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Explore 5 National Parks in Guanacaste

Guanacaste is Costa Rica´s largest province located on the north-western coast. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south and west, the Gulf of Nicoya to the east, and the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range to the North, this is a land of contrasts and diversity. True to Costa Rica´s continuous support of its flora and fauna, Guanacaste also has some great national parks worth exploring during your visit to this sunny corner of the country. Let´s explore 5 National Parks in Guanacaste in your Poas Rent a car!

Guanacaste may be best known for its white-sand beaches, luxury seaside resorts, and excellent water activities, including surf and fishing. However, it also has several coastal and inland national parks and protected areas full of natural and historical treasures. They are also easy to drive to and don´t need a 4×4 to reach them. The Poas Rent a Car fleet of modern sedans up to the premium SUV will get you to them safely and comfortably, so let´s explore 5 National Parks in Guanacaste. It´s time to discover more corners and contrasts of this beautiful part of the world.

1.    Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Guanacaste is home to many extinct and live volcanoes that are part of the majestic volcanic range that runs down its northern edge and makes up America´s Continental Divide. This impressive procession of volcanic-mountain tops are also national parks, including the best know and most visited Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park.

At the Liberia intersection, turn north onto the Inter American Highway and take a right after about an easy 4 – 5 minute drive. This road will take you up to the entrance winding up the volcano slope through rural towns, farmland, and lush forests. The picturesque 35-minute drive is the perfect introduction to your exploration of the volcanic landscape that the national park protects.

After leaving your car in the parking lot, it is time to make your way on foot along the trail of your choice.  Whether your trail takes you to La Cangreja Waterfall with its beautiful blue lagoon or the trail that will take you through the volcanic environment with the mud pots, fumaroles, and sulfur lakes that dot the landscape, there is a trail for everyone.

2.    Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa National Park is steeped in Costa Rican history and is also home to the ever-disappearing dry tropical forest that can be seen on the coastal lowlands of Guanacaste. So, this incredible national park allows visitors to enjoy some history and immersion in this dynamic forest.

Santa Rosa National Park is located north of Liberia, close to the border town of La Cruz. It is a 40-minute drive from Liberia and will take you through farmland with the Guanacaste Volcanic Range to your right. The National Park is on the left, where you will enter Costa Rica´s most important historical sites.

This is where the 1850 Battle of March occurred against William Walker and his filibusters. While the battle was short-lived, Costa Rica won and made history. Santa Rosa National Park is not only home to the only historical museum within a protected area but is also a World Heritage site as it contains the last remaining cover of tropical dry forest in Mesoamerica.

3.    Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde National Park is home to a day on the river!  This National Park is a bird-lovers sanctuary with hundreds of permanent and migratory birds congregating here at any time.  This boat safari is along the Tempisque River that empties into the Gulf of Nicoya.

The banks of the Tempisque River are filled with lush vegetation where monkeys, bats, coatis, reptiles, and birds galore can be viewed. At the water´s edge, sunbathing and motionless, are the giant crocodiles that always impress.  This is a perfect tour for animal and nature lovers. Sit back and enjoy the peacefulness of the river and the joy when spotting your favorite animal.

While this is a National Park, several private companies offer boat tours that last around 1.5 hours. Usually, these tours include transport from the major hotels or towns, so you can let others do the driving today!

4.    Barra Honda National Park

Barra Honda National Park is home to an exciting underground world of caves and caverns that are reachable via a 56-foot ladder. This complex underworld system comprises dozens of interconnected caverns with limestone stalagmites and stalactites.

After exploring this dramatic and exciting space below, this national park is also worth exploring above ground, with 2295 hectares of protected secondary deciduous forest and evergreen forest home to a diversity of animals. If you are lucky, you may see coatis, raccoons, agoutis, white-tailed deer, and anteaters on high alert while searching for food.

