Day Trips from Playa Hermosa: 6-Day Itinerary

Day Trips from Playa Hermosa: 6-Day Itinerary

The province of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula are known as Costa Rica’s "fun in the sun" destination. Kids and adults alike enjoy the region’s huge variety of land- and water-based activities.

Days 1 and 2: Playa Hermosa

(30 minutes by paved road from Liberia airport)

Most arrivals to Liberia’s Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós, Costa Rica's second international airport, are in the early afternoon. You can't go wrong with any North Pacific beach, but we like Playa Hermosa for its location about 30 minutes from the airport—it's convenient as a base for visiting area attractions. The smaller lodgings here make the perfect antidote to the megaresorts that are not too far away. They can arrange to have transport waiting at the airport, with advance notice. Hotel La Finisterra perches above the ocean; the pricier Hotel Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar hugs the beach itself. The big all-inclusives up here have their own minivans to whisk you in air-conditioned comfort from airport to resort. Otherwise, the airport contains the full selection of car-rental counters.

Start Day 2 off lazing on the beach. Morning is a great time of day to hit the beach in this part of Costa Rica—the breezes are refreshingly cool and the sun hasn't started to beat down yet. After lunch, explore Playa Hermosa's "metropolis," the small town of Playas del Coco. Quite frankly, Coco is our least favorite beach up here. But we like the town for its little souvenir shops, restaurants, and local color.

Taxis are the easiest way to travel between Playa Hermosa and Coco, about 10 minutes away. Have your hotel call one, and flag one down on the street in town when it's time to return.

Day 3: Rincón de la Vieja Volcano

(1½-hour drive from Playa Hermosa, the last 45 minutes by dirt and stone road)

The top of Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, with its steaming, bubbling, oozing fumaroles, lies about 90 minutes from Hermosa. Lather on the sunscreen and head for the Hacienda Guachipelín—tours are open to nonhotel guests, too—and its volcano-viewing hikes, canopy tours, rappelling, horseback riding, mountain biking, and river tubing. Cap off the day with a spa treatment, complete with thermal mud bath.

If you don't have a rental car, book a private driver for the day, which can usually be arranged through your hotel. The region has seen an increase in tour operators who can take you to area attractions, too, which your hotel can arrange.

If you are driving yourself, you may wish to spend the night up here and not trek back down to the coast the same day. Hacienda Guachipelín itself is a solid lodging value.

Day 4: Golf or Diving

(30 minutes by paved road from Playa Hermosa to Papagayo Golf & Country Club; 10 minutes by paved road from Playa Hermosa to Playas del Coco)

Golf is big up here. The 18-hole Papagayo Golf & Country Club is just southeast of Playas del Coco. The other popular, slightly pricey, sport here is scuba diving. Dive operators are based in nearby Playas del Coco—we like Rich Coast Diving—or Playa Panamá. A daylong diving course won’t certify you, but gives you a taste of the deep. A taxi can transport you to and from the golf course, and dive operators will pick you up from and return you to your hotel.

Day 5: Palo Verde National Park

(1½ hours by paved road from Playa Hermosa to Palo Verde, the last 45 minutes by dirt road)

Start with a morning guided tour at Palo Verde National Park, one of the last remaining dry tropical forests in Central America. The Organization for Tropical Studies, which operates the biological station here, has terrific guides. Spend the afternoon observing nature in a more relaxed fashion with a float (easy Class I and II rapids) down the nearby Río Corobicí. The aptly named Safaris Corobicí, near Cañas on the Pan-American Highway, specializes in the floating trips. This excursion is a bit roundabout, so this is the day your own vehicle would come in handiest. But you can also hire a private driver or get a tour operator to fix you up (arranged through your hotel). Bring water to drink: it gets hot here.

Day 6: Departure

(30 minutes by paved road from Playa Hermosa)

Grab a last dip in the ocean this morning, because your flight departs from Liberia in the early afternoon. The airport terminal is modern and spacious, but you should still allow yourself plenty of time for check-in.

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