Santa Cecilia, Guanacaste

National Geographic magazine named Costa Rica as the happiest country in the world. Residents are caring people who have a simple philosophy of life - “Pura Vida,” which means pure life in literal translation. However, it denotes a life free of stress and positive relaxed feeling. There are plenty of reasons to make Costa Rica your next vacation destination. Santa Cecilia, while not on the list of top 10 destinations in Costa Rica, is a great place to enjoy nature and the beauty of the country.

The small district of Santa Cecilia sits on the Pacific coastline and borders Nicaragua. It might span more than 257-square kilometers, but has a population of only 6,500. It’s a secluded area in the La Cruz canton, but it’s close to many popular destinations in Costa Rica. Nature lovers have a host of great experiences waiting in this area. Whether you’re traveling for a relaxing vacation, wanting to explore the bio-diversity of Costa Rica or hoping to get a glimpse of the culture, Santa Cecilia has a lot to offer.

Guanacaste National Park

This national park is part of the Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site, a set of multiple parks which have been preserved not only for their natural resources, but also for their historic value. Guanacaste National Park is approximately 340 square kilometers. It’s home to over 140 species of mammals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Birds, amphibians and reptiles are also very prominent, and it’s estimated there are over 3,000 species of plants within its borders. The climates of the park are just as varied. At lower elevations, you’ll find dry forests, while as you hike into higher elevations, you’ll find cloud forests. One trail will take you to the Orosi Volcano, where you can see pre-Columbian petroglyphs.

The park is open from 7:30 am to 5 pm daily, with guided tours available. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, bird-watching and photography when you’re there. The natural habitats are unique. Many species are endangered or vulnerable, such as the Baird’s tapir, white-lipped peccary, mangrove hummingbird and great green macaw.

Pitilla Biological Station

This biological station is part of a larger organization established to promote and facilitate the work of ecotourists, researchers and students. Pitilla Biological Station is set on a slope foothill rainforest site that is virtually undisturbed by modern technology. It offers about 12 km of trails to explore the habitats. From May to February, it gets about 4 m of rain. Even the 2-month dry season is anything but. It can be treacherous to get to the station after heavy rains, but it’s typically accessible with a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

PBS is occupied full-time by caretakers and parataxonomists, scientists who work in the field of classification. The dormitory has no electricity, but does have clean water for showers and drinking. It’s fairly primitive, again a demonstration of how untouched this area is. But it sits in the volcanic foothills of Cerro Oorosilito, which makes it one of the best ecological sites in the area.

A Sparsely Populated Region

Although Santa Cecilia does not have the bells and whistles of a bigger city, it offers much more culture than you may guess. The small cafes and restaurants feature local cuisine made by residents who have recipes dating back generations in their family. You can experience life in a quiet village of Costa Rica and get up close and personal with nature.

Costa Rica has some of the most progressive environmental policies for sustainability in the world, but it also stands as the most visited nation in Central America. The Ethical Traveler named it as one of the World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations. There’s a lot to learn when you visit this small country that offers a wide range of activities and climates.

Guanacaste Escape Adventure Tour
7 Days / 6 Nights
Starting at $779 per person
Costa Rica Beach & National Park Tour
14 Days / 13 Nights
Starting at $2,091 per person

Where to Stay near Santa Cecilia

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Casa Chameleon Hotel at Las Catalinas
Starting at $375 / night
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Playa Grande Park Hotel and Villas
Starting at $77 / night
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Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas
Starting at $66 / night
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Occidental Tamarindo
Starting at $136 / night all inclusive
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Seis Playas Hotel
Starting at $100 / night
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Occidental Papagayo - Adults Only
Starting at $144 / person per night all inclusive
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The Grateful Hotel
Starting at $80 / night

Things to Do near Santa Cecilia

Featured Activity
Palo Verde Jungle Boat Tour with Lunch
Starting at $120 / person
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Coyote Sportfishing Tamarindo
Starting at $475 / Day
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Del Mar Surf Camp - Nosara
Starting at $65 / person