Destination Overview Playa Junquillal Travel Guide – Stay in Tamarindo

For those who crave long walks at sunset and afternoons lounging in tide pools, ecological Blue Flag-recipient Playa Junquillal is a two-kilometer stretch of white-gray sands and beachfront wilderness – an outdoor paradise where jungle tumbles into sea, tide pools swirl, and boulders crumble into rocky reefs. Here, bluffs reach toward palm trees, the surf churns with seafoam, and the River Nanda Mojo cuts a swath through a 500-acre estuary and natural paradise.

Yes, this is Playa Junquillal – pronounced, hoon-kee-yal– a quiet retreat almost as hard to locate, as it is to pronounce. Located 10 miles south (as the toucan flies) of Tamarindo, this quiet corner of Costa Rica is a testament to the beauty of isolation: nearly deserted beaches, powerful surf swells (experience surfers only!), and molten sunsets that sizzle as they hit the horizon, Junquillal also marks the northern border of important sea turtle nesting beaches, both for olive ridley and leatherback turtles.

Here, there are no ATMS and boogie boards could almost count as a form of transportation. Here, visitor spend their days basking in the sun and surfing the sea, and evenings dining oceanfront and watching sea turtles lay their eggs. Here, hooting howlers and burbling laughter play your vacation soundtrack. Here, anglers still fish with hand lines, as they have for generations. Here, lullabies take the form of surf, crashing on rocky outcroppings.

Indeed, Playa Junquillal is another world. A wonderful world. From the white-sand Playa Blanca to the north, over the steely sands of Playa Junquillal, and sweeping south to rocky Playa Callejones, black-sand Playa Negra, and the fishing village of Playa Lagarto, the Pacific’s turquoise-green waters hug the coastline, tide pools, and snorkeling reefs.

Let’s start with the musts for your bucket list: the golden sun that demands you lounge, warm sands that demand sun-bathing (or, at least, long walks at sunset), and luxury yachts that beg for afternoon snorkeling. Add in sea turtle-watching, canopy tours, snorkeling and scuba diving, and that world-class sport fishing, and we’ve still just scratched the surface of our Playa Junquillal travel guide.

And that’s because Playa Junquillal is also close to just about everything: about 80 minutes to the newly expanded Daniel Odúber International Airport in Liberia, and even closer to nearby draws, including Nosara and the Ostional Wildlife Refuge (more turtles!), Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Playas del Coco, Palo Verde National Park, and so much more.

Playa Junquillal is one of the Pacific Coast’s most serene spots and yet, it’s still packed with plenty to see, do, and experience. From world-famous turtle-watching and epic sport-fishing, to adrenaline-rich canopy tours and spouting whales, our Playa Junquillal travel guide is all about the best, the most entertaining, and the most unforgettable things to do in the area.

Turtle Nesting: The beaches of Playa Junquillal are famed for turtle-watching throughout most of the year – July through March. Book a nightly turtle tour and you could find yourself on the beach, a red flashlight in hand, watching as olive ridley and/or leatherback turtles lumber up the sand, dig a hole, and lay their tiny eggs (that will hatch in just a few short weeks!).

Catamaran Sailing: Just north of Playa Junquillal, Tamarindo offers a coastline dotted with luxurious yachts that offer up half- and full-day sails. This is definitely a choose-your-own-adventure-kind of place, with sailing excursions bundling in your choice of snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, or dolphin & whale watching, followed by a beautiful Pacific sunset. Snacks and meals (and sometimes booze) are included.

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving: Junquillal is well known for its excellent snorkeling, especially during the rainier months of May through October, when visibility reaches up to 80 feet. In addition to reef snorkeling along nearby beaches (with calmer waters than Junquillal), snorkeling tours depart daily for the Catalina Islands, a small archipelago just a 20-minute boat ride from Junquillal. Take the trip and you could see all manner of undersea life, including nurse, whale, and white-tipped reef sharks, as well as cow-nosed, devil, and spotted eagle rays.

Wildlife & Nature Tours: Imagine oodles and oodles of nature confetti, dropping down onto one small beach town. That’s Junquillal. And with that confetti, comes wildlife. Wildly wild wildlife: howlers that hoot from the trees, whales that breach offshore, olive ridley turtles that crawl onto the beach, and plenty of water fowl along the estuary. This is a delight for nature-lovers, birdwatchers, and wildlife aficionados of all stripes.

Believe it or not, these are just the highlights. There is so much more to Playa Junquillal than a list of things to do, although we’ll certainly try! In addition to the activities listed above, you can also enjoy tubing/rafting, ocean kayaking, luxury spa days, and even day trips to Palo Verde National Park(wetlands and wildlife-watching) and Rincón de la Vieja National Park(hot springs, hiking, horseback riding and more!).

Note: We always recommend pre-booking all your activities, transportation, chef services, etc. before you arrive, so you don’t spend your vacation… well, planning your vacation. If you’d like any help, our in-house concierge, Cristina (send her an email), can recommend perfect activities for your group – and book them on your behalf, absolutely free! Things to See in Playa Junquillal: