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Things to do in Guanacaste and Northwest

Things to do in  Guanacaste and Northwest

Welcome to Guanacaste and Northwest

In Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, 400 miles (644 kilometers) of Pacific coastline vie for attention with tropical dry forests, undisturbed rural towns, and volcano-fueled hot springs. The country’s northern neighbor, Nicaragua (which you can easily visit on a day trip), lost control of this territory in the 19th century, although a distinctly Nicaraguan culture lingers. Sites are spread out, so tours can help sure you easily navigate between the places you most want to see. Inland, the region is noted for Rincon de la Vieja National Park, which offers hiking through a tropical dry forest, swimming beneath waterfalls, and soaking in mineral hot springs and mud baths. Summiting the Rincon de la Vieja volcano is every bit as exciting as the more popular Arenal volcano in Alajuela Province, but it’s less crowded and only a day trip from the beach. Additional nature parks dotting the region offer horseback riding; ziplining canopy tours; and opportunities to view sloths, howler monkeys, and lizards that call the forests home. On the coast, find your bliss surfing the swells of Tamarindo or Hermosa beach or soaking up sun rays on the shore. Snorkel among tropical fish at Playa Conchal, take a catamaran cruise out on the open water, or kayak through mangrove forests—all easily accessible from Liberia’s airport.

Top 15 things to do in Guanacaste and Northwest

#1
Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Beach

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Once the site of a quiet fishing village, Tamarindo Beach has become one of Costa Rica's most popular stretches of golden sand. Surfers travel from across the globe to ride Tamarindo's waves, but you don’t need to be a pro to hang 10 here. There are spots nearby that are calm enough for first-time wave riders to learn.More
#2
Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

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Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the ultimate “one-stop shop” for Costa Rica’s natural attractions. Expect fuming volcanoes, gushing waterfalls, sky-high ziplines, natural hot springs, and more—all within just a couple of hours of the popular Guanacaste coast.More
#3
Rio Negro Hot Springs

Rio Negro Hot Springs

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Nestled in the lush interior of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, these rustic hot springs are fed by a naturally heated river that flows from a nearby volcanic peak. Slather on the mineral-rich mud, and then soak it off in a variety of steam pools, all while surrounded by the untamed Costa Rican rain forest.More
#4
Baldi Hot Springs

Baldi Hot Springs

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Located in the shadow of active Arenal Volcano and surrounded by a lush jungle landscape, Baldi Hot Springs is one of the largest hot springs resorts in the world. Visitors can choose from 25 different thermal pools, plus pampering spa treatments, swim-up bars, and Costa Rican cuisine for a complete day of relaxation.More
#5
Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde National Park

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Set on the banks of the Tempisque River, Palo Verde National Park (Parque Nacional Palo Verde) contains more than 15 topographical zones, including mangrove swamps, evergreen forests, and tropical dry forests. The park is a haven for migratory birds, bats, and 250 species of bees, plus mammals like jaguarundis (cat) and howler monkeys.More
#6
Diamante Eco Adventure Park

Diamante Eco Adventure Park

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A one-stop shop for adventurers of all ages looking to get their adrenaline fix, Diamante Eco Adventure Park features one of Costa Rica’s longest zipline courses. If that’s not quite your thing, choose from an abundance of other activities, including all-terrain vehicle excursions, horseback riding, and water sports—or just marvel at the sweeping ocean views.More
#7
Dino Park Blue River

Dino Park Blue River

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Travel back to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth at Costa Rica’s one-of-a-kind amusement park, where animatronic dinosaurs inhabit the leafy jungle. Moving, life-size replicas of the giant creatures are a hit with kids and the young at heart, while a nearby hot springs resort offers a way to relax after your prehistoric adventure.More
#8
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Caño Negro)

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Caño Negro)

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Home to more than 200 speices of rare bird, Caño Negro is one of the most biologically rich wetlands in the world. Many mammals and reptiles can also be spotted around the freshwater lagoon, making it one of Costa Rica's best wildlife-watching destinations.More
#9
Miravalles Volcano

Miravalles Volcano

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Towering above Costa Rica’s northwestern plains, Miravalles Volcano is the highest peak in the Guanacaste province. The dormant peak’s microclimate makes it one of the best birdwatching spots in Costa Rica, while its refreshingly cool air offers respite from the tropical humidity of the nearby beaches.More
#10
Vida Aventura Nature Park

