Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern region of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. it borders Nicaragua to the north. To the east there is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province.
It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi) and as of 2010, had a population of 354,154.
Guanacaste covers the majority of the territory of Northern Pacific region, whose climatic conditions of a season with no rainfall, warmness and blue sky has been created the Tropical Dry Forest, a forest of plants and animals adapted to the drought from December to May. This is the habitat of the Howler Monkey, the Black Iguana, the White-throated Magpie-Jay and the Turquoise-browed Motmot.
As this region is covered by dry tropical forest, this makes it quite popular among tourists looking to escape the humidity found in most of Central America. There are many all inclusive resorts in this area, served by one of Costa Rica's two international airports in Liberia.
Guanacaste's capital is Liberia. Other important cities include Cañas and Nicoya.
The province is named for the guanacaste tree, also known as the ear pod tree, which is the national tree of Costa Rica.
Before the Spanish arrived, this territory was inhabited by Chorotega Indians from the towns of Zapati, Nacaome, Paro, Cangel, Nicopasaya, Pocosí, Diriá, Papagayo, Namiapí and Orosi. The Corobicies lived on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Nicoya and the Nahuas or Aztecan in the zone of Bagaces.
The first church was built out of grass in Nicoya in the 17th Century.
In the 18th Century some neighbors of Rivas established their houses and cattle farms in the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula at crossroads that connected the towns of Bagaces, Nicoya and Rivas. The place was baptized after a famous Guanacaste tree that grows in the neighborhood.
In 1824-25 the territory of Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica. In 1836 the town of Guanacaste was declared capital of Guanacaste province. In 1854 the town of Guanacaste was renamed Liberia.
The province is bounded on the east by a group of green-swathed volcanoes forming the Cordillera de Guanacaste (which features Orosi, Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes) and the Cordillera de Tilarán.
The rivers that tumble out of these steep mountains flow down to rolling flatlands, forming a vast alluvial plain drained by the Rio Tempisque, which empties through swampy wetlands into de Golfo de Nicoya. The Rio Tempisque defines one side of the horsehead-shaped Península de Nicoya enclosing the gulf to the west.
Guanacaste's climate and culture are unique among Costa Rican provinces. The province experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April, resulting in ubiquitous tropical dry forests as a natural adaption to the dry season conditions. Tourists seek out this dry heat during the North American winter to enjoy the Guanacastecan beaches.
Irrigation of the agricultural land is necessary during the long dry period.
From May to October, the climate is similar to that of San José, consisting of showers daily and moderate temperatures. Guanacaste is, however, considerably warmer than other provinces in the country located in higher elevations.
Tourism spreads across Guanacaste's 5,921 sq. miles and more than 400 miles of coast line. Main attractions of tourists include water, land, mountains, volcanos, and coastal ecosystems. The two main commercial areas Santa Cruz and Liberia with five surrounding tourism development centers: Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo.
Liberia is central to the five locations and is complete with an airport.Animal rehab center, Centro de Rescate Las Pumas, is located in the heart of Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site
Cities Of Guanacaste.
Playas del Coco
Liberia — Guanacaste's main city, home to the international airport
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, Volcano National Park, 17 km north of Liberia
Parque Santa Rosa, almost in Nicaragua on the west side of the Panamerican Highway
Tenorio Volcano National Park
With the opening of the new international airport at Liberia (LIR) in Guanacaste, you can now fly from many US gateways including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami directly to Guanacaste. From there you can drive or fly to all Pacific beach cities in a few hours.
To access Guanacaste's beaches from San Jose, a ferry can be taken from Puntarenas, a hot coastal town with about 40,000 inhabittants, to the other side of the Golfo de Nicoya. From there, a long ride on poorly paved roads can take you to any number of great beaches.
However, skipping the ferry and instead taking the Puente de la Amistad or "Bridge of the Friendship" is probably preferable. It's about four hours to most Guanacaste beaches from San Jose by car a little bit more by bus.
Many tourists like Tamarindo, Coco, Samara and Carrillo beaches. Samara is the home of a lively beach scene while Carrillo is a more family oriented community and home to one of the most beautiful resorts in the world, Las Ventanas del Mar.
Other fantastic beaches are: Cuajiniquil, Ocotal, Pan de Azucar, Potrero, Flamingo, Brasilito, Conchal, Langosta, Avellana, Junquillal, Manzanillo, Ostinal, Nosara amongst many more.
Don't go to Samara, Tamarindo, Coco or Carrillo just because those are most visited by tourists. You will get the most beautiful beaches and nature where you are not surrounded by hundreds of other tourists.
Try some of the other beaches as well. The beach resort and residential community Hacienda Pinilla, located along three miles of Pacific coastline, boasts six beaches: Playa Mansita; Playa Bonita; Playa Bajo Grande; Playa Robalo; Playa Avellanas; and Playa Langosta, a beach awarded the Blue Flag for the beauty and purity of the water and the superior services offered.
Guanacaste offers so much more than Beaches, like National parks (everything from wetlands to savannahs to volcanoes) and not to forget a Fantastic view.
Although Coco Beach is "touristy" location, you shouldn't write it off so quickly. You can get some great fishing boats that do not charge insane prices like many other places. This is a fisherman town. You can get a boat to take you out fishing for $50 per person for 6 hours.
It's also a fun party town and a great place to scout out a condo or home for retirement. There is a large community of retirees that live in Coco from all over the world. There are other secret beaches around Coco that are isolated 80% of the time and offer white sand beach and turquoise colored water.
