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Hidden Places of Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Hidden off-the-beaten-path destinations in Guanacaste, Costa Rica offer beautiful sights and neat places to visit. All are within an hour of Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin.

There are so many amazing things to do at Hacienda Guachipelin that you can easily fill your entire vacation with nature and adventure tours at our Adventure Center. But if you’re willing to venture off-the-beaten-path and go exploring, you can also discover many hidden treasures in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

6 Hidden Places in Guanacaste to Visit While Staying at Hacienda Guachipelin

Cangreja Waterfall

Spilling 130 feet (40 meters) out of the green forest, the magnificent Cangreja (Crab) Waterfall forms a clear blue pool, getting its celestial color from dissolved copper minerals from the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. The way to get to this waterfall is by hiking 3 miles (5 km) into the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The best part is that along the path you might see wildlife like monkeys, coatis, armadillos, agoutis, iguanas, and lots of tropical birds. It’s a great place for a swim. Hacienda Guachipelin offers a guided tour to Cangreja Waterfall.

Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

Visiting a waterfall in Costa Rica is on just about every traveler’s wish list. In Guanacaste, Costa Rica you can find spectacular waterfalls hidden around the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, like the Llanos de Cortes Waterfall. To get there is a short drive from Hacienda Guachipelin on the Pan-American Highway, 30 minutes south of Liberia by the town of Bagaces. Then it is only a 10-minute walk from the parking area to the waterfall. There is a small sandy beach that makes it easy to go swimming and is perfect for a picnic. This is a popular place with locals on the weekends.

Miravalles Volcano

At 6,653 feet (2,023 m), Miravalles Volcano is the tallest peak in the Guanacaste mountain range. Although dormant, this volcano still produces enough heat to supply the Costa Rican Electrical Company (ICE) with geothermal energy. Secluded and fascinating, the area is off the beaten path yet the road system here is excellent. In the Miravalles Protected Zone, which also contains the Tenorio Volcano, you can go hiking, explore sulfur hot springs and bubbling mud pools, take a dip in rainforest rivers, and see a variety of wildlife.


The small fishing village of Cuajiniquil (pronounced qua-hee-knee-KILL) in the Gulf of Santa Elena offers you tranquil and secluded sun-dappled beaches. This little town (pop. 2,000) is located about 10 km from the Pan-American Highway, 56 km northwest of Liberia – about a 90-minute drive from Hacienda Guachipelin. The beach is beautiful and makes for a great day trip; in the area you can go swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Santa Rosa National Park

Established in 1971, Santa Rosa is one of Costa Rica’s oldest national parks. It’s not as visited as many other national parks, although there are many fascinating things to see: 10 unique habitats spanning the 122,350 acre park, abundant plant and animal life, hiking trails, stunning white-sand beaches, and the historical museum at La Casona. Hacienda Santa Rosa, also known as La Casona, honors the battle of Costa Rica in 1856 against the U.S. filibuster William Walker and his mercenary army.

City Tour of Liberia

Founded in 1769, this quiet colonial town is the “capital” of the Guanacaste region in Costa Rica. A city walking tour (self-guided or guided) is the best way to see the sights. Top things to see in Liberia:

  • Iglesia la Ermita de Nuestro Señor de la Agonía: This stunning, blindingly white church dates back to 1866. Its whitewashed style typifies Liberia’s nickname of “The White City”. There is a museum here (open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) that exhibits 19th century art, culture and daily life through antique sculptures, clothes, books and furniture. It is located 700 meters south of the Catholic Church.
  • Central Park: The park is a popular gathering spot for locals, and a good place to experience local culture. Vendors sell refreshing cold coconuts, ice cream and snow-cones from pushcarts.
  • Casa de Vico (Newspaper House): Along Calle Real, two blocks north of the park, sits a distinct building called the Newspaper House. Local citizens plaster newspaper clippings on the building’s outer walls in a fascinating expression of themselves and their city’s history. Many layers of articles have built up as more recent news gets plastered over the old.
  • Casa Zúñiga Clachar: Two blocks from the Newspaper House, headed away from the park, this historic house is nice to see for its beautiful 19th century architecture and typical Costa Rican roof tiles. Belonging to the Zuñiga Clachar family since 1943, one of its principal features is the ceiling fresco depicting doves and angels in a Belle Époque style. The home is preserved as a Costa Rican Historic Building, and there is a café inside.

Article by Shannon Farley