North Pacific Coast: Places to Explore

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Far Northern Guanacaste

North from Liberia, all the way to the Nicaragua border, a towering volcanic mountain range looms over vast plains that end at a windy coastline dotted with pristine beaches. This is Far Northern Guanacaste, one of the lesser-traveled but vastly rewarding parts of Costa Rica. Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste province, is the closest town to Costa Rica's second-largest airport. You'll most likely pass through it on your way to the beaches southwest of the city or to the nearby national parks of Guanacaste, Santa Rosa, or Rincón de la Vieja. This last park is home to Volcán Rincón de la Vieja, an active volcano that last erupted in 1991.

Northwest of Rincón de la Vieja, on the coast, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa (Santa Rosa National Park) is a former cattle ranch where Costa Ricans defeated the invading mercenary army of American William Walker in 1856. As part of the larger Guanacaste Conservation Area, Santa Rosa protects the country's largest remnant of tropical dry forest, as well as an important nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles, which lay their eggs in the sand between July and November. Closer still to the Nicaraguan border is the town of La Cruz, overlooking the lovely Golfo de Santa Elena, and the remote, windswept beaches of Bahía Salinas.

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