San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Construction of Discovery Costa Rica set to begin in 2018

Leaders of government, business and diplomacy met at the the National Theater Tuesday to provide details about the massive new adventure park that Discovery will open in Guanacaste in 2020. Costa Rican officials responded at the press conference to environmental concerns about the project, which will include manmade water attractions in a region of the country heavily affected by droughts and water rationing.

Construction on the park, first announced by President Luis Guillermo Solís earlier in the week, will begin next year with an initial investment of $400 million, Discovery Costa Rica CEO John Scheman said at Tuesday’s event.

The company has already acquired a 880-hectare property located 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) from Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia. The property will host the Discovery Ranch, the center of the project that will also include Discovery Beach, Ocean and Volcano.

Thomas Turner, chairman of Sun Latin America, the project development company, said the company is currently evaluating options for the location of the other three destinations, “but they all will be in Guanacaste.”

The ranch will include hotels, a hospital, school and wellness complex, bike and hiking paths, sports training facilities, an inland ocean, a water park and cabins, as well as outdoor spaces of dry forests, ravines, and canyon cliffs overlooking the Liberia River.

Scheman noted that Discovery hopes the park will showcase Costa Rican “art, their music, and their folklore to the rest of the world.”

President Luis Guillermo Solís on April 18 welcomes the investment and job creation expected with the Discovery Costa Rica project.

L. Arias/The Tico Times

Job options

President Solís attended the press conference along with Vice President Ana Helena Chacón, as well as the Environment and Tourism Ministers Édgar Gutiérrez and Mauricio Ventura. U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney, lawmakers, various Guanacaste officials and tourism leaders also took part in the announcement event.

Solís welcomed the project and said Discovery’s decision to invest here shows that Costa Rica can commit to big investment and development plans “that are completely in line with our vision of sustainable development.”

Discovery representatives also confirmed that they will employ 2,000 workers during the construction stage and, once operational, will generate 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Vice President Chacón said they first heard of the project in 2015 when developer representatives presented them with the idea. Government officials have since held several meetings with the developers to agree on the project terms and requirements, Chacón said.

Environmental concerns

Minister Gutiérrez said the project already obtained all environmental feasibility permits, so developers can proceed with construction.

He added that “the project will not endanger the water supply in Guanacaste.”

The northern Pacific province has faced serious droughts in recent years that resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the agricultural and the livestock sectors, and have made water rationing a fact of live for residents of the province. In 2015, droughts prompted the National Emergency Commission to allocate more than ₡1 billion ($2 million) to assist Guanacaste’s farmers.

The minister said the project will supply its water from existing wells inside the property. These wells have valid and current permits from the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute and from the Environment Ministry’s National Subterranean Water and Irrigation Service, Gutiérrez said.

“The project will not use any water from any of the sources that supply the communities in the province,” he said.

He also stressed that the project will be submitted to the strictest environmental controls from all agencies involved.

“You can rest assured that we will not put our natural resources, nor any communities at risk,” he said.

See some renders of the project:

(Via Discovery Costa Rica)

(Via Discovery Costa Rica)

Contact L. Arias at

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I loved coming to CR for vacation. I was there decades ago when ecotourism was just starting –
it was so nice. Now, nothing says ecotourism like a giant resort with fake environs. While I can appreciate the economic value to the region’s residents, this certainly will drop Costa Rica’s clout as an environmentally conscience country. Shame on Discovery, a corporation that started off with learning, adventure and ecology programming and content, to turn a large area in CR into the next Disney World.

I was planning on investing in CR in a year for a retirement career with low environmental impact, but now I think I will look to other countries in the area. It is just a shame where the country has gone.

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It is time that Costa Rica starts implementing solutions to environmental issues, i.e. Pass the Electric Vehicle Law that eliminates import duties and other taxes on electric vehicles, allow alternative building materials, i.e. Adobe, Cob, Wattle & Dabb, Arbolit Blocks, Bamboo, and Earthbags…to be included in the building codes and stop the wholesale use of concrete and steel.
Remove tariffs and taxes on solar and wind generating devices; even provide government incentives to become self sustainable on an individual level.
The University of Costa Rica has already shown that under current direction, Carbon Neutrality will not be obtained, as announced by the government, by 2020….but perhaps 50 years later.
Construct rapid transit, not only in the Capital, but North to South from border to border and from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast.
Costa Rica doesn’t have a military to support so why aren’t they investing in efficient infrastructure?

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