantastic. Fully equipped, the owner was always on top of things, with cleaning service included, and located on a mountain with a stunnig view of the ocean. A paradise just for us!

 


THE BEACHES AT THE GOLDEN COAST...PURA VIDA!


The beaches in Guanacaste are certainly popular for 'ticos' (Costa Ricans) and for foreigners alike. They are literally full of people. We visited these 3.


Playa Flamingo

This crescent shaped beach was exploding with people. Groups eating their picnics on the beach, each sporting their own selection of loud reggaeton or merengue.  Definitely not my dream beach, but it surely has its swing. On the beach they rented wide-wheeled bikes to ride on the sand. It looked fun. The golden sun at sunset was spectacular.

Playa Conchal - Brasilito.

This is where we rented the horses and enjoyed that unique ride by the sea, and further up into the jungle. It is easy to arrange horse rides. Just get to the beach and  locals will approach you. We went in the morning to rent the horses for sunset. So when we went back they were there waiting for us. This beach seemed a little quieter than Flamingo.


Playa Tamarindo I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the crowded main street but it was hard  to find a parking space.. This street is full of little shops and places to eat or drink. The pristine white sand beach stretched for miles.

There are some waves to surf and many places to rent equipment and take lessons if you are a beginner.
At one end of the beach there is a river estuary that runs down from Las Baulas Park. There are some boats that offer tours to see wildlife including monkeys, birds and crocodiles. When it rains and the waters are stirred they even go out to sea and mix with surfers. If you want to rent a boat, do it right the the entrance of the estuary, that way you negotiate cirectly with the boat owner. We rented a boat for ourselves at the end of the afternoon.


Here on these beaches where locals and tourists mix, everything is priced in US dollars. Even if you choose to pay in colones (the local currency), sometimes you might get your change in US dollars. Staff in most restaurants are instructed to address people in English and of course taking advantage of the large mass of tourists, they inflate the prices of everything.

WHERE TO EAT

If you don't want to spend too much, I recommend asking for some places called "sodas". These are small local restaurants, that differ greatly in price and atmosphere from the “best rated” ones that undoubtedly target American tourists to more local ones. When you visit any of these “Sodas” it is convenient to have colones.


You will find many options but I found all prices to be to high.

Angelina's just ahead of Playa Flamingo in a gastronomic mall. It's formal in the presentation of the dishes and the quality of service but  it's an open air restaurant so there is no particular dress code besides wearing shirts and shoes. We had a really nice dinner specially the pasta dishes.

 

Coco Loco is by the beach in Flamingo. We ate superbly in this very informal place right over the sand barefeet and dressed in bathing suits. The menu is mainly comprised of seafood. Order the tacos!!! Have a cocktail by sunset!! It's hard to get the perfect table (the ones closer to the sea).
 

Wabi Sabi a simple place with super fresh and varied sushi. It is not by the beach but at the main road in Playa Tamarindo.You're craving for hearty sushi? This is the place. You can order by phone 2653-4558 and take back to your place. (It's closed on Mondays).

Latitude Blue by the beach with great music and atmosphere. We had a nice lunch but it wasn't really the lunch that makes the restaurant is the DJ and beach, the white wine. It almost romantic  even though it was packed. I would'nt eat inside. It's too touristy, kind of dark and with huge TV screens.

El Be! Tamarindo Beach Club a little quieter but the same relaxed atmosphere by the beach.  That day it was  full of monkeys jumping on the tree branches above us. Very entertaining!

 

Undercover tip

 

The rainy season starts mid August until November. Heavy rainfall sometimes forces restaurants to close it doors. The best time of the year to go to the Golden Coast is around the end of December and onwards when dry sunny weather prevail on the beaches.


THE RAINFOREST

Costa Rica has over 60 national parks that are wildlife refuges. You can visit the rainforest and, you can also go white water rafting.

Without a doubt the most recommended place to go rafting is the Pascuare River.
Why didn't we go?

For a couple of reasons.

1- Because even though it's a small country, the distances between places are long, and some roads are not in a very good condition.  The activities are not all concentrated in one place, so you have to be move constantly.

2- It's expensive. Canopy, Rafting, Quads... everything is around US$ 80 per person.

 

However, passing through Costa Rica and not going for a walk in the jungle is a sin, so we decided to drive to the rainforest. Rainforests comprise 25% of the national territory. Costa Rica's rainforests can be categorized into tropical rainforest, cloud forest and tropical dry forest.

We went to the rainforest at the Arenal Volcano area. There were clouds over the volcano. It was not easy to see the top, even though we went  as close as the base. The lush vegetation leaves you speechless.

We also went to the Hot Springs of Tabacon.  These waters flow from the volcano. It's amazing to see the amount of water falls. And it's fascinating to feel how boiling hot it is. You can stay overnight at the Springs.

Personally,  spendi.ng a few hours is enough.

It looked like the entire area of La Fortuna de San Carlos has collapsed from tourism and I cannot solve the equation:

 

The scenic drive back to San Jose by the route of the rainforest was totally worth it. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Costa Rica didn't win my heart after all...

