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Costa Rica - North Pacific

General information

The North Pacific in Costa Rica is famous for it’s beaches and climate. Some of the most popular beaches are Tamarindo, Playa Conchal, and Flamingo Beach. Further south in beautiful Peninsula de Nicoya, Playa Samara, Playa Carrillo and Nosara are popular among real estate buyers. Ocotal, Hermosa and Coco in the Papagayo gulf are popular for their varied real estate in Costa Rica.

The North Pacific is experiencing a massive economic growth. Commercial real estate opportunities abound on the North Pacific of Costa Rica. Its thriving tourism industry, easy accessibility and fine infrastructure attract buyers from around the world.

Important assets such as the International Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia and various first-class golf courses ensure the popularity of residential and commercial real estate on the North Pacific.

Once a separate province of Spain's Central American Empire, Guanacaste has historically played a significant role in the economic and cultural life of Costa Rica. In fact, many traditions considered typical to Costa Rica originated in this province.

The folklore and dances from the region are valued as part of the national patrimony, and for that reason the University of Costa Rica has a special branch of its music department located there. 'Guanacastecos' descend from the Chorotega Indians, and these original residents still maintain more cultural and historical links to their past than many other Costa Rican residents.

Comprised of a combination of lowland dry forest, vast windswept plains of golden waving grasses and tough flowering shrubs, impressive volcanic mountain ranges, cloud and rain forest, subterranean national parks and of course, miles of coast line, Guanacaste is a land of riches Nearly every ecosystem that exists can be found in this province.

Even those areas altered by generations of cattle production contain the graceful beauty of the towering shade trees that that give the province its name. Some very interesting new projects in the region include Santa Rosa National Park's study of how tropical dry forest regenerate.

Local campesinos are being hired by the park system to serve as guides, research assistants and caretakers. Another program in Guanacaste National Park involves doing an inventory of biological diversity within the park, this also by campesino trainees. Apparently both programs have been highly successful due to the residents familiarity with the region and their powers of observation.

Palo Verde National Park itself was once a large and thriving cattle ranch. The Organization for Tropical Studies or OTS noted its importance as a bird refuge and it was granted National Park status.

One of Costa Rica's richest and most varied parks, Rincon de la Vieja was created in 1973 to protect the extensive flora, fauna and watersheds around the area. Thirty-two rivers issue forth down the flanks of this volcano, making its ecological importance impossible to overestimate. Altitudes and climates vary significantly within the park, leading to a great degree of biodiversity within its borders. Hundreds of species of birds have been identified, as well as mammals of all sizes.

Visitors have numerous options and ranges of activity within the park's two sectors. Rincon 'Las Pailas' or the couldrons are so named for the major amount of geothermic activity found within this portion of the park. This is a virtual wonderland of geysers, fumaroles and splattering, steaming mud post whose sizes vary seasonally.

This mineral rich mud is said to have rejuvenating powers, but the areas is restricted due to the instability of the surfase. Luckily there are private reserves nearby that have smaller deposits of the clay-like paste, where visitors can apply a facemask under more restful conditions. This portion of the park also contains swimming holes and waterfalls, both of which are perfect spots to relax and take in the surroundings after the long hike. Rincon Santa Maria, offers  visitors hiking option through the transitional areas between dry forest and cloud forest. The longest trails within the park lead up to the craters themselves, where the vistas open onto rocky, windblown volcanic terrain. A guide is recommended when hiking at these altitudes, as the mists can arise quickly, cutting the return paths off from view.

Due to its size and diversity, at least two days are required for a thorough investigation of the park. No lodging is available within the borders, but a variety of small hotels built in the traditional hacienda style can be found nearby, in some cases situated on their own private reserve. An excellent example is found in Hacienda Lodge Guachipelin. Built on more than 1500 hectares, the reserve contains such treasures as mud post and hot mineral springs, waterfalls and tranquil pools, and an amazing section of the Rio Blanco, in which rock formations along the sides look like a view into nature's paint box. All reserve's sites can be visited by horseback with knowledgeable local guides, making getting their part of the adventure!

The largest of Costa Rica's provinces, Guanacaste's coastline is sized proportionally. Stretching from the border of Nicaragua down to the mid-Pacific region of the province of Puntarenas, it also dips down into the Peninsula de Nicoya, ending near Playa Caletas.

