Home to larger and all-inclusive resorts, the Papagayo Peninsula is the beach getaway location for the luxury-minded. A short stay here will leave you feeling pampered and ready to take on other adventures.

If luxury and utter ease rank high on your priority list, then Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula might just be the place for you. Papagayo is Costa Rica’s all-inclusive resort capital, and large hotels line the peninsula’s palm-fringed beaches. Just to drop a few names, Papagayo is home to the exclusive Andaz Papagayo Resort, the Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa, and the swanky boutique, El Magroove Hotel. Despite the resort cluster on this slab of land that juts out onto the sparkling waters of Papagayo, few hotels are within walking distance to each other.

Few restaurants, shops, bars or much of anything exists on Papagayo outside the resorts, which is why most of the resorts are all-inclusive. For those who wish to enjoy their pools and amenities without having to stay there, most Papagayo resorts offer day passes. Also, much to the dismay of luxury resort operators, all Costa Rican beaches are public by law, so anyone who seeks to enjoy Papagayo’s golden sands may do so.

The resorts offer scores of onsite entertainment and water sports activities to ensure their guests don’t turn into beached whales (unless they want to, that is). Papagayo is home to the magnificent 18-hole Arnold Palmer Golf Course, ranked as one of the 100 best golf courses outside the United States by Golf Digest. The Golf Course attracts golf fans and nature lovers alike, because it is also a nature reserve offering the magnificent Trail of the Giants tour, an exploration of 250 acres of flora and fauna native to the province of Guanacaste.

Andaz Papagayo Resort

Planning a vacation to Papagayo

A 3 - 5 night stay is ideal for the Gulf of Papagayo. We do not recommend staying more than 5 nights in the area. While it is a nice beach destination, it can be quite hot and the jungle is a dry tropical forest, not a rainforest. To experience Costa Rica’s unique rain or cloud forests, a conical volcano with hot springs or the country’s best adventures, you will have to drive 3.5 hours in each direction.  In working with hundreds of clients over the years, we have found that a stay longer than this amount of time nearly always results in rearranging the schedule at the last minute at full penalty by the resorts.  Planning in advance to see other, more interesting parts of the country will result in a much more fulfilling vacation.

The Best Hotels In the Papagayo Gulf & Peninsula

Nestled on the stunning Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Papagayo is a tropical paradise known for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and upscale resorts. Whether you're seeking a romantic getaway, a family-friendly vacation, or an adventure-packed escape, Papagayo offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit your preferences. From the romantic, adults-only Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa to the luxurious Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, there's a hotel for every type of traveler. Explore this guide to discover the best hotels in Papagayo, each offering its unique charm and top-notch amenities against the backdrop of Costa Rica's natural beauty.

1. Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa:
Description: An adults-only, all-inclusive luxury resort nestled in a secluded bay, offering stunning ocean views and top-notch amenities.
Highlights: Gourmet dining, multiple pools, a spa, and various water activities.
Why Stay: Perfect for couples seeking a romantic escape in an intimate and serene setting.

2. Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort:
Description: A stylish and contemporary luxury resort with a strong focus on sustainability and local art.
Highlights: Oceanfront infinity pools, a spa, access to pristine beaches, and excellent dining options.
Why Stay: Ideal for travelers looking for a modern and eco-friendly resort experience.

3. Casa Conde Beach Front Hotel:
Description: A beachfront hotel offering comfortable accommodations and a family-friendly atmosphere.
Highlights: A large pool, beach access, on-site dining, and a variety of outdoor activities.
Why Stay: Great for families and those seeking a beachfront escape without the luxury resort price tag.

4. El Mangroove Hotel:
Description: A chic boutique hotel located on the Gulf of Papagayo with a trendy, laid-back vibe.
Highlights: A beach club, water sports, spa services, and a beautiful mangrove forest backdrop.
Why Stay: Suited for travelers seeking a relaxed, contemporary retreat in a natural setting.

5. Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica:
Description: A family-friendly, all-inclusive resort with a Hollywood theme, offering entertainment and excitement.
Highlights: Themed restaurants, a spa, movie memorabilia, and a variety of activities for all ages.
Why Stay: Perfect for families and those looking for a lively, entertainment-focused vacation.

These hotels in Papagayo cater to a range of preferences, from adults-only luxury to family-friendly fun, making it a great destination for all types of travelers. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both, you'll find the perfect stay in this beautiful region of Costa Rica.

The best things to do in Papagayo

The Best Tours & Things to Do in Papagayo and the Surrounding Area

Welcome to the exquisite Papagayo Peninsula, a tropical paradise nestled on Costa Rica's northwestern Pacific coast. This pristine region is renowned for its lush landscapes and serene beaches but not known for it's activities. You can, however, take a day trip to some of the nearby national parks or go boating on the beautiful Pacific coast. From serene sunset catamaran cruises to adventurous days at La Leona Waterfall, there's no shortage of experiences to savor in the Papagayo area. Whether you seek heart-pounding excitement or tranquil relaxation, this destination promises an unforgettable escape. In this guide, we'll delve into the top activities and attractions that make Papagayo a must-visit destination. 

Sunset Catamaran Cruise: Experience the breathtaking Pacific sunsets on a catamaran cruise. Enjoy the open sea, spot dolphins and sea turtles, and snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Many tours also offer dinner and drinks, making it a perfect romantic outing.

Day Trip to Hacienda Guachipelin: Embark on an adventure to Hacienda Guachipelin, an eco-adventure lodge near the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Here, you can explore the lush rainforests, go horseback riding, zip-lining, soak in natural volcanic hot springs, and even take a mud bath.

Day Trip to La Leona Waterfall: Discover the natural beauty of Costa Rica by visiting La Leona Waterfall, hidden within the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The hike to the waterfall takes you through dense forests and ends with a refreshing swim beneath the cascading waters.

Offshore Sportfishing: Costa Rica's Pacific coast offers some of the world's best sportfishing opportunities. Book a fishing charter to catch marlin, sailfish, dorado, and other prized game fish. Experienced guides make it an exciting and rewarding experience.

Day Trip to Palo Verde National Park: Explore the rich biodiversity of Palo Verde National Park on a riverboat safari. This park is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, howler monkeys, and a wide variety of bird species.

The Papagayo area offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike. Enjoy the natural wonders and vibrant culture that Costa Rica has to offer during your stay in Papagayo.

You will not need a rental car to visit the Papagayo area as taxis are readily available and can easily be arranged through your hotel.  However, if you plan on doing any exploring, it is nice to have a rental car.

Reasons to visit

  • It is conveniently located near Liberia Airport (LIR)
  • There are several all-inclusive resort options to choose from
  • You prefer to stay within the confines of an American style resort and relax

Reasons NOT to visit

  • You want to see more of Costa Rica
  • You would like to see more wildlife
  • You would like to visit a waterfall
  • You would like to experience rain forests or see a cloud forest
  • Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and other popular attractions are 4 hours away
  • You want to experience local culture
  • There is no nightlife
  • There is no shopping
  • The weather may be hot and dry while you are there

How to get there

From San Jose: Take the Autopista del Sol or the Interamerican Highway from San Jose to Caldera and turn left after Puntarenas. Follow the road signs to the Friendship Bridge (Puente de la Amistad in Spanish) and cross it. Make your way to the town of Liberia (follow the signs). Turn left at the main intersection there, driving towards Santa Cruz and going south past Daniel Oduber Airport. When you get to a giant hardware store called Do-It-Center, turn right and stay on this road for approximately 26 kilometers, until you reach Papagayo Peninsula. 

Weather and packing list

Although the Gulf of Papagayo enjoys variable amounts of precipitation year round, heat, sun and perspiration are practically guaranteed in Costa Rica’s Northwest Pacific region, even during the worst of the wet season in September and October. During the day, temperatures range between the sizzling upper 80s to lower 90s, while at night they are usually in the upper 70s. 

When packing for your vacation to the Papagayo area, make sure to bring a swimsuit and beach clothes, including flip flops and a towel or sarong for sunbathing on the sand, shorts, t-shirts, some rain gear, a lot of sunblock and aloe vera gel to relieve the pain of any nasty sunburns. 

Fun Fact: Despite the allure of all-inclusive resorts, don’t make the mistake of staying there for your entire Costa Rica vacation. This isn’t Cancun or Aruba and Costa Rica has much more to offer than one resort and beach area. Combining your vacation with a visit to Arenal Volcano or Monteverde could make this the trip of a lifetime!

Attractions In The Area

Playa Nancite70 km
Camaronal142 km
Guanacaste National Park83 km
Junquillal Bay87 km
Barra Honda83 km


Latitude: N 10° 35' 59.53"
Longitude: W 85° 38' 48.59"

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