Bahia Salinas

The large windswept bay at the very top of Costa Rica's Pacific coast is the second-windiest area in the country, after Lake Arenal, making it great for windsurfers and kitesurfers, as well as beachgoers looking for breezy, uncrowded, pristine beaches. It also happens to be the sunniest and driest side of Costa Rica. Strong onshore breezes blow from November to May, when only experienced riders are out on the waves and the water grows steadily cooler. The south (bay) side has the strongest winds, and choppy, colder water from January to May.

In July and August the wind is more appropriate for beginner kitesurfers and windsurfers, whereas any time of year you can enjoy the area's diving and beaches. On the sheltered Golfo de Santa Elena, to the west, are two beaches that rank among the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica: Playa Rajada and Playa Jobo, although Dreams Las Mareas Resort has claimed ground at Jobo Bay. Other beaches lining the bay are Playa Copal, Playa Papaturro, and Playa Pochotes. Still, it's a far cry from the overdeveloped beaches of Guanacaste's gold coast farther to the south. Just offshore is Isla Bolaños, a national wildlife refuge with white-sand beaches and turquoise water. This famous nesting spot for birds can be seen from afar only between April and November, as landing here is not allowed.

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