Papagayo Peninsula

If the only decisions you wish to make once you set foot in Costa Rica are whether to jump into the ocean or lounge by the pool, or what drink to order next, then the Papagayo Peninsula is the right place for you. With paradisiacal palm-lined beaches where blue-green waters meet the softest sand, Papagayo is home to the largest concentration of all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. 

Some of the luxury hotels that line Papagayo’s magnificent coastline include the Four Seasons Resort, the Hilton Papagayo Resort & Spa, Occidental Allegro Papagayo Resort, and Occidental Grand Papagayo Resort. Although you can find more affordable options such as Sol Papagayo Resort and Vista Bahía Resort, this is not the most ideal destination for backpackers. In fact, few restaurants, bars and stores exist on this peninsula outside of the resorts, which explains why most of them are all-inclusive.

Tourists staying at nearby locations can purchase day passes at most Papagayo resorts and make use of their facilities without having to spend the night. Also, Costa Rican Law declares that all of the country’s beaches are public, so whether you can afford any of Papagayo’s massive resorts or not, the coast is there for everyone’s enjoyment.

A wide variety of activities in Papagayo and in the area can be arranged through most resorts. Some of these include ziplining, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, tubing and ATV tours. You may also visit Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and spend a day soaking in its therapeutic hot springs or hiking its maze of trails. Another natural attraction in this area is Palo Verde National Park, where you may join a jungle riverboat safari to view the Guanacaste wildlife.

Tourists be forewarned, tempting as it may be, try not to stay locked up inside your all-inclusive resort through your entire vacation. Costa Rica has so much to offer outside the walls of your luxury hotel! A wise option is to combine your stay in Papagayo with a cooling visit to the cloud forest of Monteverde or to Arenal Volcano and Lake

Weather and Packing Checklist

Like most of Guanacaste, the Papagayo Peninsula has rainy spells despite being one of Costa Rica’s driest areas. The worst of the rainy season is generally in the months of September and October, while sunshine and heat are practically guaranteed anytime from November to August. Daytime temperatures here range between the upper 80s and lower 90s, while nighttime lows usually hover in the upper 70s.

Double check that you’ve packed your swimsuit, flip flops, sarongs, shorts, hat, t-shirts, rain gear, hiking shoes, and enough sunblock and aloe vera gel to be able to lather up and protect your skin from the powerful Guanacaste sunshine.

How to Get There

From San José:

By plane:             

Papagayo is near Daniel Oduber International Airport in the town of Liberia, and most resorts can arrange pick-up but taxis are usually lined up outside the airport waiting for passengers. Sansa and Nature Air, two domestic carriers, offer a daily 50-minute flight service from San José to Liberia. One-way tickets cost approximately $80 USD for Sansa and $120 USD for Nature Air.

By car:

Follow the Autopista del Sol or the Interamerican Highway from San José to Caldera and take a left after Puntarenas. Follow the signs to the Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad in Spanish) and once you cross it follow the road signs to the town of Liberia. Turn left at the main intersection there and make your way towards Santa Cruz, going south past Daniel Oduber Airport. Once you get to a hardware store called Do-It-Center, take a right and stay on this road for about 26 kilometers, until you reach the Papagayo Peninsula. 

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