Paradise Found in Guanacaste Costa Rica



Provinces, Cantons, and Districts


Provinces of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is composed of seven provinces, which in turn are divided into 81 cantons (Spanish: cantón, plural cantones), each of which is directed by a mayor. Mayors are chosen democratically every four years by each canton’s people. There are no provincial legislatures. The cantons are further divided into 421 districts (distritos). The provinces are:

  1. Alajuela
  2. Cartago
  3. Guanacaste
  4. Heredia
  5. Limón
  6. Puntarenas
  7. San José

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It borders the Caribbean Sea(to the east) and the Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290 kilometers (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific.

Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639 km or 397 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometers (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometers (227 sq mi) of territorial waters.

The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft). The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal.

Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometers / 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from continental landmass, 300 mi (480 km) from Puntarenas, but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometers / 58.5 square miles). Over 25% of Costa Rica’s national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country’s protected areas. Costa Rica also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.


This land was made for growing!


Costa Rican Volcanic Wonders

Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it borders Nicaragua. To the east is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2(3,915 sq mi) and as of 2000, had a population of 264,238.

Guanacaste’s capital is Liberia. Other important cities include Cañas and Nicoya.

The province is named for the guanacaste tree, also known as the ear pod tree which is the national tree of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Loves Soccer

Bags unpacked I see Futbol everywhere

Costa Rica loves Futbol, this is no passing fancy

This is no spectator weekend warrior sport;

Futbol is life, played, played and played.

Curling my toes in white sand

I watch futbol played everywhere,

No hands, head, chest, shoulder and feet.

Traditional games along the shore

Children, old men, everything in between,

Dribbling with quick feet

I marvel it’s as though the ball is on a string.

clip_image010                                                        Tamarindo Area, Guanacaste

One of Costa Rica’s great delights is it coastlines. A great place to stay when exploring the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste is the Paradisus Playa Conchal a 5-star all inclusive resort on Playa Conchal just outside Tamarindo proper. Opulent, spacious guest suites overlook Playa Conchal the best beach in Costa Rica. Slap this link into your browser and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

My old man, a master fly fisherman, taught me the importance of being satisfied with just sticking to fishing the fishing hole where they are biting. As a boy I often wondered if the fishing wasn’t better somewhere down the road. Believe me paradise is paradise and down the road in this case means Tahiti which is quite a haul. This I’ve got-everything-you-could-possibly–want-to-do, every room’s a suite, all-inclusive resort walks the talk. The list of activities is mind – boggling. Checking in the first thing you’ll notice is the scale of the property, beyond huge, filled to the rim with all the world-class obvious beach, pool, golf, spa, and casino stuff. Riding in resort driven carts winding their way to your suite is a trip in itself.

Beautifully appointed suites, private patio, 24 hr. room service makes things easy for most any type of travelers. Families will find this place perfect on many different levels. I like it because it is the perfect base from which to explore the areas many beaches. I like to hit the beach, Playa Conchal, in the morning before breakfast (awesome buffet). Down where the golf course meets the beach there is nice easy trail for bird watching. Don’t be surprised if you see monkey’s too. Snorkeling is spectacular and the beach offers clean white coral sand pleasing to the touch. I enjoy shooting hoops in the pool, playing tennis, ping-pong, and then hitting the links. Great golf course! Otherwise I’m out exploring the Nicoya Peninsula.

In a departure from and overlooked by tourists, is little-visited Playa Grande. Perhaps you tire of the multitude the resort activities, and people. Maybe you find that you’re interested in looking for something more private; quiet and exclusive. I’d recommend the privately owned and rented condos out on Playa Grande (famous for turtles) about 15-20 minutes north of downtown Tamarindo. Most units are private beach front with massive decks. You’ll likely find yourself cooking in your gourmet kitchen but in a pinch plenty restaurants are but a stones throw down the road 15- 20 minutes or so in Tamarindo proper.

The best approach is to drive out to Playa Grande while staying at Paradisus Playa Conchal and cruise the private dirt road that hugs the ocean heading north, soon you’ll see lots of for rent signs, you can easily inspect the property, get a rate, and make your decision after checking out few you thought promising from the comfort of your suite at Paradisus Playa Conchal.


Calling lovers of wildlife! Whether you take a tour, ride a zipline through the tree-tops or explore on your own, binoculars in hand it is hard to beat Costa Rica when it comes bird and animal watching.

I urge you to avoid the temptation to speed on the drive up from San Jose to Tamarindo. Often times it seems you are in the middle of nowhere but lurking behind old trees soaking up the shade are police with radar guns aimed at getting money out of your wallet. Passing is common so no need to worry, following trucks up hills is to be expected.

A dazzling concentration of natural beauty is forever painted in one’s mind. After being dined-out, activitied-out, beached-out, and tiring of resort living, explored jungles, visited secluded beaches, surfed world-class waves, deep-sea fished, rode horses on the beach at sunset, and generally lived the life of riley you realize its time to get back to San Jose and the airport for the flight home. Next time you return maybe you’ll fly in direct to Tamarindo maybe not. There are so many great places to experience in Costa Rica however San Jose is central to them all. Domestic flights within Costa Rica are probably best avoided unless one is a genuine risk taker and a true air travel adventurer.

Fortunately you have an extra night to spend at the Arenal Lodge – great views of the active ArenalVolcano on a secluded and quiet location with comfortable rooms, trails and excellent bird watching. Rooms are nice enough and really fit the feel of this unique area. The restaurant has decent food while overlooking the mountains. Shifting gears in the mountains of Costa Rica is trip, hike, even fish and maybe even put on a sweater but I doubt it!

Once returning to San Jose I recommend staying at the reasonably priced Best Western Irazu Hotel & Casino directly across from the airport. It is very close to the car rental returns that will drive you to the hotel in minutes. The hotel shuttles you to the airport every 20 minutes making things easy. After spending a relaxing and fun time in Guanacaste one treasures the warmest of feelings produced by the beauty in nature found there. This small friendly relaxing country is a spectacular example of the earth at its best. Feelings like these will last well beyond the moment your plan touches the sky.



Pura Vida!

Contact Information

Paradisus Playa Conchal Hotel

Arenal Lodge

BEST WESTERN Irazu Hotel Casino—Casino/Hotel


About Roger O'Keefe

My background is in education and finance. I'm a published author and photographer, former radio talk show host, and creative retirement planning expert. My work is a love of labor, I do not sell any products of any kind. I've appeared as a guest on more than 50 national and local television and radio shows. With a Masters in education, I'm a licensed educator and author of the “Future Bright Program” and the California State Department of Education “Teacher Appreciation Program.” I'm a member of the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Care Planning Council NCPC. I'm currently writing my second book and reside in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My mission is to reshape retirement planning one person at a time. Please visit my website and take advantage of the many complimentary online seminars, resources, and retirement planning tools.
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