Off the Beaten Path in Costa Rica – Go WILD for Curubandé de Liberia
Flying into the Liberia Airport or simply looking for an insanely beautiful, adventure-filled spot way off the beaten path? Get the lowdown on Curubandé de Liberia, one of Costa Rica’s most rewarding hidden treasures!
Merely 10 miles from Liberia yet hidden from the throngs of tourists who fly into the country’s northern airport every year, Curubandé is a local hot-spot known for its incredible natural attributes. Traversed by two rivers spawned by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, the area is characterized by deep canyons, pristine jungles, a bevy of waterfalls and breath-taking plunge pools, where the water is an ethereal shade of turquoise.
Wild, remote and best explored by 4WD, this Guanacaste treasure is far away from any kind of ‘touristy’ commercialism, although merely 2hrs drive from the Pacific coastline’s most famous beaches. Curubandé is where discerning adventure-seekers get their ultimate thrills: an off-the-beaten-path destination for those who understand that Costa Rica’s most incredible discoveries are those non-one’s ever heard about.
Small town flavor – a chance to experience real Tico adventures
The laid-back town of Curubandé de Liberia is set on the flanks of Rincon de la Vieja, itself one of Costa Rica’s lesser-visited national parks. The wilderness here is pristine and varied, with mud pools, hot-springs, waterfalls, canyons and jungles offering incredible chances for outdoor adventures.
Horseback riding tours are popular here – not only because it’s great fun to meander through prime wilderness saddled-up on a horse, but because this is about the best way to access the most remote parts of the park. Yes…it’s that kind of wild.
But let’s get back to Curubandé…
Nestled in the heart of Guanacaste’s glorious countryside, and overlooked by the unusual peak of Rincon, Curubandé is a small village by anyone’s standards. Merely 3,000 people call this place home, all of them carving out their living either from tourism or agricultural ventures. Peaceful, welcoming and perfect as a base to explore the surrounding wilderness, this gorgeous little spot offers immersive guesthouse stays and amazing home-made local food.
There’s something truly special about experiencing such a small, off-the-beaten-path place on a Costa Rica adventure vacation. This is the kind of place that offers exceptional rural tourism experiences and a sneak-peek into an authentic Tico way of life, something that is difficult to find in more touristed destinations.
So, is it always quiet here?
Not quite. Curubandé’s popularity is growing rapidly and, during high season, the town gets ‘besieged’ (relatively speaking) by day-trippers from the coast, although most don’t stay overnight and simply top to grab lunch at a local soda or stock up on supplies from the local mini-mart – undoubtedly the most crowded place in town!
The best adventures in Curubandé de Liberia
Outdoor fun in Curubandé is all about chasing waterfalls on stunning hikes, soaking in hot-springs and mud-pools and climbing through magnificent gorges. Plus, there’s zip lining and river tubing galore, so whether you’re after soft thrill or hard-core spills, you’ll find plenty of them here!
It’s the array of ‘difficulty’ options that makes Curubandé suitable for every kind of traveler – if you’re after easy hikes that culminate in refreshing swims in glorious pools, or more audacious trails that entail scrambling over rock faces and crossing rivers, you’ll find something in Curubandé to tick your adventure-boxes.
The area also abounds in easy-to-reach river pools, the kind that are revered by local families. No matter where you go to get your thrills in the area, expect to be overawed by the aquamarine hues of the mineral-enriched waters and the splendid wilderness.
The best hot-springs to visit from Curubandé: Rio Negro is absolutely worth the short drive east out of town. You’ll find a multitude of pools, refreshing river and waterfalls for in-between dips and sensational landscapes – there’s certainly enough here to keep you entertained for hours on end. The hot-springs are one of the many highlights of Hacienda Guachipelin, detailed below.
Just 6 miles north of town is where you’ll find Vandará Hot Springs & Adventures, another epic destination for a full day of adrenaline-pumping fun – we’re talking mud polls and hot springs, a very cool water slide, zip-line course and fantastic horseback riding trails, as well as a sugar cane and coffee farm tour that’s immensely interesting.
The best waterfall hikes to do from Curubandé: La Leona (2 miles) and La Vieja waterfall hikes are the two most popular options, and La Escondida (3.2 miles) and Canon de Rio Blanco (2.2 miles) are also very much worth your time if you’re planning on spending multiple days exploring this area.
Where to stay when visiting Curubandé de Liberia
The town offers a handful of lovely hotels on or near the main road, yet for a more authentic experience, ask us about local farm stays. This is where Curubandé gets immensely rewarding – you get to stay with a local family and experience their unique way of life, whilst immersing yourself in amazing surroundings
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin – An astonishing local farm that’s evolved over the years to become an all-encompassing adventure hot spot. Essentially, this is a wild adventure park of its own accord and boasts its own private volcanic hot springs (Rio Negro!) and spa, for an extra-deluxe indulgence at the end of a hard day’s fun. The best part about this hacienda? You need not even stay overnight to enjoy all their activities – day visitors are more than welcome!
In town center, you’ll find more rustic yet totally suitable overnight options as well – the Tiquisa and El Sol Verde lodges are both gorgeous properties that offer fantastic value for money. Loads of ‘casa rural’ (rural homestays) abound just a few miles either side of town.
Where to eat when visiting Curubandé
Enjoying superb hospitality and home-cooked meals is one of the many perks of staying in a local guesthouse in Curubandé. The town also boasts a handful of sodas (rustic eateries like Soda Donde Yara and Rancho Don Luis) that offer delightful local meals and quite a few restaurants within a 4 -5-mile radius – perfect if you’re on a bespoke tour with private guide and transport!