Los Quetzales National Park

Los Quetzales National Park was declared a national park in Costa Rica in July 2005, making it the most recent addition to the country’s already large national park system. Los Quetzales National Park stretches across 5,000 hectares of land and includes what was formerly known as Los Santos Forest Reserve. The park is also set along the Talamancan mountain range and the Rio Savegre, providing an astounding view for visitors and encompassing some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful landscape.

Los Quetzales National Park is composed of three different types of rain forest and fourteen ecosystems, making it home to a diverse flora and fauna. The most popular animal that visitors come to see is the quetzal bird, for which the park is named. The green and the red quetzal are two of the primary types of quetzal bird found in the park, and both are part of a rare tropical species of bird in this region. Other popular birds in this region are the colibri, known for making cone-shaped nests, and the hummingbird.

Quetzal Bird, Los Santos Forest Reserve, Costa Rica Photo by DeepstoatThe elevation level of the park changes dramatically depending on the different sections; near the Talamancan mountain range, elevation can reach as high as 3,000 meters. A good portion of the park is composed of cloud forests, lakes, and rivers, although there are oak, cypress, and aguacatillo trees in abundance as well. Since there are so many different ecosystems and types of rain forest found in Los Quetzales National Park, there is a lot of variation when it comes to scenery, flora and fauna, and activities available. Many people enjoy coming to the park to hike, explore the terrain of the region, birdwatch, take photographs, fish, raft, or go for a horseback ride with friends or family.

Los Quetzales National Park is located 47 miles southeast of San Jose and is fairly easy to reach from Manuel Antonio. It can also be reached from Jacó, about a two-hour journey. Although the park is relatively new, several businesses have sprung up around the area to offer lodging, dining, and other activities to help you in your visit to Los Quetzales National Park.

Playa Azul

Nestled along the coastline of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, is beautiful Playa Azul. Remaining largely undiscovered has helped to keep Playa Azul the perfect place to get away from it all. Characterizing this coastal paradise are the beautiful deep azure waters lined by steel grey beaches, gently merging with a lush carpet of vegetation that teems with an amazing diversity of wildlife. The current day Playa Azul coastline is probably much like the scene that greeted Christopher Columbus when he first set foot on the shores of Costa Rica in 1502.

Until recently, Playa Azul was a treasure known only to the locals. In the last few years, however, tourism has opened up, allowing outsiders to experience this tropical playground. Although visitors will not find overcrowded beaches or large shopping malls, they will find extraordinary natural beauty and plenty to do! Zip-line through the forest canopy suspended as high as 100 feet above the forest floor, spend the day whale watching, surf the Guanacaste region’s world-class breaks at nearby Marbella, venture forth on horseback for a trek through the jungle, or just enjoy the natural splendor of the region. These are just a few samples of what awaits visitors to Playa Azul.Playa Azul, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Photo by beachesandcity

While the typical collection of all-inclusive resorts and standard tourist fare are absent, recent development has seen luxury spa and resort accommodations created that blend seamlessly with the natural beauty of the area.

Even though Playa Azul is a bit secluded, it is within easy access of the best attractions in Costa Rica! The surfing hot-spot Marbella is just a few miles to the north, and two miles south is lovely San Juanillo, a favorite spot to enjoy fresh lobster and fish and a popular embarkation point for diving charters and fishing excursions.

The Guanacaste region of Costa Rica is also well known as a haven for various types of sea turtles, with the Ostional Wildlife Refuge offering a safe nesting site for a variety of species including the Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Green turtles. The refuge, located a short distance south of Playa Azul, was established in 1984 and serves as a sanctuary for many species of marine and avian wildlife. Turtles nest year round at Ostional, allowing visitors during any season to experience the arribada, the time when female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. It is quite an experience!

Puerto Caldera

 A beach resort town on the western coast of Costa Rica, Puerto Caldera is a cruise ship destination in the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya. The country of Costa Rica lies between the other Central American countries of Nicaragua and Panama, and it is a land with an eco-friendly government that protects its natural resources. Costa Rica has rainforests, wildlife and a rich indigenous and colonial history. The town of Puerto Caldera has shops, restaurants and entertainment for visitors. Besides being a welcoming port town, the area has beaches for surfing and other water sports, wildlife watching opportunities and nearby national parks.

Puerto Caldera, Central Pacific, Costa RicaPuerto Caldera is important to the economy of this small country, openhearted to travelers from around the globe and encouraging them to explore the wonders of Costa Rica. The name of the country means “rich coast.” Port areas like Puerto Caldera help to enrich the coast, but it is the natural setting and environment with wildlife in the waters and the nearby cloud forests and rain forests that makes the coastline wealthy.

