Costa Rica is a beautiful, vibrant, and warm nation, with dazzling beaches, coastlines, mountains , and nature throughout. There are so many places to visit in Costa Rica, from the Caribbean side of the country all the way to the Pacific shorelines.

But one of my favorite places to visit in Costa Rica is the fun and funky surf town of Tamarindo in the northwest of the country. But, when I think about it, a huge part of the attraction to Tamarindo are the amazing things to do and see nearby, throughout the province of Guanacaste, in which Tamarindo sits.

Items of Interest in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Here are some great options for you to explore Guanacaste if you’re staying in Tamarindo or anywhere else in that province:

Santa Rosa National Park

Only 45 minutes outside of the Guanacaste capital city, Liberia, the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa offers an immense span of virgin beaches, native birds and mammals, and even big cat conservation projects that let you witness pumas and jaguars!

Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja centers around one of the country’s biggest volcanos. You can enjoy hikes all over the mountain and into the crater of the volcano, and then enjoy soaking in the hot springs nearby.

Ostional Wildlife Refuge

If you had to choose one animal that best represents Costa Rican wildlife, it might be a turtle! And the Ostional Regufe is famous for the thousands of turtles that show up on its beaches between July to November, laying millions of eggs before leaving them to hatch and try to survive the crawl to the oceanside. Of course, the beach is closed to visitors during these high periods, but you can still watch from afar. And from December to June, you can use and enjoy the beach as much as you’d like.

Barra Honda National Park

You’ll find more amazing hiking and nature watching here, but also 19 caves that are open to the public for you to enter and explore.

A must-see in Guanacaste is a day in the cloud forests of Monteverde, with a unique alpine micro-climate that’s one of the most unique rain forests in the world. There’s plenty of jaw -dropping vistas as you hike all day, and then climb up to a huge series of sky bridges that allow you to observe the canopy like a true Skywalker.

Beaches! Of course, Guanacaste has some of the nicest beaches in the entire country, where you can swim, sunbathe, snorkel, scuba dive, windsurf, surf, or do just about anything else. The great beaches in Guanacaste that are lesser known (unlike Tamarindo Beach, etc.) include Playa Hermosa, Playa Conchal, and Playa Mansita further south, located at the iconic and luxurious JW Marriott Guanacaste .

Speaking of that Marriott, it’s a great spot to host your destination wedding – or go wedding crashing!

What else is there to do throughout Guanacaste?

Of course, the surfing in Tamarindo and all over the surrounding beaches is incredible.

But you’ll also find plenty of zip lines, horseback riding, sport fishing, sailing, whitewater rafting, canopy tours, crocodile tours on the rivers, and much more!