Barra Honda National Park is on the Nicoya side of the Taiwan Friendship Bridge and is easily accessible by car. Follow the signs and enjoy some real adventure tourism. This national park combines the contrast of the obscurity of the caverns below with the liveliness of the forest above.

5.    Las Baulas Marine National Park

As its name gives away, this national park is where the sea turtles come yearly to lay eggs but also attracts avid surfers and snorkelers.  Covering much of Tamarindo Bay, this marine national park is the largest nesting colony for the leatherback turtles on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Playa Grande is their beach, and countless turtles arrive.

This marine national park is also a refuge for mangrove forests, river estuaries, four white-sand beaches, and forests that house around 175 bird species and many other animals. While it is a national park, it is open for water sports and is a popular surfing spot, so make sure your Poas Rent a Car comes with roof racks to bring your surfboard with you!

Las Baulas National Park is right by the trendy beach town of Tamarindo, so if you are staying in the area, do some beach hopping to enjoy the beautiful beaches and do a night tour when the turtles arrive on the beach. This is a truly incredible experience and worth staying up to enjoy.

Let Poas Rent a Car take you to the 5 National Parks of Guanacaste during your visit to this endless summer province of Costa Rica! From the volcanic slopes to the ocean, Guanacaste is awaiting to show you it’s National Parks full of bio-diversity and unique experiences above and below the earth! See you soon.

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Things to do in Guanacaste: The land of plenty!

Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s famous beach destination, and its popularity is well deserved. White-sand beaches, up-scale beachfront resorts, trendy surf towns, and a multi-cultural vibe that is expressed in the range of eateries, bars, and the flavors they create. While a lot happens on the coast and the pristine Pacific Ocean waters, Guanacaste has lots of inland treasures that offer an exciting contrast to the beach. Let’s take a journey around and see all the things to do in Guanacaste. It is a land of plenty awaiting to be explored!

Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s north-western province that partly sits on the Nicoya Peninsula that reaches out into the majestic Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the impressive Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range that is home to several volcanoes, some of which are alive and provide adventure activities and clean energy too!  These beautiful mountains give way to vast, open plains that provide rich farmland and cattle ranches that are the origin of Guanacaste’s cowboy culture, with hats and boots included!

An ever-improving road network services the Guanacaste region. While many beaches remain secluded, a road will get you to virtually all of them. With your reliable and comfortable Poas Rent a Car, no beach, journey around the peninsula, or beyond is unreachable. Pick up at the Guanacaste International Airport and take it to the roads to explore this beautiful place.

Take to the Mountains!

1.             Visit Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is much more than just a live volcano, as if that in itself wasn´t enough. Sitting at 1900 meters (6300 feet) above sea level and is within the National Park of the same name.  Thanks to its height and geographical position, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is home to many types of forest and many animals too.

This scenic drive is beautiful, just 15 km from Liberia, Guanacaste’s capital city. Upon arrival, the national park has ample parking. Explore the boiling hot mud springs, sulfur springs, steam vents, and fumaroles on foot. Additional trails are available. The trail to the volcano crater is not always open due to its activity.

2.             Hot Springs in the Forest

After a day of exploring the national park, why not enjoy some hot springs and mud baths, relaxing and medicinal bi-products of this very-much-alive volcano. On the road up to the volcano, you will pass by many adventure and wellness hotels and initiatives that perfectly complement your visit to the volcano.

3.             Plenty of Adventure

For a day of adventure in nature that will take your adrenaline-rush to new levels, it is only appropriate that you will find it on the slopes of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Zipline through the forest canopy, rappel down a waterfall, horseback ride along winding trails, tube down a canyon river or mountain bike to your hearts delight. Adventure abounds, and the thrills are high!

The beach is calling

4.             Take a surf lesson

Costa Rica is a favorite destination for surfing, and Guanacaste is home to some fun surf towns where boards and bikes are the primary forms of transport. The towns of Tamarindo and Nosara are basecamps for surfing at Playa Grande, Playa Avellanas, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Negra, and Playa Guiones so get on your board and surf big.

