Traveling to Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica

As Costa Rica’s top destination, Papagayo is secluded and stunning. Papagayo offers some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world. The turquoise Pacific glitters as far as the eye can see. As the sail boats pass and birds are flying, the picture in your head of paradise changes. The gold-flecked sands curve around the protected bay, where the views stun you and the dry forests amaze you. Whether you’re perched on the cliffs absorbing the view, or wading into the warm Pacific Ocean, you’ll have a front-row seat to magnificent sunsets and incredible views. Welcome to the spectacularly beautiful Gulf of Papagayo.

 

Location:

Situated on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Papagayo Peninsula is located in the Northwest province of Guanacaste. The Papagayo Peninsula is a newly developed center of luxury in Costa Rica. It is a popular tourist destination and has been attracting many tourists for years thanks to their rich biodiversity and abundant wildlife.

The Costa Rican government is dedicated to keeping Papagayo an ecodestination for all travelers. They mandate that 70% of the land in the Peninsula Papagayo must remain natural and untouched. They want to ensure the beauty of the land is not lost to overdevelopment. Some of the world’s last and most diverse dry forests are found in the Guanacaste province.

Getting there:

I found it relatively easy to travel to Papagayo. The closest airport is Liberia International Airport. Almost all major commercial airlines travel there.  They have car rentals available and they offer an airport shuttle, as well.

Keep in mind, road conditions throughout the country are variable. With the climate and terrain, many roads are difficult to maintain. Most roads have never been paved. Due to poor road conditions or traffic, relatively short distances can take many hours , and some roads are simply inaccessible during the rainy season. It is always a good idea to check with the locals about current road conditions before planning a day trip or taking off in your rental car.

The airport is located 7 miles (12 kilometers) west of the city of Liberia and about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east from the Papagayo Peninsula. Papagayo and the nearby Bay of Papagayo is less than a 1 hour drive from the Liberia International Airport making it a quick and easy transfer to your hotel and the beach.

I flew American Airlines and stayed at Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo. Four Seasons had arranged for a car to pick me up. If you ask, most hotels have a car arrangement for their guest. They do come with a price tag. 

Things to do:

A lot of Papagayo’s activities center on the beach and ocean, such as: swimming, surfing, sunbathing, paddle boarding, snorkeling and beach-combing to name a few. You can arrange organized activities, like canopy tours and guided hikes through your concierge or local guides. They are located within a 15-45 minute drive from Papagayo. Some often include transportation.

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Canopy Tours
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • ATV Tours
  • Sportfishing
  • Surfing
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Banana Boats
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Parasailing
  • Sailboat Tours
Some of Papagayo’s top attractions are:
  • Pacific beaches:
    • Papagayo
    •  Playas del Coco
    • Playa Hermosa
    • Playa Octal
  • Guanacaste National Park (1.5 hours)
  • Arnold Palmer Golf Course
  • Santa Rosa National Park (1.5 hours)
  • Lomas de Barbudal Wildlife Refuge (1.5 hours)
  • Palo Verde National Park (2 hours)

Where to stay:

When to travel:

With the tropical climate, if you’re traveling to the Peninsula Papagayo during November through May, you are going during the dry season. But, Papagayo is blessed with sunny days year-round; even in the rainy season, you can go days without a drop falling. Now, it does rain and can pour for an entire afternoon! If you’re interested in scuba diving and snorkeling, know that rainier months (May-December) are the best times to visit.

The busiest travel times to travel to Papagayo are during Christmas/New Years, as well as the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Hotels are often fully booked well in advance.

Tips:

Costa Rica’s unit of currency is the colon, which hovers between 500 – 550 colones/ $1 USD. U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Prices in Costa Rica are relatively high, due in large part to the country’s high standard of living.

It rains year round in Costa Rica, and visitors should be sure to bring a light rain jacket or poncho. December through April are generally considered the dry season, and the rainy season starts in May.

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