The northwestern part of Costa Rica, including the majority of the Nicoya Peninsula, is within the province of Guanacaste. You’ll probably never need to know this again unless you plan to travel to Costa Rica, but maybe it’s a good fact to have for a trivia game someday. (You can thank me later). This is where our journey brought us after our wonderful Caribbean adventure. For the past three-ish weeks we have resided in this beautiful part of the country and have seen many of the different aspects to what this area has to offer.
We began our Guanacaste adventure in the town of Liberia. This is the largest town in the province of Guanacaste. For most people, this place would hold little importance in their vacation to Costa Rica besides maybe an arrival and departure flight due to their small international airport. However, for someone who has lived and breathed the Tico culture in the past while studying abroad, I fell in love with this city. In all honesty, there isn’t much to note, but I felt comfortable there. It was authentic, free of tourists, and had many different access points to other parts of the country. This is a place to go if you want to experience the true Costa Rican way of life. It’s not crazy busy like San Jose (the capital) and it’s not touristy whatsoever, so you will never be bombarded with people trying to talk to you and sell you things all of the time. I enjoyed our time here quite a bit.
During our stay in Liberia we took a trip to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall. Jake made an amazing video about our day at the waterfall which you should check out here. Swimming in and climbing behind a gorgeous waterfall, watching howler monkeys eating in the trees, and seeing a Jesus Christ Lizard run across the water are some of the many highlights of this day. For those considering visiting Costa Rica, I highly encourage you to take a trip to this spot. You will not regret it.
After a few days in Liberia we made our way west to the Pacific coast. Guanacaste is home to countless beautiful beaches and it was hard to decide which ones to visit. We decided on Tamarindo as being our first stop. This place was like nothing we had ever seen in Costa Rica. Driving through town before getting off the bus I thought we had been transported to the United States with all of the resorts, fancy stores and restaurants, and tourists everywhere. I was obviously taken aback. We went from a town that I had fallen in love with for its authenticity and culture and in a 2 hour bus ride had been transported back to the United States. After the initial shock wore off of our new destination we settled in and had a good time. We met a lot of new friends along the way as well.
On our last day in Tamarindo we met some of the coolest friends we have had so far on this trip, Sydney and Blake. We changed our entire plans just to stay an extra day so we could spend more time with them! We hung out on the beach, swam in the pool, and went mini golfing. Oh, did I mention they were three and five years old? It’s a pretty great story actually. During our last day on the beach in Tamarindo there was a family sitting behind us. At one point a lizard tried to jump on their lawn chair (classic Costa Rica) and we were close enough to hear the commotion. Jake, being intrigued by all wildlife, decided to go ask them where the lizard went. We all started talking and eventually the kids started pulling us out on the beach. Two hours later we were still playing and had agreed to extend our trip in Tamarindo so we could see the family again. The family is from California and we are so happy that we met them. Their kids are some of the sweetest children I have ever spent time around and I feel lucky to have had the time that we did to get to know them. Our fondest memories in Tamarindo were spent with this family. I am glad Jake was so curious and decided to strike up a conversation with them! (Brooke and James, if you’re reading this, thanks for everything! Tell Sydney and Blake we say hi!).
After an eventful week in Tamarindo, we began our travels to Samara Beach. Three different buses got us to this small beach town. Unfortunately, Jake got sick during our stay here so there isn’t much to report. When traveling becomes your whole life getting sick is bound to happen sometimes. Especially when you are around so many new people and surroundings ALL the time. We spent Thanksgiving Day here and tried to enjoy it as authentically as we could. I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning through a live stream on Youtube. Then in the afternoon I made the closest thing that the small grocery store in town had to offer for a Thanksgiving meal- mashed potatoes, sautéed carrots and onions, canned corn, and some sparkling white grape juice. However, getting to Skype our families was the best part.
After Samara, we back tracked our way out of Guanacaste. First to Tamarindo, then to Liberia, before officially saying goodbye to the Guanacaste region. Next stop, the cloud forest!