While the great waves attract professionals and surfing enthusiasts, Guanacaste is also the perfect place to learn. Several surf schools are awaiting to teach their pupils the tricks of the waves and the breaks. A bucket-list item for many an adventurer and Guanacaste is the best backdrop for this special moment! The waves await you.

5.             Catch a sunset

Sunsets never disappoint, and the Guanacaste sunsets are definitely worth watching. The vast Pacific Ocean, beautiful beaches, and refreshing drinks make sunset-watching all the more citrus-orange. With your Poas Rent a Car, getting to see a sunset each day during your stay is that much easier too. Check out Playa Hermosa, Playa Pelada, and Playa Flamingo for an unforgettable spectacle in the sky. In Costa Rica, the sun sets around 5:30 pm, so stop what you’re doing around 5:00 pm and get the best front-row seat possible!

6.             Beach Hopping

Guanacaste is perfect for a day, or two of beach hopping. With so many beaches to explore, hop into your car and drive. You will be able to drive up to many, while others might require some walking, but that is part of the fun. From the far northern beaches in Puerto Soley, around the world-renowned Gulf of Papagayo and its peninsula to Playa Samara and Nosara farther to the south, Guanacaste is a beach-lovers paradise with dozens of beaches to enjoy.  Consider a Poas Rent a Car Full size SUV to get to the most secluded Guanacaste beaches and have lots of fun getting to them.

Inland we go

7.             Palo Verde Wetlands

After exploring volcanoes and beaches, we move inland to explore the biodiversity of the Palo Verde Wetlands. Drive through rich agricultural landscapes and small, rural towns to one of Costa Rica’s most extensive wetlands and a favorite spot for migratory birds that use this area to breed and nest. Thanks to its incredible number of habitats, it is also one of the most bio-diverse areas of the country so have your binoculars and camera on hand. This magnificent area is to be explored in a boat so swap your car for a safari-style boat ride to see birds, crocodiles, monkeys, and more.

8.             Visit a National Park

Over a quarter of Costa Rica is a national park or protected area, so wherever you may be, there will be one nearby to visit. Guanacaste is dotted with important national parks and reserves that protect the dry forest and many bird and animal species. While some national parks are along the coast, others are sanctuaries on the mountain ranges or lowlands containing rivers, waterfalls, caves, and historical events. For example, drive north to Santa Rosa National Park to learn about Costa Rica’s historical 1856 battle or visit Barra Honda National Park to explore the underground limestone caverns.

Poas Rent a Car is excited to be part of your journey around Guanacaste. With so many to do and explore, a great car is your best companion for an unforgettable stay. So let’s get ready for a lifetime trip in the land of plenty!

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5 Fun Facts about Isla Bolaños

Costa Rica is small in size, but it is big on the diversity of places to visit on and off the beaten track.  While this bucket list destination is well known for its live volcanoes, lush rainforests and beautiful beaches, Costa Rica has lots more to explore! One of these remote and untouched gems is a small island on the far northern Pacific coast. Let´s learn 5 Fun Facts about Isla Bolaños!

Guanacaste is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range to the north. It is located on the Nicoya Peninsula and is the oldest geological region of the country. Crops and cattle farming extend over the tropical dry forest plains. It is also home to the Guanacaste International Airport (LIR) hat services the region and daily flights from the major US hubs making getting here extremely easy! Just pick up your Poas Rent-a-car just minutes from the terminal and you are off!

To the far north of Guanacaste, you will find the historic Santa Rosa National Park that forms part of the Guanacaste Nature Conservation System. It protects some of the last remaining tropical dry forests in the world and has some spectacular beaches too. It is also where the famous battle against the US mercenaries occurred and where the now Costa Rican national hero, Juan Santamaria came to be.

