Curubande de Liberia: A Country Town in Rincon de la Vieja

While Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province is known mostly for its famed beaches, inland areas of this region offer their own unique experiences. Just an hour or two from the coast is one of those places, the charming town of Curubande de Liberia. This peaceful community is set in the countryside at the foothills of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. In this post, we’ll give you a glimpse into the small town of Curubande de Liberia, including area hotels and activities.

Curubande de Liberia in Rincon de la Vieja

Orientation

Curubande de Liberia is located in Costa Rica’s northwestern Guanacaste Province. It is only about a 20-minute drive from the city of Liberia, the largest in the area. But it couldn’t feel further removed from urban life.

Just minutes after you make the turn off Highway 1, you’ll enter the quiet campo (countryside). Only about 2,600 people live in Curubande de Liberia. Many local families rely on subsistence farming. Others work in tourism.

The quaint town is marked by one central square. Like many small Costa Rican towns, it has a soccer field, modest school, church, and a couple of mini-supers (small, but well stocked, grocery stores).

Town Center Curubande de Liberia
Main street in Curubande de Liberia

The volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, can be seen right from town. Ask a local to point it out, as it can be hard to recognize since it doesn’t have a distinct shape. (See cover photo, above.)

The volcanic, mineral-rich soil from Rincon de la Vieja makes this area geologically unique. You’ll see interesting white sand, intensely blue rivers, and deep canyons and gorges that you won’t find elsewhere in Costa Rica.

Rio Blanco Rincon de la Vieja
The incredible Rio Blanco that flows through Curubande de Liberia

Tip: Although this area has an off-the-beaten path feel, it does get busy during certain times of year. Rincon is a common stop on itineraries from big travel companies. It is also popular with day trippers from nearby beach towns like Tamarindo, Flamingo, and Playa Hermosa who come for the all-day adventure passes.

Activities in Curubande de Liberia

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a big highlight in the Curubande area. The park has a few different trails. One takes you to see volcanic features, like steam vents, bubbling mud pots, and acidic crater lakes. Others go to beautiful waterfalls deep in the jungle.

The park’s trails vary from easy to difficult, offering something for everyone. Read our post Rincon de la Vieja National Park: Volcanic Vents and Tropical Forest for more information on conditions and tips for visiting.

Volcanic Feature Rincon de la Vieja National Park
A mini-volcano in Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Hot Springs and Mud Baths

Taking advantage of the powerful thermal energy from the volcano, the Rincon de la Vieja area has a few different hot spring facilities. These are more rustic than you would find in some other parts of the country, like La Fortuna/Arenal, but still very nice. Here, you can soak in naturally heated pools and even try a mineral-rich mud bath.

For more information on one option, the Rio Negro hot springs, check out our post, Hot Springs and Mud Baths in Rincon de la Vieja.

Adventure Parks

A few lodges in the Curubande de Liberia area offer adventure activities. Many are packages for full-day passes. These are nice because they let you do multiple adventures in one day, making a trip from the beach worthwhile.

Some of the activities include zip lining, river tubing, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, and even a waterslide. They also have hot springs on site.

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is one of the lodges with these activities. It’s right in Curubande de Liberia. Another option nearby is Buena Vista del Rincon Eco Adventure Park and Hotel.

Waterfalls

The Curubande de Liberia area also has many beautiful waterfalls.

Inside Rincon de la Vieja National Park, there are three. One is a seasonal waterfall on the main loop. This is nice during rainy season (May through end of November), but usually a trickle during dry times. Two others in the park are Catarata La Cangreja and Catarata Escondida. It takes several hours of hiking to reach these waterfalls.

For an easier trek, there’s the Oropendola Waterfall. The entrance is right next to the national park. It’s a stunning turquoise cascade that gets its color from volcanic minerals in the soil. For more information on visiting, read our post, Oropendola Waterfall: An Easy-to-Access Waterfall in Guanacaste.

Oropendola Waterfall RIncon
The gorgeous Oropendola Waterfall

If you keep exploring, you’ll find more lesser known waterfalls. A notable one is Catarata La Leona. This is in a deep canyon and has several rich azul pools. You need a tour guide to visit. Accessing it is an adventure, as you have to hike through a high-walled canyon, cave, and wade through a river multiple times.

Other Activities

Mountain biking is another nice way to take in the beautiful countryside around Rincon de la Vieja. You’ll see locals from the San Jose area coming to bike here on weekends. Bikes are available for rent at Hotel Hacienda Guacipelin. They have 30 km (18.6 miles) of single-track trail on their vast property.

This area is also good for birding. Around 300 different species have been spotted in the tropical dry forest. Notable species include the Spectacled Owl, Tody Motmot, Sunbittern, and Great Currasow.

