Costa Rica is full of off-the-beaten-track places that are truly worth visiting. Not only are they beautiful offering unforgettable close-to-nature experiences, but you will also not be overcome with the number of other people visiting them. This is what you will feel when visiting Cuajiniquil, La Cruz, a small town on the far northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica that boasts a secluded yet inviting beach among other activities. Let´s explore 5 Cuajiniquil treasures!
Before we begin our Cuajiniquil treasure hunt, let´s put this little place into perspective. It is a small, fishing village that is just 10km from the Pan-American Highway and 55km from the Guanacaste capital of Liberia, home to the international Guanacaste Airport. It is also just 3km from the beach of the same name that is part of the richest marine areas in Central America. Lobster, octopuses, and red snappers are just some of the delicious species that inhabit the refreshing coast.
This rural town with around 2000 habitants sits on the northern edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, home to white-sand beaches, tourist attractions galore, and a myriad of water activities under the tropical sun. Cuajiniquil Beach is visit-worthy itself, but the town is also conveniently located between national parks and close to other Guanacaste beaches that make beach-hopping a favorite pastime while visiting this off-the-beaten-track district.
The Cuajiniquil Marine Tour Operators Association is a group of local tourism entrepreneurs that love their home and share it with local and international visitors showing them the very best of the area. The Association has designed a portfolio of tours that show eager visitors the beauty and diversity of Cuajiniquil and the surrounding region. With the collective knowledge of its members who know the area like the back of their hands, having been born and grown up there, visitors are in the best of hands to enjoy the essence of Cuajiniquil.
Let´s explore the treasures of Cuajiniquil!
1. Mangrove Kayaking
Cuajiniquil Beach is bordered by a tropical dry forest and a mangrove forest too. Only found in tropical and subtropical coastal regions of the world, they teem with wildlife and act as a natural barrier to coastal erosion as they incredibly absorb 70-90% of energy from regular waves.
Hop into a kayak, the best way to explore this low forest of shrubs and small trees and make your way up the small inlets that cut into the exposed roots of the only trees that can tolerate saltwater on earth. These roots are also the nesting grounds for lots of animals providing protection
In the company of a local, naturalist guide, you will make your way through the forest with birds-eye views of reptiles, fish, insects, and birds for a close-to-nature experience. It is also the perfect opportunity to sit back and listen to the sounds of the mangrove forest and the sealine as it dances through the roots.
2. Junquillal Bay Beach
Cuajiniquil is surrounded by protected areas including the Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge that is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. This means that the beach and surrounding forests are under the safety of this protected land and marine network that covers 25% of Costa Rica.
This white-sand, turquoise-colored beach bordered by the forest is paradisiacal and is perfect to explore in the company of the naturalist guide from the Association. Take a walk along the forest trail that offers great viewing possibilities of wildlife, birds, and the unique dry tropical forest plant species. It is also home to a pre-Columbian archaeological site. This is a walk in nature at its best.
Finish off the tour with some quality beach time and then enjoy the citrus-orange sunset with front-row seats from Junquillal Bay Beach.
3. Fishing Sport or Artisan?
Cuajiniquil is the best destination for fishing fans. Whether you decide on Sport Fishing or Artisan Fishing, or both, a day of fun and memorable catches is next to guaranteed. This region of the country is home to many local fishermen and women that have made a living by fishing from the shore or on boats. It is part of the local culture and livelihood of many.
So, who best to host a day of fishing than the locals. If Sport Fishing is your preference, Santa Elena Bay is the fishing spot of the day. Not only will you enjoy the spectacular views of the coast, but you will also have the opportunity to fish jacks, dorados, roosters, mackerel, red snapper, and sailfish just to name a few.
For a unique fishing experience, spend some time with the local Cuajiniquil artisan fishermen and women to learn how they fish as the generations before them. Immerse yourself in the traditions of the community and learn about the love and respect it has for the dwellers of the sea from a sustainable perspective.
4. Tour to Santa Elena Peninsula and Bay
Santa Elena Bay Marine Protected Area is a picturesque inlet south of Cuajiniquil within the larger Gulf of Santa Elena. These waters are a permanent or temporary home to a large variety of marine species ranging from dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and of course, our gentle giants of the oceans, the humpback whales.
Santa Elena Peninsula and Bay are full of photo opportunities with clear-sand beaches embraced by lush forest and turquoise-colored water that invites you to snorkel and swim. With very little human presence, this is a day in nature below, on, and by the ocean.
Have a walk through the forest, lay on the sun-kissed beach, and explore the ocean during a morning of scenic beauty.
5. Cuajinquil Beach Day and Sunset
While Cuajiniquil is surrounded by natural beauty and full of rich, local culture and traditions, it is also home to a beach that is worth visiting and enjoying. It is about 3kms from the town of Cuajiniquil along a dirt road and remains virgin-like with little to no development so don´t be surprised if you have the 1.5km all to yourself if the fishermen and women have finished for the day.
Take a walk along the clear-sand beach, have a swim in the refreshingly cool, turquoise-colored waters while enjoying the tropical Guanacaste sun. Check out the small fishing boats that anchor offshore and the incredible marine birdlife that can be found in this area thanks to the mangrove and the Cuajiniquil River that flows into the ocean.
A must-do during your Cuajiniquil Beach Day is to stay to witness the incredible sunset and after dark, the presence of bioluminescence during certain times of the year. This visually incredible phenomenon is thanks to the plankton that gathers near the calm waters of the beach.
Cuajiniquil Marine Tour Operators Association invites you to explore Cuajiniquil treasures in the company of the local experts. This off-the-beaten-track destination is for nature, ocean and adventure lovers searching for new and unique experiences. Let the Association show you the way!