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Guanacaste Costa Rica is one of seven provinces in this tiny central American country.  The provincial borders roughly define certain regions by geography, government, and population.

The province of Guanacaste is located in the northwest part of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean. It shares a border with Nicaragua and is the least populated province in the nation.

History of Guanacaste Costa Rica

The recorded history of the Guanacaste province (so named for the national tree – Guanacaste or ear-pod) dates back hundreds of years. People began to settle the Nicoya Peninsula in earnest in the 17th and 18th centuries. The region first existed as an independent territory and was annexed to the larger nation almost 200 years ago.

Guanacaste Costa Rica is a fascinating and beautiful part of the world, with heavy forestation and mountainous rivers. The region is relatively dry compared to the rest of Costa Rica.

Guanacaste Weather

Residents and visitors to Guanacaste Costa Rica experience consistently hot temperatures beginning in November. Respite from this heat is found on the wonderful Pacific Ocean beaches. Temperatures are moderate in May and the region receives a bit more rainfall. This pattern usually continues until October.

Guanacaste Agriculture

The open areas of Guanacaste province are often devoted to cattle grazing. The beef industry was a mainstay of the economy for decades, but it has declined in recent years. A massive irrigation program has boosted crop production, with sugar cane, cotton, and rice leading the way, although coffee growing is also quite popular.

Liberia – The Capital of Guanacaste

Liberia is the largest city in Guanacaste province with a population of of over 75,000 people. Liberia is also the capital of Guanacaste and major hub for tourism in Costa Rica.

Tourists have flocked to Guanacaste Costa Rica in ever-greater numbers in the past few decades, taking advantage of the beautiful beaches and the natural beauty of Costa Rica. This has revived the area’s economy to some extent and has contributed to the importance of the capital city, Liberia.

The warm tropical climate and beautiful beaches in Liberia lure travelers wishing to escape the cold months of the Northern Hemisphere. They mostly travel down to Liberia Costa Rica between December and March.

Liberia Costa Rica offers a relatively new international airport and many of the amenities that international visitors seek. Yet Liberia remains a comfortable city with an atmosphere often described as “colonial.”

Liberia’s proximity to Costa Rica beach resorts and beautiful national parks make it a popular destination and base for touring the countryside. In fact, one of Costa Rica’s national parks, Santa Rosa, also includes one of the world’s top surfing locations. Historic landmarks also add to Liberia’s increasing popularity.

If surfing and sun-tanning are not quite your style there are many other Liberia Costa Rica excursions and activities to explore. Aside from the many attractions, the city is a perfect base for horseback riding through the amazing countryside, bird watching, or for a trip to one of the many volcanoes along the eastern border of Guanacaste Costa Rica. It is not unusual for visitors to witness dozens of rare birds in addition to the native tapir (and even the elusive jaguar).

Those who choose to explore Liberia Costa Rica will see many whitewashed houses that have given this city a reputation as “ciudad blanca,” which is Spanish for “white city.” It is also home to a number of annual festivals that celebrate local culture and the heritage of the residents.

Liberia’s government and city leaders have made an effort to attract new visitors with its international airport and easy access to major highways. Take one of the many interesting side trips off the Pan-American Highway and see why Guanacaste Costa Rica and its capital city Liberia have become so popular.

Caravan All Inclusive Tours Includes Guanacaste Costa Rica

The current Natural Paradise Tour by Caravan includes several days in the Guanacaste Costa Rica. Depending on the travel package you select you may experience the Guanacaste J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa, or the San Bada Hotel just outside of Manuel Antonio Park.

Caravan’s fully escorted 9 day tour is exceptionally priced always all inclusive.

Hear what fellow travelers are saying about these Costa Rica trips on the official Costa Rica reviews page.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) today
to inquire about pricing and tour availability.

Well, after nearly a week always on the move and doing day excursions as part of this Caravan Costa Rica tour, we get to stay at the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and just take a day for ourselves to relax at our leisure.

We feel really privileged to be able to spend 2 nights at the 5-star JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa in Hacienda Pinilla, Costa Rica. Some of the guests we spoke with today said that this is the high season and rooms are going for somewhere between $400 and $800 US!

Watching the Setting Sun at JW Marriott Guanacaste

It’s unbelievable that this 2-night stay is included as part of this Caravan all inclusive tour. The tour price also includes all meals, and all itinerary activities…simply amazing.

This particular Marriott is only 5 years old and simply stunning with an infinity pool, exceptional food, large rooms and the most comfortable mattress and pillows I’ve every experienced at a hotel. The view of the ocean and the incredible sunset were simply stunning. The JW Marriott Hotel is an oceanfront hacienda style resort located next to an 18-hole golf and country club in the exclusive community of Hacienda Pinilla. It was really cool to be able to beachcomb right in front of the hotel. One of the young fellows from our group even managed to get a coconut right off the tree and crack it open to drink fresh coconut juice.