Within this expanse lie an innumerable variety of beaches, from nine protected wildlife areas, to sandy coves suitable for nearly any taste.

Playa Panama would be a good place to start an exploration of the Northern Guanacaste coastline.

The sheltered waters that enter the Puerto Culebra lap into tide pools and beautiful beaches lined with shade trees, providing just the secluded spot for a picnic.

Playa del Coco is the 'in place' for both nightlife and sea faring excursions, but these activities can also be found in Playas Ocotal and Hermosa, as well as the numerous beaches along the coast. Playa Pan de Azucar down to playa Conchal offer sandy beaches that range from a rich coral to pale gray, and it's difficult to resist the inclination to relax and take in the sun, or walk along the shoreline searching for sea treasures. Marine birds and iguanas are abundant and neither seems to mind sharing the beach with visitors.

Wildlife and white sandy beach seem to blend perfectly in places such as Tamarindo, where mangroves and estuaries offer  plentiful opportunity for communing with nature, as well as a chance to just unwind. And heading further south in the Peninsula de Nicoya, there are even more choices for absorbing nature's bounty. The  many protected coastal reserves in the area maintain an abundance of marine birds and mammals, as well as some of the most important turtle nesting  sites on the Pacific coast. Playa Nosara, Playa Pelada, Playa Samara and Playa Carrillo are destinations not to be missed, but there are so many options that any choice would provide an unforgettable time.

Guanacaste is famous for sun and sand, and that's exactly what visitors will find along its coastline. A full range of water sports are available for novice and expert alike from deep-sea fishing, sea kayaking, and surfing, to snorkeling and scuba diving. Several PADI and NAVY approved programs can be found in the region for those wishing to take classes or simply arrange for a dive. Those ready to slip under the waves are likely to encounter an extensive array of marine life, including huge manta rays, white tipped reef shark, and a rainbow variety of tropical fish. An unusual aspect to the beaches  in the province is the combination of types of hotels within relatively small distances. In places like Flamingo, large, all inclusive hotels might rise up beyond the sand, but the beach itself is lovely and untouched. Other, beaches, such as Playa Junquillal, offer visitors tide pools large enough for snorkeling. This range of sandy and rocky beaches, and large luxury hotel or tiny bungalows  ensures that every visitors will find their perfect spot in the sun.

North Pacific map by Google


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Travel Tips

The Guanacaste area lies north west of San Jose. Several highways wind their way up through fantastic landscapes. Take the Interamerican Highway towards Liberia. Travelers can either rent a car or take the "no worry" option and use one of the private or public bus services. It is also possible to fly to Liberia, as well as to other coastal areas.

Climate

Due to the sunny, dry climate, this region contains some of the most popular areas for resort and spas. Guanacaste landscapes provides both golden vistas and sun-drenched beaches. Temperatures can rise to the mind 90s Fahrenheit, with little or no breeze during most of the year. The dry season here lasts from November on through April and cools down a bit during December and January. The driest region in the country, rain usually isn't a problem during most of the year.

What to bring

When packing keeps in mind the high temperatures and bright sun. hats, sunglasses, sun block and long-sleeved cotton shirts are essential when visiting parks in this area. Shorts provide extra comfort while on trails. Appropriate footwear would be trail shoes for the parks and sandals for everywhere else. Take plenty of bottled water when hiking, and try to get to the parks as early as possible to avoid the worst of the day's heat.

Things to do

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Walking
  • Kayaking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Swimming
  • Surfing

Places to go

La Casona - Located in the Santa Rosa National Park. This historic monument was the site of three major battles and is now a museum.

Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve - This remote location contains rare flora and fauna.

Playa Grande - Important turtle nesting site. Good surfing is assured on this very pretty beach.

Rincon de La Vieja National Park - Remote active volcano with fumaroles, boiling mud pots and thermal springs. Can be reached by nature trails. The region also contains many private reserves.

Guaitil - Small indigenous village maintaining the traditions of the Chorotega. Residents continue to make and sell excellent pottery.

Ostional National Wildlife Refuge - One of the two sites for nesting of the Olive Ridley turtle.

Monteverde Cloud Forest - An abundance of wildlife includes the resplendent quetzal. Guided hikes are available.

Isla Bolanos Wildlife Refuge - Nesting site for brown pelicans and magnificent frigate birds. A lovely outing on a boat.



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