Costa Rica is a destination with a vast variety of ecosystems, from rainforests and beaches to rivers and dry lands, allowing for the travel adventurer to experience a diverse selection of outdoor activities.
Tucked away in the northwestern-most part of the country, you’ll find the Province of Guanacaste and the pink and white sand beaches of Playa Conchal. Named for the millions of seashells that wash upon its shores, Playa Conchal is one of the few Pacific Coast beaches with shimmering pink sand and crystal clear water, similar to what is found along the Caribbean.
Because Playa Conchal is on the coast, it takes a significant amount of time to get to the attractions in the interior Costa Rica. Here are a few of the outdoor adventures and short day trips you can choose from.
Head to nearby Tamarindo for surf lessons given by locals. Morning is the best time as the wind is usually at its weakest, meaning the surf will be less choppy. If you get the hang of surfing or want to try something with a board but less with the waves, consider checking out kite or windsurfing, and use the wind rather than the waves for your movement. Most spots along the ocean also offer kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, which is calmer but still is loads of fun–bonus: it doesn’t require as much skill as the other water sports.
If you’re more interested in letting someone else do the driving while you do the playing, then check out some of the sport fishing activities in the area. Depending on the time of the year you’re in Costa Rica, you can catch snapper, tuna, sailfish (sport fishing only), mahi-mahi, marlin or rooster.
It’s a given that you’re in for a treat when it comes to underwater exploration. The idyllic stretch of beach that is Playa Conchal is set in a curved bay overlooking the Catalina Islands, one of the best snorkeling and diving spots with great visibility for seeing tropical fish and stingrays.
Costa Rica is filled with national parks; they’re actually part of the country’s mission and there’s plenty nearby. Just ten minutes away is Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, which supports the largest nesting colony of leather back turtles on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. Female leatherbacks often come ashore at Playa Grande between October and May to lay their eggs.
The Diria National Park is about 90 minutes away, protecting some of the last remaining old growth forests on the peninsula. Its trails offer great hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. Two of the main trails have trailheads right near the ranger station, taking away any guessing on where to go. While you’re on the trail, you may see wildlife, including white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, peccaries, anteaters, deer, skunk, and iguanas. Over 140 bird species live within the park, as do several species of snake (yikes!).
A two-hour drive will take you to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, which actually has the largest volcano in the country’s northwest side. This is also a great place for hiking because the trails are well marked. Once you’re done with all your hiking, you can soak in the thermal mud pools, or go swimming under the waterfalls or freshwater lakes.
Another park within a two-hour distance is the Palo Verde National Park. One of the highlights here is its tropical dry forests, which is one of the best in the country. While you’re here, you have a few options on adventures from renting mountain bikes from the Organization for Tropical Studies, to hiking the well-marked trails. You can also see the park by boat along the Tempisque River, which might not sound adventurous, but you’ll have a chance to spot crocodiles, a variety of birds and monkeys in the trees as well as the common basilisk lizard, better known as the famed Jesus Christ lizard.
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Playa Conchal, Cabo Velas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica , Playa Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, (506) 2654-3500
This all-inclusive, eco-friendly retreat, found on Costa Rica’s unspoiled shores, offers a superb balance between luxury and local culture.