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Riu Guanacaste

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Hidden away in lush Costa Rica right on the beachfront, Riu Guanacaste has a real back-to-the-nature feel, but it isn't just for the quiet types. There are plenty of activities to do in and outside the resort. As well as a superb range of leisure possibilities, the hotel features its own casino, an exciting disco, a beautiful spa and fitness facility, and with the more active traveler in mind, plenty of watersports and a fantastic kid's area.

Location: Directly on Matapalo beach in Guanacaste. 30 minutes from Playa del Coco and 45 minutes from the airport.

tripadvisor Traveler Reviews
  • happyservice : Toronto, Canada
Great Resort, Very Disappointing Beach

This was our first trip to Costa Rica and we absolutely loved it, we will definitely be returning to this beautiful country! If you are looking for a great all inclusive resort experience then the RIU Guanacaste should be perfect for you! If you are a beach person, then I would suggest you do your research on all the different areas and choose an alternate location. The RIU has done a fantastic job with this resort .....absolutely beautiful grounds, large clean pools; great food; comfortable rooms; excellent service and enjoyable entertainment both day and night. We went at the peak of spring break travel season so I had lowered my expectations and prepared for daily pool chair battles and long waits for service. I was proven wrong and in fact the resort did a fabulous job at keeping on top of everything. We aren't early risers and we never once had trouble finding pool chairs or towels! The staff were fully attentive and were always pleased to help with anything we needed. The grounds are breath taking....gorgeous views everywhere and unique wild life everywhere you turn. Yes you can walk up the beach to the infamous "Monkey Bar" but honestly, you don't need to....the trees beside the resort are full of monkeys and you can see them right from your poolside chairs! We also stumbled across a wild "Coati Mundi" along the path beside the restaurant, they are quite tame and will take food from your hand if you offer it. All in all, we were very pleased with the resort and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a pool based resort vacation. If you are adventurous there are so many fun excursions to choose from and there is a ziplining place right next door to the resort. The rooms are the same as every RIU resort I have been to....although a little dated, they are well stocked, clean and comfortable. Yes I will admit that it took us some time to achieve a comfortable temperature in the room, however, Costa Rica is a very hot country right near the equator so although the A/C was constantly pumping, it did seem warm in the room at times. As long as you keep your door locked and curtains closed during the day it should be fine. We stayed on the 4th floor and had a beautiful view of the ocean. I would definitely suggest spending a little extra for the ocean view rooms...the view is well worth it and then you also won't be woken up by the early sounds of all the "Howler Monkeys" on the garden view side of the resort.THE BEACH.....sadly this was a big disappointment for us. We love beach time on our holidays, however, it just wasn't comfortable for us on the beach. First of all the sand is HOT HOT HOT and the ocean is not friendly- large waves, dark cloudy water, lots of rocks and many water snakes and jelly fish. It's quite a walk (run for hot feet) back to the pool so unless you want to bake on the beach without water relief or unless you are daring enough to venture into the ocean it's not very comfortable out there. There are no bars or bathrooms on the beach so need to be prepared when you venture down there. It's good for an occasional walk (bring shoes!) but otherwise, you will likely want to stick to the pools. Overall, a fantastic holiday for us and we will definitely return to Costa Rica! Although we would love to return to the RIU Guanacaste I think we would look for a resort with a better beach next time.

  • Caroline D :
Amazing wildlife

I have just returned from 2 weeks at this hotel and loved it.The hotel itself is clean and well maintained with beautiful grounds.The rooms are a decent size with large bathroom with a double sink, and a huge bed, there is also a mini bar with optics which are replenished every 2nd day, there is no kettle in the room so if u like a brew on a morning i would advise to take your own travel kettle. We had a jungle view room which i think was better than a see view as we got to watch the howler monkeys from our balcony. The food is not the best ive ever had but also not the worst, i found breakfast to be the best out of all 3 meals.We mainly sat down on the beach as it was much quieter than the pool which could get a bit rowdy!! The wildlife was by far the best part of the holiday we saw howler monkeys, lizards, iguanas, birds, parrots, butterflies, hummingbirds, stingrays and we were even hand feeding the wild white faced monkeys which was incredible they were so cute.It did rain a couple of times but not for long and it is rainy season after all so its to be expected.I would definatley advise bug spray especially if you go off walking down one of the many trails and a high factor sun cream is a must as its so hot.If your looking for crystal clear waters and white sand then go to the carribean if your looking for a nice place to relax with nice little walks and plenty of wildlife then this place is a must.

