7 Fun Things To Do In Guanacaste, Costa Rica
For some, the best way to travel in Costa Rica is hopping from destination to destination, staying in small boutique family-run hotels, VRBO & Airbnbs. For others, the ideal vacation involves one destination, perhaps even an all-inclusive. Here they can lay around poolside with a good book, sipping cocktails and planning their next adventure.
Whichever kind of traveler you are, if you’re visiting Guanacaste, Costa Rica, congratulations! This incredibly picturesque region of northwestern Costa Rica is known for its stunning beaches, protected land, vast biodiversity, and infinite potential for fun! It is also home to the only All-Inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. This is why our operators have curated many exciting activities and things to do in Guanacaste, all accessible on one-day trips, in the most fabulous and famous resort towns in all of Costa Rica.
Guanacaste Costa Rica Tours Available from Your Resort
Riu Guanacaste is one of the most popular all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica
If you are coming to Costa Rica to stay in one of the All-Inclusive Resorts in Guanacaste, like the Riu Guanacaste, there are plenty of day trips and fun things to do. Though Costa Rica is a tiny country, relatively speaking, Guanacaste is quite a large province. So, it is broken up into 2 tourist zones and 3 transportation zones. All Guanacaste tours depart from either zone 1 or zone 2, depending on where you are staying.
Although the beaches look close together, there is no coastal road connecting them.
So the regions are separated by 2 main access points.
Northern Guanacaste Zone 1 Papagayo: Hermosa Beach, Playa del Coco, Ocotal, RIU Guanacaste excursions depart here, Playa Panama & the Four Seasons resort área.
Southern Guanacaste Zone 2 Tamarindo: The main town is Tamarindo, but activities departing in Tamarindo are also accessible in other beach destinations such as Brasilito, Langosta Beach, Playa Conchal, Flamingo Beach & Potrero. In addition, many activities in Tamarindo include pick up from some hotels in Guanacaste Zone 3, which includes Playa Pinilla, Playa Avellanas, JW Marriott, Sugar Beach & Playa Negra
So many fun things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica your only dilemma
is which ones to choose from!
Whether you’re horseback riding, swimming and snorkeling Guanacaste beaches, ziplining in Tamarindo, or racing around the rainforest in an ATV or buggy, you’re sure to enjoy an amazing time in this fabulous country where having the time of your life, every day, is the point of it all.
Our Top Picks For Fun Things To Do In Guanacaste From Papagayo or Tamarindo
There is something about Costa Rica that makes every day special, and everything a bit more fun. The name of the game here is to feel alive and appreciate this gorgeous country, for everything from its incredible biodiversity to its friendly people and down-to-earth culture. There is everything to love about Costa Rica, and here are 7 of the major highlights to consider for your next holiday.
A Day Trip To One Of Costa Rica’s Most Stunning Natural Wonders: The Ultra-Turquoise Waters Of Rio Celeste
Located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, the breathtaking Rio Celeste meanders its way throughout the park grounds, where it finally spills over into a breathtaking waterfall and oh-so-inviting, extremely photogenic pool.
By far one of the most popular things to do in Guanacaste is visit Rio Celeste
The vibrant blue results from a sudden change in pH. Where the high acidity waters of Sour Creek meet the Buenavista River, with its high concentration of aluminosilicate particles, is where the Rio Celeste is formed. Here the water is the most intensely blue, but even as it gently winds its way through the jungle, the vibrant blue of the Rio Celeste remains in stark contrast to the green foliage, and it is absolutely breathtaking… truly a lifetime “must see.”
Picture perfect hiking trails to Rio Celeste in the Tenorio Volcano National Park
There are several guided tours to Rio Celeste from Guanacaste and plenty of ways to get there no matter where you’re staying in Costa Rica. Want more information on visiting Rio Celeste? Click here to check out our blog with everything you want to know about Rio Celeste, including when to visit, and the best guided tours available based on your interests. Our most popular Rio Celeste tour includes a visit to the Llano de Cortez waterfalls & a sloth sanctuary too.
No Costa Rica vacation is complete without getting to see a sloth in action
Visit a Volcano
When it comes to Costa Rica and its many volcanoes, you’re probably most familiar with the iconic Arenal volcano. With its perfectly symmetric cone shape and slightly fearsome “is it still active?” status, the picturesque Volcan Arenal is a popular day trip from Guanacaste. See a true natural wonder, and afterward, take a dip in some glorious hot springs while you’re there.
Costa Rica’s iconic Arenal Volcano
Sticking closer to your Guanacaste resort, other fantastic volcanos to visit are Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park & Tenorio Volcano National Park. Tenorio National Park is also the access point to the stunning Rio Celeste so you can check 2 things off your bucket list. Another fun way to visit the Volcan Tenorio area is on one of Costa Rica’s famous hanging bridges.
