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Liberia Costa Rica: Gateway to Guanacaste

General Information

Liberia Costa Rica, a quiet city of around 45,000 people, is thecapital of the Guanacaste Province. Often referred to as the "thewhite city" by locals, Liberia features colonial-style buildingsbuilt out of a local white clay along with red-tile roofs.

Traditionally, Liberia was famous as a gathering point for thelocal ranching communities and as a hub for local transportation ofall kinds. Recently, since the opening of an internationalairport outside of the city, Daniel Oduber International,Liberia has expanded into a much larger hub for people traveling toand from Costa Rica.

This new found status has helped shape the city that Liberia hasbecome. With the increase of travelers coming through, LiberiaCosta Rica has expanded in completely new ways and has developedinto a far more international city to accommodate the increasedtourism.

Located in the northwest of Costa Rica, Liberia isoften considered a gateway to the nearby beaches ofNicoya and the ecologically rich national parks ofthe interior of the country. Although a quiet city by nature,Liberia functions as a base from which to explore thesurrounding countryside.

While staying in Liberia, an intrepid traveller could sit on aPacific beach one day and explore some of the most ecologicallydiverse rainforest in the world the next. By taxi, Liberia CostaRica is about 30min from Playas Hermosa orPlayas del Coco, where I worked as a scuba diving guide.

History of Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia, Costa Rica, has one of the most interesting stories of anycities within the country. To begin with, it was not always a CostaRican city. Originally a part of Nicaragua, the entire province ofGuanacaste voted on July 25, 1824, to join Costa Rica.

Even once attached to Costa Rica, Guanacaste remained a placeapart. In much the same way as the American West, Guanacaste had,and retains, a unique culture called "sabanero",which centers on the ranching industry. Liberia is a place thatloves its own traditions, cowboy hats and even the occasional callfor independence. In many ways, Guanacasteis like a Costa Rican version of Texas.

Liberia also played a central role in one of the most importantevents in Costa Rican history. In 1856, Nicaragua was invaded by anadventurer from North America, William Walker, who planned to takeover all of Central American. Costa Rica, which did not - and stilldoes not - have an army, raised a militia to meet this threat.Almost 3,000 Costa Rican men met at Liberia before marching north.The Costa Rican militia met, and defeated, Walker's forces on March20. The battle took place at Hacienda Santa Rosa, which is only 38kilometers north of Liberia. Shortly thereafter, the Costa Ricanforces pursued and eventually dispersed Walker's forces inNicaragua itself.

Liberia's Nearby Attractions

Liberia, Costa Rica, is a city that is known more for the thingsthat are close by than for the things that are within the cityitself. For a long time, Liberia has been known as the gateway toGuanacaste. With the new international airport, this more true thanever today.

The most obvious attractions are the nearby beacheson the Nicoya Peninsula. From Liberia, you caneasily reach Playas del Coco or any of the otherbeach towns in the area. These towns are ideal places to spend aquiet day on the beach. Or, if your interests run to the moreadventurous, there is excellent surf and numerous surf schools toteach you how to take advantage of it.

From Liberia, it is also quite easy to reach Tamarindo, which hasalways been famous for its surf, but is now also becoming famousfor its vibrant nightlife. If you are tired of the more relaxedlifestyle of Liberia, Tamarindomight be the best option for you.

Some of the most famous places to go, however, are in the oppositedirection from the beach. Liberia Costa Rica is renowned as the place to stayif you want to explore the Rincon de la Vieja orSanta Rosa National Parks. These parks offer the nature enthusiasta glimpse of wonderful natural diversity that has made Costa Ricafamous.

Or, if you are really adventurous, you can head in the direction ofSan Jose and explore the Arenal Volcano NationalPark. This volcano, which towers over the surroundingcountryside, is one of the most active in Costa Rica and regularlyspews gas and steam into the sky.

General Tips for Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia, Costa Rica, is an ideal place to use as a base for furtherexploration of the Guanacaste area. Within a short distance you canfind stunning Pacific beaches, active volcanoes and some ofthe world-famous Costa Rican eco-tourism.

Remember, although Liberia is a lovely colonial city, it is not thecity itself that is the main attraction. The countryside around thecity offers amazing opportunity for nature lovers, nightlifeseekers and beach goers alike. Visit Liberia Costa Rica and usethat time to plan your exploration of Guanacasteas a whole.

Honestly, I only visited to go to the Cinema there or to stock upon cheap food at the supermarket or just to catch a bus toTamarindo or Nicaragua for a visa run (to renew my visa in CostaRica).

Getting to Liberia Costa Rica

Liberia is most easily reached from abroad by plane into the city'sDaniel Oduber International Airport (Code: LIR).There are many flights to Costa Rica that go directly to Liberia,saving you the hassle of going through San Jose.

American Airlines goes twice a week from Dallas and twotimes a week from Miami. Continental goes twice a week fromHouston and once a week from Newark. Delta goes to Liberiaevery day from Atlanta. US Airways flies to Liberia twice aweek from Charlotte.

Otherwise, there are connecting domestic flights between SanJose's Juan Santamaria International airport and Liberia withSANSA and NatureAir.

If you do fly into San Jose, there are other ground transportationoptions. A local bus runs from San Jose to Liberia prettymuch hourly from 6am to 8pm and takes four hours and costs justunder $5. Get there a bit early because tickets can sell outahead of the hour of departure.

A private shuttle from a company like Grayline is anotheroption, and will cost between $30-40. This is more comfortable thanthe public bus because you can actually request to pull over if youhave to use the bathroom, whereas the public bus stopsonce...usually ;-).

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