One of the best things about Costa Rica is that you don’t have to go far from the tourist towns to find your own little slice of remote paradise. Only a 30 minute drive from the busy surf town of Tamarindo is Playa Junquillal, a picturesque beach with a low key atmosphere, long deserted shores and excellent surfing waves. This beach also has the Ecological Blue Flag status, given to the only the cleanest beaches in Costa Rica.
If this sounds like the type of place you’re looking for your Costa Rica vacation, read our guide to Playa Junquillal for more information.
Playa Junquillal Guanacaste Costa Rica
Playa Junquillal is in the Guanacaste province, 79 kilometers (49 miles) from Liberia Airport and 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Tamarindo. It is a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from Liberia Airport and a 45 minute drive from Tamarindo.
How to get to Junquillal Beach
The best way to get to Junquillal is to rent a car.
Additionally, the town is very small so having a car is the most flexible way to get around, especially for activities as tour companies do not pick up in Junquillal. (Get our Costa Rica car rental discount here to save up to 20%).
You can find Playa Junquillal on Google Maps and Waze, it’s a fairly straightforward route. It is recommended to have a high car for this area of Guanacaste.
By bus, you can take the bus from Santa Cruz to Playa Junquillal at 5:00, 7:00, 10:15, 12:15, 2:30 PM and 5:30 PM with Mercado Municipal. Make sure you arrive early as buses don’t tend to be very punctual and can run early or late (schedules are more like suggestions).
For shuttles, the only options are taxis or private shuttles. A private shuttle from Liberia costs from $90-120 one way. From Tamarindo, it can cost around $60-75 one way.
If you are coming from San Jose, the drive is around 4.5 hours. You can also take a local flight to Tamarindo and drive from there.
There is a dedicated parking area. No parking fee.
It’s recommended to have a 4×4 for this area of Guanacaste as it is more rural, mostly farmland.
As Junquillal is in the Guanacaste province, it has sunny days for most of the year. Expect high temperatures (around mid 90s, 35 C) during dry season, which is beginning of December to beginning of May. Rainy season still has sunny days and doesn’t really start raining a lot until September through November.
What to Do at Playa Junquillal
The best things to do at Playa Junquillal are surfing, fishing, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, visiting the sea turtle project and enjoying the laid back town. You can easily spend a few days relaxing and relishing in the pura vida and “real Costa Rican” vibe as this area is not commercialized at all.
Some people use Junquillal as their homebase for their entire Costa Rica vacation which is absolutely possible. There are many things to do in the area and beaches to explore!
You can swim at this beach, though it is a bit rocky and waves are for surfing.
Junquillal has a beach break with a strong left hand break best at high tide. It’s more for experienced surfers as the shore is fairly rocky and the breaks are fast and hollow. You can also go surfing at Avellanas, Marbella or Negra, all great surfing beaches close by.
Junquillal has a sea turtle hatchery as a few sea turtles nest on this beach. Junquillal is not a protected beach or wildlife reserve, so locals patrol the beach at night to keep poachers away. The best time to see them is July – February (peak time is October and November).
Day Trips from Junquillal
You can do a lot of fun day trips from Junquillal as it’s close to many attractions such as Ostional Wildlife Refuge to see turtles, Hacienda Pinilla to play golf and Nandamojo River to spot wildlife. Junquillal is also right in between the more popular beach towns of Tamarindo/Conchal/Flamingo and Nosara.
For swimming and snorkeling, it is best to go to Callejones and Blanca as they have calm waves and clear waters. It is not advised to swim in Junquillal as waves are too strong and it’s too rocky.
Hotels and Restaurants
There are surprisingly a good handful of hotels and restaurant options in Junquillal. You can also find many vacation rentals. Some hotels are Mundo Milo Eco Lodge, Guacamaya Lodge, Hotel Tatanka and Hotelito Si Si Si. There is also a campground on the north of the beach near Playa Arbolito called Camping Los Malinches.
For restaurants recommendations, Mundo Milo Lodge, Restaurante Lochilto, Amigos Bar and Grill are good options.
What to Know About Visiting Junquillal
There is a full supermarket called Supermercado Junquillal. For gas, there are stations in Santa Cruz or Langosta so make sure to fill up.
Here is a handy map of the Junquillal area:
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Read about other similar beaches below!
Pochote: Beach near Paquera in the Nicoya Peninsula. A local favorite with camping and Scarlet Macaws
Coyote: Dark sand beach in the Nicoya Peninsula. Not touristy, small town with few hotels and restaurants
Mina: Beautiful white sand beach near Conchal, not developed or touristy
Prieta: Pretty small local beach by Las Catalinas
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