Then, the history and culture of the region also make the west coast wealthy. Before the conquistadors from Spain moved into the area, the Nicoya Peninsula was inhabited by Nahuatl people, and other nations lived inland. The cuisine today is much as it has been through the centuries, a simple diet using local ingredients like fresh fruit as well as rice and beans, beef, poultry and seafood. The flavors are mild.

When it comes to hotels and places to stay, the town has a highly rated hotel, Costa del Sol Restaurante & Hotel. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and a bountiful breakfast buffet is served with local foods. The restaurant also provides delicious lunches and dinners. Other accommodations are found nearby in the towns of Orotina and San Ramon.

A true tropical paradise, Puerto Caldera offers a great getaway destination. The climate is definitely tropical as the country lies only around ten degrees north from the Equator. The two seasons are the dry that lasts from December to April and the wet season lasting during the other seven months of the year. Carara National Park is the closest national park, but five other parks are within drives of about two hours. Water sports and boat trips around the gulf are only a few of the great ways to experience Costa Rica around Puerto Caldera.

Bahia Salinas

 Costa Rica has several beautiful beaches on the Pacific Ocean side and Bahia Salinas is one of the best. Salinas Bay is located on the northwestern tip of Costa Rica in the province of Guanacaste. Also known as Salinas Bay, it is a hot spot for wind surfing, kite boarding and bird watching.  Bahia Salinas is on the northern tip of Costa Rica approximately 1.5 hours from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in the city of Liberia.  Bahia Salinas is famous for its beautiful windswept beaches, fishing, along with kayaking and sunset boat tours.

Bahia Salinas has a great deal of entertainment for the traveler to see and do. The dry season is November to June and the temperature ranges between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. For windsurfing, this is the ideal place to surf. Kite boarding is fun and there is always wind in the dry season to accommodate your needs.

Lite Boarder, Bahia Salinas, Guanacaste, Costa RicaThe traveler looking for a more peaceful adventure will enjoy the Santa Rosa National Park. This park is home to more than 200 bird species. For bird watching enthusiasts, a boat tour to Isla Bolanos is imperative. The island in the middle of the bay is a wild life refuge and houses the nesting grounds for the brown pelican which is an endangered species. There is lush vegetation surrounding white beaches which lends itself to a peaceful walk on the beach. This will let anyone looking to get back to nature with the experience and lovely views of the natural flora and fauna. Mountain biking or kayaking in the area is another way to experience nature in Bahia Salinas. Sunbathing on the beach can be found in secluded crescent shaped beaches opposite from the windsurfing areas.

Tours of Nicaragua are offered at Bahia Salinas. The adventurer who loves to encounter history can take a 1 or 2 day tour of Nicaraguan colonial cities. Salinas Bay, nestled along the coast, offers fresh fish and seafood in many of its hotel restaurants. The local cuisine shines and tempts the pallet of any traveler searching for international and national cuisine.

Bahia Salinasplays host to a sunset cruise that provides the traveler with gorgeous, fiery sunsets that will bring the end to a perfect day. Salinas Bay, Costa Rica has a lot of diverse opportunities to experience, come and see it for yourself.

Playa Junquillal

 For those looking for a tranquil and relaxing vacation in an out-of-the-way location that is free from milling crowds of tourists, consider Playa Junquillal in Costa Rica. Located in Guanacaste province on the Nicoya peninsula on Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast, Playa Junquillal is one of the better-kept secrets of Costa Rica’s many tantalizing destinations.

Junquillal is a tidy and relaxed village that flies the Blue Flag with pride, an ecological award given in recognition of clean beaches and waters and environmental awareness. Junquillal fronts a 3-kilometer strip of pristine and gorgeous black and white sand beach. The area around the village remains mostly undeveloped, with just a few hotels and restaurants near the beach, and while Junquillal lacks the trendy tourist venues of other Costa Rican locations, this lack is more than made up for by the serenity of the largely deserted beach and unspoiled beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Playa Junquillal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Photo by FedematarritaSwimming is not advised off Playa Junquillal due to strong rip tides and powerful waves, but the conditions are ideal for expert surfers and there are some fantastic tide pools nearby for snorkeling and bathing. The nearby lagoon at the estuary of the Rio Nandamojo offers excellent fishing and kayaking opportunities, and other local activities include horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and camping. In nearby Playa Callajones, about a 10-minute drive up the coast, there are sport fishing tours and boat charters available. Other nearby attractions include Palo Verde, the caves of Barra Honda and the Ostional Wildlife Reserve.

