Discover 5 Hidden Beaches & 4 Off-the-Beaten-Path Waterfalls in Guanacaste

Casa Puros Dieces oceanview terrace
There’s always something to see, do, explore and enjoy in Costa Rica. Like Casa Puros Dieces’ dream-worth infinity pool and sun-drenched terrace, pictured.

You’re ready to travel again (or nearly so) and you’ve begun planning. It’s exhilarating. You haven’t done this in awhile. And oh, you’ve missed it! Now, you’re trying to determine the best time to travel to Costa Rica.

Now, you’re focused on the when. And the truth is, the best time to travel to Costa Rica is right now. Or tomorrow. Or next year. Whenever you’re ready. Whenver the beaches are sun-splashed and the waterfalls are roaring. Whenever adventure is in the air. Whenever you have the time. Because you’re going to want enough time!

Case in point: these five not-so-touristed beaches and four off-the-beaten-track waterfalls, which don’t feature in many guidebooks but do feature among our favorites. Because, Costa Rica is the kind of place that makes you want to walk a little further, explore a little more, see something that not everyone has seen.

We can help with that.

5 Not-Your-Average Guanacaste Beaches

Casa Xanadu oceanview vacation rental in Tamarinod
Costa Rica’s beaches are worth the journey, every day of the year!

Costa Rica’s rocky coast is not only scenic but effective at separating the shoreline into hundreds of small (and sometimes long) beaches to explore. You may already be familiar with some of the more popular beaches, but here are five you likely haven’t visited yet:

Playa Puerto Viejo

Located just west of Brasilito and Playa Conchal, this quiet and often secluded beach unfurls over wide cinnamon sands overlayed with shimmering pink. The sand here is soft enough to dig your toes into – and inviting enough that you’ll want to do just that, for hours on end. Bonus: The sparkling Pacific waters are usually calm and ideal for swimming.

Playa Negra

What’s in a name? Not quite the truth, if we’re talking about Playa Negra. Spanish for Black Beach, this stretch of smooth sand – about 30 minutes south of Tamarindo – isn’t always black (although it sometimes is): As you walk down this untouristed stretch, best known for its challenging surf (not for swimming), you’ll wend and weave between blonde sands, cinnamon-tinged coasts, crushed seashells and, yes, nearly black volcanic sands.

Playa Danta

A distinctly gray-sand beach interspersed with pebbles and sells, Playa Danta has a certain quality – a broad appeal that doesn’t boil down to just one thing. For some, it’s the rocky outcroppings that are exposed at low tide, inviting visitors to hop rocks and explore the world beneath the sea. For others, it’s the relative isolation, close only to the nearby car-free community of Las Catalinas. And for others, it’s the onsite adventure opportunities, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, boogie boards, snorkeling gear, and mountain bikes. Here, the best time to travel to Costa Rica is whenever you’re ready for on-the-water adventure.

Playa Minas

Set your GPS for Playa Zapotillal and you’ll find your way to Playa Minas, home to golden sands, bright blue waters, and a coast lined with trees that offer dappled shade in the dry season and thick cover when the rains come. Year-round, you’ll be able to dip your toes into the Pacific walk the entire scenic length in just 10-15 minutes. Be careful with swimming, as this seemingly gentle cove can churn some serious (and dangerous) waves. 

Playa Penca

Following a seemingly Costa Rican beach tradition, you should know that there are two Playa Pencas – both in Guanacaste and just a short drive from each other. The one on our list is located just north of Playa Potrero and snuggles into the curve of a quiet cove, bordered on either side by scenic rocks and lush jungle. Between the two: white-and-cinnamon-sand beach with only the gentlest waves, making this a perfect choice for a quiet swim.

4 Must-Visit Waterfalls in Guanacaste

Yes, do go chasing waterfalls. It’s worth it, when you find these cascades at the end of your journey! Bonus: While most guidebooks tell you to travel during the dry season (mid-November through mid-May), the best time to travel to Costa Rica waterfalls is during the rainy season, when they run strongest.

La Leona Waterfall

La Leona is one of Those Places. You know the kind: The destination that you’d swear had to be Photoshopped… until you see it for yourself. And it’s not. It’s just that spectacular. And then, it becomes the kind you feel compelled to share with everyone you’ve ever met.

Welcome to La Leona Waterfall, one of Guanacaste’s best-kept secrets. Veiled within the forests surrounding Rincón de la Vieja, this blue-hued cascade features a natural stone slide and a waterfall cave: massive rocks and towering stone, arched to form the entrance to La Leona, which tumbles several stories into a cool turquoise pool below.

Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

Located between Liberia and Bagaces, less than two hours from Tamarindo, Llanos de Cortés is one of Guanacaste’s most famous (and favorite) waterfalls. And, depending on who you ask, it’s also one of (if not the most) beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica.

Towering 12 feet tall and 50 feet wide, this refreshing oasis spills cool (or cool-ish) water throughout the year, albeit more of a flow than a roar in the dryer months of March and April. You’ll love swimming in the clean, clear pool beneath the falls – and following up with a picnic on the adjacent sandy beach.

