Las Playas

Most of these blog ideas come from our guests… we get a lot of questions about things to do, where to eat, best excursions, different beaches, etc. I love it! I’m never stumped for things to write about.

We had some guests stay with us last week that were interested in beach time, surfing, snorkeling and swimming. They wanted to avoid driving a ton, and the bigger, more popular beaches like Tamarindo.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

Playa Avellanas

Well, no kidding. We chose to live here for a reason. The surf is great for beginners and those more advanced, as there are four different breaks along our long beach. There are surf rentals right on the sand, as well as surf lessons for a competitive rate. The name of the company is Avellanas Surf School and we highly recommend them. Also, on our beach is the restaurant Lola’s.

It is the most well-known restaurant in our community and has been here for many years. The atmosphere cannot be beat and the food is delicious. It is slightly spendy, but perfect for a special occasion and an incredible meal.

Playa Negra

Playa Negra is the next beach south of us, and is only about five kilometers away. The beach itself isn’t as big as Avellanas, but there is more of a town. One of our favorite restaurants, Kon Tiki, is located on the way to Playa Negra and has wood fired pizza and homemade sangria. The beach can be accessed through Hotel Playa Negra. Be sure to let us know if you need driving directions as it can be a little tricky getting there.


Junquillal beach is just past the town of Paraiso. It is very tranquil and is very sparsely visited by tourists. The waves are easy and gentle; great for swimming and wading. Beware, the sand is black and is very very hot. Make sure to bring sandals to walk down to the waterline. There is also a small turtle hatchery right on the beach near the parking lot, where in October and November, you can watch the turtles trek to the ocean upon hatching.

Playa Grande

Back up north, just above Tamarindo, is the community and beach of Playa Grande. The waves are very popular with surfers and body boarders and the white sand makes for the perfect spot to lounge on an afternoon. To get there, you can drive, (you have to drive inland, around Tamarindo and then back out towards the ocean), or take a water taxi from Tamarindo. This is a very fun experience and is quick and cheap but the water taxis stop running at 5:00. This is a problem if you want to head into one of Grande’s great restaurants, like Cantarana, for dinner. In that case, driving is definitely worth it.

There are many more beaches to explore and many more I could mention. Playa Conchal is definitely one of my favorites, but since I wrote about it last week, I thought I would add something (and some place) new.

Please let us know if you have any questions or recommendations. Cheers and pura vida 🙂


We’ve been so lucky upon moving here that so quickly we were able to make such good friends. Two of those friends, Jackie and Junior, have been an integral part of our lives here, opening their home to us for pool days, sharing meals, making us laugh and giving us much needed advice on day to day living in Central America. In the few months that we’ve been here, we have already shared in so much meaningful time with them, their sweet pup, Harvey, and their cat, Benji. 

A few weeks ago, Jackie’s parents came to visit for the holidays and it was apparent that her mother was very sick. At this time, the whole family is staying in San Jose, indefinitely, as it was discovered that her mother has stage four lung cancer. 

Overnight, the family is facing gigantic medical bills as Jackie’s mother had to be airlifted to San Jose and was in the ICU for days. 

We would like to help Jackie and Junior by donating 20% of any new January bookings to their family. So, in case you needed just one more excuse to finally pull the trigger on that Costa Rican vacation… here it is!! By staying with us, you will be contributing to some very lovely, very appreciative and generous people. Thank you in advance for helping us give to them. 

Day Tripping (Part 2)

And already it’s the middle of January! How did that happen? We have found ourselves in the full swing of things – bookings everyday, full houses most nights, preparing breakfasts for our guests each morning, tidying and turning over rooms, all the while continuing to improve our little villa in new ways and with different projects on a regular basis. It’s hard to believe that we have been here for almost three months, at times, and at other times, it feels like we have been here for three years. With only two more months to go in the season, it seems like there are still so many things we would like to get done and we have very little time in which to do it all.

