Visiting the Gulf of Papagayo
Experience the eternal Guanacaste summer at the Papagayo Beaches! The Gulf of Papagayo resonates fun, swimming, fishing, diving, but also peace and tranquility. Since the construction of the International Airport in Liberia (LIR), Papagayo is extremely easy to reach. Each beach brings its own unique features to the ecological diversity of this beloved destination. The area may be a highly developed, but its environmental health remains a priority! In 1994, Costa Rica launched a large Papagayo development project. The project’s ambition is to turn Papagayo into a haven for luxury travelers. Luckily, these days they do so with the highest respect for the natural surroundings. The Gulf of Papagayo is the ideal location for those looking to enjoy a couple of cocktails as well as marvel at the natural heritage that makes Costa Rica so great.
If you are looking to indulge in some of Guanacaste’s most legendary night life, you will definitely want to spend a couple of nights at Playas del Coco. This beach will offer you the perfect balance between fun and relaxation. Coco’s tranquil waters and bustling town accommodate the traveler looking for quiet days and vibrant nights. The flash of the bars and restaurants may hide it, but Playas del Coco has a longstanding tradition as a fishing town. Take advantage of the expertise from local captains and learn everything about the waters, the fish and its history. While here, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Diamante Eco Adventure Park. Here you can fly down the longest Superman Zip Line in the country and say hello to Lucy the Sloth!
This small but precious beach carries a deep medicinal and symbolic meaning for the locals. The white mists that fill the air are said to have great healing properties for humans, animals and plants alike. Located only 3km from Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal is like Coco’s introverted little brother. It may not be shouting for attention or seduce you with wild parties, but it will recharge your body as well as your spirit with its serene surroundings and sparkling clean beaches. As the beach in this region located most closely to the Catalinas Islands, this is the best place to enjoy some snorkeling and scuba diving. These islands host some of Costa Rica’s most magical creatures like sharks, turtles and even the giant manta rays!
With a name that literally means beautiful, you know you won’t be disappointed when visiting Playa Hermosa. As a testament to the environmental efforts made in the Gulf of Papagayo, Playa Hermosa has been awarded the Blue Flag. A prize given to beaches that demonstrate excellent environmental standards as well as safety facilities. The activities are endless ranging from diving to wind-sailing and water biking. This lush neighbor to Coco is a bit more quiet and perfect for those wanting to experience a typical Costa Rican paradise without the overwhelming party scene.
Some consider Playa Panama the ugly duckling amongst these other bombshells but it is not so. Playa Panama is located just South of the Culebra Bay. Even though developments have slowly but surely started to pop up, Playa Panama is still a very good choice if you are looking for some peace. Dubbed one of the most perfect family beaches in the country, this beach has some of the calmest waters. The low tides and gentle waves can easily trick you into thinking you are swimming in a lake. So venture in for a relaxing swim or maybe try your hand at activities like paddle boarding. In short, Playa Panama is the ideal beach for those looking for safety, peace and a wonderful time with the kids!
If you would like to head a bit more in land and explore some of the other treasures Costa Rica has to offer, you have several options nearby. Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a real gem for those who enjoy some adventure as well as an indulgent mud bath. Head to Santa Rosa National Park for a wonderful hike through the tropical dry forest as well as an introduction into Costa Rica’s history. You will love learning about the confrontation with William Walker especially! Palo Verde National Park with get you the best tours on the Tempisque river and a great chance to spot some wildlife.
Visit between January and May: This is Costa Rica’s dry season and so the best time to visit. That being said, Guanacaste sees the least amount of rainfall in the entire country, so you can visit all year round.
Rent a car: If you want to get the most out of your trip and explore all the beaches as well as some nearby attractions, you should definitely consider renting a car for more freedom and flexibility.
Bring factor 50 sunblock: The Guanacaste sun is fiercer than you think so make sure your sunblock is a factor 50 at least.
Explore the rest of Guanacaste: Papagayo is very conveniently located close to some amazing national parks. Take some days to explore all of them!
Closest International Airport: Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR)
The Gulf of Papagayo is incredibly easy to reach thanks to the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia (LIR). Your best option is to fly in from San Jose or even from your country of origin. Once there, you can take a shuttle or rent a car to head to the beaches. With Liberia laying at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 21, you can easily rent a car from San Jose as well. If you prefer to take a private shuttle from the capital you can do so, but keep in mind that these could cost around $200 where shared shuttles will cost you between $50 and $100.
For the best dining experiences, you will find exactly what you need at Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco. For Costa Rican dishes, you will not be disappointed when visiting La Casita del Marisco in Playa Hermosa or Soda La Teresita at Playas del Coco. If you are looking for amazing seafood, Soda Mediterranea at Playas del Coco is the place to be. At Playa Hermosa, check out Roberto’s Bar and Restaurant. Here you will also get some great vegetarian options!
Where to stay
The Gulf of Papagayo caters to the luxury traveler and you will find a long list of amazing hotels and resorts. If you would like to stay in Playa Panama, 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. Would you like to combine nature with a beachfront location? Then you will definitely want to stay at Hotel Bosque del Mar in Playa Hermosa. For high class, beach front relaxation and amazing tour options, Cafe de Playa at Playas del Coco has just what you want!