Costa Rica - Guancaste area -- tips?

Anyone been there? Looking for ideas of day trips (snorkeling etc. seems obvious), what’s the town/food/hotels like, etc? Staying at JW Marriott.

We took a tour where we hiked up a volcano. It was really cool and not overly strenuous. Also, did some insane zip-lining. Snorkeling was good not great, same with the Scuba. Water gets cold(ish) so bring at least a rash guard.



You will have some challenges. Maybe others can chime in here. The JW Marriott is well south in the Guanacaste province. The closest two is Tamarindo which is a beach town. It is often frequented by surfers. The town is built up pretty well. Tamarindo is about 30 minutes away. I assume you will have a rent car. 4 wheel drive is advised.

The hotel would be better able to advise you on activities, excursions reachable in a reasonable length of time from their location. There are the usual activities all over Costa Rica - zip lines, private animal sanctuaries, etc. I don’t think there are any white water rafting opportunities in that area. George mentioned hiking up a volcano. That can be great fun. There are a lot of volcanoes in Costa Rica but know any near where you will be located. There are a couple of great volcano hikes (Tenorio and Mirravalles) farther north. The visit to Granada, Nicaragua is interesting too but I think you are too far away to do it in a day. That is a trip we take with a tour service. We prefer not to do it on our own. The town is interesting and a boat excursion on Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca) is great fun. The lake is of tectonic origin and with an area of 8,264 km², it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world.

We always stay much farther north in Guanacaste and we use the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia. You are probably flying into that airport too since it is much closer to where you are staying. Sorry I can’t be of much more help. If you look at the map, we stay much closer to the Liberia airport around Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal area. There are a lot of activities and a wide range of restaurants within 30 minutes.

Typical food in Costa Rica is simple, arroz con pollo, corvina (sea bass), bistec (beef but simple cuts, simply prepared, rice, black beans, yucca, and all manner of vegetables. Costa Rican beer - Imperial and Bavaria are decent. Most foreigners prefer Imperial.

We love Costa Rica and have been there a dozen times over the years. We always rent a house wherever we stay so we don’t have any experience with the JW Marriott or any other hotel in the region. No matter where you stay, you will probably enjoy the country. The people are friendly. The road not so much. GPS is essential and they don’t use addresses in Costa Rica except a little in San Jose. You find everything by POI and directions – 800 meters south, turn right at the gas station, then 500 meters east to the Mas X Menos grocery store (things like that). If you rent a car, rent a diesel 4 wheel drive. In Costa Rica, the station attendant fills the tank.

Have a great trip.

Thanks much! Good info, all. Tamarindo sounds intriguing as does volcano hiking!

Here’s a good thread and search will bring up others.

The problem you have in Costa Rica is not the distance but the time it takes to cover it. The roads are not good. Even good roads are one lane each direction and they have many curves. You invariably get behind a very slow vehicle or a truck and can’t pass them for a while. Driving after dark is a challenge too. Many drivers day or night do not stay on their side of the road and it is not unusual to see vehicles without lights on the road at night. Then there are the speed bumps on many roads. Given all that, we return to Costa Rica whenever we can.

There is a fantastic restaurant called Villa Deevena which is a little south of the Marriott. It is a nice change of pace from the local food. More upscale and owned by a former LA star chef (Patrick Jamon) and his family. His son was our waiter. Has the open air feel of most Costa Rica restaurants but has a casual but upscale feel compared to those reastaurants. Food was great but the best part was an incredible wine list. We were there two years ago and had a 1995 Corison Cab at a very reasonable price. Meal would have cost multiple times more in a big US city. We went on our last night in town or we would have went back again.

I agree on the driving. We did not rent a car but got a local driver (ex-US policeman) to take us around. I can dig his name out of my files if you want.

We ate at Abbocato in March and enjoyed it very much. Great food and hospitality. Reasonably priced as well.

No issues renting a car from Sixt. Cost less for a car for a week than round trip airport transfer

Would love to get a drivers name, Steve! Thanks for the tip on Deevena too, we thought we’d bring a good bottle or two… Husband and wife - Sheri made all the arrangements and Doug did all the driving.

I figured you would be bringing more than a bottle or two on the trip but Deveena is a nice change of pace. Doubt there is a formal BYOB policy but if you brought a nice bottle and offered to share, my guess is they may be very happy to share. Who knows, it might be a new customer!

Just wrote them, thank you!

I’m staying at the Andaz Papagayo, and will be in Manuel Antonio area before that.

It seem like no one flies the route. I can change carriers in SJO I think, but perhaps getting a car and driver is the way to go. Any suggestions?

The rainfall this season has been incredible, many roads and bridges have been washed out.

The rainy season typically ends around the end of November to mid December.

I’ve got a place in Dominical (about 2 hours South of the JW you are staying at) if you want to venture out to a more remote area. Depending on when you go.

One of my employees normal 30 minute drive to work is not about 90 minutes due to these two bridges washing out.

I’ll be there the first week in March. Do you think the road from Manuel Antonio and Liberia will be back to its normal albeit subpar condition? If so , is the drive more reasonable than flying (change of carriers in SHO with a long layover or maybe even overnight).

Check out Lola’s on Playa Avellana just to the south of where you are staying. We found some surprisingly good sushi in Tamaindo (Bamboo Sushi).

Steve — TPV was excellent. Thx much for reco. We loved Villa Deveena, by far the best food and wine and experience. Il Rustico (a new Italian place) also great, as was Lola’s.

Glad that they both worked out.

stayed there this past March. Loved it.