Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama is the natural paradise of Costa Rica. Travellers have been flocking here for years to set their sights on the country’s extraordinary biodiversity, hundreds of miles of beaches, lush rainforests, and volcanoes that peak out above the clouds. And although Costa Rica has been in the travel spotlight for decades, the country hasn’t sold its soul for mass tourism. Environmental initiatives to prevent deforestation, maintain ecological diversity and reduce the country’s carbon footprint have long been part of the government’s agenda and are wholeheartedly embraced by locals. It’s pretty much where eco-tourism was born.

Costa Ricans, ticos and ticas as they call themselves, are a welcoming bunch, proud of their land and eager to extol its virtues. Perhaps best summed up by the local mantra ‘Pura Vida’, which is used in many contexts from greeting others on the street to saying ‘it’s all good’. For travelers this makes Costa Rica both exotic and comfortable, two characteristics that are often at odds with each other.

Guanacaste, one of Costa Rica’s seven provinces, boasts half of the country’s coastline yet is the least populated. Its dry winters and plethora of beaches lining the Pacific Ocean The expansion of Liberia’s international airport has led to crop of new resorts and boutique hotels, making Guanacaste a growing destination for travelers looking for a mix of beach vacation and nature travel.

Like much of Costa Rica, Guanacaste offers an astonishing range of things to do to suit any travel style. Adventure activities like zip lining, scuba diving and river rafting are offered by a variety of tour operators. Eco tours will take you deep into the region’s vast nature to see wildlife, waterfalls and volcanoes. Or choose to spend your time on the area’s pristine beaches, perhaps doing a bit of snorkelling or paddle boarding.

Getting to Guanacaste

Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is one of the busiest in Central America and connects travelers to the Guanacaste hubs of Tamarindo, Papagayo and Conchal among others. Most of the tourist resorts and towns are an hour or two from the airport, along well-paved roads set amongst lush forests.

Visitors to the Guanacaste region can expect dry, hot winters from November to April and a wet, rainy season from May to October. During the wet season, rain usually comes in a daily downpour but is worth it for the shockingly green and lush terrain that morphs as a result.

Where to Stay in Guanacaste

Guanacaste offers a wide range of accommodations depending on your personal interests and budget. A handful of all-inclusive resorts offer five star service while the region’s many guesthouses provide a more local experience.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Dreams Las Mareas

A stone’s throw from the Nicaraguan border is the all-inclusive Dreams Las Mareas. A beautifully appointed property with spectacular views of the vibrant jungles and mountains, the resort has an intimate feel to it. Dreams Las Mareas has a large winding pool and a small stretch of beach that’s also used by nesting sea turtles. The rooms are large and airy with modern touches featuring outdoor tubs, while the service is top notch across the board. The Dreams brand is known to be family friendly but couples will not feel out of place at this property whatsoever. Eight restaurants featuring an array of cuisines ensures you won’t go hungry while several bars across the property will keep you in good spirits throughout the day.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal

The Westin near Playa Conchal is a large all-inclusive resort with its own golf course. The property is huge and rooms are spread across dozens of three level buildings, but shuttles are constantly driving around to give you a lift if you need. Rooms have are classic Westin featuring dark wood furniture and the brand’s signature Heavenly beds. There are 12 dining options in total offering a ton of variety, including an impressive buffet that’s open for all meals. Families will feel welcome at the resort with a special section of the resort, dedicated lounge, and kids club. Walking the grounds of the resort you might encounter iguanas or howler monkeys. The size of the Westin Playa Conchal makes it a great option for groups or corporate events.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Secrets Papagayo

The adults-only and all-inclusive Secrets Papagayo emphasizes high-end luxury and exceptional service. Secrets acquired the property two years ago and did a complete overhaul resulting in a gorgeous and modern hotel. The resort’s 200 rooms are well spread out through resort providing an intimate and romantic experience, and while many are built on a hill a shuttle can zip you around the property if you want. The pool is popular with a lively swim-up bar and activities during the day while the small stretch of beach is a quiet reprieve. Secrets Papagayo is a popular choice for weddings and honeymoons. And located only 20 minutes drive from Liberia International Airport, it’s a great option if you want to avoid lengthy airport transfers.

Occidental Papagayo

Another adults-only all-inclusive offering in Papagayo is the Occidental Papagayo. Upon arriving at the resort, guests enter into the open air lobby, which offers a magnificent view of the resort and bay. The property has a European design to it, not surprising as it’s owned by Spanish hotelier Barcelo. The main dining option is the buffet though there are two a-la-carte restaurants that are available depending on the number of nights you’re staying at the resort. A large central pool with plenty of loungers and a long stretch of beach provide plenty of opportunity for relaxing, though guests have the option of visiting nearby Coco Beach, which has a range of restaurants, shops and activities. Overall, the Occidental Papagayo is a great value property.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Casa Conde

Casa Conde is a small four-star boutique hotel offering just 50 rooms that’s also all-inclusive. The resort offers an abundance of charm and the friendliest staff imaginable. There are a variety of room types for couples like intimate cottages or larger groups like the Family Suite with five beds, a kitchen and a large patio overlooking the resort. The grounds of Casa Conde are beautiful with an impressive array of trees and plants creating a lush natural oasis, and the one mile stretch of beach is pristine. Visitors come to Casa Conde to relax as the overall atmosphere of the hotel is quiet and carefree, meaning you won’t find a disco pumping music until the wee hours of the morning.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Villas Playa Samara

Villas Playa Samara located near the town of Samara boasts a spectacular beach, which even wild horses love. Run by a Canadian father-son duo, the resort’s optional all-inclusive option makes it ideal for those looking for a more independent vacation. The resort’s 106 rooms are spread across the property in a number of cottages and two story buildings, while an adults only section called Azura Beach Resort is set to open in March 2018 that will be exclusive to Air Canada Vacations. With multi-room villa options, it’s great for families or groups of friends. Being so close to the town of Samara means you can actually get off the property and explore this laid back beach town with several restaurants (and a craft beer bar!) to enjoy.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts
Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts

Tamarindo Diria

Tamarindo is a vibrant beach town that’s popular with backpackers, couples and surfers. Tamarindo Diria is a well established hotel with an unbeatable location directly on the main strip, which is filled with boutique shops and restaurants. The hotel features three distinct areas including an adults only (Tropicana Village) and a beachfront section (Sunset Village). Featuring six restaurants and five bars on site and an option dine-around plan, visitors also have the option to leave the gates and experience local food and drink in Tamarindo. Spread across five acres, Tamarindo Diria has a distinctive Costa Rican feel to it that’s difficult to replicate.

Occidental Tamarindo

Located on the gorgeous Langosta beach not far from Tamarindo is the all-inclusive Occidental Tamarindo. A recent renovation to rejuvenate the rooms and public spaces has given the resort a ‘fresh’ feel. Unlike the Occidental Papagayo, the Tamarindo outpost is family friendly with multi-room suites, kids programming, and a children’s section of the pool. The resort features two restaurants and bars, though you’re so close to Tamarindo if you want to change it up a bit. Like most Barcelo properties, Occidental Tamarindo attracts a more Spanish-speaking clientele, but English speakers won’t feel out of place.


All of these hotels are available through Air Canada Vacations, which operates direct flights to Liberia from Toronto and Montreal. If you are interested in visiting the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, we can help plan and book your holiday.