Top 10 Destinations to Visit in Guanacaste

aerial view of Playa Avellanas
Playa Avellanas (at Hacienda Pinilla) is home to some of our favorite Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals and picture-perfect photo-ops

Sometimes, the hardest part of your vacation is simply choosing where to vacation. So, while you’ve likely narrowed down your country of destination (Costa Rica, hurray!), you haven’t yet gotten so far as to whittle down the regions, towns, or places you’d like to stay. Let us offer some inspiration (and a few Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals to consider).

We’re here to help. Because, while Costa Rica appears small by map standards, the country is vast: From high-montane cloud forests and river headwaters to coastal beaches and tropical dry forests, you could spend a lifetime exploring Costa Rica’s diverse sights, enormous biodiversity, and varying terrain.

You have to start somewhere, though. And, as residents of the great province of Guanacaste, we’d like to recommend right here: on Costa Rica’s famed Gold Coast, home to pink shell-strewn beaches and howler monkey-filled forests, world-class surf and some of the world’s best sunsets.

So, let’s get right down to it: 10 beachy destinations to submit for consideration. From north to south:

Playas del Coco

Decades ago, Playas del Coco was the Place to Be in Guanacaste: an oceanfront “city” (your chosen adjective may vary, depending on how big of a city you’re from!) with all the accouterments, from dark-sand beaches and Gulf of Papagayo views to world-class sportfishing and family-friendly swimming spots.

Over the decades, Playas del Coco ceded its vacationer status to clout of a different kind: It became one of Guanacaste’s go-to destinations for expats, particularly those from the United States, Canada, and Europe. The transition has been to Coco’s benefit, ushering in a new age of restaurants, amenities, activities & attractions, and even Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals that appeal both to your standard vacationers and to slow travelers – those who prefer to stay awhile – as well as curious, maybe-someday expats. One thing is for sure: If you come here, prepare to fall a little (or a lot) in love. Coco is undoubtedly and eternally that kind of place!

Playa Potrero

Playa Potrero Costa Rica

Tucked into a quiet cove just north of Flamingo Beach, Playa Potrero is that not-quite-hidden but not-quite-discovered destination that creates vacation alchemy: Here, you’re convenient to it all and at the epicenter of all things Costa Rica, and yet you’ll have no trouble carving out a little space all your own.

Once a quiet fishing village, Potrero Beach is now more known for its serene landscapes, which roll back from the crashing Pacific and into Guanacaste’s hills, forests, and diverse wildlife. You’ll probably find yourself spending more time staring out than in, though, because Potrero’s sapphire waters, sun-bleached sands, and kaleidoscopic sunsets demand both your attention and your devotion. It won’t be hard to comply, though, we promise!

Playa Flamingo

tip of Playa Flamingo Costa Rica

Both beautiful and idyllic, Flamingo Beach occupies a sun-splashed and sandy crescent between Playa Potrero and Brasilito. Here, where almost a mile of powder-puff, super-soft blonde sands span the oceanfront, you’ll want to spend every minute with your toes in the Pacific.

Because Flamingo Beach is just this side of mesmerizing: The water is so clear, you can often see fish and rays swimming at your feet. The forest hums with the calls of howler monkeys and wild parrots. And then, there’s the new Flamingo Marina – one of the country’s newest, largest, and most luxurious… All this, on oceanfront so tranquil, you’ll have no trouble taking your afternoon nap. Luckily, many of our favorite Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals in Flamingo offer hammocks, shaded pool terraces, and other perfect napping spots!

Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal near Tamarindo

Long beloved and easily one of Costa Rica’s most talked-about beaches, Playa Conchal is the kind of place that decorates postcards – only, this place is real and no Photoshop is required. So named for the eponymous shells (conchales) that decorate its beachfront, Playa Conchal (“Shell Beach”) is just this side of unique: an oceanside scattered with tiny seashells (not fine sand) and a hue that trends more pink (think rosé, not baby pink) than white or cinnamon.

