A trip to Naranjo Beach will have you entering Guanacaste’s Santa Rosa National Park as it is part of this grand national park. It isn’t just a simple day out at the beach which makes it a bit more elusive and part of the adventure. Less than an hour from Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport at the northwestern tip of the country is where you will find this unique national park. It weaves a tale of history and nature’s beauty against the backdrop of gorgeous Guanacaste, much more than a surfer’s destination.
Most visitors enter at the Santa Rosa sector as this is the most popular featuring one of Costa Rica’s important historic sites. By accessing this sector’s entrance, you are met at the site of the country’s 1856 Battle of Santa Rosa and La Casona which is where the battle occurred. It has evolved into a museum to preserve the integrity of what took place giving you the chance to learn about the significance of the location with respect to the country and its people.
The site offers information to visitors in both Spanish and English. Costa Rica’s army at the time was able to surprise William Walker’s resting group of filibusters who had entered Costa Rica and had them retreat back to Nicaragua within a mere 14 minutes. A wondrous and proud defeat for the country and its independence.
The park is not only historic in what so proudly took place here but is historic in the fact that it is Costa Rica’s first designated national park. It is highly recommended to travel in a 4 x 4 car to be making your way within the bumpy stone roads of the park. The park offers signage advising of the state of the road and recommends even walking due to the conditions. You will want a good pair of sturdy shoes to make your way around the park and the trails. During the rainy season, you may want to check that the roads are open as they often close due to the heavy rains making them impassable.
Tropical Dry Forest
Santa Rosa National Park is an extensive area protecting the largest area of tropical dry forest in the country. Proudly boasting mangroves, savannah, marshlands, and forests of deciduous trees the area will have you marveling in the scenery. Home to the several different species of trees you can have a chance to see the country’s national tree, the Guanacaste tree.
As it is a dry forest, the trees lose their leaves through the warm, dry summer months of the country and as the season progresses you will find that the trees become less full. The scenery will change through the seasons and if you are looking for more shade from the heat and less barren surroundings you may want to visit before the season progresses too much or during the rainy season.
There is plenty of wildlife living in the forests of the park with coati, armadillos, and white-tailed deer roaming the terrain. Along with coyotes, tapirs, and ocelots being seen within the grounds. Up upon the branches are monkeys, parrots, and parakeets. There are several different hiking trails to explore which you can use your 4 x 4 to help you get around.
The trails make for great bird watching especially with the different ecosystems within the park. Countless interesting and important birds are flying throughout the trails from trogons, motmots, wrens, sparrows, flycatchers to hawks and hummingbirds. If making your way to Naranjo Beach to enjoy the sandy beach you will see plenty of coastal birds.
Naranjo Beach was once a clandestine goldmine of legendary surf breaks but after the 90s release of Endless Summer II, the secret was out and seasoned wave riders were ready for a new adventure. At times though it can feel like a deserted beach, unpopulated from the crowds of tourists because of the location far from the country’s capital.
Those that have come out for a day at Naranjo Beach are often out on the water waiting for the next wave leaving the shores with open space. But it is not only the experienced and dedicated surfer that Naranjo Beach caters to but to those wanting a beach experience free of hotels and souvenir shops. Relishing in the remoteness of the beach and the quest it took to find the shores of paradise.
What is more memorable than the swells is the solitary giant boulder hauntingly set out into the water. Witch’s Rock (Roca Bruja) is a mysterious and stunning rock jetting out of the ocean’s waters fabled in stories from the past when it used to howl serenading any within kilometers that could hear the haunting sound. When the tide was low the wind would blow through echoing through the crack in the rocky formation.
There is a cost to enter Santa Rosa National Park which is $15 for foreign non-residents and only 1, 100 colones for residents and nationals with daily opening hours from 8 am until 3: 30 pm. It is important to remember that the park lies in one of the hottest and driest areas in Costa Rica. You will want to ensure you have plenty of sunscreen and a hat to help you through your day. The national park does offer a designated camping site which is just $4 per person per night in addition to the park’s entrance fee which can be accommodated through the ranger station.
You cannot build campfires within the park, but they do provide a barbeque and lunch area and an area to shower, a type of back-to-nature style of camping. A great way to spend time in an unpopulated protected natural site. If you aren’t looking for a rustic night in nature, there are plenty of hotels and resorts in the Guanacaste region so that you don’t have to miss out on a day exploring Santa Rosa National Park and many will even offer a tour of the park.
Naranjo Beach is well worth the effort to reach this breathtaking beach and journey through Santa Rosa National Park. With all great adventures, come some of the best memories. To sit along the remote stretch of beach surrounded by just the country’s rugged beauty with the mystical Witch’s Rock protruding from the open water is a feeling like none other.