Five Must-Do Adventures in the Guanacaste Region of Costa Rica!

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, which is the upper northwestern section.  Flying into Liberia is a breeze with an easy pick up of a rental car from Dollar Rent-A-Car.  Mind you, we have tried other rental businesses but Dollar has always given us the fairest price without surprising us in the end with a whammy of a bill...what we were quoted is what we paid in the end.  My thirst for wildlife encounters was quenched almost immediately...I mean, hello toad!  Ummm...can we drive away now?  These common toads, can get pretty large...nothing like I've seen lately in Chicago.

ONE Our first adventure on our very first day was to head to the Bijagua Ranas natural observatory.  It's apparently a family-run operation, is somewhat small, but affordable and definitely worth the drive for all of the creatures that you see living on this area of land naturally.  

A little off the beaten path, Bijagua Ranas has beautiful creatures, way affordable and cute things to buy if you're looking for slothy souvenirs!

Make sure to bring your organic bug spray or grab a little from the beehive ginger that surrounds you on your walking hike...well, tropical countries are known to be buggy!

This place is like a family-run business so it wasn't surprising that we were led on our walking hike by a young spanish-speaking boy.  Quite honestly, it was a blessing!  You know how kids are!  No fear, curious and free...everthing is amazing to them and you could tell he enjoyed showing us the things he "found".  Not even thirty meters after our start and voila!  Just two meters up a tree on the right was the one thing I had aspired to see...a sloth!  Not in a sanctuary, not in a zoo...but truly living in the wild and just going about his day!

Aside from sloths, we also ran across multiple species of exotic plants, insects, and frogs, frogs, frogs!  A strawberry poison dart frog (blue jeans frog) and a red-eyed tree frog of course!

TWO Renting electronic bikes and hitting all the local beaches!  Having never ridden an electronic bike before, I found it amazing to be able to go faster and quicker than ever before on a bike.  Call me a speed demon...but this was right up my alley!  Each beach in the Guanacaste area has it's own unique flavor, it's own environment.  Playa Ocotal, Playa Coco, Penca to name a few.  I'll admit, Playa Panama is my real favorite at the moment!  It's a great mixture of land and water...a beautiful beach with many trees throughout and huge lizards running though.  It was like a scene out of Jurassic Park to me!
THREE diving off of the coast.  No doubt, if you are a diver or must check out what's swimming in the ocean.  As with any diving trip, I recommend bringing your own equipment and definitely an underwater camera like a GoPro.  While there are many offshore islands to explore for experienced divers, there is much that can be seen for a short boat trip off of the mainland.  Reef sharks, green sea turtles, rays and multitudes of fish are just some of the things you will come across!

FOUR Vandara Hot Springs and Adventure...was amazeballs!  There are many adventures you can sign up to do like zip lining and there is also a ton of spa services.  We chose to do that mud bath which lasted a few hours for only about 35 USD.  You first entire the mud bath area where you are able to lather on rich lava mud which detoxifies your skin and inner body.  With natural minerals straight from deep in the earth via volcanic activity, this mud is not easy to come by back home.  Of course, you will hear about the history of the mud and the volcanic area as a guide escorts you through the area.  We were then led to a large, beautiful waterfall where you were to rinse off the mud in the natural water.  I made the mistake of trying to go under the waterfall...damn, that thing was strong!  Not like Starved Rock back home...haha.  Once completely rinsed off, we walked over to the natural hot springs pool...the gentle scent of sulfur penetrating the air while monkeys and amazing birds flew through the sky above you in the tree canopy.

FIVE Enjoying fresh ceviche and sunsets on the beach.  Fresh fish stands are present on the side of the roads and in the village areas.  While I'm not the biggest fish fan, ceviche in Costa Rica is tastey enough to make anyone a fan of white fish!  Marinated just right in lime  Now grab a couple and head to the beach just before the sun sets for you will never see a more amazing sunset than these!  My camera was full of them by the time I left...and no, I haven't deleted any since I've been home.  

Undoubtedly, this blog only touches all the amazing things you can do and see in this area.  You are only limited by time!  I can only imagine if I were to write a blog on the entire country of Costa Rica.  With all the different ecosystems, wildlife, culture, food, activities, it would be a book!  Wait, there's plenty of those out there!  Till later, this tico is over and out.

Natalie Lynn Lichtenbert


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