Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica

Jutting out from Costa Rica’s north westerly province of Guanacaste, the Gulf of Papagayo makes no secret of its vibrant wildlife: snorkelling trips reveal green sea turtles, polka-dot striped rays and lipstick-red starfish, and back on land, Capuchin monkeys play boisterously among fluoro-plumed parakeets. The peninsula has no fewer than 20 beaches – just pick your preferred sand colour from the options of gray, white and volcanic black; if you’re not one for a neighbours, rent kayaks or paddle boards for the day to discover hidden stretches of sand to claim as your own. The Gulf of Papagayo seems destined for relaxing stays, but if you’re hoping things will heat up a little after sundown, head to Playas del Coco and order a round of Chili Guaros – fiery shots containing Cacique Guaro, a sugarcane liquor – for an instant beach party.

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When to go

Costa Rica’s dry season is from December to April, so if you’re hoping to lounge on beaches or trek through forest without a poncho, this is the time to go. It’s quieter from May to November, but you’ll be taking a gamble with the weather; days often start well enough, but it's common for rain to set in come afternoon.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    The closest airport is in Liberia, and there are some direct flights from airports in the US, including Los Angeles; otherwise, connect in San José. The Smith24 Team can book flights on request; call around the clock.