Surfing near JW Marriott hotel in Guanacaste Costa Rica

Surfing lessons Guanacaste Costa Rica

Our boys spent the entire evening in the pool last night and today we booked them for a 2-hour semi private surfing lesson at the beautiful sandy beach in front of the resort’s country club. The weather was perfect, the waves were up to 5 feet high and the boys said they had a fantastic time.

We really took advantage of the down time on this part of our Caravan tour, hanging out at the pool or in one of the many hammocks around the property, and enjoying the exceptional food. I feel so sad that we have leave the JW Marriott tomorrow, but I’m really looking forward to heading down to Manual Antonio Park just south of Jaco on the Pacific Coast in Puntarenas.

~ Lee K

Lowlands of Guanacaste Costa Rica

Today, on the first day of 2017, we are making our way to Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica to visit the leatherback turtle nesting beaches. As we pulled out of La Fortuna we headed away from the wet tropical rainforests of Central Costa Rica, traveling northwest across the continental divide and then down into the lowlands of Guanacaste; an area known for its dry rainforests and white sandy beaches.

Tarantula – Hanging Bridges Tour Costa Rica

On our way to the leatherback turtle nesting beaches, our first stop was to take a tour of Costa Rica’s famous Arenal Hanging Bridges in the mature wet forests of Mistico Park. According to Wikipedia, this area receives up to 250 inches of rain each year. The 243-hectare wildlife reserve features a series of suspension bridges along easy to navigate paths through the tropical rainforest.

Here, it’s possible to see many species of Costa Rica’s trees, mammals, reptiles, and birds in their natural habitat. There were three paths to choose from with varying levels of difficulty, depending on your comfort level. The easiest path was the shortest and crossed just one hanging bridge. The second path was a little more challenging, and the third path was 3.2 Km long with 6 German designed suspension bridges (and 9 stationary bridges) that allow you to move across the forest canopy. Seeing the rainforest from above gives you a whole different perspective of the diversity of this rainforest. Closed shoes like runners are mandatory for your own protection.

Venomous snake, Hanging Bridges Tour

On our hanging bridges tour, we saw a yellow venomous viper snake, several tarantulas, a number of birds, and even Costa Rica’s wild boar, which we could easily smell before our guide pointed him out beside the creek below. On clear days you can even get a view of Arenal Volcano from here but the weather was still overcast today and it started to rain, which meant that the local sloths and monkey species were all hiding and keeping still, trying to keep out of the rain. This made it very difficult for us to see them today. Although our guide said he could smell the monkeys and knew they were near, they were well camouflaged.

View of Arenal Lake Costa Rica

After leaving the Hanging Bridges area our tour bus took us around Lake Arenal towards the leatherback turtle nesting beaches of Guanacaste. Lake Arenal is not only a man-made lake but also the largest landlocked lake in Costa Rica, covering 33 square miles. It was created to support the new hydroelectric dam, which now supplies up to 12% of Costa Rica’s electricity. Lake Arenal is also an important year-round recreational area for Costa Ricans that like to windsurf, fish, kayak, go boating, or do land activities like hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding.

Once around Arenal Lake, we headed down into the lowlands of Guanacaste Province. Our tour guide Paul, provided us with a wealth of knowledge about Costa Rica on this trip, including the history of the province of Guanacaste (which used to be an independent state) and how Guanacaste eventually became a part of Costa Rica and how the government has worked hard to protect the leatherback turtle nesting beaches.

Playa Grande Beach, Leatherback Turtles National Park

Costa Rica is widely considered to be the birthplace of ecotourism. In this area, located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, Guanacaste is world famous for its beautiful Pacific Coast sandy beaches. We headed over to Playa Grande, an area that so far has been able to ward off what could have been very lucrative commercial development, in favor of preserving these natural leatherback turtle nesting beaches. In fact, as many as five different species of turtles nest here, including the green sea turtle, the Olive Ridley sea turtles, and of course, the most impressive (and most endangered) species, leatherback turtles.

Leatherback Turtles National Park monument

I was really quite impressed at how Caravan Tours is taking an active role in supporting the preservation of these leatherback turtle nesting beaches. Caravan has taken the initiative to create an educational center, even producing a short video on the efforts that Costa Ricans have taken to preserve these turtle nesting beaches and help ensure the survival of the Leatherback Turtle.

