The best way to explore the many beautiful beaches along The Gold Coast of Guanacaste is by boat. Popular beaches are Hermosa, Coco, Ocotal, Flamingo, Conchal, Grande, Tamarindo, Avellana, Negra, Junquillal, Manzanillo and Ostional. These all have road access, hotels, restaurants, bars and water sport activities which can get busy with tourists during High Season. As you will discover by water, there are literally hundreds of tiny inlets with pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear water. These are often difficult to get to or totally inaccessible by land. Fishing boat and sailboat captains know every inch of the shoreline and can take you to remote spots along the coast to their favorite fishing places or ideal snorkeling locations. You can enjoy the quiet beauty of nature and be completely undisturbed by fellow travelers. You can also take a panga to shore to swim and have a private picnic on the beach.
Some of the best diving in Costa Rica is right off the shore of Playa Flamingo at the Catalina Islands. About 3 million years ago the entire area was a huge volcanic crater and the remnants of that crater form a ring of basalt islands that are spectacular dive spots. What makes the Catalina’s a favorite among scuba divers is the chance of seeing the pacific giant manta ray. This is the biggest species of Mantas in the world. In addition to mantas, a huge variety of other marine life can be seen; white tip reef sharks, several other species of rays, a few types of turtles, lots of morays, sea snakes, and a plethora of fish. Less common, but possible, there are sometimes whale sharks, tiger sharks, humpback whales, and in a few instances even orca whales have been spotted in these waters. During your surface intervals you will be amazed by the devil rays which use the waters around the Catalina Islands as a playground. You will frequently see these creatures launching and flipping several feet out of the water coming down with a splash. The location of the islands, paired with the currents, the shape and contours of the islets, as well as the depth, make these islands a fantastic spot for large amounts of marine life to gather, and well within recreational diving limits.
Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, or states. Casa Las Brisas is located on the NW Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste, which is named for the national tree of Costa Rica. The Guanacaste, or Elephant Ear tree (pictured above), is majestic and immense, characterized by it’s spherical crown. Cows, goats and sheep will often be seen lying under it’s shade during the hot, sunny afternoons. History says it was chosen in part to symbolize the protection that the people of Costa Rica receive from their government! The wood’s stunning natural color and grain make it ideal for furniture but it is illegal to cut it without permits. We are proud to have designed a custom front door crafted from this beautiful hardwood as a welcoming entrance to our home.
The Pochote tree is distinguishable by a trunk that is covered in sharp spines that project
an inch or more, keeping hungry predators from climbing up its trunk. This native tree is cultivated for use as lumber as it grows straight and tall. The wood of the pochote is white as opposed to the dark grains of teak (see below). It is used to make furniture, cabinets and veneers.
The very popular Teak tree is not native to Costa Rica but grows very well
there, so it is frequently grown on commercial plantations. It is in high demand around the world, so it has become a major export for Costa Rica, attracting a lot of investors. One of the first things I fell in love with when we first looked at Casa Las Brisas was the soaring, beamed teak ceilings in the main room and the main floor Master Suite.
Costa Rica is the country with the largest woody bamboo diversity in Central America. Bamboo is known as the plant of thousand uses. It is versatile, flexible and very strong. It is mostly used in construction, gardening, fishing, furniture and utensils. We found it is ideal as a cane ceiling material. It is harvested, cut, soaked to kill insects, and then dried and treated. The outdoor cane ceilings on the upper terrace and around the pool are all bamboo.
Although mainly used for it’s timber, the Cortez Amarillo, or
Golden Trumpet tree, is found all around the grounds of the house and is a spectacular flowering tree in the dry season. It drops it’s leaves and the entire tree turns bright yellow until the flowers fall to the ground, creating a bright yellow glow.
A giant in the rainforest and one of the more unique trees is actually distinguished by it’s
unusual trunk. The Kapok can grow as much as 13 feet per year and tops out around 200 feet. It has multiple buttresses that sometimes extend 10 feet around its base. It’s wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings and canoes. Soaps can be made from it’s oils and other parts of it are used as medicines. Common in Costa Rica, we have also seen it in Brazil, and for indigenous tribes this tree was holy.
There are countless other interesting and beautiful trees but these are a few favorites because many of them are a part of Casa Las Brisas and contribute to the unique beauty of the beach house.
Needless to say, the last few months have been a huge struggle for everyone around the world. Quarantine at home all alone or with extended family each pose challenges that we have never had to deal with in the past. We have all missed many activities we used to take for granted, and will be ready to embrace again once it is safe to do so. Travel is at the top of the list!
Renowned international media such as Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveler, Matador Network, Canadian Traveler, Profession Voyages, Forbes, El Mundo de España, among others, have highlighted Costa Rica as a destination to consider once the crisis passes. Even Good Morning America highlighted the story of a British family who recreated the Costa Rican rain forest at home after canceling their trip to our country.
Costa Rica is the best country for travelers looking for great experiences. “We are the world leader in nature tourism and the second in adventure tourism, according to the World Economic Forum. The tourist who visits us has a variety of options to do throughout the country. Activities such as canopy zip lining, white water rafting, hiking, surfing and scuba diving are just a few, which are also combined with cultural elements and authentic unique experiences,” said Shirley Calvo, executive director of the National Tourism Chamber (Canatur). This was also reflected in a TripAdvisor ranking in which “Worldwide, Costa Rica proved to be the favorite destination for travel, ranking first in the list of countries”. – CostaRicaNews.com
When You are Ready to Travel, Casa Las Brisas is Ready for You! Renting a private villa with stunning ocean views is the ideal spot for a family vacation. Having privacy and far less contact with other travelers and staff is a tremendous plus. Balance crowded hotel lobbies, elevators, hotel restaurants and community pool versus having your own spacious vacation home with a huge kitchen, private pool and little to no interaction with others required. Casa Las Brisas is the perfect beach house for your family vacation!
