Playa Junquillal Area Activities


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Deep Sea Fishing for sailfish, blue marlin, black marlin (February – March is the best time), yellow-fin tuna, wahoo, dorado, and roosterfish is excellent in the area: 



Ovidio and Sons have lived in nearby Playa Callejones and have fished professionally all of their lives in this area. They are out fishing almost every day, chartered or not.  Ovidio is a good choice if you would like a value price and don’t mind going out in a smaller 24 ft boat.  The equipment seems good, featuring two new 90HP outboard motors. The family speaks very little English and are quiet to boot, but they really know how to and don’t mind working hard to catch fish.  The language barrier will get in the way less than you might think.  On my first outing we brought back enough yellow fin tuna to share with the Las Brisas residents.  On my wife’s first  time in the landing chair she bagged a 280 LBs Marlin, look at THAT SMILE! 

But it’s not just about the fishing, we saw jumping dolphin and sting rays, sea turtles, sea birds and the scenery was pinch yourself awesome.  Ask a Las Brisas owner how to find Ovidio’s place in order to make arrangements.  Last I checked, the boat, maximum of four fishermen, was $300 for a “long” ½ day and $450 for a full day, tip, lunch and drinks not included.  Pack sandwiches, cut fruit and drinks for your crew, the captain and the mate.  (+506) 8832-0685 “Spanish only”




Tranquilamar Sportfishing in Playa Ocotal has been recommended.

(+506) 2670-0400


Many other boats are available. Please check the WEB.


Surf Fishing - Playa Junquillal



When there are fish to be caught the locals are on the beach catching them for food.  On Sundays it’s a Tico family affair; fishing, swimming in the tide pools and picnics.  I suggest that you watch and learn.  Needless to say I still have a lot to learn about hand line casting.  You swing the lure rapidly around your head and let go at the right time.  I think the fish are too busy laughing to bite.  When you do catch a fish it’s only about 600 feet to the kitchen.  Now that is fresh fish!




This north Pacific coastal area was featured in the classic surf film “Endless Summer II”.   I’m not personally qualified to review the local conditions but the surfers I meet all seem to have smiles on their faces.  When you rent the 4x4 vehicle ask for a surfboard rack (bring your own straps) so you can explore the possibilities.  In Playa Junquillal there are a number of breaks (one pictured above) and one slightly further north at Playa Blanca just north of Hotel Iguanazul.  The famous surf beaches of Playa Negra and Playa Avellanas are very close and a “must do” trip.  Both are nice beaches with bar / restaurants nearby but Playa Negra has more advanced surf conditions making Avellanas more swim able for non-surfing accomplices.  The notable Playa Langosta, Playa Tamarindo and Playa Grande are close enough for a day trip.  Playa Langosta is an estuary break with some rocks and requires more expertise.  Witches Rock is best reached by boat trip.  It looks like there could be spots further south of Las Brisas also.  The beach at Marbella to the south is a locals secret surf spot to give one example.  Be sure to have a look at the local Map on this WEB site for reference.  Lurenz, the Tico former owner of the glassy Surf Shops in Santa Cruz and Tamarindo, Costa Rica, has a place in the Las Brisas complex.  All things considered, Las Brisas del Mar would make an ideal base camp for the surfers, with slightly higher maintenance significant others. 


Visit the Overhead Surf and others WEB sites for more surf information and travel tips: (Check out the Tide Charts)



Pargos Adventures located near Playa Negra will come right to Las Brisas to give lessons.  Javier Quiros’s lessons got a good review from 3 visiting couples.

+ 506 8356 2038 / 2652 9136



During the months of October through March, see the Endangered Leather Back Turtles or during the months of May through August, the smaller Ridley Turtles lay their eggs.  They seem to prefer well moon-light nights at high tide.  Also a deep water approach leading to steep white sand beaches is favored.  The females struggle to the beach, dig a hole with their flippers, lay their eggs, cover them up and then return to the ocean.  Wear dark clothes, do not shine light into their eyes or otherwise disturb them.  Only approach closer when the egg laying begins.  Generally it takes about 3-4 hours for the whole process.


