FYI: A new mobile app allows tourists to get around Costa Rica and discover cool things to do through GPS guidance and reviews. LearningTraveler is an app developed for the Apple iOS platform; it is available as a free download from the iTunes App Store for iPhones and iPads. According to the developers, no other Costa Rica travel guide or GPS mapping application contains more mapped things to do than LearningTraveler. The mapped Things to Do feature includes: hiking, surfing, beaches, snorkeling, waterfalls, volcanoes, caves, national parks, mountain biking, zip lining, kite-surfing, water rafting, fishing, museums, chocolate and coffee tours, etc. Try it out.
A few ideas for you...
Escape to a secluded waterfall - About 20 minutes (35 km) east of Liberia, heading toward San Jose, there is a dirt road turnoff that will take you to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall, a gorgeous, secluded spectacle that stretches 20 metres wide and drops 10 metres into a wide sand pond, surrounded by lush greenery. It’s the perfect picnic getaway. Cost of admission – a donation to the local school. Take your bathing suit and swim or climb up on the rocks or go exploring behind the fall.
Take in the big cats and/or enjoy a river safari - It’s easy enough to combine your Cortez getaway with a trip to the Los Pumas Rescue Center, about 15 minutes further south-east, on the same highway toward San Jose, just before Canas. The publicly supported center provides sanctuary to ocelots, jaguars, and other wildlife that were mistreated or orphaned. At the entrance you may book Safaris Coroboci –discount offered. Enjoy a safe and gentle 2-hour river-safari by raft on the Tonorio and Corobici rivers, taking in an abundance of wildlife and scenery –bring your camera along for the ride. The trip includes light snacks and drinks. You may even enjoy a lunch/dinner at the site’s own Cocobolo Café and restaurant. I recommend the tilapia.
Liberia - The largest city and capital of Guanacaste is only 28 Km from Coco. There are numerous banks, supermarkets, great restaurants, many small shops and department stores that have everything imaginable. A Catholic church dominates the city’s centre. Liberia is nick-named the White City, due to its white-washed buildings. Liberia’s Santa Rosa Plaza is a modern, large mall with restaurants and boutiques. Catch the latest Hollywood flick or enjoy more shopping at Liberia’s Cinema Mall. A great day trip and shopping spree!
Kokodrilo - Located in Comunidad, is only 10 min ride from Coco. It has three activities that can be done in a half day. There is rafting, horseback riding and a canopy zip line. You select either morning or afternoon sessions. The morning group starts at 9:00 a.m. and includes lunch. The afternoon group starts at 2:00 p.m. and includes dinner. They are open daily.
Africa Mia - Only 20 Km from Coco, is a wildlife park that opened in 2007 and is in the process of growth and expansion. At this time, there are giraffes, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, deer, peacocks, and wild pigs. An enclosure for hippos is under construction, and there are also plans to bring Oryx (wild antelope), kudus and bongos. In fact, Africa Mia can now boast the birth of the first giraffe born in Central America, in the spring of 2009, Roxi, a giraffe 100% Guanacastan!
The village of Guaitil - Guaitil is approximately a one hour drive from Coco. Drive 15 km to the Inter-American highway (HWY 21). Turn right and drive 31 km towards Santa Cruz. Continue driving through the town and turn left towards Santa Barbara. Travel along this road for approx. 12 km to Guaitil. About 700 people live here, and about 200 artisans work to create Pre-Columbian style pottery. They use clay and paints that are mined locally to make the pots, bowls, figures, and other pieces of art taught to them by their parents and grandparents. Travel a further 5 min to the next village to visit the Eco Museum.
Canopy Tours - For an exciting day, a visit to Witches Rock Canopy Tour is a must. There are 24 platforms, 4 hanging bridges, and 3 vertical ladders. There are numerous types of flora and fauna to be observed including howler and white-faced monkeys, iguanas, deer, and countless varieties of birds. You will also “fly over” a waterfall, and catch a glimpse of the Pacific. Just 20 min from Coco, there is the Congo Trail Canopy Tour on the famous Monkey Trail. Here the attractions are not only the zip-lines and magnificent views, but also a butterfly conservatory, a reptile centre and a mini zoo. Adults and teens may also enter the Capuchin and Howler monkeys’ enclosure for pictures and an opportunity to interact with the monkeys.
A day at the RIU - you may visit the RIU Guanacaste Resort by purchasing a day pass –three types of passes are offered. The passes allow you to take advantage of all the luxury and amenities the RIU offers for the day.
Golf - there are numerous golf courses in the area. If you are interested, contact the site directly for fees and availability.