Without a doubt, Costa Rica is a small country that offers big experiences to all. Although we do not know when the social confinement will end, we can assure you that once this period passes, this beautiful country will welcome you with open arms and the warmth and kindness of it’s people.
The particular area of Costa Rica where Casa Las Brisas is located is known as The Gold Coast. There are countless beaches, each with their own unique features and vibe. Some are renowned for surfing, others are more secluded and calm, some are ideal for boogie boarding and body surfing and others are lined with palms and banyan trees to escape the sun to read a good book or take a nap. Many are covered with shells of every description, some have almost none. There are white sand beaches and black sand beaches. Whatever your mood, there is a perfect beach for you to discover and enjoy.
I may be partial, but…Playa Flamingo embodies so many of the great things I look for in a beach; 1 mile of pristine, white sand, lava outcroppings on each end, gentle surf allows for paddle boarding, kayaking and body surfing, ideal for early morning walks before coffee, tree lined so I can set up my beach chairs and cooler, and very few other people to intrude on my serenity. It has been ranked as the #2 beach in all of Costa Rica, with Playa Conchal directly across the bay ranked #1. Casa Las Brisas is perched on a hillside directly above Flamingo and has stunning panoramic views of Brasilito and Conchal to the south.
But even I like to have a change once in awhile, so it’s easy to drive 5-10 minutes in either direction to find just the right one for the day. All the beaches are open to the public, but some are only accessed by driving down a twisted, bumpy dirt road in the middle of nowhere, but all of a sudden it opens up and you are in a pristine, lovely spot, frequently with only a handful of other people, and maybe a few dogs.
“It’s true. I’ve spent some time in Tamarindo and Playas del Coco, but if you look at the coastline between them — Playas Grande, Conchal, Brasilito, Flamingo, Potrero, Pan de Azúcar and Danta — you’ll find a microcosm of almost everything Costa Rica has to offer within a half-hour drive.” – Travel writer for Tico Times 2016
The Resource Book at Casa Las Brisas has an entire section devoted to neighboring beaches and how to reach them. The beach house has coolers, boogie boards, beach chairs and towels so all you need is sunscreen, a good book, beer and ice!
On our very first visit to Costa Rica, way back in 2003, we hired a private guide who took us up to Rincon de la Vieja to the Borinquen Mountain Resort & Spa . It’s located in the mountain range just north of the Liberia airport about an hour drive from our beachfront vacation home, Casa Las Brisas. Since there are so many activities to choose from at the resort, it’s best to make a day of it.
We began with the Canopy Tour zipline which is a series of ziplines starting high above the jungle canopy, zigzagging over gorges and waterfalls before ending at the bottom. The guides are very experienced and reassuring. It’s an exhilarating experience that is a great family adventure suitable for older children and grandparents alike.
Once our feet were back on solid ground we rode on horseback up through the forest to a hidden waterfall. We then took a sauna in a hut perched over bubbling water heated by the volcano, then slathered ourselves with grey volcanic mud and ended up in warm mineral baths. This was all followed by a delicious lunch in their open air restaurant. What a day! My only regret was not having enough time to schedule a spa treatment, but that can be for another time.
For a cool YouTube video about the Borinquen Resort, click the link below.
This perfect rainbow, puffy Cumulus clouds and shimmering Pacific signal brighter times ahead. Flashback to last May; this was taken from our upper terrace at Casa Las Brisas after a week of thunderstorms and high winds. Instead of sipping our customary morning coffee outside in the rocking chairs listening to the parrots chatter or watching whales frolic in the ocean, we spent our days indoors reading, playing cards, watching movies and cooking a lot of great food (and maybe lots of day drinking…) Hmm, this is sounding a lot like what we have all been doing for the past month during these difficult times of social distancing and quarantine. But then one morning we woke up to a lovely sunny day and this huge rainbow parked right over the ocean in Flamingo Bay off our terrace. It signaled the end of the stormy weather and the return to our normal beach life and days filled with hikes, golf, lunches at our favorite restaurants, lazing around the pool, and maybe more day drinking:)
The lovely white sand beaches are all currently closed in Costa Rica because of the quarantine in effect until April 30. But that hasn’t been much of a deterrent for the cattle here! This is a Brahman bull who is quite happy having the run of the beach to himself. Literally to himself, as you can see the beach and Potrero Bay in the background are totally deserted, per government order. This normally would be one of the busiest tourist weeks with Semana Santa (Holy Week) being the most important holiday for Costa Ricans.
Brahman cattle are most common in Guanacaste because of the arid terrain. They are raised mainly for beef and are grass fed, making them lanky and thin. I love their sweet faces and those long soft ears. The cattle farmers frequently move the herds down the beaches to avoid conjestion on the narrow roadways. But that doesn’t mean you won’t round a turn and find 5 or 6 or these beauties standing in the road completely unconcerned about making way for your car!
We think Playa Flamingo is just like heaven. This photo was taken July 31, 2018 right after a brief storm swept across the bay and the sun broke through the clouds. Truly stunning. Deep sea fishing is great right now, the golf courses are lush, the beaches are not crowded and the drinks are always cold. Temps are mild and sunny, with the occasional afternoon rain that clears up and leaves you with sunsets just like this beauty. Green Season rates at Casa Las Brisas are in effect through October, so come stay at Casa Las Brisas and experience your own slice of heaven. #casalasbrisascostarica #ilovethebeach