Papagayo Costa Rica: Luxury Resorts and Pristine Beaches
Papagayo Costa Rica consists of beautiful views, luxury resorts, and white-sand beaches
The Papagayo Costa Rica Vibes
The Papagayo Peninsula is home to stunning views, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters.
Some of the nicest resorts in the country are located in this area due to its proximity to the Liberia International Airport, great weather, and stunning natural views.
The vibe here is kind of non-existent. What I mean is, unless you are staying at one of the resorts you can not even access this area except by parking in the main lot and taking a bus to one of the beaches.
So, I guess I can say the vibe is an atmosphere of sophistication and refinement echoed by the resorts.
70% of the land in the Papagayo Peninsula is required to remain natural. This is due to a government mandate that was put in place to ensure that the beauty of the land is not lost by overdevelopment.
Background Info About Papagayo Costa Rica
Nearest International Airport
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia
Popular Things to Do
snorkel or diving tours, catamaran rides, relaxing on the beach
Best Way to Get Around
Rental car, taxis, shuttles
Best Time of Year to Visit
Dry season is from late December until mid-April
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Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).
We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.
We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Map Of Papagayo Peninsula
Papagayo Peninsula is located on the Northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Province.
The nearest big city is Liberia, which is about an hour away.
Flights to Costa Rica
The easiest way of getting to Papagayo is from Liberia International Airport.
It is less than an hour drive from the airport to Papagayo.
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.
Driving to Papagayo
If you would like a car for the extent of your trip, check out our absolute favorite rental car company in Costa Rica, Adobe.
Adobe has given us a 10% discount plus many other perks to pass on to you.
The drive from Liberia International Airport to Papagayo will take about 45 minutes. It is a easy drive that you should have no trouble with.
- 10% discount for Costa Rica Vibes readers
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- 0% deductible on Liability Protection Insurance
- Excellent customer service
- New fleet of well-maintained vehicles
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Private Shuttle to Papagayo Peninsula
Almost all resorts will offer a private or shared shuttle from the airport. Usually there is a fee for this, but your resort can tell you more about that.
Alternatively, we suggest Adobe Transfers for your transfer needs.
You can find out more and get a quote here.
Taxi to Papagayo Costa Rica
We suggest our favorite Liberia taxi driver family for all your taxi needs. They are a family of registered taxi drivers and I can assure you that they will take great care of you.
You can find out more, book your taxi, and get a discount from them here.
Our Papagayo Transportation suggestion
If we were visiting a resort on the Gulf of Papagayo, this is what we would do…
– Fly into Liberia International Airport instead of San Jose.
– Spend the first several days soaking up the resort amenities and relaxing.
– Rent a car for a few days to explore on our own. Adobe can deliver your car to you at your resort for a small fee.
– Instead of paying for a shuttle back to the airport, return your rental car to Adobe’s office next to the airport on your last day. They will give you a free shuttle ride to the airport.
Transportation In Papagayo
All resorts provide gold carts or transportation to the various beaches, golf courses etc. You will not need to worry about transportation within Papagayo if you are staying at any of the resorts.
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Papagayo Costa Rica Weather
The Guanacaste region has some of the best weather in the country year-round.
During the dry season (from end of December until end of April) everything turns brown from the lack of rain. It is not unusual to see forest fires in February and March when everything is very dry. It almost feels like Arizona with the dry arid climate.
Personally, we like to visit this area between May and the end of July. At this time of year, everything is green again and the area actually looks really pretty. There is typically a daily afternoon thunderstorm that comes like clockwork every afternoon at about 2pm for about an hour.
Wake up early and enjoy the beautiful morning before the storm rolls in.
Between August and December, the temperatures cool off a bit and there is more rain, as the rainy season is in full swing.
In our opinion, if you are unsure about the weather while you are planning to visit Costa Rica, this is the area to visit. Overall it seems to get far less rain than most of the country.