We have been so lucky to have had so many friends come visit us already. Seeing and spending time with our good friends from home has given us such a boost of motivation and inspiration that the world we are trying to create here, amidst all our tribulations and frustrations, is vale la pena. It has been such an incredible experience seeing our home through our friends’ and families’ eyes – all the wonder and appreciation and culture shock! Ha! We have also been able to be tourists a bit, and travel around our state, scoping out fun sights and activities for our guests and friends.

Here are a few excursions and day trips that we’ve enjoyed over the last few months and those that we always share with our guests.

Marlin Del Rey Catamaran Tour

Our Tamarindo friends had arranged this catamaran tour, out of Tamarindo and invited us and our Boise friends, Kelli and Patrick to join. We were reluctant, as it seemed to be the ultimate tourist activity, which at times can be a bit of a turn off, but we ended up having the best day. The tour lasts about five hours, and includes all you can drink and eat, a two hour snorkeling – SUP – swimming stop and a relaxing ride on a beautiful catamaran. The cost is $80 per person, which I know seems high, but was completely worth it. The boat leaves out of Tamarindo, with about 25 people, sails out to a secluded cove, where you can choose to stay on the boat, snorkel, SUP, swim, or slowly tread water with the help of a pool noodle, (my choice). While you partake in water activities, lunch is prepared and consists of rice, beans, cookies, meat and lots and lots of potato and tortilla chips with salsa. After about two hours, you set sail back towards Tamarindo, and hopefully catch sight of some dolphins… maybe even a whale! (Some of our guests said they saw a humpback!)


Rincon De La Vieja National Park

This is our closest national park… located just about 45 minutes from Liberia. From our house to trailheads, it takes just under two hours. The actual park has three hikes, one of which splits off in two different directions, another of which takes you to the top of a volcano. Outside of the park, there are a number of different excursions like zip lining, horseback riding, hot springs, mountain biking, just to name a few. There is also a hotel and a restaurant just outside the actual park entrance, so if you want to stay closer for an early morning hike, that’s an option. The park opens at 8:00 and closes at 4:00 and some of the hikes have some time restrictions. It’s best to get there as close to 8:00 as possible, as it’s easy to spend the entire day there.

We have been there several times now, and done a few different things. Our favorite two hikes are the 10 kilometer hike to the Catarata Escondida, and then the shorter loop through the volcancitos. Depending on the day and the season, you can see monkeys, (spider, white faced and howler), snakes, coatis, capybaras and more. Last time we went, (about two weeks ago), we were so lucky to see an abundance of animals the entire time.


Playa Conchal

This is my favorite beach near us. (There are some others that are runners up, and I’ll mention those in a future post). You may have read about this one in a guide book, but in case you haven’t, it’s one worth visiting. It’s so unusual in that the beach itself is made up completely of shells, as opposed to sand. It’s unbelievably beautiful and unique, but during the high season it’s a bit crowded as well. We’ve enjoyed Playa Conchal the most early in the morning, when people are still sleeping off their night before and the crash of the waves is still the only thing you can hear. Later on in the day, people begin selling BBQ, beer, pipa and souvenirs, which is definitely part of the beach experience, but the tranquility is something that we prefer! Getting to Playa Conchal is a bit of a challenge, and requires four wheel drive. However, if your rental car is small, you would just park in Brasilito and walk. Believe me, it’s worth it.


Playa Negra and Paraiso

These little beach towns, just south of us are small enough to visit both in one afternoon. Playa Negra seems to cater more to tourists and ex-pats, with several great restaurants, a coffee shop called Jalapeno’s, some surf shops and a beautiful beach. The beach access is a little tricky – no four wheel drive necessary, you just need to ask for directions. Paraiso is just south of Negra and has a soccer field, more restaurants and bars, some bed and breakfasts and another of Guanacaste’s best beaches.


Our list of things to do is ever increasing and changing. We love helping our guests come up with day trips and activities, many of which we have done ourselves, so we are able to give personal advice and tips. Please let us know if there is anything that you think we should do or check out… we love suggestions!

Pura vida xoxo