Visiting Guanacaste and want to enjoy a beautiful beach away from the crowds and tourists? Head up north towards Culebra Bay to find some lesser known beaches where you can enjoy crystal clear waters and soft sand to lay in all to yourself. One such beach in particular is Playa Iguanita, a lovely, empty beach in the Gulf of Papagayo.
Post updated May 2020.
Playa Iguanita map
Playa Iguanita is 23 kilometers (14 miles) from Liberia International Airport and a 40 minute drive from the closest beach town of Playas del Coco. It is part of the Refugion Nacional de Vida Silvestre Iguanita.
How to Get There
The only way to Playa Iguanita is to drive. From Liberia International Airport, turn right out of the airport and turn right again onto Route 21. Continue driving on this main road for about 10 minutes until you see a large sign for the “Do-It-Center” and a sign pointing right to the Four Seasons and Playa Panama. Turn right here onto Route 253.
Keep following this road until you see this sign. Take a left here into the refuge and follow this road down about another 5 kilometers (3 miles) or so. Be very careful if it’s raining because there are a few areas that are a bit steep and slippery.
You can use Waze or Google maps and search for Playa Iguanita.
Note that you do have to have a 4X4 to get there. Even the sign says so! As soon as you turn off of Route 253, it is a dirt road.
The first part of the road isn’t bad actually, it isn’t until you start driving through the forest does it get steep. As this area is part of the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre, there’s nothing around. No buildings, no nothing. It is and will stay simply nature.
We went at the end of July and the road was not in terrible shape but we did use our 4wd. There are some hilly parts of the road so if you were visiting in the rainiest months like August – December, it would be a muddy mess and a sedan would not make it. So if you visit, it’s best to have a 4wd or 4×4. Trust me, you would not want to get stuck there as there’s nothing around!
When you get to the bottom of the mountain, you’ll see a clearing where you can park your car with the beach right in front of you. There isn’t a parking fee nor is there a parking guard so mke sure not to leave valuables visible in the car. Also roll up your windows and lock your doors.
Iguanita beach is beautiful, even with its dark sand. In July, the enveloping mountains were lush and green. If you visited during dry season (January – April), they would be yellow and bare.
There are many trees, the water is crazy clear and the waves are incredibly gentle and calm. This beach is perfect for families with little ones since the water was so gentle and clear! I could see all the way down to my toes and spot some fish swimming around. Playa Iguanita is much bigger than I thought it was, so you can walk up and down the shore to find the perfect spot.
When we visited, there weren’t even 10 people there. Just one local family and that’s it. Not even one tourist in sight so that makes it one of our top beaches to get away from crowds in Costa Rica with calm waves, clear waters and an extremely quiet and chill vibe. Driving there was also an adventure!
It did start raining in the late afternoon around 4 PM and started raining harder when we drove back to Playas del Coco. Just keep that in mind if you visit during rainy season in Costa Rica but we loved having the beach for practically just us!
Tips for Visiting Playa Iguanita
- There are no facilities around so make sure you bring plenty of food, water, sunscreen, towels and other supplies for a relaxing beach day
- Lock up your car and don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Though this beach doesn’t get a lot of visitors, it’s better not to take chances. No security guard or cameras around.
- Playa Cabuyal is another beautiful local beach with whiter sand only a 20 minute drive away. You can also go there to do some beach hopping.