  • pendzifour : Oxford, Connecticut

Riu Guanacaste was marvelous! Just like being on a cruise! Everything included. Frig in our room was kept stocked with soda, beer, mixers, some alcoholic drinks, etc. Property was clean and gorgeous! The pool meandered with waterfalls, bridges, fountains, etc. But the water was like bath water because it was so very hot! You didn't even have to get out of the pool for a drink....just swim right up to the bar and take a seat! Lots of lounge chairs always available....they even had some right in the pool. Nice buffet a short walk from the pool. The beach was also a short walk from the pool but we only walked down a couple of times because there was no shade and the sand was very hot. You had to wear water shoes or shoes as flip flops or sandals didn't keep the sand from burning your feet. Don't miss the Monkey Bar at the end of the beach area. Lots of monkeys hanging out in the trees there. They said it was a 10 min. walk but it was more like 20-25 mins. Yes, as some have complained...the beds were somewhat hard and the towels were rather stiff, but we were not planning on moving in!!! Forget about shopping around the hotel. Only 1 store in the hotel and a few a short walk down the street, but prices were high and there wasn't much to choose from. Someone said that there where vendors in a parking lot near the beach, but we missed that. The casino was very small...only a few slots and a couple of table games. There was nice entertainment in the hotel every night....don't miss the Michael Jackson show....fantastic!! Hotel had 2 buffets, 4 restaurants, 2 bars. Some had complained online about having to make "reservations" at the 4 restaurants. You did have to put in your name, but the wait was not long. We stuck pretty much to the buffet...the food was awesome! Something for every taste! We were there in their summer...the end of April and it doesn't rain. Everything outside the hotel area was very dried up and dead looking (a surprise to us!) and we didn't see many of the exotic animals that we thought we would. Apparently they hang out in the highlands (a 15 hr. round trip from the hotel...yikes!). Most roads are not paved. If we go again we will have to go during the rainy season, but it rains just about every day for about an hour or so. We will also have to go to the highlands to see more wildlife in their natural habitat. The staff were very friendly and helpful, especially on the excursion's desks in the lobby. We did 2 excursions....a boat ride down a river and a trip to a small "rain forest". Both were very nice and the tour guides were excellent. Nothing is near the resort hotels in this area, so be prepared to make long treks to see anything else.

  • nesparky : Lincoln, Nebraska
a fair trip

so just returned from this hotel and had a nice stay but wasn't overly impressed. the good was the clean rooms, comfortable bed, usually friendly staff, and well maintained grounds. from there however it goes downhill. the food was mediocre at best which was a topic of frequent discussion with other guests, even the ones from the adjoining RIU property. the pool area was generally good until Friday when the hotel opens up to the locals, who bring large family groups with them and view the pool bar area as the childrens pool. it was hard to get a drink and return to your group without getting large amounts of pool water in your drink. and it was even harder at times to get to the bar to get a drink as it was surrounded by children and their floaty toys. this was also the case on Saturday and Sunday into early afternoon Monday. it was also a topic of discussion that this seemed to be one of the drunkest hotels many travelers had been to. 3 separate instances of people throwing up in the pool. the beach area had many rocks in the water making it uncomfortable to walk into the water. also vulturous vendors hocking their wares, nonstop! for you fellow smokers, there is one small smoking area with 4 tables where you can smoke, but otherwise Costa Rica is a no public smoking country so keep that in mind. this should be mentioned on the hotel website. we were also told on the website that we could enter the adjoining property, but this wasn't the case unless you were at the RIU Palace. " Top Shelf" liquor is available but well hidden and isn't served unless you request and even then it may not happen until you drop a tip on your favorite bartender. but the so called top shelf is American well liquor, Smirnoff, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo etc. entertainment was cheesy, the only available English speaking tv channel was fox news and we couldn't get American subtitles or even to the tv menu to attempt it. as for the rest of the country, it was beautiful but of course watch yourself. the exchange rate changes daily, swinging from 750c to a dollar to 500c to a dollar, and cashiers take full advantage of your not knowing it. I caught this three times just at the hotel shops. over all, I had a good time but have no plans of returning, and certainly not to this property.