Rio Celeste Waterfall

If you’ve ever image-searched Costa Rica’s waterfalls, then this is the one you’ve seen: The rustic trail and stairs that lead down to an iconic, frothing waterfall tumbling into a celestial blue pool below.

Located within secluded Tenorio Volcano National Park, Río Celeste, so named for its eye-catching color, is the product of volcanic waters and their resulting mineral mix of sulfur and calcium carbonate – a blend that turns the river and its 100-foot waterfall into a photogenic and milky blue wonderland.

Hacienda Guachipelín Waterfalls

More than a jumping-off point for waterfalls, Hacienda Guachipelín is rural Costa Rican tourism at its finest: part cattle ranch, part Rincón de la Vieja Volcano wonderland, part all things adventure, Hacienda Guachipelín is also home to three waterfall destinations:

Las Chorreras Waterfalls: A pair of twin falls that pour into blue-tinged mineral waters. Go ahead, jump in! This waterfall pool is safe for a cool swim.

Victoria Waterfall: Tumbling 115 feet into the Black River, or Río Negro, this offer not only a spectacular sight but the origin point for an adrenaline-soaked tubing adventure.

Oropendola Waterfall: Rushing 82 feet down a rugged cliffside and lush river canyon, Oropendola Waterfall splashes into the scenic White River, or Río Blanco (surprisingly turquoise, not white!). Take a swim!

Beaches, Waterfalls & Outdoor Adventures: Where to Make Your Home Base

Your bags are packed and you’re ready to explore. Here’s where to stay, when you want to adventure into the wilds (and waterfalls) of Costa Rica’s North Pacific.

Casa Puros Dieces

8 Bedrooms | 8 Bathrooms | Sleeps 20

best time to travel to Costa Rica stay at Casa Puros Dieces

The apex of tropical luxury – literally, as it sits atop a hillside – Casa Puros Dieces is the “perfect 10” or “pure tens,” in Spanish. And this environmentally friendly, Balinese-style home lives up to that name in every way, from its stunning ocean views to its expansive indoor-outdoor living areas.

Crafted for natural light and ventilation, Casa Puros Dieces compels you to throw open the windows and drink in the fresh ocean breeze. To take a dip in the ocean-view infinity pool and jacuzzi, and then to stop to drink in the view. To spend time with your family and friends, on wide sun terraces and decking, and then retreat to the luxury of your private spaces.

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Casa Xanadu

4 Bedrooms | 3.5 Baths | Sleeps 10

Casa Xanadu Tamarindo vacation rental

Where can you find the overlap of one national park, one wildlife estuary, one mountain range, and two scenic beaches? At Casa Xanadu, a tropical paradise surrounded by a tropical paradise.

For here, amidst rare tropical dry forest – one of the last remaining swaths in the world – and an incredible roster of wildlife, you’ll find the perfect home base for your Costa Rican adventures. Lounge in the infinity pool, set your watch for epic sunsets, and never grow tired of the spectacular Pacific vistas. Walk softly, listen and look closely, and the howler monkeys, parrots, and butterflies will join you!

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Crystal Sands 104

3 Beds | 3 Bathrooms | Sleeps 12

Tamarindo vacation rental Crystal Sands 104

Steps from the sand, aptly named Crystal Sands 104 is one of our select oceanfront Tamarindo vacation homes – a cozy, ground-level condo perfect for families and surfers with boards in tow.

Fully air-conditioned and with no detail spared, this rental promises a gourmet kitchen and outdoor shaded dining, in addition to oversized glass doors, laundry facilities, and full private baths for each bedroom, Crystal Sands 104 is also perfectly equipped for remote work and schooling: 100 Mb high-speed internet, with a battery backup and portable wireless router, so you’ll never be without a connection.

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Casa Limoncillo

2 Beds | 2 Baths | Sleeps 10

Casa Limoncillo Tamarindo vacation rental

This newly built modern home (not even a year old!) is also one of the newest additions to our Tamarindo villa rentals. And we’re so excited to share! Because Casa Limoncillo, dedicated to outdoor living and leisure, offers an incredible setting for family and friends.

Here, the joy is in the details: It’s the saltwater pool and adjoining shaded rancho with outdoor seating. It’s the outdoor firepit, where you can roast marshmallows, sit beneath the start, and let the crackle and pop lull you into vacation bliss. It’s the playground of children’s dreams, complete with a rock-climbing wall. It’s the quiet surrounds, populated by exotic birds and wildlife. It’s even the on-property chickens, who lay eggs for your breakfast.

It’s everything, really. You’re going to love it!

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Wondering About the Best Time to Travel to Costa Rica? Have Questions?

Seeking a little planning know-how? Looking for a great deal? Can’t decide on which of our rentals in Tamarindo, Costa Rica is right for you?

Get in touch! We love to chat Tamarindo, getaways, and vacation rentals. We readily share our experiences and advice. And we promise, we’re friendly, to boot. We look forward to hearing from you!

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