Tennis - Buy one day pass and receive one free day pass. If you are interested in a game of tennis, a clinic or private lesson, contact Karen Rembert, a USPTA P1 Professional and the Tennis Director at The Club at CocoBay Estates for fees and availability @ firstname.lastname@example.org . There is also a full fitness center, restaurant, and tropical pool. Please mention that you are being referred by Mr.Di.
Coco Adventures - the tour operator located in El Pueblito (across from La Dolce Vita Restaurant) offers daytrips and overnight trips to many attractions near and far. Check their website for updated information and trips offered. www.cocosunsetvc.com If you are not renting a car, they also offer shuttle service for our clients at a discounted rate, along with a small discount for any trip booked with a referral from us, from Mr.Di.
Horseback Riding is offered at La Pandarosa (another Mapache development project just 40 min from Coco) see our property management office to book a ride. Other sites, Lomas del Mar, Guachipelin and…
Rancho Santa Alicia - This ranch is approximately a one hour drive from Coco. There is racing, rodeos, bull riding, and bronco busting. On the weekends, there is also a disco for dancing. There are approximately 90 horses of various sizes for trail riding and a bar and grill that is open to the public. For children there are newborn calves and foals that may be petted.
Nature walk - “What was that noise? Did you see that? What is it? This looks familiar, but it’s so big! Could it be that same plant sitting on my kitchen table?” These questions plus many other interesting, educational and entertaining insights comprise the topic of conversation during your walk with veterinarian and naturalist, Dr. Will Abrams. Walks generally last approximately two hours and vary in the amount of exertion required. Some walks are more strenuous hikes up and down the hills of Ocotal, where as, others are leisurely paced excursions into Will’s world of exotic plants and animals. Walks begin at 6:30 am and are limited to a maximum of ten people. To arrange a date and/or receive further information call 2670-0553.
Snorkeling - For best sites, accessed by water-only, see Arroyo Adventure’s owner Mario to recommend these sites, but for sites accessed by car, I recommend the following: Ocotal beach, Playa Penca -white sand beach at Point Cacique (at the north-end of Coco beach), Conchal and Costa Blanca Resort’s beaches. Ocotal beach and Conchal beach are both “Blue flag” beaches that are great for snorkeling. Ocotal is not only close but also offers the beach restaurants, Father Rooster, Picante and Ocotal Resort’s own “fine” dining restaurant, Rocha Bruja, with an amazing view of the cove and perfect sunsets. (I suggest having dinner here so that you may enjoy the sunset and views after a day at the beach). Flamingo, Tamarindo and Conchal can be reached using HWY 21 or if you dare –4WD/4X4 a must, via the “Monkey Trail”. I enjoy taking the Monkey Trail not only for the adventurous “off-road” driving experience but also for the scenery. You can even stop along the way and visit the coastal beach towns of Potrero, Surfside, and Flamingo. Conchal is considered by many as one of CR’s best beaches and is accessed by driving along Playa Brasilito. Yes, I did say that you need to drive on Brasilito beach –do stay along the “path” if you don’t want to get stuck in the sand, to access the entrance to Conchal. I suggest snorkeling at Conchal in the morning and later driving back to Flamingo for lunch at Flamingo Beach Resort’s restaurant. The restaurant is open to the public and offers a full menu and a buffet option. You may park along the road near the restaurant. Following lunch, you may enjoy catching some of Flamingo Beach’s famous large waves or simply sunbathe on its white sand. Costa Blanca Resort offers one of the best views of the Gulf of Papagayo and two great white beaches; the one to the south of restaurant is best for swimming and sunbathing, the other by the condos is best for snorkeling. The restaurant’s tasty menu is complemented by amazing sunsets and views of the gulf. A must stop on your trip! (Under renovations for 2010-11).
Thermal waters, mud baths and spas - Just a little over an hour away, (approx. 60 Km from Coco), east of Liberia, heading toward San Jose, past the Llanos de Cortez waterfall, turn east (left) at Bagaces and follow the signs. A great day trip, picnic or enjoy the Spa’s restaurant, these resorts offers natural hot springs, mud baths and therapeutic massages under the Miravalles Volcano. ThermoMania is the larger resort and offers more activities. Yoko is smaller and quieter, offering the basics, large open space and a relaxing laid-back atmosphere. Or, travelling north from the intersection at Liberia, you may access the resorts and spas of Ricon de la Vieja volcano. Hacienda Guachipelin and others in the area offer horseback rides to secluded hot springs along scenic trails with impressive waterfalls and a tropical rainforest that abounds with flora and fauna such as tapirs, monkeys, coatis, agoutis, capybaras, and boundless numbers of birds and insects. The rough road is an experience in itself, (4WD suggested), but the beauty and diversity of the area, makes a trip out there well worthwhile.