Hanging bridges near the Tenorio Volcano National Park
Hit Up One Of The Famous Costa Rica Adventure Parks In Guanacaste
Of course, canopy tours in Costa Rica are all the rage, and for good reason. They’re a blast, and they’ve been around for so long that zipline tours are practically synonymous with a Costa Rica vacation. But if you’re an adventurer at heart, you should know that the adventure Parks in Guanacaste step it up a notch by offering visitors a full day of excitement and exploration with activities like horseback riding, tubing, ziplining, canyoning, hot springs, and even a super long waterslide.
A day trip to Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Park is one of our most popular things to do in Guanacaste. Why? It’s one of the best deals going, with ziplines, a Tarzan swing, rappelling, rock climbing, horseback riding, river tubing, hot springs, and more, with round-trip transportation from most Guanacaste hotels, lunch included, and even a locker to store your stuff.
River tubing at Hacienda Guachipelin is not for the faint of heart!
Our Buena Vista Adventure Combo takes you to one of the pioneers of adventure combos, Buena Vista Adventure park. What’s different about Buena Vista, compared to Hacienda Guachipelin? Only the longest water slide in all of Costa Rica, coming in at 450 meters (more than 1475 feet)!
Borinquen Mountain Resort offers a little something for everyone, with stunning views you won’t soon forget. Our Borinquen Mountain Adventure is perfect for solo travelers, couples, or families. Bring a swimsuit, the hot springs are amazing!
The three most popular things to do in Costa Rica are horseback riding, ziplining, and relaxing in hot springs. Our Canyon Lodge Mountain Adventure gives you all these things, and takes you to one of the most picturesque places in all of Costa Rica, which is really saying something! From here you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcan National Park, and if you’re a bird lover, Canyon Lodge is a perfect place to spend the day. More than 300 species of bird call this place home.
Be sure to wave hola below as you pass by your resort on the Diamante ziplines!
And if you happen to be staying at Riu Guanacaste, you’re in luck, because the Diamante Adventure Park is right next door.Ask us about special deals!
But if you don’t want to spend a full day away from the all-inclusive bliss to which you have become accustomed…then choose the Congo Trail canopy in Papagayo, or the Skyline Canopy in Tamarindo for a short but sweet version of Costa Rica’s most popular activity.
Explore the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste on a Boat!
Unlike most of the tours in Guanacaste, boats do not travel too far from their home port. There are plenty of Papagayo and Tamarindo boat tours. Your opportunities for sailing Guanacaste depend on where you are staying and what interests you.
Nothing beats sailing into the sunset in Papagayo!
In the Northern Guanacaste (zone 1), you will find a few options departing from Papagayo. For those wanting a smaller intimate experience, we love the Kuna Vela Sailing snorkel tour. If a fun party boat is more your style, then the Marlin del Rey Catamaran cruise is the best choice for you.
Celebrating a special occasion in Costa Rica?
Charter your own private Catamaran!
In Southern Guanacaste (zone 2), you will find some different options departing Tamarindo or Flamingo Beach. For those looking for a more intimate experience, we recommend this VIP small group sailing catamaran tour. You may already know that Tamarindo is thought of by many as the party capital of Costa Rica. So if you’re looking for the catamaran Tamarindo is famous for, Marlin del Rey Catamaran is the one! They’re so popular they now have 3 boats in their fleet. Two in Tamarindo and the other in Papagayo, so you know they’re doing something right. And if you plan to celebrate a special occasion in Costa Rica, we have a catalog of private charters available as well. Just ask us for a quote.
Join the party on Guanacaste’s premier party boat, Marlin del Rey
One particularly wonderful thing about the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is that there are a ton of private beaches and hidden coves up and down the coast. So, although technically not a boat tour, we highly recommend a Jet Ski Tour in Papagayo and in Tamarindo departing from Flamingo Beach.
Explore the best Guanacaste beaches and hidden coves on your own Jet Ski!
Bonus: FREE Whale Watching!!! Costa Rica receives whales migrating from both the north and the south, so if you are visiting between January to April or July to October, you may even see a whale or two while out on the water!
5. Watch Sea Turtles Lay Their Eggs At Las Baulas National Marine Park
Sea Turtle Nesting in Guanacaste is between November to January. Sea turtle activities coincide with many peoples’ Costa Rica holiday travel plans. Technically, the season runs between October and March, but the best times to view them laying their eggs is between November and January at the Las Baulas National Park in Playa Grande. Las Baulas is named after the giant Leatherback Turtles that return yearly to lay their eggs. How giant are they? The largest of all sea turtles, leatherbacks can weigh 1,500 pounds (680 kg.) and reach 6 feet (1.8 m.) in length.
This Leatherback Turtle washed up onshore in Australia…
but you get the idea of their incredible size.
Sea Turtle Nesting Tours from Papagayo do require transportation and a bit of a drive to the beaches where the sea turtles lay their eggs, but it’s so worth it! If you are staying in Tamarindo, you can meet the guide right in town. Either way, you will need to book well in advance to save your space because they limit the number of people entering the park so as not to disturb the turtles.
