Rich Coast of Change

Photos by Grant Monahan

This is a glimpse of my slice of heaven—a look at the beauty and culture of Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
You know the feeling of stepping out of the airport or car in that one travel destination that you truly love: All the annoyances of traffic, or the screaming child in seat 4F, just melt away as the familiar air hits your skin. This is a special place that draws you back year after year with its distinct combination of culture, landscape, activities, and climate. It is not your home, but you are at home when you arrive.

For me, that place is Guanacaste, the northwestern peninsula of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It’s a beautiful area filled with stunning mountains and rolling hills at every turn, as well as some of the most unique beaches in the world. But what truly makes this place so special is the local people, or “Ticos,” who are rich in culture, pride, and the welcoming “pura vida” lifestyle. My family has been visiting the region since 1984, but my first trip was in 1991 when I was six weeks old. I have come back every year since, and plan on keeping that streak alive.

Like everywhere though, time and popularity have changed Guanacaste—what once was a beautiful empty lot of jungle is now a new hotel or restaurant. You can complain so much about such change that you lose sight of what attracted you to an area in the first place. Or, you can stay true to yourself and resist focusing on the negatives of evolution, and you’ll see that the little slice of heaven you remember is still there.