Of course, Playa Conchal is more than its shell-dappled shoreline: Here, you’ll find gentle surf ideal for wading, snorkeling, and swimming. You’ll find a coast lined with waving palms – the perfect spot to set up your beach chairs. But, fair warning: You’ll find other beachgoers, too, as Conchal is one of Costa Rica’s more visited beaches, in part thanks to the resorts that line its shores.

Bonus: One community (see Casa Moderna, below) is home to a 7,021-yard, par-71 championship golf course! (Tee time reservations recommended.)

Stay Here: Casa Moderna

Playa Conchal | 5 Beds | 4.5 Baths | Sleeps 14

Casa Moderna newest Tamarindo, Costa Rica vacation rentals

Just as its name suggests, Casa Moderna is a beautiful and modern luxury vacation home – one of our newest Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals – where clean lines and a beachy color palette let the true star (Costa Rica’s great outdoors) take center stage.

Indeed, Casa Moderna’s soaring ceilings and walls of glass remind you of why you’re here: Lush landscaping recalls Costa Rica’s biodiversity, while shaded outdoor living and a sparkling private pool beckon you to stash away your schedules in exchange for spontaneity and carefree vacationing.

As a guest a Casa Moderna, you’ll also have exclusive access to community amenities, which include a spectacular Beach Club, tee times at a championship golf course, and 24/7 security.

Playa Grande

Playa Grande Costa Rica

Located just north of Tamarindo – across the estuary and into Las Baulas National Marine Park, Playa Grande is a must-visit for beach lovers, surfers, and wildlife aficionados.

Why, you ask? Let’s start with the obvious: Set on a quiet stretch of cinnamon-sand beach, Playa Grande unfolds over some of the quietest beachfront you’ll find near Tamarindo. What you will hear? Crashing surf! Because Playa Grande is one of the area’s best spots for intermediate and advanced surfers. And then, there’s Las Baulas National Marine Park, one of the world’s critically important nesting sites for leatherback turtles.

Note: To get to Playa Grande, always drive or take the lancha (about $1) across the estuary, as there are crocodiles in the river.


humpback whale breeching near Tamarindo

Famous for a reason, Tamarindo is a seaside locale with city amenities and small-town charm – and everything you need for an incredible vacation. Starting with some of the best Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals – everything from budget-friendly, ocean-adjacent condos to full-on luxury mansions. The choice is yours!

Whatever you choose, your vacation here begins on Tamarindo’s soft, white sands and famous surf, which carves out waves suitable for both beginners and advanced surfers alike. It transitions into the town’s incredible array of restaurants – everything from the freshest caught seafood and juicy burgers to eclectic food trucks and vegan feasts. And then, there’s the nightlife and the shopping and the tours and the spectacular sunsets… Because Tamarindo really is an anything-goes and everything-you-hope-for kind of place. Enjoy!

Stay Here: Villa Estrella Azul

Playa Langosta | 8 Beds | 6 Baths | Sleeps 18

Villa Estrella Azul Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals

Just a few minutes south of downtown Tamarindo, Villa Estrella Azul occupies that perfect location: Convenient to every amenity, and yet somehow removed – far from the crowds and away from it all, in one of our Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals so exclusive, it feels more private boutique hotel than single-family home.

Villa Estrella Azul’s eight luxury bedrooms, gourmet chef’s-ready kitchen, and custom infinity pool are just the beginning. This stunning home is just steps to Tamarindo Beach and owns one of our favorite entertainment spaces in the area: In your private backyard, the pool slowly transitions from shallow to deep. Shady verandahs abound. You have your very own, private yoga pavilion.

There’s even ping-pong and outdoor dining, which pair perfectly with the gas grill and brick pizza oven. Catch a quick match while your catch-of-the-day sizzles to grilled perfection, then enjoy every bite at your leisure. Afterward, enjoy a lazy dip in the pool or a nap in the shade. The choice is yours, even if it is a tough decision.

>> Explore Villa Estrella Azul <<

Hacienda Pinilla

Hacienda Pinilla golf and beach

Both extraordinary and exclusive, Hacienda Pinilla is a master-planned community about 3.5 miles south of Tamarindo. But it’s so much more than that: To many, Hacienda Pinilla is paradise. It’s ecological blue-flag beaches and miles of hiking trails, championship golf and tennis beneath the palms.