In the video, one of the oldest long-time volunteers remembered seeing as many as 200 leatherbacks come ashore in one night to lay their eggs. But last year, he only saw 37 return here. In fact, the population has declined up to 90% in the last two decades. Leatherbacks have been around for over 150 million years and can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 2000 pounds, so the exceptional work the volunteers are doing here is essential to their survival. The volunteers actually gather the turtle eggs and care for them in nurseries until they hatch. On their own, only 1 in 1000 Leatherbacks survive to adulthood but the work that is being done here has helped raise the survival rate to three times as many.

We must give kudos to Caravan for pitching in and doing their part to raise awareness and support this amazing turtle preservation program. It was also really cool to see our naturalist guide, Paul, as one of the featured commentators in the video.

After leaving the leatherback turtle nesting beaches, our last stop was at the amazing JW Marriott Resort, which opened only 5 years ago. We are here for two nights and tomorrow we have the day to ourselves to relax and enjoy this 5-star resort. Really looking forward to it.

Until tomorrow…!!!

~Lee K

(Editor’s Note – This original post from December 2011 has been updated to reflect current Costa Rica tour activities.)

Costa Rica in Central America is home to over 10,000 species of different plants and trees making it one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The forestation consists of unique flora and fauna in luscious virgin rainforests, mysterious cloud forests, and unique tropical dry forests.

Costa Rica vacationers can enjoy the exceptional natural beauty of Costa Rica thanks to excellent rainforest eco tours by Caravan including:

1. Rio Frio Cruise and Rainforest Tour

On this Costa Rica rainforest cruise, tour guests drift through Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge on a fully guided river cruise along Rio Frio. As you pass through virgin Costa Rica rainforests your naturalist guides will help you watch for all kinds of rainforest wildlife including elusive jaguars, caimans, howler monkeys, black turtles, and even water walking lizards.

2. Tarcoles River Cruise and Rainforest Tour

Also known as the “river of crocodiles”, the Tarcoles River winds through Guanacaste’s protected Carara Biological Reserve, home to the rare and endangered Scarlet Macaw. A fully guided Costa Rica rainforest cruise is the best way to view this protected sanctuary and makes an ideal bird watching cruise.

3. Aerial Tram Rainforest Canopy Tours in Costa Rica

Eco conscious aerial tram tours through the rainforest canopies of Braulio Carrillo Park and Manuel Antonio National Park are definitely the ultimate way to see rainforest canopy wildlife, plus flora and fauna up close, with minimal human impact on the natural environment. Braulio Carrillo Park boasts virgin rainforests and outstanding cascading waterfalls. Manuel Antonio National Park was recently named one of the world’s Top 12 most beautiful parks and includes a number of outstanding accessible Pacific coast Costa Rica beaches.

4. Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail Tour

Cloud Forests (or Fog forests) have a higher humidity and less rain than the typical rainforest. The unique ecosystem is found in less than 50 tropical and sub-tropical countries around the world, including Costa Rica.

The Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail is situated near Poás Volcano National Park in central Costa Rica, less than an hour’s drive from the capital city of San Jose. This Costa Rica rainforest features lower woody plants with an abundance of small cypress and myrtle growth. Escallonia Cloud Forest is also home to dozens of hummingbirds and large stunning orchids.

Plants along the trail flower at various points throughout the year but the best time to visit is in the summer and autumn when primary colors emerge. Because of this, the Escallonia Cloud Forest Trail is a popular destination for North Americans on winter vacations in Costa Rica.

5. Guanacaste Tropical Dry Forest Tour

Guanacaste National Park is situated on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It was originally created as a biological corridor for the migration of birds and insects between the dry forests, cloud forests, and rainforests. The founder of Guanacaste Park also had the vision of encouraging locals to become involved in Costa Rica environmental programs.

Caravan’s Guanacaste tropical dry forest park tour features hiking, nature walks and bird watching. If visiting in the afternoon, guests should be ready for a short rainfall (especially during the rainy season that lasts May through November).

Tours along Guanacaste National Park trails interweave through several ecosystems as the elevation increases from the Pacific Ocean up to Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. For Cost Rica vacationers with more time to spend in Guanacaste, a hike up and across the Continental Divide will lead to a typical Costa Rica rainforest.

The most popular Costa Rica wildlife visitors see in the dry forest include howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, long-tongued bats and capuchin monkeys. Birds such as the Orange-Fronted Parakeet and Crested Caracara are common and easy to spot up in the trees as well.

Caravan Costa Rica Vacations Include Rainforest Tours

All of Caravan’s Costa Rica vacations include glimpses into the country’s amazing rainforests, cloud forests and dry forests. Very affordably priced for a 9-day tour, these are fully guided, all inclusive Costa Rica vacations and they book up fast!

Read more about Caravan Tours’ current Costa Rica Paradise vacation or take a look at a few Caravan Costa Rica reviews to see what others are saying.

Call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!