Experience Costa Rica's tradition of pottery

Clay
Clay "torno" work station in Las palomas, Santa Ana

Guanacaste is known for its folk art, cuisine and music. Before the Spanish settlers arrived, the Chorotega Indians inhabited this region on the Pacific coast. Although most major tourist activities tend to center around the volcanoes, mountains and beaches, visitors who want to experience true Costa Rica culture should make sure to explore the small towns in the region that offer other specialty items to enjoy, like Costa Rica pottery.

Guaitil, located in the Guanacaste province, is linked to Santa Cruz by bus. It’s just a 12km trip to this authentic Costa Rican town that is known for its tradition of pottery. Costa Rica pottery created in Guaitil has been made the same way for centuries: First, the clay is harvested from the mountains. The clay has to be dried and pounded into a powder before it can be used in pottery. It is mixed with iguana sand, a fine freshwater sand where iguanas lay their eggs. The dry ingredients are mixed with water to create a soft clay that is shaped on a pottery wheel or with the same kinds of tools that the artisans’ ancestors may have used, such as a corn cob, a knife, wire and wood sticks. Potters who make these beautiful pieces have been practicing their craft for years. In some cases, they learned at the knees of their parents.

This exquisite pottery is known for its natural, earthy colors, including tan, black and red ochre. The secrets of the style are closely guarded, but the pieces are all hand-produced and painted by villagers. Each piece goes through a lengthy process from malleable clay to firing in the kiln. Proceeds from this pottery allows the village to be self-sustaining. It’s not made with electricity or using modern techniques, which makes it unique.

Guaitil Traditional Cuisine

The pottery is not the only tradition worth mentioning in Guaitil. The village specializes in regional dishes that use fresh, local ingredients, like corn. Atol de maíz is a fresh beverage made of starchy, Central American corn. Tamal de elote, a corn tamale, is another popular dish. Try the local drink, vino de coyol, which is an alcoholic beverage extracted from the local palm trees. If you’re a foodie, the flavors of Costa Rica food that are found in Guaitil are definitely worth tasting.

Local Attractions

In Guaitil, the town park acts as a town market. You can mingle with the villagers and visitors as you take in the local wares. Interact with the villagers and make yourself at home. Shop for a piece of pottery to take home as a reminder of your Costa Rica vacation. With its unique items and friendly people, Guaitil offers one of the best Costa Rica shopping experiences in the country.

You’ll find many accommodations and activities in the area. It’s close to the Palo Verde National Park is also close to Guaitil. Birdwatchers consider this one of the best places in the world for migratory birds. Although over 250,000 birds reside here in the rainy season, the best time to visit is the dry season from January to April. Birds are more visible because there is less vegetation to obscure your view.

Come Explore Guaitil

Enjoy the national pride of Costa Rica when you explore Guaitil. From the pottery to the food and local attractions, there’s no better place to see the richness of Costa Rica. Since Guaitil is easily accessible from Santa Cruz, take a day trip here to experience traditional Costa Rica shopping, cuisine and culture.

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