Riu Guanacaste Tours Review — Is it Actually Worth Staying?

For an all-inclusive resort stay with excellent dining and large pools in Guanacaste, Riu is a solid choice, though it’s a bit far from other attractions. To explore beyond the resort, consider tours and excursions. I suggest checking out the Diamante Eco Adventure Park, the Monteverde night tour, a visit to San Jose, the Rio Taragon tour, the Rincon de la Vieja spa, and the springs at Miravalles volcano.

Riu Guanacaste is an excellent option for a vacation in Costa Rica. It has fantastic restaurants, big pools, and a beautiful beach. If you’re into all-inclusive deals, this is the place to go. However, it’s far from other attractions. This explains why you may be looking to explore the region with tour ideas. 

The good news is that within a few hours, you can find beaches, good food, and outdoor adventures. In this article, I will walk you through what it’s like with the different tours outside and around Riu Guanacaste. 

Keep in mind, though, that this review is based on just my 2-day short stay. Despite the limited time, I could enjoy the resort’s amenities and surroundings through various tours. Whether it’s worth your money depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. Keep on reading. 

Key Takeaways

If you’re pressed for time and need to quickly decide on tours from Riu Guanacaste, here’s a summary of my candid evaluation. However, I encourage you to read the details further so you don’t leave with half-baked information. 

Location and transportation
  • Riu’s isolation from neighboring towns makes it ideal for pool relaxation.
  • You’ll need a rented car for exploration on rough roads with river crossings, suitable for small SUVs.
  • Google Maps is useful because of the iffy road signs.
  • For car rentals, there’s an Avis onsite.
Resort Experience
  • It is a clean and nice resort.
  • Download the app to plan restaurant dinners.
  • Buffet food is okay but generic; I can only recommend dining at restaurants.
  • You need to wait in line for restaurant reservations; it fills up quickly.
Excursions and activities
  • Tours offer pickup for a fee; the highlight trip is to Rincon de la Vieja for hiking, waterfalls, and hot springs.
Tips and Currency
  • Bring $1’s and $5’s for tipping; getting change is difficult.
  • Resorts and tourist destinations widely accept USD.
Beaches and local experiences It is a beautiful beach, but take a 15-20-minute walk to Monkey Bar for an authentic experience and monkey sightings.

Tour to Beaches Around Riu Guanacaste 

In Riu Guanacaste, several beaches, such as Matapalos, Ocotal, Del Coco, and Playa Hermosa, feel less crowded and have clear waters. 

Some ATV tours at the resort entrance will guide you as you drive past some of these beaches and make a stop to soak in the views. 

Coco and Ocotal have darker sand, while Hermosa has yellowish sand. Playa Coco and Hermosa are the easiest to reach from the resort, but you need a car to get there. 

Meanwhile, if you’re going without a tour with your car, parking might be tricky in Ocotal. For 1500 to 2000 colones ($3), some people will watch your car.

But if you stay at the resort, you’ll spend a lot of time at its beaches, so you are better off taking mountain tours and visiting other attractions for a change of scenery.

Tours to Attractions Around Riu Guanacaste

Some of the best tours to attractions around Riu Guanacaste are the Diamante Eco Adventure Park and the Monteverde Night Tour. But it doesn’t end there. If you’re looking for tour options from Riu Guanacaste, consider these options: 

1. The Diamante Eco Adventure Park 

  • Address: RIU Hotel 350 East, Provincia de Guanacaste, Playa Matapalo, 50503, Costa Rica
  • Contact: +506 2105 5200
  • What to do here: Take zipline rides over a forest caterer of a butterfly and visit the house and wildlife center with jaguars.

Recommended tour on TripAdvisor ($138 per adult)

If you love animals and being in nature, I highly recommend visiting the animal sanctuary. My favorite part was the butterfly exhibit, where the butterflies fly freely, creating a peaceful atmosphere. 

You will also enjoy the toucan exhibit, where the birds roam freely. 

Ziplining, particularly the Superman zipline, is thrilling for adrenaline junkies who enjoy heights. The ATV experience is super fun, especially for first-timers. 

This location is ideal for guests at the Riu Guanacaste resort, as it is right next to Diamante Park. I highly recommend it.

2. The Monteverde night tour

  • Website
  • What to do here: spot a wild sloth with several birds.

The tour is recommended on Viator and costs $33 per adult.

This night tour through the Monteforest can accommodate up to 6 people per group hour.

During this tour, you may spot a wild sloth, numerous birds, and, if you’re lucky, a pit viper and a giant tarantula near the water! T

The quality of the guide really makes or breaks experiences like these, so I was picky about the tour company I recommended. 

3. The Rio Taragon Tour 

This tour is available at the Riu; you can ask the desk for more information. Basically, it’s an excursion where you can see crocodiles and tease them. 

4. The Rincon de la Vieja spa. 

  • Address: QJ4X+2MX, Guanacaste Province, Curubandé de Liberia, Costa Rica
  • What to do here: spa treatments and hot springs

Rincon de La Vieja is known for some of its famous attractions, such as the Rio Negro Hot Springs, Sensoria Land of Senses, Dino Park at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, Offitours Adventures, and the Oropendola Waterfall.

You can easily find a driver to take you from Riu Guanacaste to this place. If you’re using a rental car, Google Maps comes in handy. 

4. Miravalles volcano.

  • Address: Flamingo Beach Road, Guanacaste Province, Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica (meeting point for the tour)
  • What to do here: Consider the hot springs and mud baths nearby.

Viator’s Recommended Tour ($185 per adult)

Exploring waterfalls, zip-lining, horseback riding, crossing hanging bridges, enjoying a mud bath at the hot springs, and experiencing wildlife and nature are just a few of the adventures you can have on a day around the Miravelles volcano. You can also have a fantastic lunch.