Playa Junquillal is a turtle nesting beach that attracts a smaller number of turtles.  Enough although to be protected and patrolled by conservationists group CBP.  Notice the picture here of the marked turtle nest directly in front of Las Brisas.  One night I witnessed volunteers helping a mother turtle with egg laying directly in front of Bernardo's.  I also have seen the morning evidence of baby turtles digging out and making their way to the sea.  The community is doing its part to help the turtle population recover.  If you keep your eyes and ears open you might be lucky enough to experience this yourself.


Playa Grande Parque Nacional Marina las Baulas is located 100 meters east of Hotel las Tortugas.  Buy your tickets ($6) 8 AM – 5PM at the gate to the beach for a guided 6PM – 6AM beach visit.  While you are there, take time to visit El Mundo de la Tortuga (the world of the turtle museum) ($5). Later, stop by Hotel las Tortugas and have a talk with owner Louis Wilson. It will be an interesting discussion, I can almost guarantee.


However the following article seems to indicate things have changed at Parque Marina las Baulas:

“"We do not promote this as a turtle tourism destination anymore because we realize there are far too few turtles to please," said Álvaro Fonseca, a park ranger.”


The conservation effort has become controversial.  Who can argue about saving the turtles?  Titled beachfront land is being threatened with expropriation (eminent domain) but it appears the owners will be compensated at far below market value, 20% by one report, if at all.  Some of the actions of the Leatherback Trust and the WWF have been called into question recently.




Pinilla Canopy Tour

So we finally did it.  Much to the joy of 9 year old grandson Joey and the dismay of 6 year old granddaughter Macy we booked our first zip line tour.  There generations went and I have to say at least the oldest (me) and the youngest (Macy) were a little nervous.  I felt compelled to go first and use my advanced mass to test the lines safety for the grandkids.  The first line is a short one, a trial to see if this adventure is for you.  Luckily Macy’s tears of fear turned into laughs part way into the tour of 8 cable runs, via sit harness and pulley, zipping tree platform to tree platform through the forest canopy.  Guides Abel and Eddy together with owner François did a great job of making the tour fun for everyone and safe.  $30/p if you come with your own transport and $35/p with round trip transportation.  It’s nearby Playa Junquillal, affordable and is a good introduction to zip lining.  Both kids asked, “Can we go again?”





Safaris Corobici, S.A.

Corobici River Rafting / Float Trips

Canas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

(+506) 2669-6191


Canyon de la Vieja Lodge

The complex offers River Kayaking, Zip Lines, Rock Climbing and Rappelling.  To get there proceed on Route #1 from the light at the Liberian central intersection and drive 5 km north then turn right (east) towards Rincon de la Vieja, watch for the Lodge behind a gray stone wall at about 3 km after the turn.  The Colorado Canyon river run is class 2 or 3 depending on the season with one guide & one guest per inflatable Kayak.  This is an exciting trip but not for the faint of heart or very young.  The total trip takes about 1 ½ hours and costs $45 per person.  Unless you have a waterproof camera let Martin Blanco, the lodge’s photographer, document your trip as he did ours (picture on the left).  A changing room and showers are available as is the hotel safe for valuables.

Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

(+506) 2665-5912






Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

+506-2690-2900 +506-2690-2900

On property: Rio Negro Hot Springs

Tour times: Open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily

Tour duration: As long as you like; usually 2 hours

Day visitors: USD $20 adults (12+ years) / USD $15 children (4-11 years)

On property: Rio Negro Tubing Adventure

Tour times: 8:30 AM / 10:30 AM / 1:30 PM (includes horseback riding); 9:20 AM / 2:20 PM (vehicle transport to the river)

Tour duration: 2.5 – 3 hours

Tour Prices: USD $55 adults (18+ years) / USD $45 students (12-17 years) /

USD $35 children (8-11 years)

* Please note: Children must be at least 8 years old to go on the Rio Negro Tubing Adventure.


