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Playa Naranja, Santa Rosa National Park :: Costa Rica

After a long day of driving and a border crossing from Nicaragua into Costa Rica, we anxiously hopped out of the car at Santa Rosa National Park and walked onto Playa Naranja at sunset.  Vibrant oranges, reds, and purples streaked across the sky, reflecting into the waves crashing on the white beach.  In the distance, a large, jagged rock jutted out from the water, serving as a natural stone sculpture to adorn the picturesque landscape.  A mist steamed from the hot sand, imparting a dream-like air to the stunning terrain.  At that moment I realized why Costa Rica is infamous.

50,000 hectares of coastline, forest and savanna comprise Santa Rosa National Park, located in the Guanacaste province of northwestern Costa Rica, protecting 253 species of birds, 10,000 of insects, 100 of amphibians and reptiles and 115 mammal species.  Although Santa Rosa National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most remote protected areas, it is 260 km from San Jose and provides sufficient camping facilities, making it a destination obtainable by many local and foreign visitors.  Playa Naranja has outhouses, outdoor showers and a sink, and grill pits, in addition to waves that are perfect for surfing.

My favorite aspect of the park are the crabs – I would tell you to keep an eye out for them, but they cannot be avoided.  As you walk down the sandy pathway to the beach, hundreds of brightly colored crabs and hermit crabs scamper across your path.  Each hermit crab is adorned with ornate shells as if they represent crab royalty.  If you approach the crabs, they scamper into their sand dugouts within seconds.  But as soon as you turn your back to walk away, they slowly creep out of their holes to carry about their business.

To reach Playa Naranja, it is necessary to drive a rocky road from the highway, which takes about 45 minutes.  There is a warning sign at the beginning of this road, which Nick and I mocked as we drove past.  But, surprisingly, the road is fairly rugged and slow-moving, especially since we drove in during high tide (pools of water collect at various parts of the road during high tide).  Click on the short video below to see our experience:

Playa Naranja in Santa Rosa National Park is a camping experience that allows you to experience Costa Rica’s wildlife and coast in a peaceful, natural, and secluded setting.
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Santa Rosa National Park
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Entrance fee: $15 on the same day or $10 in advance
Camping: $2 per person per night
No pets allowed

The park has four campsites:
La Casona: bathrooms and grill pits
Playa Naranjo: outhouses, showers and grill pits
Estero Real: outhouse toilets and grill pits, but no water
Playa Nancite: no water or other facilities – requires a permit.

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One Comment

  1. Please stop driving IN rivers

    “Drive at your own risk”

    sometimes warning signs are TO WARN YOU!

    1. Boo Shankly on September 28th, 2009 at 10:41 am

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