GUANACASTE

Guanacaste es una provincia al oeste del país sobre la costa pacifica. Tiene lindas playas, y playas con olas para surfear que son consideradas de las mejores del mundo.

Las opciones de alojamiento van desde hostels hasta el exclusivo Four Seasons Eco Luxury  Resort en Península Papagayo.

Nosotros alquilamos una casa a través de Airbnb. Creo que fue la clave del éxito de nuestro viaje. La casa fue fantástica. Totalmente equipada, el dueño siempre pendiente de todo, con servicio de limpieza incluído, y ubicada en una montaña con vista al mar. Un paraíso solo para nosotros!

Las playas en Guanacaste sin duda son populares, para ‘ticos’ y extranjeros por igual. Están literalmente llenas.
Fuimos a Playa Flamingo, explotando de gente comiendo en la playa, cada grupo con su propia música…no es mi tipo de lugar pero tiene su swing. En la playa alquilaban una bicis de rueda ancha para pasear por la arena. Se veía divertido. Por la posición de la playa, el atardecer ahí fue espectacular.
Playa Conchal, Brasilito. Aquí fue donde alquilamos los caballos y dimos ese paseo único al borde del mar y luego adentrándonos en la selva un poco. Estaba más sola la playa, quizás por la hora.
Playa Tamarindo. A mi me fascinó el ambiente de la intransitable calle principal una vez que logramos estacionar la camioneta. Llena de tienditas y lugares de comer o para tomarse algo. La playa es kilométrica. Hay algunas olas para surfear y muchos lugares para alquilar el equipo y tomar clases si eres principiante.
A un extremo de la playa hay un estuario del río que baja del Parque Las Baulas. Allí unos botes ofrecen paseos para ver la fauna silvestre que incluye monos, aves y cocodrilos… que  según nos dijeron, cuando llueve y se remueven las aguas salen al mar y se mezclan con surfistas.

Aquí en estas playas todos los precios los dan en dólares, y si pagas en colones, a veces te dan el vuelto en dólares. Se dirigen a la gente en inglés y por supuesto aprovechando la gran masa de turistas, inflan los precios de todo.

DONDE COMER

Si no quieres gastar mucho, recomiendo preguntar por unos lugares que se llamas “sodas”. Esto son pequeños restaurantes, que se distancian en precio con los “mejores” que sin duda están dirigidos al turismo norteamericano. Es conveniente tener “colones” la moneda oficial.
Encontrarás muchas opciones pero a precios dolarizados. Fuimos a Angelina’s y a Coco Loco en Playa Flamingo. Los dos muy buenos. El primero más formal, pero al aire libre en un pequeño centro gastronómico a la entrada de la playa. El segundo muy casual porque está sobre la arena, pero muy rico.
En Playa Tamarindo hay infinidad de opciones, comimos en Wabi Sabi un lugar sencillo, pero con sushi super fresco y variado,  y sobre la playa en Latitude Blue con buenísima música y ambiente, en Be Tropical Beach Club, algo mas tranquilo y sin música, pero ese día lleno de monos que caminaban entre los arboles encima nuestro. La verdad muy, muy entretenido.


LA SELVA TROPICAL


Costa Rica tiene más 60 parques nacionales que son refugio de vida silvestre. Ahí no solo se visita la selva tropical sino que tiene algunos de los lugares más emocionantes para hacer canopy y tambien white water rafting. Sin duda el lugar más recomendado para hacer rafting es el del río Pascuare.
Porqué no fuimos? Por variadas razones: porque aún cuando es un país pequeño, las distancias entre los lugares son largas, y algunas carreteras no están en muy buen estado.  Porque las actividades no están todas concentradas en un solo lugar, así que hay que irse moviendo de un lado a otro. Es caro. Canopy, Rafting, Quads…todo ronda los US$ 80 por persona. Eso si, pasar por Costa Rica y no darse una vuelta por la selva es un pecado, así que decidimos ir!! Y realmente merece toda la fama!! Es espectacular!!! Solo mirar lo denso, sentir la humedad, y por supuesto entrar en contacto con la vegetación te deja sin palabras.
El volcán Arenal no es fácil verlo despejado, pero al menos fuimos y vimos…bueno, vimos la base. También fuimos a las Aguas Termales de Tabacon que provienen del volcán. Es sorprendente el caudal de agua que cae, y es fascinante sentir lo hirviendo que está. Puedes alojarte ahí y disfrutar de baños termales. Yo personalmente, pasaria solo el día, me pareció que toda la zona de La Fortuna de San Carlos está colapsada de turismo y no logro resolver la ecuación: Turismo en masa con actividades en la Naturaleza.
Pero regresar por la ruta de la selva tropical fue espectacular y valió totalmente la pena. Disfruté cada minuto de la ruta!!


PURA VIDA!!!

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My name is Ana Bazo. I'm traveler and a tourist. Planning a trip seduces me. I love visiting far away solitary places. During my travels I write and take pictures... So, one day I put all that  together and The Undercover Pilot was born.

 

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