Tourism in Costa Rica is growing rapidly and it’s important for the visitors to know that there are 2 Costa Rica Airports where they can land: the San Jose International Airport which is the main and busiest airport of the country; and the Liberia International Airport, located in the North Pacific Region in the Province of Guanacaste and close to a beach resort’s area. Here is a good number of reasons to choose either airport based on your interests:
San Jose International Airport:
This airport is ideal if you want to travel to the , because is conveniently located right in the middle of the country in the Capital . Lots of visitors to Costa Rica land in San Jose, stay here for 1 or 2 days and then start a loop around The Main Attractions of Costa Rica; it is important to understand that the best places to visit in the country are about 2-3 hours from San Jose and 2-3 hours apart from each other, which makes it ideal to do a loop around the country. If you have the time, the perfect loop to see the whole country and its best destinations would be staring in Puerto Viejo de Limon, then Tortuguero National park, then Sarapiqui, then Arenal which is also known as “La Fortuna de San Carlos”, then Monteverde Cloud Forest, then Jaco Beach, then Manuel Antonio National Park, then Uvita Beach area, then San Gerardo de Dota and finally return to San Jose. To do a complete loop like this would take at least 20 days, but if you don’t have that much time then we recommend to visit the most popular attractions of the country: Arenal Volcano area, Monteverde Cloud Forest and Manuel Antonio Beach.
San Jose is the final destination for many international flights and the busiest of the Costa Rica Airports, where is normally cheaper to flight. If you decide not to visit multiple destinations and prefer to stay just in one or maybe 2 of them, here is the list of places to visit from this airport and the driving times to them:
and Turrialba areas: These are 2 areas of the country where tourism is starting to take off and becoming a main activity. The drive from the San Jose Airport is about 1 to 2 hours approximate on good paved roads.
Sarapiqui: This is an area where tourism is starting to be a principal activity; it takes about 2-3 hours to get there.
: This is the main touristic attraction of Costa Rica, with the most complete touristic infrastructure in terms of accommodations, restaurants, shops, activities, etc. The drive there is about 2-3 hours.
: This area has now a good and complete touristic platform, the drive there from San Jose is about 6-8 hours. This is the furthest touristic attraction in the South Pacific Region, but even though is far away, the San Jose Airport is still the best option to land to get there.
On the other hand we have the Liberia International Airport:
This airport is ideal for those people who are looking to take a beach vacation and not do much or any exploration of the country. From the Liberia International Airport you would be able to easily reach the beach resorts areas of the Province of Guanacaste, which are great locations for a beach vacation. This particular part of the country is well known for its beautiful beaches and dry weather, but the activities are not that great as they are on the other sides of the country. The vast majority of the All-inclusive resorts of Costa Rica are located in this “beach bubble”. The areas that I would recommend to go if landing at this airport and the driving times to each of them are:
Papagayo Gulf area: This is the closest touristic destination to the Liberia Airport, the driving times to the resorts located here are anywhere between 20 to 45 minutes. In Papagayo there are many beaches to choose from, among the most popular are Coco Beach, Hermosa Beach and Panama Beach. Other not so popular but very beautiful too are Ocotal Beach, Matapalo Beach where the Riu Resort Guanacaste an the Riu Palace Resort are located; Esmeralda Beach where the Occidental Resort is; Arenillas Beach where the Secrets Resort Papagayo is; and Blanca Beach, where the famous Four Seasons Resort is located, this one is by far the Best Luxury Resort in Costa Rica.
: The Tamarindo area is in my opinion more beautiful than Papagayo, the drive there from the Liberia Airport is 1 hour approximately. Tamarindo Beach itself is a nice developed town, with lots of restaurants, bars, casinos, shops and accommodation options, being the most famous the Tamarindo Diria Resort. Besides Tamarindo Beach there are other beaches nearby, like Langosta Beach, where the Barcelo Langost Resort is; Conchal Beach, where the Westin Resort Playa Conchal is located; and Playa Grande, home to the Marino Las Baulas National Park.
Flamingo Beach area: The Flamingo Beach area is also made of a few different beaches, and is the fastest growing touristic area of Guanacaste in latest years. The driving time from the Liberia Airport is about 1.5 hours. The main center of attention of this area is Flamingo Beach of course, which is the most developed town of this part of our country with lots of restaurants, bars, hotels and condominiums, being the most resembling accommodation of this area the Flamingo Beach Resort. Other touristic beaches and towns of this area are Potrero Beach, home to the Bahia del Sol Hotel; Sugar Beach, home to the Sugar Beach Resort Guanacaste; Danta and Dantita Beaches, home to the new Las Catalinas Development; and Prieta Beach, an still isolated beautiful beach of this part of Guanacaste.
Nicoya Peninsula: The Nicoya Peninsula is the largest beach portion that can be reached from the Liberia International Airport, the driving time to get here is anywhere between 1.5 to 5 hours driving. Some of the most important touristic destinations with good infrastructure that you can reach are Nosara Beach, Samara Beach, Santa Teresa Beach, Mal Pais Beach, Montezuma Beach and Tambor Beach, home to the Barcelo Playa Tambor Resort. Other areas not so developed but still yet very beautiful are Avellanas Beach, Garza Beach, Coyote Beach, Manzanillo Beach, Pochote Beach; Punta Islita Beach, home to the Luxurious Punta Islita Resort; and Ostional Beach, home to the largest of Costa Rica between May and November.
There are other touristic areas of Guanacaste that are not on the coast but can be accessed from the Liberia Airport, like the, the Santa Rosa National Park, the where adventure tourism is a boom nowadays, the area where tourism is starting to take off and the area, where tourism is starting to grow around its more resembling attraction which is its Blue River. Other areas that can be reached from this airport but are a little further are the Arenal Volcano area (3 hours away approximately) and the Monteverde Cloud Forest area (4 hours away approximately).