Tamarindo is similar but the difference is that it's been created to emulate the US, hence the nickname, "Tamagringo". But beside that, it's a great place to party and learn to surf. Playa Avellanas and Langosta are great for surfing as well as Negra, but more for the experienced.
To visit any of these places, especially if you're flying into LIR, a great service to use for getting around is [www.lartransportes.com LAR Transportes]. These guys have great deals without the whole middle man scheme. They will get you the right info in a timely manner.
This region offers a wide variety of activities, such as world class surfing and sport fishing along with volcano tours and horse country. It is famous for its fine and vibrant fiestas.
Guanacaste is a tropical desert and you will see a great change of seasons here from the hot and dry to the wet and windy. It makes this part of Costa Rica so desirable with tourists and expats alike.
Guanacaste has everything an adventurous traveler would want to do while on vacation. There are beaches, volcanoes, cloud forests, jungles, rivers, and waterfalls, where you can participate in a vast assortment of adventure and activities: whitewater rafting, canopy/zip line tours, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, crocodile tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, ATV/motorcycle/off-road tours, mountain biking, rock climbing, turtle nesting tours, sailing, volcano tours, tubing, horseback riding, canyoneering, trekking, surfing lessons and surf tours.
One of the top attractions is Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, famous for its abundant volcanic activity and diverse wild life. Sportfishing in Costa Rica is legendary, and many fishing charters operate from ports in the Guanacaste, like Playa Flamingo, Playa Coco and Playa Tamarindo. Naturally fed hot springs relax and invite.
And world-class golf has arrived in Guanacaste as well, with the arrival of the Four Seasons, Paradisus Playa Conchal and Hacienda Pinilla resorts, just to name a few. Scuba dive the Catalina Islands or snorkel Playa Conchal and see the abundance of sea life that Costa Rica has to offer.
Guanacaste's beaches are famous as surfing destinations and have been since Playa Negra was highlighted in the movie Endless Summer II. The surf breaks in Playa Negra and Tamarindo in northwest Guanacaste have made that area a magnet for visitors and investors alike. Despite the region's wild popularity, there is still plenty of surf spot for you to discover.
Guided surf tours are available for anyone looking to explore the Guanacaste waves. The Guanacaste Province has a variety of surfing spots for all levels of ability, from beginner to pro. The long peeling point breaks, peaky beach breaks and hollow reef breaks and consistent swell make this area of Costa Rica a surfer's paradise.
There are a number of golf courses and services throughout the region.
Four Seasons Costa Rica, Pagapayo Peninsula, Guanacaste,40 minutes from Liberia Airport Golf Course that was named in the top 50 in the world. Check out the impressive ocean views from the back nine.
Reserva Conchal, Playa Conchal, Guancaste,Just before Brasilito in Guancaste.
Hacienda Pinilla, Hacienda Pinilla resort, Guanacaste,15 minutes from the Tamarindo intersection.
Tee Times Costa Rica Golf Day Tours,Hotel Pickup service from any Guanacaste hotel to Hacienda Pinilla and Reserva Conchal courses. Tee Time booking service, day tours to Guanacaste area golf courses and golf packages.
Pura Vida Golf Events,Golf Tournaments in Guanacaste's best golf courses.Golf events in Guancaste's best golf courses. One or two day events with a prize ceremony in a Catamaran.
Gallo Pinto or spotted rooster is the national dish of rice and beans. You haven't visited Costa Rica till you've had it with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Local cervezas (beers) are Imperial and Pilsen. Both are worth a try! There is also Rock Ice (regular, lemon and ginseng) and Bavaria (regular, dark and light).
A "safe" area, but don't leave anything valuable in your car. Obey all speed limits posted. Fines can be as much as a 1000 dollars.
Just south of Guanacaste along the Pacific Coast is the surfers paradise of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Most of the population descends from a mix of Chorotega natives and Spaniards, with a significant African admixture as a result of a large number of slaves working the land during the colonial period. As in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Costa Rica, Usted is the form of address used by Guanacastecans upon initial meetings and typically among adults.
The vos verb-form is used mainly when adults address children, especially their own, and occasionally between adults who are family members or good friends.
The Chorotega culture and the Spanish culture have successfully integrated; among the main cultural elements are their music, literature (folklore), musical instruments, bullfighting, and religious events.
Typical Costa Rican ox-drawn carts carry wood during an annual festival in Nicoya, Guanacaste.
Tourism in Costa Rica
The province has an economic and cultural heritage based on beef cattle ranching. Most of the area is covered by small patches of forest, scattered trees and large pastures of coarse grasses where Brahman cattle and related breeds graze. Historically, the main source of income of Guanacaste was cattle ranching.
Cattle ranching is declining in Guanacaste due to an international drop in the demand for beef. Many pastures are naturally reverting to dry forest or are being converted to tree plantations.
The other agricultural products of relative importance in the province are sugar cane and cotton, and since the late 1980s, with the creation of a large-scale irrigation program,the water comes from Lake Arenal after passing through several power generating stations, rice has become a prominent crop.
For the past two decades tourism has emerged as the new and growing activity in the local economy. The combination of beaches like Playas del Coco, Playa Tamarindo, and the sunny dry season that coincides with the winter months in northern latitudes have made tourism a key economic activity.
A lot of tourists are also attracted by the abundance of natural beauty. The Province has no less than seven national parks like Santa Rosa, Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Guanacaste is subdivided into eleven cantons. The cantons and capitals are:
Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz)
Abangares (Las Juntas)
La Cruz (La Cruz)
A major portion of the peninsula of Nicoya is now under the jurisdiction of the province of Puntarenas. This may change in the future, as there is constant debate over the remapping of the area.