It is also home to Isla Bolaños or Bolanos Island that sits off the far northern coast of Guanacaste and Costa Rica.  While small in size, it is big on possibilities and owns some fun facts that makes it stand out in the ocean.  Enjoy a 25 minute scenic boat ride from the mainland to reach the island and its small rocky hill that stands just 81 meters high and that sets the scene for some very interesting nature-rich occurrences. Here are some of them!

1.    It is a bird sanctuary

Isla Bolaños is a special place for a number of marine birds, the reason behind Costa Rica declared it a wildlife refuge back in 1981. It´s strategic location and climate conditions converts this little landmass into a sanctuary for three bird species in particular.

  • American Oystercatchers: This species has a distinctive black and white plumage and a long, bright orange beak that has a special function; eat oysters. The use the Bolanos Island for nesting and parents will alternate incubating the eggs.
  • Magnificent Frigates: These magnificent birds use Bolanos Island as their mating grounds. The male Magnificent Frigates have a distinctive bright pink-red throat that inflates especially during mating season.  This species is the largest of the frigates and quite impressive looking.
  • Brown pelicans: The Isla Bolaños is one of the few places in the world where the Brown Pelicans nest. Both parents participate in the nesting process sharing the load.

2.    You can see three volcanoes from the beach

At low tide, Isla Bolaños is dotted with white-sand beaches that extend out of the pristine, turquoise-colored water. This combination guarantees a paradisiacal beach and swimming experience just in itself.

What makes the Isla Bolaños beach day even more stunning is that thanks it its strategic position off the far northern, Guanacaste coastline is that three volcanoes can be observed from a distance.  The Orosi, Rincon del Vieja, and Cacao volcanoes can be seen in the distance, and they are impressive. While the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes are extinct, the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is very much alive and likes to remind us of its existence once in a while. This volcano´s slopes are also a very popular place for adventure activities and the thermal springs.

3.    It belongs to the Guanacaste Conservation Area – Santa Rosa National Park

Isla Bolanos belongs to the network of protected lands that presently covers 25% of Costa Rica.  Thanks to its importance for marine birdlife, this little hill in the ocean was designated as a wildlife refuge back in 1981 and is now part of the Santa Rosa National Park. This park is easily reachable by car with ample parking so that you can explore the park and its historical treasures on foot.

Costa Rica began creating its network of protected land in the early ‘70s and now boasts nearly a quarter of the country and nearly a third of its marine area within this network. No small feat for a small country but just one example of how Costa Rica has shown the world that conservation and preservation can be sustainable.

4.    It is a great place to do Wind Surf, Kayaking, and Kitesurfing!

The bay area in which Bolanos Island sits is a favorite for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Salinas Bay is rated as the 8th windiest place in the world which translates to perfect conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Isla Bolaños has a beautiful white-sand bar that creates butter flat water which is just what kite surfers look for so bring on the wind and the flat water conditions that the bay provides.

For kayaking, the warm protected waters of the bay and around Isla Bolaños will give you beautiful views of the island, the stunning coast, the volcanoes in the background, and of course, the bounty of birdlife that has chosen Isla Bolaños to nest.

5.    It only receives around 1.5m of rain a year!

Isla Bolaños is one of the driest areas of Costa Rica receiving around 1.5 meters of rain a year. This ultimately influences the vegetation that can be found on the island which is why the pelicans and frigates come to the island to nest.

The lack of rain creates a dense dwarf forest with trees that provide fruits for the birds but also the possibility of building their nests in the forest canopy when the time comes.

This little island offers the perfect conditions for these birds to reproduce, nest, and rear the next generation of these feathered friends. Nature is wise, without a doubt.

Poas Rent-a-car will take you to the farthest corners of Costa Rica. With its fleet of over 200 cars ranging from sedans to Premium SUV´s, there is an off-the-beaten track for all of them and for you to explore.  The far northern Pacific Ocean coast is one of them and the Isla Bolaños one of its treasures. Book your Costa Rica vacation car now and Poas rent-a-car will take you everywhere.

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