Another fascinating attraction of Playa Junquillal is the sea turtle project. From July through February, four different species of sea turtles dig their nests in the sands, including the highly endangered leatherback turtle. The community oversees a hatching station in the center of Playa Junquillal, and at night young people from the village patrol the beach to protect the eggs from poachers and predation. If a visit is timed just right, one of the most amazing phenomena in nature can be witnessed as thousands of young turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and scurry across the sands to the sea.

Playa Junquillal is about 30 kilometers west of Santa Cruz, and 20 kilometers south from Tamarindo. The best way to get there is by rental car, and there are newly paved roads for most of the journey from either Santa Cruz or Tamarindo. The closest international airport within reach of Playa Junquillal is the Liberia Airport in Liberia.

Ostional National Wildlife Refuge

Ostional National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica is a reserve which was created to protect nine miles of coastline and 613 acres of habitat living in the ocean and on land. This refuge which also reaches out 300 miles into the sea is a famous protective area for the marine Olive Ridley turtle, and is the most significant nesting beach for the species in the world. In addition to the Olive Ridley turtle there are many other animal species which can be viewed in this important refuge. This refuge includes three beaches, Playa Ostional, Playa Nosara and Playa Guiones.

Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Photo by Triss.MattEvery year between the months of July and December, an important event know as “arribas” (the arrival) takes place in which massive numbers of Olive Ridley sea turtles come out of the sea and onto the shore to lay their eggs. The arribas take place every three to four weeks beginning with the last quarter of the full moon, and each one lasts for about a week. This is quite a sight to see, as during certain times the beach is covered with thousands of turtles. It is also amazing to see the turtles hatch–45 to 60 days later–when the baby turtles immediately make their way to the sea. The Olive Ridley is one of only two turtle species that synchronizes their nesting, and Ostional is one of the few nesting places in the world where this stunning event takes place.

There are many other animals that make their home at Ostional Refuge, such as the leatherback turtle, the Fishing Bulldog bat, iguanas, monkeys, the Brown Pelican, the Magnificent Frigatebird and at least one hundred other species of birds. In addition to many species of turtle, other sea creatures include red rock crabs, sea urchins, anemones and starfish.

Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is located in the province of Guanacaste and can be accessed through the cities of Nosara or San Juanillo. For those who want to visit Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, it is advisable to fly into San Jose, and then take a local flight to Nosara. Getting to the refuge can be difficult, especially during rainy season. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can be rented or there are company tours available. Once you arrive, there is a small entry fee.

If planning a trip to the Guanacaste region in Costa Rica, Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is one destination that you will not want to miss. The “arribas” is a phenomenon few people get to see in their lifetime.

Playa Negra

Playa Negra is one of the world’s greatest beaches. Located in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rico, this beach is known for its great surfing. This beach was popularized in the movie Endless Summer, and has become quite popular with tourists.

With its black sands, this beach is enjoyable to relax at and watch the surfers. For the surfers, this beach has wave forms challenge beginners to advanced surfers. Playa Negra has a rock reef bottom that produces natural right-hand barrels. The beach has a definite channel that makes it easy for surfers to get out to the larger waves. The beach has a strong current that takes surfers through the the swells back to the beach.

Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Photo by DserrickWith its location at the center of North and South America, this beach receives swells in both directions. While not as common as the right-hand barrels, under the proper conditions, surfers may also experience left-hand barrels as well. The beach has come areas that have low swells that are perfect for beginners. Surfing schools abound on the beach, and one surfing club also has camping and overnight accommodations for those using the beach.

From Playa Negra, there is also great snorkeling to see the reefs and sea life of the Costa Rica area. Hiring a boat to out to sea, the area is renowned for its deep sea fishing of marlin, sailfish and giant tuna. Shoreline fishing for nook and jack is also quite popular, and there are a number of schools that will teach the basics of fishing.

Horseback riding is available along the beaches with guided tours. Water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, and wind surfing are also available at Playa Negra. Any needed equipment can be rented from the retail stalls at the beach.

Playa Negra is next to the town of Tamarindo. This is a small town, but it has several hotels and resorts near the beach. Tamarindo makes a great jumping off point to see the rest of the wonders of this area.
Here are the departure points to tour the local volcanoes, rain forests, turtle breeding grounds and the National Park. Tamarindo has plenty of dining; consider Longboards BBQ and Le Petite Cafe. For the eventing, consider the Monkey Bar, Aqua or Pacifio Bar.