Vida Aventura Nature Park

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Situated in the heart of the Guanacaste area adjacent to the Rincon de La Vieja National Park, Vida Aventura Nature Park offers the perfect mix of adventure and nature. Allot a whole day here to zip line, ride a horse and then wind down in the hot springs.Vida Aventura Nature Park features El Gavilan, a zip line and canopy experience that ensures a full rush of adrenaline. As you zip through the air, take in the views of ancient lava canyons and the Rincon de la Vieja and Miravalles volcanoes. Explore the biodiverse Costa Rican jungle while helping to support conservation efforts—a win-win situation. There are also nature trails all over Vida Aventura that are great for families and those looking to spot some wildlife.Visitors can hop on a horse to learn how to drive cattle Guanasten style and to see the tropical dry forest area of the nature park, all before taking advantage of the site's thermal pools. Unwind and relax with a volcanic mud treatment, or stay active by checking out El Resbalon, the nature park’s water slide.More
#11
Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

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Tucked away in the mountains, the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the area. The 3-acre (1.2-hectare) sanctuary houses four unique climate-controlled habitats where more than 30 species of butterflies thrive alongside 20 species of arachnids and insects and a colony of leaf-cutter ants.More
#12
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve

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Situated atop the Continental Divide, this high-altitude forest is literally shrouded in clouds. Wisps of fog trail through the lofty canopy, creating the perfect environment for thousands of animal and plant species. Here you can find wild orchids, colorful birds, and sinuous jungle cats—plus scenic mountaintop vistas.More
#13
Las Pumas Rescue Center

Las Pumas Rescue Center

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Las Pumas Rescue Center is located in the Guanacaste area near Cañas and serves to rescue, rehabilitate and ensure good conditions for wildlife in Costa Rica. The rescue center primarily caters to larger cats, but there are a number of local species that have benefited from the services at Las Pumas. In addition to the large cats, monkeys, deer and even parrots have been treated here, as well as two toucans that were rescued in 2007 after two men were caught trying to sell them.The center was established in the midst of deforestation in the 1960s to promote wildlife rehabilitation and conversation efforts. The site fights against hunting, deforestation and poaching of wild animals in Guanacaste by taking in animals that have been removed from their natural habitat, seized by authorities or even brought in by concerned citizens.It’s important to note that Las Pumas Rescue Center is not a zoo. Animals are rehabilitated with a goal of returning them to the wild; however, that isn't always feasible. Animals unfit to be released are continually cared for.More
#14
Eco Termales Fortuna

Eco Termales Fortuna

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If you are looking to experience one of the more private hot springs in Costa Rica, Eco Termales is your best bet. With a limit on the number of visitors at a time, it is one of the smallest but least crowded springs in the area. There are seven pools ranging in temperature from 91 to 105 degree Fahrenheit and even a cascading waterfall guests can stand under. The intimate resort includes paths lined with volcanic silt that lead guests around the pools and changing rooms, and there is also an onsite restaurant that features traditional Costa Rican dishes. The family that owns the site prepares the food downstairs and lives upstairs above the restaurant.More
#15
Matapalo Beach (Playa Matapalo)

Matapalo Beach (Playa Matapalo)

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Palm-lined, grey-sand Matapalo Beach (Playa Matapalo) enjoys the kind of wild beauty that characterizes Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast. Largely off the beaten beach path, this long flat beach has long attracted the surfer crowd with its strong riptides and two river mouth breaks. A couple sleepy hotels and beach bungalows offer surf-side accommodations, but walk a few minutes in either direction, and you’ll likely have the beach completely to yourself.While Playa Matapalo’s strong currents and big waves mean it isn’t ideal for swimming, it is a wonderful beach for secluded sunbathing or for catching a sunset over the Pacific.More

Top activities in Guanacaste and Northwest

Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Horseback River Tubing Combo
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Rio Celeste Hiking, Sloth Sanctuary & Llanos de Cortes Waterfall Tour
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Full Day Nicaragua Tour from Costa Rica
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Private ATV Tour at Tamarindo

Private ATV Tour at Tamarindo

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Diamante Eco Adventure Park Day Pass with Lunch
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Blue Dolphin Sailing Adventure

