Locals in Costa Rica say the Spanish word for “adventure” is “Liberia,” and for good reason: Liberia is the capital of the fabled Guanacaste province, and it’s a friendly base for exploring Rincón de la Vieja National Park and gorgeous Nicoya Peninsula beaches.
Smokin’ Craters and Bubbling Mud Pots
The otherworldly park Rincón de la Vieja is only 16 miles from Liberia, but you’ll think it’s a different planet thanks to its smoking craters, tropical forests and bubbling mud pots. Keep your camera ready to capture waterfalls and wildlife such as howler monkeys, sloths and tapirs. Don’t miss the main attraction, which shares the same name as the park, Rincón de la Vieja: a smooth, cinder-cone volcano linked to nine craters. Adventure to the top for an expansive view of most of Costa Rica.
Hot Springs in the Forest
Exploring Guanacaste is an exhilarating adventure, and at the end of a big day, there’s no better way to relax than slipping into steamy thermal springs. Rio Negro Hot Springs is a magical place near the dry forest. Stroll down a lovely wooded path to access the six natural hot pools in varying degrees. The river flows through the pools, constantly replenishing the water. Take vehicle or horse tours there from the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín.
Paradise lies a mere 30 minutes from Liberia in the form of fabulous white sand beaches—some perfect for swimming, others with world-class waves. Try scuba diving at Playa del Coco, or head south for more fun-in-the-sun options. No matter which beach you pick, you won’t be disappointed: Choose Ocotal for pristine tide pools, Tamarindo for fiery sunsets and partying, and Avellanas for 18-foot waves. Each has its own personality, but they all have delightfully warm water.
Into the Wild
You’re never alone in pristine Santa Rosa National Park in the northwestern corner of Costa Rica. Its 122,000 acres contain every type of tropical habitat, from mangrove swamps to dry tropical forests. On the western edge of the park, 10,000 Ridley sea turtles swarm the beaches annually to lay their eggs. Traveling eastward, you might spot iguanas, deer, white-faced monkeys and other wildlife.
Fall-ing for Guanacaste
Who hasn’t dreamed of swimming in blue water at the base of a waterfall? Near Liberia, you can make this a reality by hiking the short dirt trail out to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall. At the base of the trail, the dream unfolds: Thick forest opens to the wide falls tumbling over mossy rocks. Step into the crystal clear pool at the base of the falls, or hike behind the cascade to explore the shallow cave.
Zebras, Warthogs and Camels
If the hot, dry weather of Guanacaste makes you think of a savannah, you aren’t the only one, as you’ll see at Africa Safari Adventure Park only miles from Liberia. This animal reserve blends African and Costa Rican wildlife, and many creatures roam free, without cages. Watch zebras wander through knee-high grass and giraffes munch leaves from treetops. Say “Hi” to warthogs, camels and ostriches. See gemsbok, bongo, Nilgai and watusi antelopes, along with giant eland—the largest antelope in the world.