To reach Playa Negra, it is best to fly directly to the international airport at Liberia (a city in Costa Rica) and take a taxi to Tamarindo. The city is small enough that you can walk to many locations, or use a local taxi. Temperature is reasonable the year around. The issue with weather in Costa Rica is rainfall. This country receives over 200 inches of rain in some of its mountains each year. The dry season runs from December to April each year. The wet season is indeed wet; if visiting during this time don’t stray to far from cover.

Playa Avellana

 Playa Avellana is located in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica, and is renowned for its spectacular scenery, year-round sunshine and radiant beaches. It also boasts fascinating nature preserves such as the Ostional Wildlife Refuge and the Marino Las Baulas National Park, both of which were created to provide a place for endangered sea turtles, although they are now home to a wide variety of other wildlife species, as well.

Historically, Costa Rica has enjoyed rather consistent political stability and more periods of peace than many other Latin American countries. Before the rapid increase in Playa Avellana’s popularity as a tourist destination, coffee production was the area’s principal source of wealth, and is still a piece of Costa Rica’s economic puzzle.Playa Avellana, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Photo by Edravi

Referred to by local residents as “little Hawaii,” Playa Avellana is an outstanding vacation destination for those who love nature and the great outdoors. The secluded white sandy beaches located in the resort town are the epitome of peace and tranquility. Peppered with several beachfront bars, it is also a great location to relax with a cocktail and take in the beautiful sights and sounds of the magnificent shoreline. Live entertainment is often featured at the largest of the beach bars, but perhaps the most notable entertainment is a visit from Lola, the enormous 800 pound pig that wanders through the beach’s shallow waters, and sometimes to the outdoor bar’s, to greet tourists with a friendly snort.

Although not ideal for swimming due to strong waves and currents, Playa Avellana is an exceptionally good choice for surfing fans. Here, waves have been known to reach as high as eighteen feet, offering optimum conditions for experienced surfers. Those who are traveling with surf fans, but do not wish to engage in the sport themselves, can opt for a restful horseback ride along the shore as this is also a popular activity in Costa Rica.

Visitors who enjoy golfing while on vacation will be pleased to discover that there are several state-of-the-art golf courses in the area, one of which was designed by Mike Young. Accommodations at Playa Avellana are usually priced quite reasonably, although similar to most vacation destinations they are a bit higher during peak tourist season, which for Costa Rica is the months of May, June and July. Regardless of whether one is looking for rest and relaxation, adventure, or a surfing vacation, he or she is certain to find it in Playa Avellana.

Playa Ostional

Approximately five miles north of Playa Nosara, Costa Rica is the small, quaint beach town of Playa Ostional. Although primarily a residential area, the tiny community is home to a renowned national wildlife refuge measuring two tenths of a mile wide, and approximately six miles long. The preserved land area consists of 550 unspoiled acres, as well as 950 acres of adjacent sea.The primary purpose of the Ostional Natural Wildlife Refuge is to provide a place for the Olive Ridley sea turtle, also known as the Loras turtle, to nest. The preserve is one of two places in Costa Rica where this species of turtle can nest in peace free from poachers and predators. The refuge is also home to other large groups of sea turtles, and during peak nesting season, which begins in July and ends in October, it is not unusual to see several thousand turtles in the protected area.

Playa Ostional, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Photo by ticinoinfotoThe turtles usually travel to the refuge in large groups, typically by the light of a full moon. Those who wish to view mature Loras turtles will find that the best time for this activity is during the rainy season, which begins in December and lasts until early May. According to wildlife experts, Ostional is the world’s number one nesting site for the Olive Ridley turtle.

Local residents once harvested both the turtles and their eggs indiscriminately, making a preserve necessary if the species were to survive in Costa Rica. Loras turtle eggs, and soup made from the mature turtles, are popular bar snacks in Playa Nosara and some of the other surrounding beaches. Therefore, it was essential for conservationists and local residents to reach a compromise so that those living in Ostional could continue to harvest eggs without endangering the species. Fortunately, most Loras turtles lay their eggs in multiple batches, with several weeks in between each laying. Often, the earlier batches are damaged or trampled by other turtles as the area becomes crowded. Typically, only the eggs that are laid at the end of the season survive. For this reason, locals have agreed to harvest and sell only the first egg batches, for which there is little chance of survival anyway.

The preserve’s northwest end features numerous tide pools that are rich with marine creatures such as fish, sea-urchins, sea horses, starfish, sea anemones and shellfish. On the shore, one can also view thousands of ghost crabs, which are almost transparent as their name implies.

In addition to turtles, the northwest section of the preserve is also home to howler monkeys, crabs, iguanas and a vast array of different birds. However, many of the area’s most colorful and unusual birds can be observed at the refuge’s southeast end, where several small mangrove swamps are located.