Things to Do in Papagayo Costa Rica
On the Papagayo Peninsula you can take advantage of the resort amenities. We suggest checking out all the beaches, playing a round of golf at the Arnold Palmer Signature course, getting a spa treatment, relaxing at the resort pools, and enjoying the onsite outdoor activities.
We definitely suggest also taking some day trips to explore more of the area.
All resorts will be happy to organize activities for you.
Just note, that if you organize activities through your hotel in this area you may pay a lot more than if you organize them yourself.
This isn’t always true, but it is worth comparing prices.
All the tours we included below offer transportation from the Papagayo area.
If you opt to rent a car for a few days to explore on your own, we have included some ideas for that as well.
Go Deep Sea Fishing
Are you ready to enjoy some world-class mahi-mahi or marlin fishing on the Pacific ocean?
Most resorts are happy to cook up what you catch as your dinner.
Take a Catamaran or Sailing Tour
A catamaran or sailing tour is the perfect way to explore this beautiful Pacific coast area. Some tours include snorkeling, sunset views, a meal, and cocktails.
Go Fly Fishing
We highly recommend this fun day trip with Captain Estaban on his 14’ NRS inflatable outboard rafts along the Tempisque and Corobici rivers.
During the trip you will target Rainbow and Striped Bass, Machaca (Mini Tarpon), and Snook.
It’s so fun!
Visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Rincon de la Vieja is a great spot to visit if you would like to see a volcanic activity up close and personal. There are also tons of adventure activities to do in this area.
We have. a complete guide to Rincon de la Vieja for more info.
Take an ATV Tour
ATV tours will get your adrenaline pumping and can be a great way to explore some off-road destinations in the Guanacaste region.
Visit Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
This is an impressive nearby waterfall that you can swim under. It is the perfect family-friendly day trip.
If you have a car, this is something you can easily do on your own.
Check out our Llanos de Cortez guide for more info.
Visiting Papagayo Costa Rica as a Day Trip
If you would like to visit the beautiful Papagayo beaches as a day trip, that is possible. We tested this out recently to get the insider details for you.
By law, all Costa Rican beaches need to be accessible to the public for free. Because the resorts take up the property along the Papagayo coast, it is not possible for outside guests to easily get to the beaches.
So, to comply with the law, the resorts needed to find a way around this. The result was setting up a free public parking lot at the entrance to Papagayo.
When you enter Papagayo Peninsula and see this sign, follow the directions for “Visitantes Playa”
If you would like to visit for the day you can park your car at a lot here. The lot didn’t seem to be well guarded, so it is always best not to leave anything valuable in your car.
From here, you can take a bus that stops at the different beaches along the coast. Here is a sign showing your beach options.
Playa Nacascolo and Playa Blanca are by far the easiest to access.
The bus runs consistently throughout the day until about 5pm, so in theory, you could check out all the beaches and make it a full day.
When we were there, there were some vendors selling food and drinks on the beach, but we were there on Good Friday which is probably the busiest beach day in Costa Rica, so I’m not sure if there are always food vendors.
Also, keep in mind that this is all free.
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Papagayo Costa Rica Restaurants
All restaurants in this area are in the upper price bracket. However, all of these places are excellent and worth the price tag.
Abbocato – Everything here is excellent. This is one of our favorite dinner spots.
The Dive Bar – The Dive Bar is definitely not an actual “dive bar”. It is located next to the marina for a nice dinner with an ocean view. They serve delicious fresh food.
Rio Bhongo – You can not beat the views and atmosphere of this restaurant located in the Andaz Resort.
Nemare – Located next to the gold course at the Four Seasons, here you can enjoy large portions of seafood, fish, steak, and more.
Poro Poro – Located next to the Four Seasons resort, this place serves fresh seafood, fish, and more. I would classify this as extremely elevated Costa Rican food.
Papagayo Costa Rica Hotels
If you are looking for a luxury experience, this is the place for it. All accommodations are actually resorts. Some are all-inclusive and for adults only.
