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The Guanacaste Guide – Best Things To Do In 2023

a sandy beach next to a body of water

While planning your next trip to Costa Rica, the challenge won’t be finding enough things to do; it will be finding enough time to fit everything in.

Costa Rica is a natural paradise of diverse topographies and climates. With every landscape imaginable, ranging from steep mountains, volcanoes, and dramatic canyons to rainforests, wetlands, and stunning Caribbean and Pacific Coast beaches, the country has it all.

Add five percent of the world’s biodiversity–birds, reptiles, insects, and an endless collection of exotic animals–and you have one of the world’s most fascinating vacation destinations.

As the birthplace of eco-adventure tourism in Central America, Costa Rica is truly a playground for the young at heart. And Guanacaste Province in the north is the perfect launching point for experiencing the best activities in Costa Rica.


Here are the 23 top “Must-do” activities for your visit to Costa Rica

  1. Visit the national parks in Costa Rica: There are close to thirty national parks and countless nature reserves and wildlife refuges in Costa Rica. The government and private enterprises have gone to great lengths to provide excellent visitor facilities and hiking/walking trails. Guanacaste’s national parks are, without a doubt, the best places to see Costa Rica wildlife and pristine nature.

  2. Costa Rica Ziplines: There’s nothing more exciting than a Superman zipline course. Diamante Eco Adventure Park has Costa Rica’s longest zipline (nearly a mile long), dual ocean view zip lines, and a 30-foot free fall Quick Jump. Vandará, just north of Liberia near the Rincón de La Vieja Volcano, has one of the region’s most scenic Canopy Tours over a pristine river waterfall and canyon.

  3. The beaches in Guanacaste are some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful. The Gulf of Papagayo is called the Gold Coast for its golden-sand beaches and dry-season countryside. Tour providers such as Captain Zodiac, who operates out of Playas del Coco, offer customized half and full-day tours to the gulf’s most secluded and beautiful beaches.

  4. Horseback riding in Costa Rica is a genuinely authentic Guanacasteco pastime. Known for its rolling countryside and cowboy culture, Guanacaste is a horseback rider’s mecca. For a real taste of Costa Rica horseback riding, culture, and hot springs, visit Vandará near the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.

  5. ATV adventure tours are an action-packed way to see Costa Rican beaches and mountains while tackling rugged terrain. Diamante Adventure Park offers exciting ATV tours through the coastal landscape and rolling hills of Playa Matapalo.

  6. Tubing in Costa Rica is a delight for the whole family. In Guanacaste, the crystal clear Rio Negro is the river of choice for tubing tours. Some tours combine horseback riding and tubing for double the excitement.

  7. Sunset sailing is perhaps the most romantic of Costa Rica’s ocean tours. Several providers from Tamarindo and Playas del Coco offer sail and catamaran sunset cruises in Costa Rica. Combine the afternoon with snorkeling, surfing, or beach hopping.

  8. Some of Costa Rica’s best snorkeling sights are in Guanacaste. Several offshore islands like Isla Chora and Las Catalinas have beautiful rock reefs where larger marine species like mantas, dolphins, octopuses, and small sharks are often spotted. Great inshore spots include Playas Conchal, Ocotal, and Juanillo.

  9. With so many volcanoes in Costa Rica, a vacation is only complete once you experience their rejuvenating hot springs. A Guanacaste favorite is Vandara’s thermal waters, sourced from the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Their pools lie adjacent to a cascading waterfall in a stunning river canyon.

  10. Coffee is an essential part of Costa Rican culture and history. In addition to growing some of the best beans in the world, Costa Rican coffee tours are fun and informative. Some of the best Costa Rica coffee plantations are near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

  11. Guanacaste’s beaches are home to a variety of coastal habitats, including mangrove estuaries. Estuary tours by boat or kayak are peaceful and interesting. Countless bird species and fascinating marine life live in estuary and mangrove habitats.

  12. Fans of the deep blue will be happy to know there are fabulous scuba diving sites off the coast of Guanacaste Province. Top contenders for serious Guanacaste, Costa Rica scuba diving sites are Isla Murciélago (Bat Island) and Las Catalinas Islands.

  13. Costa Rica holidays and Guanacaste festivals are a wonderful way to experience authentic Costa Rican culture and cuisine. During holidays like Fiestas de Santa Cruz and Día de Guanacaste, the festivities include horse parades, rodeos, dancing, kids’ games, and delicious traditional street food.

  14. Surfing in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is some of the country’s best. Tamarindo is a hot spot for beginning to advanced surfers. While offshore, Witches Rock and Ollie’s Point are world-famous and attract experienced and expert surfers. Take a full-day surf tour with Captain Zodiac to Witches and Ollies for a day on the ocean you’ll never forget.

  15. The Liberia City Tour is a fun and informative way to learn about Costa Rica’s Colonial past and the abolishment of its army while strolling Guanacaste’s “White City,” Liberia.

  16. Unless you’re already a pro, surf lessons in Costa Rica are always a lot of fun and a good way to meet other travelers. To surf more than one break with a private instructor, book a day with Captain Zodiac. Or, head to the surfer mecca, Tamarindo, for classes.

  17. Guanacaste has some of the best kite surfing in Costa Rica. Playa Copal, less than one hour from Liberia, is renowned for its excellent kite surfing conditions. Lessons and lodging are available for visitors.

  18. A visit to Costa Rica is incomplete unless you take a dip in one or two tropical waterfalls. In addition to the stunning Rio Celeste River in Tenorio Volcano National Park, visitors should experience the refreshing pools and majestic scenery of La Leona and Oropendola waterfalls in Guanacaste. Or, combine steaming hot springs with a dip in the Tizate River waterfall at Vandará.

  19. The animal sanctuary at Diamante Eco Adventure Park is truly remarkable. Under the guidance of government authorities, the Diamante animal sanctuary in Costa Rica harbors the country’s largest number of rescued species. Diamante is also where to see sloths in Costa Rica up close.

  20. Every year, thousands of sea turtles arrive on the Guanacaste coastline to lay their eggs. Visitors flock to catch a glimpse of their fascinating arrival, sometime in the thousands. Ostional and Santa Rosa National Park are sites for two of the largest migrations, known as arribadas.

  21. The Gulf of Nicoya and Tempisque River Delta are home to spectacular wetlands teeming with birds and wildlife. Embarking on a Palo Verde Boat Safari tour is a rewarding way to witness the reserves’ wild species and diverse ecosystems.

  22. See a volcanic eruption in action at Rincon de La Vieja Volcano National Park. The vast stratovolcano constantly emits steaming gas in the form of steam vents, fumaroles, and bubbling clay pots. A fascinating day hike for the whole family.

  23. Large numbers of Humpback Whales and other whale species migrate to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica to breed and raise their young in the nutrient-rich waters. Whale and dolphin-watching tours are offered all along the coast during migration season. A must-see on your next vacation to Costa Rica.