Guanacaste is the Western region of Costa Rica, admittedly the most popular part among tourists. Still, we never felt like we were in an overly crowded environment, nor that Costa Rica lost its Latin feel (although there’s a lot of north American influence well entrenched everywhere).
Here’s a post on all the places we visited on this part of our road trip, mostly beaches (can you blame us?) read on to know more…
We arrived at Tamarindo (in the Nicoya peninsula) at night, after a stop to Llanos de Cortes Waterfall on the way from San Jose. Tamarindo is very backpacker-y, we didn’t spend much time here as we decided to spend the day at gorgeous Playa Conchal, just to the north.
Playa Conchal is a small piece of paradise, with clear blue water and sand that it’s not really sand – it’s pieces of shells that overtime broke into tiny little bits to make you feel the most unique sensation under your feet.
And who knows, you may even make new friends over there.
Tip: We arrived from Brasilito and drove all the way to the end of its beach until we made it to a small car park next to a beach resort. That’s where the beauty starts!
On our way back to Tamarindo we stopped by Playa Grande, a rough beach ideal for surfers or for chilling at sunset in tranquillity.
We spent the evening back in Tamarindo, having a nice dinner at The Buccaneers, an Italian restaurant that seemed to have the best value for money food in town (it’s a rather pricey place Tamarindo). We enjoyed an authentic Italian pizza, and the chat that followed it with the owner of the restaurant and his friend. Both Italians, they told us about life on a beach in Costa Rica and how Tamarindo was changing, unfortunately for the worse, as everything was getting just too expensive for the locals to cope with.
On this sad note we returned to our ‘tree house’ Airnbnb owned by another Italian, Michele, just out of the town centre.
On Day 2 of our trip to Guanacaste we drove to a place where I left my heart: Samara.
A beautiful little village, quiet yet full of life, we really felt like at home here. So much so that we stayed longer than initially planned.
Perhaps the fact that we met so many people from our town, Modena, helped in making it feel even more homely! Strangely enough, the owner of our fantastic hostel (guess from where he was from?!) introduced us to Daniele who lived there and who took us around to visit even more local beaches.
We started from Refugio de Vida Silvestre Camaronal, where his other friend from Modena lives and work (he takes care of turtles and their eggs, how amazing is that?), and they showed us all the great work they do with sea turtles.
Tip: Come here at night to watch the turtles come back from the sea to lay their eggs on the beach!
We then drove to Playa Islita, not the best beach I’ve seen I must be honest, with dark sand and wavy sea, but we were lucky enough to see a flock of parrots landing on a tree to enjoy its treats!
Also, Punta Islita is a lovely village where almost everything is covered in colourful mosaics! Now how cool is that?!
After that we went on to Corozalito, a place in the wilderness surrounded by cows, horses and palms, a beach completely immersed in nature.
We then drove to Punta Nueva Koyote, after Catarina, the lovely lady owner of the market where we stopped for water, suggested it to us. This is the end point of a massive 11km-long beach, again a place in the wilderness that makes you feel like you’re on a deserted island.
We ended the day and the trip at El Carrillo, not far from Samara, just in time to witness one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. This is one of my favourite beaches of all time and we spent much of our days there. A slice of paradise, I hope it won’t be spoiled by new developments in the future.
Here, the palm trees that surround the beach provide a protection not only from the sun for those like me who can’t stand to be in it for longer than 5 minutes, but also from the outside world, that for a moment in time feels so far away. The people closest to you on the beach will be hundreds of meters away and probably coconut sellers.
The sunset over the hills next to the beach is magical and possibly the best I have ever witnessed – everything stands still for a few minutes, even the waves stop crashing onto the shore.
We spent the last day in Guanacaste attempting to learn how to surf in Samara, hoping to come back to this slice of heaven one day… But alas, we didn’t want to miss anything, and so made our way onto Puntarenas’ Coast (stay tuned).
Dine: we did a lot of ‘home’ cooking on this trip, and the food in Costa Rica is really not that good unfortunately… However Samara has many little great places, and we loved the authentic Mexican food we found at Coco’s. 15£ between the both of us for a meal.
Another great spot is the restaurant in Playa Garza (the only one so you won’t miss it). Amazing ceviche on the beach!
Sunbathe: El Carrillo is the perfect beach for everyone. Here you can snorkel, sunbathe, drink coconut water and even look at the crocodiles leaving nearby.
Shop: from local stalls in Samara, or shops with AC on Tamarindo Beachfront where you will always find the essentials (and more).
Food Shopping: Pali! This is the best and most convenient place where to buy your food if you decide to cook your own. You’ll find it in most towns.
Visit: Punta Islita, a beautiful village covered in mosaics.
Stay: Hostel El Dorado in Samara. Owned by a lovely family, you will find doubles ($30 pd) and mixed dorms ($10 pd), 2 minutes from the beach and with a kitchen.
psssst have you watched our travel video yet?!