Playa Naranjo, also known as Witches Rock or Roca Bruja in Spanish, is located in Guanacaste Costa Rica. The beach is extremely popular among surfers and is known for amazing scenery. The remote location makes it somewhat harder to reach and is therefore reserved for the serious and dedicated surfer rather than the beginner.
Playa Naranjo is part of Santa Rosa National Park. Other than its rugged, natural charm, Santa Rosa is also known as the site of the historical battle against William Walker.
Witches Rock is a superb Costa Rica surf spot and a haven for the dedicated and experienced surfer. Playa Tamarindo even has a surf shop and school named after this beach – Witch’s Rock Surf Camp.
The surf breaks and swells are very powerful which can make the surf, even off season, pretty spectacular. That’s why it’s important to know that surfing on such a remote beach requires preparation. Naranjo Beach is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hot, tropical dry forest, mangroves and wildlife. So, put on your hiking shoes, bring your board, snacks, and lots of water because it is definitely worth the trip. Witches Rock (Roca Bruja) is a giant slab of a boulder standing out from the ocean bottom and peeking through the water like a giant. If you want to try your hand at surfing but are in no way experienced enough, you should head to Tamarindo. The best beach for the beginner surfer.
Turtle nesting near Playa Naranjo
Although you do see the odd turtle come to the shores of Playa Naranjo, you can really only see a large party of them at Playa Nancite, a kilometer away. The Olive Ridley Turtle is popular here, and thousands of turtles come here to nest every year. If you would like to see them, it is best to come between the months of July and November. You will need to go through Santa Rosa Park to obtain the proper permits to spot these creatures since they are part of a protected site. If you want to avoid the hassle of doing so, you can visit Ostional Wildlife Refuge a little further south, on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Santa Rosa National Park
There are over 100 different mammal species and 250 various bird species that inhabit Santa Rosa National Park. Some areas of the tropical dry forest contain trees that are at least 500 years old and others that are planted for sustainability purposes. Most of the plateau region now consists of the fire resistant Bignoniaceae trees, replacing African pasture grass. But the further you travel, the more native diversity you can enjoy!
Rincon de la Vieja
Rincon de la Vieja is famous for its volcano, hikes, adventure, waterfalls and natural hot springs. This national park is home to the country’s largest known population of Guaria Morada (Guarianthe skinnier). This beautiful purple orchid is Costa Rica’s National Flower.
Visit during rainy season: Between the months of May and December, you can enjoy the biggest waves as well as spot more turtles at the beach, if you can acquire a permit to spot them.
Visit Santa Rosa National Park: Don’t forget to visit the park itself and spot some amazing wildlife or learn all about the battle against William Walker.
Liberia is less than an hour away from Santa Rosa National Park. You can fly into Liberia from an international flight or a domestic one coming from San Jose. If you choose to drive, note that Santa Rosa is 250 km from San Jose and can take up to 4 hours to reach.
Playa Naranjo’s pristine qualities are well respected and maintained. This means you shouldn’t expect 4-star dining in this area. Your best option is to choose a great hotel close to the park and arrange for an all-in tour from there. We have some amazing options listed below.
Where to stay
Respecting Santa Rosa’s natural heritage is very important. That’s why it hasn’t been subjected to the construction of big hotels or resorts. Those who love camping can do so on the official camping grounds at Playa Naranjo. But those looking for more class, should definitely consider staying near Liberia or at the Gulf of Papagayo. From here you can arrange a tour to this stunning park. The Hilton Garden Inn in Liberia is located at just one hour from Santa Rosa. Next to the prime location you can also enjoy free shuttle service to and from the airport. For the Gulf of Papagayo, check out Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa. This all-inclusive hotel is located in a beautiful secluded bay and focuses on an adult only public. For a family friendly option, read more about Casa Conde Beachfront Hotel.
Playa Naranjo or Witches Rock Costa Rica - Get Info