There are only three resorts actually located on the Papagayo Peninsula. These are:
Planet Hollywood -This is the perfect super fun family resort destination. It just opened in late 2018 so everything is modern and top-notch.
The property has multiple restaurants, multiple bars, a kids club, pools, beach access, and more!
If you are traveling with kids, this place will be so much fun for the entire family.
Andaz Papagayo – The Andaz by Hyatt is a luxury hotel at its finest. Everything here feels perfect.
Andaz is great because it offers an upscale experience for couples or families. For example, there is a swimming pool reserved just for adults as well as one for families. Also, it is possible to stay here as an all-inclusive resort or to opt for a lower-cost option in which meals are not included.
The Four Seasons – This is often considered the most luxurious of resorts in Costa Rica. In fact, many famous faces have stayed here in the past including the Kardashians, Beyonce & Jay Z, and Justin Bieber.
The property has four restaurants, four pools, two private beaches, and more!
If you would like a nearby resort on the Gulf of Papagayo. We suggest:
The property has four restaurants, one cafe, five bars, 24-hour dining services, a fitness center, spa, beach access, yoga classes, and so much more!
El Mangroove – The property has two restaurants, spa, beach access, a beautiful pool, and more! Also, the grounds here are beautiful. You will feel so secluded in luxury.
Vacation Rentals in Papagayo
We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.
Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.
$2 Million Dollar 3bd Condo – Sleeps 12 guests in three bedrooms. We like this place because it is on the Four Seasons property so you can enjoy a lot of the benefits of the resort property at a lower price point. Plus, the owners are beyond helpful.
Casa Armadillo – A seven-bedroom villa that sleeps up to 12 guests. This house is seriously beautiful and boasts an infinity pool with Pacific Ocean views.
Casa Pericos – A five-bedroom villa that can sleep up to 13 guests. The house has amazing views of the peninsula and the Arnold Palmer Signature Gold Course.
Papagayo Travel Tips
If you are looking for luxury, this area will always be our number one spot for you. We think it is the perfect honeymoon destination.
This area is really safe (especially within resorts), but always keep an eye on your belongings.
Keep in mind that Costa Rica as a whole is an expensive country.
It will always be more affordable to stay in a resort in a place like the Dominican Republic or the Bahamas.
However, we think that the service, raw beauty of the landscape, and surrounding nature can’t be compared.
Packing for Papagayo Costa Rica
If you are traveling to Papagayo you are most likely staying at a resort.
Packing for here is a bit different than other places throughout the country.
We suggest a lot of sun protection, bathing suits, beach coverups, and non wrinkle clothes that are suitable for nice resort meals.
Also, keep in mind that it is often incredibly hot here.
Check out our Papagayo Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials.
Papagayo Costa Rica FAQ
Is Papagayo Costa Rica safe?
Papagayo, Costa Rica is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. It is a popular tourist area with security measures in place. However, as with any travel destination, it is always best to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings
How far is it from Papagayo to San Jose Costa Rica?
Papagayo is located approximately 220 kilometers (137 miles) northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city. The driving distance between the two places is typically around four to five hours, depending on the traffic conditions.
Can you swim at Papagayo Costa Rica?
Yes, you can swim at Papagayo, Costa Rica. The area is known for its beautiful beaches with clear waters that are perfect for swimming and water activities. Just always use caution.
What is Papagayo Costa Rica known for?
This area is known for its luxurious and upscale vibe. The area is dotted with high-end resorts, pristine golf courses, and upscale amenities, creating an atmosphere of sophistication and refinement.
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You Might Also Like Visiting
Playa Flamingo: Home to one of the nicest white sand beaches in the country and condo-style resorts
Las Catalinas: A car-free beach community that is home to several luxury accommodation options
Playa Hermosa: A family-friendly beach town near the Liberia Airport
….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Guanacaste Province for more ideas of places to visit in this area.