Baby sea turtle hatchlings ready to make the race against predators into the Pacific Ocean
Of course, those eggs eventually hatch into sweet little turtle babies! And you can spot them scampering adorably toward the sea between April and September every year. More than 800 nesting sea turtles return annually to the beaches of Las Baulas Marine Park. That may seem like a strong population, but the leatherback remains highly endangered and at risk of extinction in the Pacific.
Take An ATV Tour or Off-Road Buggy Adventure in Guanacaste
The idea of hidden beaches and coves appeals to you, but you’re not much of a boat person? The ATV tours departing Flamingo Beach just north of Tamarindo are incredible! Their atv tours allow you to visit many beaches to both the north and south, all while remaining on terra firma. If you have a car, you can head right to Flamingo Beach yourself. They can pick you up in Tamarindo at an additional cost as well.
Riding an ATV in Guanacaste is one of the best ways
to explore the region and all the best beaches too!
If you are staying in Northern Guanacaste, you will definitely want to check out our selection of Papagayo ATV tours. Our favorite ATV tour in Papagayo is the Congo Trail ATV tour. You can make it even more of an adventure by combining it with the canopy tour or a horseback riding trip!
Guanacaste is Cowboy Country – Ride a Horse!
When traveling, it’s great to experience as much as you can the way the locals do. So when visiting Guanacaste, it’s the perfect time to saddle up and hit the dusty trail. Or, as the cowboys say. Giddy up!
As you’ve probably noticed throughout this blog, horseback riding is definitely a thing in Guanacaste, and now you know why! Expect well-behaved, clean, strong, well-fed horses no matter which tour you choose.
If you’re staying in zone 1, click here for all horseback riding options in Papagayo.
For Tamarindo horseback riding in zone 2, you’ll find everything you need here.
If you’re looking for just horseback riding, our Real Deal recommendation is the Congo Trail tour, offered from either zone. But the combo deals are the best. Just scroll up and check out the many Adventure Parks in Guanacaste. Nearly all offer horseback riding as part of the excursion because….well, this is cowboy country!
Horseback riding tours in Guanacaste give you the opportunity to ride on the beach and the jungle
Get out and Explore Other Popular Destinations in Costa Rica
Guanacaste has gorgeous beaches and tropical dry forests. However, Costa Rica is better known for its cloud forest and rainforests. If you have the time and want to take a little road trip, we recommend a day trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest or La Fortuna, with its rainforests and stunning Arenal Volcano.
The Monteverde cloud forest is a favorite destination for nature lovers and extreme adventurers alike. The Extreme Monteverde Cloud Forest Experience is the perfect mix of rushing adrenalin and breathtaking nature.
Escape the beach and head into the cloud forest on a one day adventure to Monteverde
Leave your Guanacaste resort behind and venture out to explore one of Costa Rica’s 7 natural wonders: The Monteverde Cloud Forest! Do you love being in nature and having the opportunity to encounter wildlife up close? A visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Hanging Bridges + Sloth Sanctuary is just the ticket.
The full-day eco-tour in Arenal is the perfect way to understand why Costa Rica is one of the world´s premier ecotourism destinations. Hit all of the Arenal region’s “must-see” highlights, beginning with a visit to the heart of the region, La Fortuna. Then take a scenic hike through Arenal National Park or Arenal 1968 lava fields. Immerse yourself in the dense Costa Rica rainforest, then emerge to spectacular views of Lake Arenal.
Tabacon Hot Springs: Another unique thing to do in Costa Rica is visit the amazing
hot springs resorts in Arenal which should be part of nearly every Costa Rica vacation itinerary
Those in the know can already vouch for the health benefits of Costa Rica’s Rainforests & Cloud Forests. But if you need any convincing on why it’s great to get out of your resort and stretch your legs a bit, click here for 10 Reasons A Visit To The Costa Rica Rainforest or Cloud Forest is Good For Your Health.
Add Nicaragua to Your Bucket List!
Guanacaste borders the beautiful country of Nicaragua and the historic Spanish Colonial city of Granada. So if you’re staying in this area, you really must visit Nicaragua! We make it easy with our Nicaragua One Day Tour. Take a break from Costa Rica’s natural history and broaden your knowledge of Central America’s colonial era history and vibrant culture. Hop across the border to Nicaragua! This is a great way to introduce even more culture and perspective to your vacation, and our “neighbor to the north”. Nicaragua is bursting with so many great activities and destinations, you´ll definitely want to come back again!
Add another stamp on your passport with a day trip to
Nicaragua and the beautiful colonial city of Grenada.
The Best Information, And The Best Costa Rica Excursions, Only At The Real Deal Tours
No matter what kind of traveler you are, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, has a little something for everyone. Known for its picturesque beaches and an incredible array of flora and fauna, the northwest region of Costa Rica is a traveler’s paradise for good reason! If you’ll be vacationing in an all-inclusive like the swanky Four Seasons or more affordable Riu Guanacaste, or keeping it simple with local hotels or AirBnBs, we at The Real Deal have you covered with all the best in day trips throughout Costa Rica and beyond!
Can we help you plan your dream Costa Rica or Panama vacation? Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with transportation, tours, and more.