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Wild About Guanacaste: Top 9 Must-See Spots

Turquoise waters along the Papagayo Peninsula, Guanacaste

In Guanacaste, breathtaking natural beauty waits around every corner—from picture-perfect beaches to hidden jungle waterfalls. There’s good reason this remote part of Costa Rica, which lies on the country’s western shore, is overflowing with wild allures. Over millennia, eruptions from the Arenal Volcano created hyper-rich soil that nurtured a unique tropical dry forest. More than 30 rivers wind their way through this swath of green, pumping nutrients into the surrounding waters, which in turn are teeming with healthy, vibrant reefs. Get Inspired By Photos, Videos, Webinars, Stories, And Exclusive Offers. Sign Up

But with so much abundance and beauty, where do you even start?! We curated some of our favorite user-generated content from Instagram to highlight the top must-see places to explore when visiting Guanacaste.


Playa Zapotal

Soak up the sun, snorkel in turquoise waters, and explore a rarely used four-wheel drive track that leads to a stunning gallery forest.

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A post shared by GOPlaya | Buscador de Playas (@goplaya)

Papagayo Peninsula

A beautiful peninsula to explore the bay, waterfalls, and nearby mangroves with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.


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A post shared by Ant van Ryneveld (@antvanryneveld)


Parque Nacional Santa Rosa

Part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, this spectacular national park protects some of the last remaining tropical dry forest in the world, along with an array of other habitats from mangroves to beaches.


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A post shared by @dirk_und_sandra_on_tour


Playa Junquillal

A beautiful stretch of protected, tree‑lined beach offers a unique and peaceful view of one of the most remote places on Earth.


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A post shared by Fotografía & Producciones AR. (@fotografiar316)



Restore your spirits in this remote white-sand paradise and dive into its beautiful underwater world to swim with unique and exotic creatures.


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A post shared by JP Monge (@jp.monge)


Rincón De La Vieja

This mountainous region is also part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and encompasses more than 34,000 acres. With forests carpeting the sides of two active volcanos, the area is alive with geothermal activity as gurgling, bubbling mud pots spout, and steam rises above the canopy.


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A post shared by exploremoscr.com (@exploremoscr)


Hacienda Guachipelín

Hike to where the tropical dry habitat meets the temperate cloud forest. Discover exotic wildlife, howler monkeys, and the oasis-like Las Chorreras Waterfall. Then, horseback ride across lush meadows and forests of fig and gumbo limbo trees.


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A post shared by Christa | Food+ Travel+ Kids (@puravidamoms)


Curú Wildlife Refuge

Along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, dividing the wetter jungles of the south and Guanacaste’s drier environment, sits Curú National Wildlife Refuge—Costa Rica’s first private national wildlife reserve and a haven for monkeys.


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A post shared by Chakib Bouayed (@chakib.ca)


Isla Tortuga

A cluster of offshore islets collectively called Isla Tortuga are perfect for stand‑up paddleboarding, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the beach shaded by swaying palms and tropical vegetation.


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A post shared by This Is Costa Rica (@thisiscostarica)

Want more travel inspiration? Check out the full Instagram Guide for additional images of Guanacaste's natural wonders.

Wild Costa Rica Escape: Guanacaste's Coral Reefs & Volcanic Peaks