Restaurants in Curubande de Liberia

Since it is such a small town, Curubande de Liberia doesn’t have many restaurants. For this reason, many lodges offer meal packages. 

Soda Curubande

Soda Curubande is the one restaurant right in the center of town. They have typical Costa Rican food like casados (plates with meat or fish, rice and beans, and side salads), rice dishes, and bocas (snacks). We had a nice lunch here.

Lunch Soda Curubande
Arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp) at Soda Curubande

La Ventanita de Repostera

This is the most charming reposteria (bakery) we’ve seen in Costa Rica. La Ventanita is a tiny pink building on the main street in town. When open, the little front window will display the pastry case, full of tasty treats. We tried the dulce de leche cookies and some empanadas, all of which were delicious. The owner is friendly and helpful.

La Ventanita de Repostera Curubande de Liberia
La Ventanita de Repostera – pastry shop right in town

Accommodations in Curubande de Liberia

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is a great accommodation option in Curubande de Liberia. This is a small resort, but also a working ranch so still feels authentic. The property is spread out, with rooms and a pool in one central location. A short drive away is the national park. Guests get free access to the hotel’s hot springs, mud baths, and waterfalls. Around $140-400/night, depending on room type. Check Rates and Availability Here

 
Pool Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel
The pool area at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin

Buena Vista del Rincon Eco Adventure Park Hotel

Another hotel in the area is Buena Vista del Rincon Eco Adventure Park Hotel. This one is located more remotely. Like Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, it offers activities right on the property (e.g., hot springs, zip lining), so you don’t need to go far. Buena Vista is an excellent value in the area. It has simple, but comfortable, wooden cabins with porches where you can catch the sunset. People love the hanging bridges and hot springs on site. Around $80-150/night. Check Rates and Availability Here

Buena Vista Eco Adventure Park and Lodge
Buena Vista Eco Adventure Park Hotel

Tiquisia Lodge

For those on a budget, Tiquisia Lodge has simple, but clean and comfortable, cabins. They’re located in Curubande de Liberia, so a good option for visiting the national park and nearby attractions. This lodge is run by a friendly, local family. Around $45/night. Check Rates and Availability Here

Conclusion

If you’re looking to explore the Rincon de la Vieja area for a few nights, the charming town of Curubande de Liberia makes a great home base. You’ll be within a short drive to the volcano, hot springs, and waterfalls, and will also get to experience a bit of authentic Costa Rican culture.

Have a question about visiting Curubande de Liberia near Rincon de la Vieja? Leave us a comment below.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you book a hotel using one of the links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

Looking for more information to plan your visit to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Regional SnapshotGet the basics on Guanacaste’s climate, weather, and other major destinations with this overview.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds – Not far from Curubande de Liberia is Miravalles Volcano. This area also has hot springs but is well off the tourist trail. Check out our destination guide for all the details.

Guanacaste Beach Towns: If you’re thinking of pairing your time in the Rincon area with a stay at the beach, check out our articles on Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playa Conchal, Potrero, and Playa Hermosa. Any of these destinations would be a great addition to your trip itinerary.

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8 Comments

  1. My Tica fiancé and I will also be in Santa Teresa next week rom the 10 to 13. We will be driving from San Jose to the Ferry on either the 9th or the 10th. Do you recommend taking ferry back as well when we leave Santa Teresa on the 10th we will be driving to Guapiles where she lives would it be easier to drive to Guapiles or should we take the ferry back to Puntarenas. I am very familiar with driving in CR

    1. Hi David, You could do either option. With waiting time at the ferry landing dock (since you need to arrive early), it ends up taking around the same amount of time to drive or take the ferry. The ferry is more scenic, but also more expensive and you will have already had that experience. That portion of the drive that the ferry saves isn’t that bad if you’d rather drive back.

  2. Jenn and Matt We have just returned from 8 days in Quepos. There was no reason not to travel to this area. The people were friendly and the covid awareness was every where you went from hand washing to sanitizing as you entered restaurants as well as grocery stores was very present. We all agreed that the precautions were in our mind better then they are in the US. The costa rican government has done I great job with the on going covid issue. We fished for several days with our temperatures being taken every time we entered the marina. I will say everyone wore their masks even the captains and mates. If you are looking to fish Quepos Fishing Adventures was the company to do that with. Andy and Connie will go out of their way to see you have all the insurance needed as well as any covid test you will now need to return home. Again thanks for all you help in the past and we look forward to next years trip as well as reading all your posts.

    1. Hi Joe, That’s great to hear. So glad you had a good trip and felt comfortable. Wonderful to hear about the precautions being taken at the marina and that they were so helpful. Thanks so much for taking the time to follow up with a trip report!

  3. Do you have any recommendations how to get a guide for La Leona waterfall hike? We will have 13 people with us.

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