EL SOL VERDE Lodge & Campground

telephone: (+ 506) 2665 5357

cellphone: (+ 506) 8357 4593


Rancho Curubande' Lodge

(+506) 2665-0375



Rincon de la Vieja

Santa Rosa National Park

Palo Verde National Park

Barra Honda National Park

Diriá National Forest Wildlife Refuge











Tempisque Safari is part of the Conservation Area of the Tempisque Lowlands, bordering the Tempisque River, alongside Palo Verde National Park, in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica.  Originally a San Jose’s families get away farm in the country but the Patriarch’s love of animals literally turned the place into a zoo over time.  Some animals are caged (some cages you can enter, see picture) and some roam free right along side the guests.  Definitely bring your camera and with a long lens if you have one.  Possibilities are a guided tour of the zoo, ox cart ride, Tempisque river boat tour and lunch.  The larger the group the lower the cost per person.  Contact them to plan the trip and negotiate the price.  To get there take highway 21 towards Nicoya. Turn east away from Nicoya at the main light towards Bara Honda.  Continue past Puerto Humo and 1 Km past Rosario and watch for signs.


Tel: (506)698-1069

San Jose: (506) 289-4121

Fax: (506)289-9440



Samara Trails - Great Hiking Excursion in Playa Samara  This sounds interesting, we are going to have to try this.




Exciting full-day or half-day Snorkel & Sail, Sunset Sailing Cruises or Private Charters:


Hotel El Velero, Playa Hermosa (Just North of Playa Coco) was $60 Day, $40 Sunset per person. 4 person minimum

It seems this is the Hotel owner’s sailboat.

(506) 672-0016


Marlin del Rey, Playa Tamarindo

$xx Day, $xx Sunset per person

(506) 8842-3204


Marlin del Rey, Playa Tamarindo

(+506) 2653-1212


Blue Dolphin Catamaran Sailing Join my new friend Capitan Jeff in Tamarindo for the relaxing trip of your choice, as did the pictured fellow Las Brisas dwellers.  Plenty of good food, drinks and a free T-shirt are included with the trips.

Snorkel Sail - 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Price: $65

Sunset Sail - 1:00 PM to Sunset, Price: $75

Phone: +506 2653-0867 / +506 8842-3204






Beach volleyball in not big in Costa Rica… yet.  The best way to ensure a game at your level is to bring three players and a ball with you.  Playa Negra has a net on the beach as the Hotel owner, Lito, loves to play.  The best time to stop by is 4:00PM after the heat of the day.  I managed to get a few good doubles games with Chilean tourists on the court at the Father Rooster Restaurant in Playa el Ocotal one day.  The Barceló Playa Langosta Resort has a tourist-style net right on the beach at the estuary, but bring a water proof ball.  Guacamaya Lodge in Playa Junquillal has a court filled with river sand as removing beach sand is not legal.  They play Sunday afternoons, usually.  I suggest knee pads and foot protection for those with “winter” feet.  Stop in for a meal or a drink and ask when the next game is.  No doubt there is an optimum spot for a portable net on the north beach near Las Brisas Del Mar (but I have not as yet surveyed for it).  Playa Avellanas would be an excellent beach for a portable net if you have the players.



Funny thing, I spend summer weekends sitting on the beach in Delaware, USA but it's rare that I ever see anybody laying on the beach in Costa Rica.  This maybe is because they have not discovered the beach umbrella or aluminum beach chairs yet?  There is no reason you could not use our condo beach towels or the two teak sling chairs on the beach in front of the complex.  I recommend morning or after 3:00 PM.  The suns rays are very strong in Costa Rica because it's so near the equator.  Don't try to get a tan, as you will get one even if you try to avoid the sun. 


We do walk long miles on the beach, swim, fish and surf but sit at the pool in the shade or in the sun.  We just always seem to gravitate to sitting at the pool, as the ocean is right next-door also.  The ocean is 150 feet to the right the pool 6 feet to the left.  Take your pick where to take the refreshing dip. 


If the beach is your goal, may I also suggest some day beach trips so the scene varies?  Playa Negra, Playa Avellanas both are white sand surf beaches with lunch stands and bars.  There is a good chance you will see monkeys in the trees of Playa Avellanas as well.  There might be as many as six people at the pool of Las Brisas.  If you want to “avoid the crowd” there are nice spots within walking distance north and south.  The beach to the north in front of Bernardo's (Playa Junquillal Hotel) would again have lunch options and a bar.



Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course is a 7,500-yard, par 72 course.  It is the creation of Mike Young, who is responsible for some of the finest courses in the southern United States.  It is located on the back road to Tamarindo, approximately 25 minutes north of here. Greens fees are $85 to $185. Cart fee is $20 p/p.  Greens fees with member are $85 with a cart!!!  Club rental $40.  Replay Fees (9 or 18 holes) are reasonable.  Ask about the Saturday 8:00 AM golf handicap blind draw tourneys.  Breakfast, green/cart fees, range balls all for only $50, with prize money to the top three teams.  This golf course is part of a development that is owned and staffed by some very nice people.  Recommended!  Don’t forget the 19th hole stop at Playa Avellanas on the way home.

Contact the resident pro, Pro Jason Bauer, at Tel: (+506) 2680-7000 Fax: (+506) 2680-7002


Papagayo Golf and Country Club is located in Libertad, near Sardinal and about ten kilometers south-east of Playas del Coco, offers nine completed holes of an 18-hole golf course, there’s a practice tee, a driving range, and a club-house.  Nine holes of golf including mandatory and cart rental cost $20 for Members and $30 for Non-members.  Tel: (+506) 2697-0169  Fax: (+506) 2697-1306


Westin Playa Conchal Hotel Course part of the five star resort of the same name, is located just south of Playa Flamingo (formerly Paradisus Playa Conchal and Meliá Playa Conchal). This is a top-rated, 18- hole, par 72, 7,030-yard, championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II. The course is approximately a 45-minute drive north of here. Greens fees are $170 with cart, practice balls, cooler with complementary beverages, and sometimes they throw in a golf towel.  This resort is gated so call ahead for a confirmed tee time.  Scheduled to be closed to the public effective 1/1/06 unless you know a guest or a Conchal condo owner.

(+506) 2654-3500


Four Seasons Golf Club at Peninsula Papagayo is an Arnold Palmer signature golf course that boasts sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean on 14 of its 18 holes.  Greens fees are $180 with cart.  The course is about 70km away and hence only for the dedicated golf enthusiast staying at Las Brisas.  Here also you need to be a guest of a guest.


Royal Pacific Golf & Country Club Course in the Playa Grande area is a par 72, 6,802 yard, Ron Garl design. The course is approximately a 35-minute drive north of here. Greens fees are $30 low / $50 high season with cart. Club rental $5. (Closed, currently undergoing renovations??, but it looks like a lost dream to me) 



La Buena Cocina con Sibyl (The beautiful kitchen with Sybyl) is a very nice way to spend a few hours if you enjoy cooking.  Certified Chef Sibyl Altenkirch (left in this picture) will customize the cooking class for you.  Just work out the menu with her and she does the rest including the shopping.   The class, given in English, German or Spanish, can be held in her kitchen at Casas Pelicano, Playa Junquillal or in your kitchen if it’s well equipped.  The best part is it can also be a party.   My friend Sue and I cooked in her kitchen while our significant others played Sommeliers.  It ended up to be a nice afternoon, a learning experience and a multi course meal at a very reasonable price.


The approximate price for 1 cooking lesson of 4-5 hours for 1 persons is $ 100, add $25 each additional person, including all materials.


+506 (2658) 8228



This is absolutely a great area to hike on a beach that is still owned by nature.  Bring waterproof hiking sandals with good treads and lots of drinking water for this.  The sun is hot, so hats and sun-screen are a must.  I bring a backpack to carry the twenty-five pounds or so of unique shells the wife collects and the 12 rolls of film that I shoot each trip (slight exaggeration here).  It’s a 4 mile (6 Kilometer) walk north to the Playa Negra surf beach.  We like to leave in the morning and stop here at the Hotel for lunch and refreshments. On one hike during high season, we came across four visitors (pictured) and about 6 Ticos fishing on our 8 mile walk to and from Las Brisas del Mar.  There were 25 or so people on and around Playa Negra including the surfers and hotel restaurant workers.  If you are not up to the full hike Bernardo's and a Tico run Soda at Playa Callejones are along the way for rest stops.





















The alternate direction is a 2 miles (3 Kilometer) southward hike to the Playa Lagarto fishing village.  Here you have to ford the Rio Andamojo estuary so watch the time and tides.  The hiking is a more difficult at times due to rocks.