Although Ostional Beach is not swimmer-friendly, as rip tides and strong currents are common, it is a nice area to relax and enjoy the scenery after a visit to the refuge. Anyone who has even a mild interest in nature and wildlife will never forget a trip to Playa Ostional.

Playa Langosta

In Costa Rica’s beautiful, lush landscape, one will find the delightful beach resort of Playa Langosta, which is located on Tamarindo’s southern coast. The phrase Playa Langosta translates to Lobster Beach in English, and this is not surprising as the residents of Langosta Beach once depended on lobster fishing as their primary trade. Over the years, tourism has significantly boosted Costa Rica’s economy, although lobster fishing is still a popular activity in this part the world. Playa Langosta is an ideal neighborhood in which to spend a peaceful and quiet sojourn.

Playa Langosta, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Photo by dankitPlaya Langosta is also a perfect spot for those who enjoy surfing in an area that is never overcrowded, as the beach features a mostly residential atmosphere and offers a terrific surf break. In addition, the beachfront itself is breathtakingly beautiful at any time of the day or night. Although the shoreline is mostly rocky, this adds to the quaint charm of the landscape, and the small pockets of sandy beach offer secluded spots where sunbathers can leave the stress of everyday life far behind.

Although a quaint residential area of Costa Rica, Playa Langosta is also home to some exciting activities. Amid the handful of charming bed and breakfast establishments is a small casino, which is located within one of the town’s larger hotels.

There is also a local surf club in Langosta, which welcomes those on vacation with a daily visitor’s pass, subject to availability. The club offers tasty bar snacks and cocktails, as well as enjoyable games such as darts, ping pong, and billiards, and volleyball games are often scheduled on the beach in front of the club.

There is a small supermarket in the town, which is located within easy walking distance from almost all hotels and beach home rentals. It is open seven days a week until sundown, and often features fresh lobster for sale. There are several great restaurants in the area, which are also within walking distance, and most eateries are open every day of the week during peak tourist season. Additionally, the beach is conveniently located about ten minutes from Tamarindo’s local airport, and less than an hour from the international airport in Liberia.


On the north end of Playa Langosta there is a picturesque volcanic rock, which is surrounded by a sandy beach. When visiting this attraction one should bring a camera, as many photo opportunities will present themselves here. Also close by is the Las Baulas National Park where visitors can catch a glimpse of the nesting leatherback turtles that reside in the area, as well as many other protected wildlife species. Although it is a small beach town, and less famous than many other areas of Costa Rica, no one will be disappointed after a visit to Playa Langosta.


Playa Potrero

Playa Potrero, also known as Potrero Beach, is a small, beach community situated on Costa Rica’s northwestern Pacific coast. Playa Potero’s beachfront stretches about three miles in length, and is a five-minute stroll to its busier sister community, Flamingo Beach. Playa Potrero is in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, which was first colonized in the late 1500s. The area has a subtropical climate, and is one of the driest and hottest regions of Costa Rica. Temperatures are consistently range between the mid 80s to upper 90s. The small town of Potrero Beach is a classic Tico community, offering a marina at one end of the beach, a public church, supermarket, school and soccer field.

Playa Portrero, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Mind's Eye PhotographyActivities are abundant in Potrero Beach and include horseback riding, scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, sport fishing, sailing and golfing. Tours are available within the region as well, and visit other beaches in the area, caves, native villages, hot springs and natural conservation areas. Golf courses are located along the beach and offer breathtaking ocean views at every turn. Charter boats allow visitors to see a variety of marine mammals up close, such as migrating humpback whale pods, dolphins and manta rays.

When traveling to Playa Potrero, there are a number of accommodations and dining options to choose from. Visitors can rent out multi-room condominiums and private houses that offer all of the comforts of home. Romantic beachside cabanas and huts are also available that provide few amenities, but are right on the beach and offer a one-of-a-kind experience. If you would rather be pampered, you can always opt to stay in one of the area’s all-inclusive resort hotels. The majority of the restaurants in Playa Potrero are a restaurant and bar combination, so you can experience full-service dining and nighttime entertainment in one location.


Visitors to Playa Potrero have a few transportation options when it comes to getting around the region. Rental cars are available at the airport and can be booked ahead of time, or at your time of arrival. Taxi service is also readily available, but not necessarily the cheapest option. Costa Rica’s public transportation by bus is well organized and travels to all areas of the country, via its vast road system. Travel by bus is not always the most convenient option, but is the least expensive.