In terms of pricing, the Riu resort may provide other options with additional experiences, but they will often require more time. 

5. A boat tour of the Bededero River

Recommended Tour on Viator 

You can also go on a boat tour on the Bebedero River near Paloverde Park. This place allows you to see many crocodiles, and the guides won’t disturb them. But you can. 

Expect to spend around 9 hours on this tour with a maximum of 15 people per group. 

Your day begins with hotel pickup in Guanacaste, followed by a scenic drive to Palo Verde National Park. Board a covered boat on the Bebedero River for a leisurely cruise through the park’s diverse ecosystems, spotting crocodiles, monkeys, and exotic birds along the way.

Next, you’ll visit the picturesque Llanos del Cortés waterfall for a swim or relaxation. Then, explore Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste, with a guided city tour and free time for shopping.

You will then enjoy a Costa Rican lunch before returning to your hotel.

6. Hang out at Rincon de la Vieja National Park

  • Address: Guanacaste Province, Liberia, Costa Rica
  • Website
  • Contact: +506 2666 5051
  • What to do here: there are hot springs and other cool stuff like zip lining, waterfall hikes, and horseback riding.

Tripadvisor recommended a tour ($30 per adult).

This 35,000-acre national park centers around a volcano that last erupted in 1995.

At the Riu Guanacaste Hotel, you can arrange a trip with Erik and Gustov while on the beach. The more extensive tour will take you to the Buena Vista Lodge, near the Rincon volcano, about 30 minutes northwest of Liberia. 

A small van with eight seats will pick you up from the beach. The tour includes:

  • A delicious buffet lunch at the lodge
  • A visit to the Sunburst Coffee Shop to buy coffee beans
  • Visit a sugar cane shack to observe the production of cane juice.
  • About ten zip-lining adventures
  • A thrilling 450-foot water slide
  • A long horseback ride to a stunning waterfall
  • Enjoy a relaxing time at the spa area, where you can enjoy a sauna, mud bath, and hot springs.

The resort area is lovely. After enjoying the water slide, you can also try some local snacks and sugar cane slides.

Pro Tip: 

  • Bring some money with you to the hot springs if you want to buy a drink. It costs $5 for a beer or $3 for water (the last time I visited).
  • The water slide is extremely fast and quite scary. So, be cautious if you decide to try it.

Riu Guanacaste: Moving Around for Your Tour

You should skip renting a car for just a day unless you love exploring on your own. 

While it’s enjoyable, renting and returning a car can take up a big chunk of your day. 

Your hotel can arrange tours for you, whether for half a day or the whole day, and they’ll handle all the details.

Let tour companies handle the headaches.

Rui Hotel itself is pretty isolated, and you’ll need to book excursions (which will add to the already expensive hotel cost) or rent a car to see more of Costa Rica. I don’t recommend handling this stress by yourself, especially for a first-time visit. 

Most attractions in Guanacaste are at least 1-2 hours away, and if you want to reach the rainforest, it’s 3-4+ hours. 

Instead of trying to put things together on your first visit, it is better to pay for a tour package in Riu Guanacaste that will take care of your transportation, tour guide at the different destinations, and even feed during the tour. 

For our first visit, we preferred going on day trips or excursions to familiarize ourselves with the area and feel more at home. So, we booked day trips through TripAdvisor and Viator to avoid the stress of driving.

It’s a good starting point where you can check out times, reviews, and more.

Is Riu Guanacaste touristy?

I asked for advice on Facebook before my trip to Riu Palace in Guanacaste, and someone advised me to cancel because it would be too touristy and terrible.

Eventually, I realized that it was touristy and that there were better ways to experience the culture and see more of the country. However, the staff is fantastic, the beaches are stunning, and the excursions are amazing.

It’s not cool when people say not to go somewhere because it’s touristy. Guess what? Places are touristy because they’re beautiful! 

Others have labeled some of the most beautiful and enjoyable places I’ve visited in Costa Rica as too touristy.

Final Verdict on Riu Guanacaste Touring

If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort experience with great dining options and big pools, Riu is the way to go. Keep in mind that it’s far from other attractions.

This is where tours and excursions come in. I recommend you experience the Diamante Eco Adventure Park, the Monteverde night tour, a trip to San Jose, the Rio Taragon tour, the Rincon de la Vieja spa, and the springs at Miravalles volcano.

If you don’t have too much money to spend on tours, take a stroll to the beach, head left, and walk about 10 minutes to Monkey Bar. You can try some fresh fish, enjoy a few Imperials, spot some monkeys, and escape the resort for a while.

Overall, an all-inclusive resort like Riu might not be the best fit if you want to experience Costa Rica. The only reason to choose all-inclusive is if you’re worried about exploring on your own or unsure about the local food. 

I hope you found this helpful. 

FAQs

In Costa Rica, what is the difference between the Riu and the Riu Palace?

The “Palace” resorts are a step up from regular RIUs, with slightly better liquor and more significant properties. RIU Guanacaste is impressive, despite not being a palace resort and sharing a small beach. Although Riu Palace shares amenities, dinner reservations are exclusive to your designated resort. I hope this clears things up!

Does Riu Guanacaste have a beach?

Yes. Located along MataPalo Beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the Riu Guanacaste Hotel offers 24-hour all-inclusive service.

How far is Riu Guanacaste from the airport?

The hotel is in Playa Matapalo, around a 40-minute drive from Liberia Airport. To reach Guanacaste from Liberia Airport (LIR) quickly, taking a taxi is the fastest option, costing between $19 and $23. 

There’s also a direct bus available, departing from Llano Grande and arriving at Liberia. These buses operate every two hours on a daily basis.

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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