Blue Dolphin Sailing Adventure

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Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari
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Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari

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$38.00
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Guanacaste and Northwest

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Atv tour first time
Destiny_S, Apr 2022
ATV Tour Real Adventure Through Tropical Forest & Beach
Would definitely recommend if you’re looking to see the more local side of Guanacaste.
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Mega Combo Tour in Guanacaste
Leanne_L, Mar 2022
Mega Combo tour: Tubing,Canopy & Hot Spring from Playa Flamingo
Carlos was great and even stopped on the way to our activities to get coffee and snacks.
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Miller makes the experience special
Perry_M, Feb 2022
Beach-mountain & Sloth Refuge Buggy Tour
Very beautiful to see un-developed beach.
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Great excursion..: long day
Alexandra_G, Dec 2021
Arenal Volcano and Hot Springs Day Trip from Guanacaste
Hot springs were nice at a hotel.
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The Hot Girl Tribe takes Costa Rica!
Najah_V, Oct 2021
Papagayo Gulf Private Sunset Boat Tour
We got to see dolphins, stingrays, and turtles.
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Perfect service!
Mia_J, Jun 2021
Shared Shuttle Service To W CR Reserva Conchal
I apologize that the driver’s name has escaped me but he was easy to find as soon as we walked out of the airport (holding a sign with my name), spoke very good English and provided the perfect tour of Liberia, Guanacaste and every area in between as made the trip to the hotel.
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Amazing combo trip!
Danielle, Mar 2020
Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Horseback River Tubing Combo
At first we were a bit confused about the order of the activities, but the tour guide ended up being a fantastic guide and made the experience unforgettable for us.
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A Perfect Day Excursion
bk23232019, Nov 2019
Llanos del Cortez Waterfall and Coffee Tour from Guanacaste
While staying in Tamarindo, we were looking to fill a couple days with fun activities.
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Amazing Views & Great Ziplining Tour guides
Nytasha_G, Jul 2019
Amazing Mega Zipline (25 lines) over 11 Waterfalls
We were able to see more of Costa Rica on our drive to/from Adventure Park.
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Great Experience!
Jason_D, Jun 2018
Diamante Eco Adventure Park Day Pass with Lunch
Started with the animal sanctuary and it was pretty cool to see all the animals that live in Costa Rica.
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My friend and I did this tour...
Brien_V, Mar 2018
Rio Celeste Hiking, Sloth Sanctuary & Llanos de Cortes Waterfall Tour
Our first stop was Llanos de Cortes waterfall where you can swim and this waterfall was beautiful.
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I would recommend this day adventure...
Janell G, Mar 2018
Hacienda Guachipelin One Day Adventure Pass
I would recommend this day adventure for any family with kids over 8 yrs.
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Miller is outstanding on this tour...
Woodrow T, Nov 2017
Beach-mountain & Sloth Refuge Buggy Tour
Miller focuses on getting you to see the best beaches I have ever seen in my Life.
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This was an incredible tour. Our...
Lenore Caston M, Dec 2017
Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Horseback River Tubing Combo
Lunch was really good, and the hot springs soak at the end was exactly what we needed to undo all of the adventuring of the day.
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This tour was the highlight of my...
cboria2199, Jul 2017
Super Combo Adventure: Zipline Tour, Horseback Riding and Hot Springs
The horse I had went crazy, and I winded up falling off of the horse, but I broke my fall by falling on the side of my body.
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It was an excellent well organized...
Michelle H, Jun 2015
9-Day Best of Northwest Costa Rica from San Jose: Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest and Guanacaste
Some of the activities were strenuous, and they ensured she was safe every step of the way.
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I had a fabulous tour guide...name...
Jane W, Sep 2014
Super Combo Adventure: Zipline Tour, Horseback Riding and Hot Springs
It was a beautiful day and we also enjoyed the horseback riding, mud bath and hot springs.
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First of all, the ride from...
Sovannak B, Mar 2013
Arenal Volcano and Hot Springs Day Trip from Guanacaste
there wasn't much wildlife for us to see while there.
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All about Guanacaste and Northwest

Currency
Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time Zone
CST (UTC -6)
Country Code
+506
Language(s)
Spanish
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