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Playa Conchal ★★, which is legendary for its crushed seashells, is also stunningly beautiful, but the drop-off is quite steep, making it notorious for its strong riptides. However, the water at Playa Brasilito is often fairly calm, which makes it a good swimming choice. This is also a great jumping-off point for visiting other nearby and less popular beaches, like Playa La Penca ★★ and Playa Pan de Azúcar ★★, both of which are north of here.

All of the hotels here have tour desks offering a range of tour and activity options, including those available in the Flamingo and Potrero area.

Tip: All beaches in Costa Rica are public property. But the land behind the beaches is not, and the Westin hotel owns almost all of it in Playa Conchal, so the only public access is along the soft-sand road that follows the beach south from Brasilito. Before the road reaches Conchal, you’ll have to ford a small river and then climb a steep, rocky hill, so four-wheel-drive is recommended.

Golf: The Westin Playa Conchal Resort & Spa ★★ (tel. 2654-4123) is home to the excellent Reserva Conchal Golf Course. Robert Trent Jones II designed the course, which features broad open fairways, fast greens, and a few wonderful views of the ocean. It costs $150 in greens fees for 18 holes and $95 for 9 holes. If you tee off after 1pm, you'll be charged $95 for all the rounds you can squeeze in.

Watersports: You can rent Jet Skis and Wave Runners on the beach in Playa Conchal, from Conchal Tours (tel. 8824-4293, www.conchalfun.com). This operation also offers guided snorkel tours to the Catalina Islands, as well as wet and wild “Banana Boat” rides, where your group gets pulled behind a speedboat on a giant, inflatable banana-shaped boat, plus nearly every other type of adventure activity in the region.

A Day Trip Destination: El Viejo Wetlands

Located a bit inland from the Guanacaste agricultural town of Filadelfia and bordering the Palo Verde National Park, El Viejo Wildlife Refuge & Wetlands ★★ (tel. 2296-0966; www.elviejowetlands.com) is a unique and intriguing option for a day tour. The principal attraction here is the wildlife, which is abundant, and can be viewed from both open-air safari-style vehicles and small boats on the Tempisque River. You’ll see scores of water birds and probably a crocodile or two. The main hacienda-style building at the heart of this operation dates to 1870, and is where excellent Costa Rican lunches are served. Additional tour options here include a zipline canopy tour, and a tour of the on-site organic farm and sugarcane processing mill, or trapiche. Rates run from $63 to $155, depending upon how many activities or tours you take, and whether or not you want lunch.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.