This is where Costa Rican heritage meets vacation dreams – where natural beauty abounds and adventure runs wild, where relaxation goes upscale and recreation beckons around every corner. It’s both an escape from life and an escape to life: to everything you love and crave while you’re here, sitting on a quiet beach, your toes in the Pacific and a spectacular Beach Club and resort pool at your back.


There’s a certain expectation set when you make your motto, “no shirt, no shoes, Nosara.” It’s an expectation that Nosara is happy to fulfill, as this laid-back beach town most often sheds its shoes and shirts for a jump into the waves. Indeed, Nosara is best known (although not wholly known… keep reading!) for its stellar surf, which lures surfers from around the world.

And yet, while Nosara could undoubtedly rest on its surfing laurels, it’s doesn’t. This tranquil hamlet also goes hard on wellness, leaning in to yoga retreats, clean living, and active travel that gets you out the door and into the great beyond: To Playa Ostional, the world’s second-most important nesting site for olive ridley sea turtles; to wildlife-watching at the Nosara Biological Reserve and Nosara Wildlife Rescue; to the tropical rainforests (rare, in our area) of the Monte Alto Reserve; to inshore and deep-sea fishing for snook, mahi-mahi, and other hard fighters; and, of course, to dozens of beaches – some, perfect for surfing and others, more tuned to swimming, snorkeling, and boogie boarding.

Santa Teresa

Big sister to its neighboring Mal País, Santa Teresa is the kind of bohemian surf town that was once so abundant in Costa Rica. Today, its easy-going vibe and slow pace are hard to find, making Santa Teresa all the more appealing to the laid-back travelers, surfers, and yogis who make their way here.

A former fishing hamlet turned international community, Santa Teresa rose to fame for its legendary surfing waves, including steady left and right breaks that appeal to everyone from beginner to seasoned surfers. (Novices, take heart! Surf instruction is a big part of Santa Teresa’s local economy.) And yet, there are also the reliable kite-surfing winds and warm sportfishing waters, sun-drenched beaches and wildlife-rich, rocky tidepools. There are zip-line canopy tours and ATV rides, oceanview yoga and long nature hikes. There’s a little bit of everything, if you’re only willing to deviate off the more beaten path.

Note: Santa Teresa is located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula (note: geographically in Puntarenas Province, not Guanacaste!), which is one of Costa Rica’s more rugged (read: less developed) destinations. Many businesses still shut down during high rainy season (September/October) and you will need a 4WD vehicle from May-November (recommended December-April, too!).

(p.s. Sorry for all the parentheses!)


Swing around the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, and you’ll reach endearing Montezuma, home to some of the wildest, most authentic, and genuinely inviting vibes north of the Osa Peninsula. Welcome to a favorite spot for artists and yogis, surfers and escape artists – to a destination where life moves slower, your cares melt upon entry, and the clock ticks backward.

Indeed, Montezuma is that nature-loving, take-it-one-minute-at-a-time kind of place that bids you give in to the moment. Step out onto white-sand beach, kick off your sandals, and maybe run into surf (check out that right-point break!). Catch a yoga class or set off on a snorkeling expedition to idyllic Isla Tortuga or Curu Wildlife Refuge. Kayak into the gulf or take a hike through Cabo Blanco Reserve. Truly, Montezuma is where you go when you don’t want to be required to go anywhere: Just be. Enjoy the moment. Follow a whim. And enjoy a side of Costa Rica that only the adventurous get to see.

Inquire About Our Guanacaste, Costa Rica Rentals

Whether you’re venturing off the beaten path or sticking firmly to it, our Guanacaste, Costa Rica rentals make you feel at home, everywhere and anywhere you find yourself adventuring.

We offer everything from cozy two-bedroom condos to 8+ bedroom private resorts equipped with ocean-view infinity pools, daily meals, and so much more. Search our inventory to find your perfect home!