Paradise Riding Guided Tours offers you a variety of 2-hour or longer tours for beginners and experienced riders on the beach or in the backlands from $50-$70.  You can also make arrangements to rent a horse for a longer period.  Owner Erica and her riding buddy are pictured here.  The stable is located across from Bernardo’s (Playa Junquillal Hotel).  Her home is on the same road as the Guacamaya.  Watch for their sign located on the left side of the road, when driving from Las Brisas to Paraíso.  Alternately, you can make arrangements with Alice at the Guacamaya Hotel for their rides.  Personally my prior experience with horseback rides was not great.  Besides I’m a big guy and those poor Costa Rican horses are small.  I have to say I was a little worried when a guest first booked us on a ride and then picked the more advanced Big Mangrove Tour.  It all turned out well, as I lived to type this.  I expressed my inexperience and Erica and the sturdy horse Blanco took good care of me.  Blanco followed my instructions well unless I was asking him to do something stupid.  Having done this a few times before he simply took the alternate correct route.  I’m now a fan and will be back for more!  Wear long pants and sunscreen.

+506 (2658) 8162  Update: Sadly Erica has moved on.


On the beach under the trees in front of Barceló Playa Langosta Resort you will often find an independent Tico tour operator.  Take an impromptu ride or make an appointment.  I know of two very inexperienced riders who each had a personal guide and a great time for a very reasonable price. They even lived to tell the story!



At Playa Tamarindo’s north end is Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Tamarindo, a saltwater refuge. A two hour boat ride will take you deep within the mangrove estuary park to see a variety of birds, caymans basking in the sun and howler monkeys. Sometimes the trip also includes a guided hike midway to spot wildlife. Walk up to the boats in the estuary mouth and look interested.  It should cost about $12 for the ride plus a $6 national park admission during the ride, per person. This park admission goes to finance the park’s operation. Good value!



Well that’s what they call it in the States and some do it for a hobby.  In Costa Rica they call it back-road driving.  Pick any of the dark brown roads on my Map and you are there.  I have seen car sized pot holes.  Its more of a challenge during green season but beware of the river crossings as at times the rental car might not make it to the other side.




Opportunities abound!  Except as noted all pictures on this WEB site were taken by us using automatic, compact, film-type cameras.  I can’t wait to get some real equipment down here and rediscover a hobby from long ago.  Bring lots of film or memory, your longest telephoto lens and spare batteries, they are expensive in Costa Rica.



From Las Brisas head towards Santa Cruz.  The first stop is on the right near San Pedro.  Watch for Aserradero El Caimito (Sawmill The Caimito) offering woodcarving and pottery on the right.  The real gems here are the exotic hardwood carvings done by José Francisco Escalante (pictured).  Cocobolo, Cachimbo and more all very hard woods and he does this with a machete and sandpaper.  I debate if I’m more impressed by his reasonably priced carvings or the fact that he still has all his digits.  He also stocks some pottery.  Check it out and buy on the return trip from Guaitil if he has the pieces you like. 


Next is Santa Cruz,the Folkloric Capital of Costa Rica.  The Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market on the main square every Saturday morning brings activity to this town.


Also nearby is the town of Guaitil, where you'll see how artisans manufacture and color Indian pottery, using the same techniques used by their pre-Columbian ancestors, the Chorotega Indians.



Playa Callejones, San Juanillo, to the south, is a beautiful, white sand beach – great for snorkeling and swimming as well. The protected cove hosts the boats from this local fishing village.  Don’t attempt the old road which heads straight downhill to the beach.  The new road which is just past this is challenging enough.  While it’s hard to find a bad sunset on the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica this is one of the better spots to be for one.  Nearby for food and drink is the unusual and slightly expensive El Sueño restaurant and Buddha bar and a small Tico Soda just up the hill from the beach.



If you’re looking for nightly pumping dance clubs, frankly Playa Junquillal is not the place.  Bernardo’s does host dances complete with DJ, large sound & lights systems from time to time.  Otherwise those visitors that are not worn out early from the day,s activities can find lower key entertainment at the local establishments.  Check the food link for Hotel Iguanazul, Bernardo's, Guacamaya Lodge.  Ask around, as the “hot spot” seems to move night to night.



Las Brisas del Mar beachfront vacation condo in Playa Junquillal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica !

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