Comparing the Pacific Side to the Caribbean side
Read about Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja
Rincon de la Vieja is among the most popular places to vacation in Guancaste, Costa Rica. On the Caribbean side there is lots of ecotourism, volcano hotel, ecotourism lodges and mountain lodges. Your adventure vacation and tour includes the rainforest, hot springs, blue rivers, waterfalls, spa and hiking the volcano.
The Caribbean and Pacific sides of Rincon de la Vieja offer quite different experiences. Rincon de la Vieja's north side is called the Caribbean side and the west side of Rincon de la Vieja is called the Pacific side. Hiking to the top of Rincon de la Vieja from the two sides and visiting the surrounding areas are also different, with respect to geography, weather, and climate.
The region around the Caribbean side is cooler and in lush, tropical rainforest. The gorgeous, unique, volcanic blue rivers are found only on this side and the source is can be seen by hiking this side of the Rincon de la Vieja. Enjoy the best of Rincon de la Vieja hot springs, considered the best in Costa Rica. Vacation here for many opportunities to soak in natural mineral hot springs, including Blue River Resort & Hot Springs' natural mineral "green" hot springs pools.
Contrast the weather here to Rincon de la Vieja's Pacific side which is dry and hot. Though there are opportunities to soak in pools that utilize the geothermal properties to produce hot water, there are no hot springs.
Hiking to the national park's volcanoes inside Rincon de la Vieja is possible from either side. Upon entering the park, the weather is similar on both sides, but the experience is quite different. Rincon de la Vieja, on the Caribbean side will include walking through old lava flows, with many water features and more abundant and greater variety of wildlife and plants. Here you'll find the source of the volcanic blue rivers and opportunities to soak in natural mineral hot springs. However, hiking this side of Rincon de la Vieja is steeper.
The Liberia, Guanacaste hotels are a little further away. If you are looking for a volcano hotel, a Rincon de la Vieja hotel or a mountain lodge offering natural hot springs and ecotourism, we recommend Blue River Resort & Hot Springs. There are also other rustic lodges in the area offering basic accommodation, without hot water, but a very homey atmosphere. For those coming from Liberia, the beaches, Upala or Nicaragua, Rincon de la Vieja's Blue River Resort & Hot Springs is a great vacation spot to visit for the day. Besides having natural mineral "green" hot springs pools that rival Tabacon and Baldi in La Fortuna, this hotel has a rainforest botanical garden, butterfly garden, mud treatments, natural steam room, spa, many nearby eco-tours and much more, including great food.
Best Time of Year to Visit
There really is not a "best" time of year to visit Rincon de la Vieja. During the wet season, expect more and less predictable rain. The Caribbean side receives more rain than the Pacific side. The rain usually comes down around mid afternoon but these showers are a delightful part of the fun experience.
For those hiking to the top of Rincon de la Vieja, the craters are covered in cloud more often, which obstructs the views. On the other hand, along the Pacific side, this is when the fumaroles and boiling mud pots are most active. Either time of year, check weather reports and leave early for the best chances for a day with no rain and clear skies. And remember, when hiking Rincon de la Vieja, bring lots of water, a light coat for rain and a change of clothes to accommodate the changing temperatures.
More About The Caribbean Side
The area along the Caribbean side is lush rainforest. The temperature averages about 5 degrees cooler than the Pacific side, is humid and features more animals and flowers. In an average year there is 200 inches of rain. So expect pleasurable rain showers year-round. There are a few rustic hotels and only one major hotel (Blue River Resort & Hot Springs which opened in February 2010). With recently improved roads, this area has been discovered, but there is less Costa Rica tourism than on Rincon de la Vieja's Pacific side., so Costa Rica tourism is less popular. there are fewer tourists. Here you'll find the source of the stunning blue volcanic rivers– Rio Celeste and Rio Penjamos – which begin and flow down from Rincon de la Vieja. And only here can you experience the natural mineral "green" hot springs. There are many options to swim in natural pools - fresh water and hot springs - with gorgeous waterfalls. Horseback riding and many eco-tours are available.
When hiking to the top of Rincon de la Vieja volcano along the Caribbean side, a guide is must. You'll hike through private property to reach the park, and the terrain begins through jungle. The craters are covered in cloud more often during the wet season, which obstructs the views. As a result, many recommend the dry season as the best time for a hike. Inside the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the average temperature is about 78°F/26°C. The dry season lasts from December to March with hot sunny days and magnificent sunsets. Typically there is a pleasurable short rain shower in mid afternoon. May to November is considered the rainy season, with sunny mornings and less predictable afternoon rain. The rainy season is famous for its greenery, tropical blossoms along the mountain slopes and plains. . All year around different flowers bloom and fruit ripen, each attracting different tropical birds and other animals that feed.
Remember – bring lots of water, a light coat for rain and a change of clothes to accommodate the changing temperatures.
The Caribbean side is just a little further to get to from Liberia and is a spectacular drive. Along route, you'll gradually leave the dry open fields and ascend into the rainforest with spectacular mountain views on either side. From Liberia the drive is 60 to 70 km with the final 20 km along a gravel road. From La Cruz and Upala, the Caribbean side is closer than the Pacific side.
The Caribbean side has many advantageous characteristics:
- Rincon de la Vieja's two gorgeous blue, volcanic mineral rivers start in the park and run only along the Caribbean side – Rio Celeste and Rio Penjamos. Blue River Resort & Hot Springs offers tours by horseback and vehicle to Rio Penjamos and private warm waterfalls.
- The natural mineral "green" hot springs, are only found along the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja. Blue River Resort & Hot Springs have harnessed them to create spectacular pools and offers tours to a small warm-water river at the base of the park.
- The sources of the blue volcanic rivers and sweet-water rivers are found in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park on the Caribbean side.
- Only on the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja National Park are the unique dry lava flows containing water and waterfalls with many opportunities to swim.
- Everywhere is lush tropical rainforest, with many flowers blooming throughout the year.
- There are greater numbers of more varieties of tropical mountain birds and other animals along on the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja.
- The Caribbean side receives far fewer tourists, so the surrounding villages and the people are as yet, unspoiled and authentic.
- The weather on the Caribbean side is averages 5 F cooler.
The drive to the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja takes about 1.5 hours from Liberia and about 1.25 hours from Upala. > Getting There
Summarizing Rincon de la Vieja Carabbean Side
Rincon de la Vieja is considered among the best Costa Rica national park's to vacation. Rincon de la Vieja's Caribbean side is a little further from Liberia, Guanacaste and a little closer to Upala than the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja. The climate is more moderate, the geography around the national park is lush hilly rainforest, offering more wildlife and animals. Hotels, sometimes referred to as ecotourism lodges, volcano hotels and mountain lodges dot the region. Blue River Resort & Hot Springs is a great hotel to both stay or come for the day. The Rincon de la Vieja has hot springs that are among the best in Costa Rica on the Caribbean side. There are fantastic opportunities to soak in natural mineral hot springs and waterfalls, swim in the blue volcanic rivers and hike the Rincon de la Vieja. Blue River Resort and Hot Springs offers all this onsite and nearby. With recently improved roads Costa Rica's Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja is relatively undiscovered area for tourism.