San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guanacaste South: Sun & Surf, Wildlife & Wonder

It gets so hot during the day that you won’t have a reason not to be in the water. This place is it for beach lovers.

The beaches are drowned in wave-breaking silence, some of the last forgotten places where you can have a moment alone with the mother of brine. As if the natural beauty and warm weather weren’t enough, the waves are also tubular. Dedicated surfers pray that when they die they will be sent to Guanacaste – or somewhere similar with better roads. If you can’t find a wave to catch here, you might as well turn in your board.

From Langosta to Negra, Sámara to Guiones, you can’t go wrong.

It’s not hard to stumble upon an adventure here. If not looking to go wild, you can find relaxation, natural beauty, peace of mind, and an astounding number of yoga experts.

Wildlife is teeming in the tropical forests and savannahs that run right up to the beach. Adventurers enjoy limestone caves, wildlife spotting in dry forests, gliding around on ziplines and leaping off breathtaking waterfalls.

If you want some superb grub or naughty nightlife, head to the booming beach community of Tamarindo … Or if you just want some silence, take your pick of pristine beaches.

Drive your car down the country’s shoulder from Tamarindo to (Carrillo). If it makes it through southern Guanacaste without a scratch, you’re sharp. If you get lost fewer than three times, you’re a genius. If you drive through without wanting to stop at every little beach and admire its natural beauty, you should ask yourself if you’re human. The bus system is perplexing and the roads a challenge, but by asking around you’ll get where you’re going; it just might take longer than planned. But trust us, you won’t mind getting lost here.

Getting There

Most beaches accessible via Liberia, then southwest on decent roads, some bad stretches. Daily flights from San José to Tamarindo on SANSA, Nature Air. Travel from San José with Gray Line (Tamarindo) or Interbus (Tamarindo). Shuttle bus connects Tamarindo, Flamingo and Brasilito every two hours. Access also via ferry from port of Puntarenas, crossing Gulf of Nicoya, to either Playa Naranjo or Paquera; buses meet ferries.

What to Do

Animals: NEW! Tempisque Safari Adventures (698-1060, 289-4121, tempis, wildlife refuge with native and imported animals, in Rosario near Río Tempisque delta north of Puente de la Amistad, from Nicoya-Santa Cruz intersection 30 km to Rosario.

Books: NEW! Jaime Peligro books, CDs and DVDs, across from Hostel Playa Tamarindo. NEW! Undercover Books (653-1104), also in Tamarindo.

Canopy & Nature Tours: Tamarindo Canopy (653-0597). Horizon Pacific Tours (653-0390). Costa Rica Fun Vacations (653-0926).

Ceramics: NEW! Ecomuseo (681-1147, 681-1214, 681-1169), on old road between Santa Cruz and Nicoya, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.- Sun., ceramics, demonstrations, expositions.

Dive: Tamarindo: Agua RicaDivingCenter (tel/fax: 653-0094,

Pacific CoastDiveCenter (827-4525,

Resort Divers of Costa Rica(672-0132,, based at Playa Panamá, diving, plus cruises, fishing, jet ski and ATV tours.

Fitness: NEW! Gym Tamarindo (653-1423).

Golf: Hacienda Pinilla, Garra de León Golf Course, Royal Pacific Golf & Country Club.

Horses: Finca Paraíso (653-0182).

Land: Tamarindo Adventures (653-0108,, ATVs, dirt bikes, scooters. Costa Rica Best Tours (396-8548). Papagayo Excursions (tel/fax: 653-0254,, turtle tours, sportfishing, safaris. Tamarindo TouristInfoCenter (653-0981, fax: 653-1022,, next to Jazz Casino and Tamarindo Supermarket, tours, bus/flight info. NEW! Huracán (653-1240,, ATVs, dirt bikes, scooters, Tamarindo. NEW! Blue Trax bike shop (653-1705,, mountain bike rentals, tours, Tamarindo.

Relax: Essence Day Spa (tel/fax: 653-0291, 800-2759, facials, massage, herbal treatments, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., nights by appt., closed Sun.

Language: NEW! Coastal Spanish Institute (878-6106), group, private classes; all levels, housing available, live with a family starting at $375/week.

Sail: In Tamarindo, Mandingo Sailing (653-0623, fax: 653-2323).

Sportfish: Tamarindo Sportfishing (653-0090, fax: 653-0161, tamarindosport

Study Spanish: at Wayra (tel/fax: 653-0359, in Tamarindo.

Surf: In Tamarindo, best waves at Langosta point break, Avellanas and Negra and farther north at Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock.

For lessons, in Tamarindo: NEW! Blue Trailz Surf Shop (653-0221). Las Palmeras surf shop (653-3850).Matos Films surf shop (653-0802). MOHS International (653-0130). Robert August Surf Shop at Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas (653-0114, ext. 180). NEW! TamarindoSurfSchool.

Witch’s Rock Surf Camp (653-1262, witchesrocksurfcamp. com). Maresias Surf Shop (653-0224). High Tide Surf Shop (653-0108). Iguana Surf (tel/fax: 653-0148, 653-0613), surf shop, rentals, boogie boards, kayak trips, tours, lessons. Banana Surf Club (653-1270), rental, repair, surf art.

Tennis: Tamarindo Tennis Club (653-0898) and most large resorts.

Turtle watch: Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge and Las Baulas National Marine Park (tel/fax: 653-0470), nesting sites for leatherback turtles on Tamarindo and Langosta.Hotels/tour companies organize night tours, Oct.-Mar.

Water Sports: In Tamarindo: Iguana Surf Aquatic Outfitters (tel/fax: 653-0148,, Tamarindo-based with outlets on the coast. In Playa Hermosa, Aquasport (672-0050, fax: 672-0060,

For more on southern Guanacaste, including information on where to stay and eat by destination, see the The Tico Times “Exploring Costa Rica” guidebook, available for $15.95 at,, and at major hotels and bookstores in Costa Rica.


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