Guanacaste Province is in the northwestern corner of the country near the Nicaraguan border. It is the site of many of Costa Rica's sunniest and most popular beaches, including Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Tamarindo, and the Papagayo Peninsula. Scores of beach destinations, towns, and resorts are along this long string of coastline. As many foreigners have chosen to build beach houses and retirement homes here, Guanacaste has experienced considerable development over the years. You won't find a glut of Cancún-style high-rise hotels, but condos, luxury resorts, and golf courses have sprung up all up and down the coastline here. Still, you won't be towel-to-towel with thousands of strangers. On the contrary, you can still find long stretches of deserted sands. However, more and more travelers are using Liberia as their gateway to Costa Rica, bypassing San José and the central and southern parts of the country entirely.
With about 165cm (65 in.) of rain a year, this region is by far the driest in the country and has been likened to west Texas. Guanacaste province is named after the shady trees that still shelter the herds of cattle roaming the dusty savanna here. In addition to cattle ranches, Guanacaste has semiactive volcanoes, several lakes, and one of the last remnants of tropical dry forest left in Central America.