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Things to Do in 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.
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Rincon de la Vieja National Park
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50 Tours and Activities

Rincon de La Vieja National Park is one of the country’s most diverse ecological areas. Surrounding two volcanoes, Rincon (active) and Santa Maria (dormant), the park is also home to an extraordinary display of local flora and fauna, while being a part of the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste World Heritage site.

While the plant life is impressive on its own, especially considering the enormous concentration of purple orchids here, it’s the concentration of volcanoes that really wows visitors. The Rincon de La Vieja volcano gave rise to the park’s name and contains nine separate but contiguous craters. It is one of the largest of the five volcanoes in the Guanacaste region and is believed to be over a million years old. Despite being considered active, it has not erupted since the early 1980s. The park does see a lot of volcanic activity, including vents, fumaroles and boiling mud pots and has at least 32 rivers that flow down its sides.

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Tamarindo Beach
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67 Tours and Activities
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.
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Palo Verde National Park
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32 Tours and Activities
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.
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Rio Negro Hot Springs
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14 Tours and Activities
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.
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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.
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Baldi Hot Springs
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32 Tours and Activities

Located at the base of the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, San Carlos, Baldi Hot Springs features thermo-mineral hot water pools with great views of the volcano. It’s the biggest hot springs facility in the region and the perfect way to relax after hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park.

Located within the Baldi Hot Springs Hotel and Spa, there are day-use options as well as availability for hotel guests. The 25 pools range in temperature from 93 to 152 degrees Fahrenheit and get hotter as the elevation rises. It's recommended that you balance your time between pools, as your core temperature will begin to rise after about 20 minutes in a hot pool. The minerality and temperature of the water is believed to rid the body of germs and viruses while increasing blood circulation and releasing harmful toxins.

For the adventurous, Baldi Hot Springs also has extreme water slides that send you bumping and sliding before landing in the natural hot springs pool.

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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.
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Dino Park Blue River
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Don’t look now, but it seems like dinosaurs are once again roaming the forests of Rincon de la Vieja. Here at Dino Park Blue River, watch a vicious Tyrannosaurus Rex as it prowls and growls through the rainforest, or stare in wonder at the towering height of a life-sized, long necked Brontosaurus.
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Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve
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The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde) contains four different ecological zones, with the majority still untouched forest. Considered one of the most important biological reserves in the world, this site is one of the few places where you can take a photo on the Continental Divide with one foot on the Pacific side and the other on the Caribbean side.

Another draw is the site's eight-mile (13 km) network of trails tat offer a well-rounded immersion into the biodiversity of Costa Rica. Monteverde is home to over 3,000 known plant species, 755 of which are trees alone. Here you can visit “La Ventana,” the scenic overlook displaying the beautiful panoramas created by the continental divide. The reserve also includes the Monteverde Biological Reserve, Santa Elena and the Children's Eternal Rain Forest, part of the Arenal Volcano National Park.

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More Things to Do in Guanacaste and Northwest

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

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Tucked away in the mountains and known locally as Mariposario, Monteverde Butterfly Gardens is one of the town's most visited attractions, having been educating visitors about Costa Rica's local insect and arachnid species for more than 20 years.

Guides take visitors through the various displays at the biodiversity center, which features over 20 species of live insects and arachnids, as well as an active leaf-cutter ant colony. When it comes to butterflies, this site reigns supreme with more than 30 species in four different climate-controlled habitats that represent ones found in Costa Rica. The three-acre garden also houses other wildlife, including white-faced capuchin monkeys, agoutis, coatis, toucans, motmots and more.

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Llano de Cortés Waterfall

Llano de Cortés Waterfall

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Vida Aventura Nature Park

Vida Aventura Nature Park

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Eco Termales Fortuna

Eco Termales Fortuna

1 Tour and Activity
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