There’s a good reason why so many companies in the MICE industry choose Guanacaste as their destination of choice. For one, the Guanacaste Airport (LIR) makes it easy to access anywhere in Guanacaste in one to two hours or even less. For another, the weather is superb, year-round. Finally, the area has plenty of options for luxurious hotels, fun activities, and other amenities that can easily receive and delight exclusive groups of people.
We’ve been working in the MICE travel industry since 1998, and we’ve never found a location with such a great combination of nature, adventure, and luxury.
Where is Guanacaste Located in Costa Rica?
Guanacaste is one of Costa Rica’s seven provinces. Explore the map of Costa Rica. It is located in the northwest, bordering Puntarenas province to the south and Nicaragua to the north. Part of Guanacaste is located on the Nicoya Peninsula, while the rest stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the west past the mountain range that contains the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano to the east.
Around 350,000 people reside in Guanacaste, though the non-permanent population is much larger, as the beaches of Guanacaste are also popular tourist destinations.
Here are the main regions of Guanacaste where incentive groups, meetings, and events will find their hotel, go on tours, or arrive and depart the country.
Papagayo is a small peninsula located in the middle section of the Guanacaste coast. Combined with the Gulf of Papagayo, with Panama, Hermosa, and Coco Beaches, this area is home to some of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels in Costa Rica, making it a perfect MICE travel destination. The hotels on and around this peninsula mix nature, beautiful architecture, and perfect relaxation to provide one of the best experiences in the country. Some popular hotels for events and incentive programs are Four Seasons Resort, Andaz Resort, El Mangroove Hotel, and Secrets Papagayo.
Groups can find a marina, a golf course, and beach clubs on the Papagayo Peninsula itself. The Gulf of Papagayo provides other fun activities, such as scuba diving, jet skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, and boat trips. Access to the Papagayo Peninsula is strictly monitored, with only staff, residents, and group participants allowed access, providing an extra layer of privacy, security, and exclusivity to the experience.
Distance from Guanacaste Airport (LIR): ~30-45 minutes
2. Tamarindo and Nearby Beaches
The Tamarindo area centers on Tamarindo town, which has an ever-present lively mood, with streets full of little shops where participants can find all kinds of souvenirs, from bright, flowery shirts to handmade coconut jewelry. Surrounding this area is a mangrove estuary, which provides an important marine ecosystem and a place for participants to enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, and wildlife sightings JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort at Hacienda Pinilla is a great hotel that can be found in this area.
Tamarindo is neighbored by plenty of beach options, from beautiful Langosta Beach to surfer’s paradise, Avellanas Beach, to the south. Conchal Beach is another area we recommend to MICE groups. Reserva Conchal is a private community of hotels and resorts that borders this gorgeous beach and includes The Westin and W Costa Rica. Danta Beach and Flamingo Beach are also notable beaches in the Tamarindo area. The new marina provides a great location for water sports for incentive groups. Las Catalinas and Santarena Hotel are some of our favorite properties in this area.
Distance from Guanacaste Airport (LIR): ~1-1.5 hours
3. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano
Within sight of nearly all of Guanacaste’s lowlands on the coast is the active volcano, Rincón de la Vieja. This volcano and its many fumaroles and hot springs reside within Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Both in and around the park are plenty of hiking options, where participants can look for wildlife and appreciate the unique tropical dry forest.
Travelers are always enthralled by the bright blue color the water flowing from the volcano tends to have. These rivers provide beautiful scenery to zipline over, raft through, or ride horseback. Also covering the mountain is Guanacaste’s usual tropical dry forest, which can be appreciated on the volcano’s slopes more than anywhere else.
Distance from LIR/Guanacaste Airport: ~1-1.5 hours
Liberia and Guanacaste Airport (LIR) make this province the travel hub it is. Known officially as Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, this airport provides great services for flights to and from many popular destinations, including daily flights from Miami (MIA), Atlanta (ATL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), and Austin (AUS).
5. Northern Pacific: Santa Rosa National Park, Junquillal Wildlife Refuge & Salinas Bay
The main destination for the MICE travel industry on the Northern coast of Guanacaste is Dreams Las Mareas, which is nestled in Salinas Bay and surrounded by tree-covered hills. This area is notably less populated than other popular MICE destinations, such as the Gulf of Papagayo, giving travelers a unique, secluded experience.
Also in this Northern Guanacaste region are Santa Rosa National Park, which holds special historical significance for Costa Rica, and Junquillal Wildlife Refuge, which is home to a diverse amount of wildlife. Salinas Bay protects its beaches from strong currents, allowing people to enjoy kiteboarding and paddle boarding.
Distance from LIR/Guanacaste Airport: ~1.5 hours
The Weather in Guanacaste
Like the rest of Costa Rica, Guanacaste has just two seasons: the dry season and the green season. Guanacaste tends to be hotter and drier than the rest of the country. If your group is looking to avoid the rain as much as possible, they’ll want to plan their event between December and May, with the hottest months being March and April. Average dry season temperatures in Guanacaste range from 68°F (20°C) to 91°F (33°C).
It does rain in Guanacaste during the rainy season, stretching from May to November. However, we don’t dissuade groups from booking during these months because rain rarely lasts when it does come. Plus, it leaves the surrounding foliage bright green, a treat in the region.
Guanacaste Flora and Fauna
While rainforests and cloud forests blanket the rest of Costa Rica, Guanacaste is home to the tropical dry forest. Temperatures tend to be higher year-round in this part of Costa Rica. Trees in Costa Rica's tropical dry forest tend to have less dense canopies and more space between trees, and larger mammals live there. Otherwise, these forests tend to have many of the same animals you can find around the rest of Costa Rica, including puma, white-faced monkeys, armadillos, toucans, and even jaguars.
Costa Rica’s Blue Zone in Guanacaste
Located between the provinces of Puntarenas and Guanacaste rests an extra special region—not just in Costa Rica, but in the whole world. Nicoya is one of five Blue Zones in the entire world. If you’re not familiar with a Blue Zone, these regions are places with a higher than average population of over 90 and over 100-year-old people. Between diet, activity level, and familial connection, people in this area tend to live longer than anyone else. That alone might be a great reason to choose Guanacaste as your MICE destination and spend some time here.
Guanacaste Is a Great MICE Travel Destination
All of these different factors, from infrastructure to weather, work together to create the ideal environment for meetings, events, and incentive programs. There is so much to appreciate and enjoy in this area, and we’ve seen countless groups have such a fulfilling experience here. Does it sound like a destination your group would enjoy? Contact us and we’ll start looking at what your specific group is looking for.