  • rsoulstar : NYC

I could write a pamphlet. But let's keep it short and sweet.All Inclusive resorts are all about the value. This place has value, but don't expect any extras. If it comes, think of it as a treat and a bonus. And nothing here moves fast--PURAVIDA! I don't agree with the 4 star rating. I believe it to be a solid 3 out of 5. I went with a group of family and friends--and a few of us had to move our rooms a few times because of the strong moldy smell. Keep an eye out for that.The food was delicious especially in the main dining hall, and the steak house. My NYC palate was impressed. The spa was a great value and the massages are great. The pool is great. The gym is cool. The overall service was ok--as an average. But after spending a considerable amount of money in tips...I didn't have to worry as much about being looked after. Read: you get better service if you give good tips. The property is huge, and there are alot of activities off-site like zip lining, and atv excursions, boat trip etc. that help past the time. Take a trip to CoCo beach to get some souvenirs. Walk about a 1/3 of mile to Monkey Bar with some bananas in tow to visit the Howler and Marmoset Monkeys. Be mindful of the beach. It is not manicured well, and it is VERY rocky. Transportation to and from the airport: DON'T RENT A CAR! Take a share transfer to and from the hotel. It's quick, easy and inexpensive. It was nice time, the food was great--but I can only recommend on one condition--that you get it for a DEAL that you can't turn down!

Vacations packages include round-trip flights, accommodations, round-trip transfers (unless outlined below) to and from the hotel, and tourist cards (if required, unless outlined below).

If selecting an all-inclusive resort option, the package will also include the all-inclusive features as outlined by each resort.

Items not included:

  • Travel insurance (mandatory if traveling to Cuba)
  • Tourist cards ($10USD)if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing Airlines
  • Departure taxes ($20USD) if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing or Signarture Vacations
  • Hotel transfers for packages with WestJet to USA (with exception to Honolulu)
  • Hotel transfers for packages to Europe
  • Items of a personal nature

  • Buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
  • Domestic drinks
  • Non-motorized watersports
  • Tennis
  • Entrance to disco & casino (drinks extra at both)
  • Daily activities
  • Nightly entertainment
  • 701 Rooms
  • 3 A la carte restaurants
  • 5 Bars including Swim-up bar and 24 hr Sports bar
  • Zero entry pool with adjoining Jacuzzi
  • Watersports
  • Scuba diving centre (fee)
  • Fitness centre
  • Spa (fee)
  • Steam bath & Jacuzzi
  • Beauty salon (fee)
  • Lit tennis courts
  • Casino
  • Gift shop
  • WiFi internet in lobby
  • Conference facilities (fee)
  • Golf nearby (fee)
  • Horseback riding nearby (fee)

Hotel Room includes:

  • 1 king or 2 double beds
  • A/C
  • Ceiling fan
  • Satellite
  • TV
  • Phone
  • Radio/alarm clock
  • Mini-bar with soft drinks, water, beer & liquor dispenser (replenished regularly)
  • In-room safe
  • WiFi (fee)
  • Iron & board
  • Full bathroom with double sink, hair dryer
  • Balcony or terrace
  • Max occupancy 3 adults & 1 child, in existing bedding

Family Room includes same as above, with: 1 king and 1 double bed. Max occupancy 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 kids.

Kids Deal - Kids stay and eat free. Up to two children 12 and under in Hotel & Superior room only, limited availability.

For the Kids - Kids' pool, Supervised kids' club & playground (4-12 years) and Babysitting available for a fee.

Honeymoon Bonus - Surprise welcome gift in your room, King-size bed, Late check-out, and Complimentary upgrade to next available room class. Request at time of booking. Proof of marriage required. Subject to availability and subject to change.

Free Weddings & Renewal of Vows - Please inquire for more details.

Early Booking Bonus - This hotel may offer early booking bonuses at certain times of the year. If early booking bonuses apply to your vacation, prices shown online have already been adjusted accordingly. Please inquire for complete details.

Resort Location Map

  • Riu Guanacaste
    Liberia,Costa Rica

  • Hotel Contacts
  • Extra Info
  • Disclaimer
Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Playa Matapalo, Sardinal Costa Rica

Some restaurants may be open for certain meals only and limited visits may apply. Reservations required and dress code in effect for a la carte restaurants. Time restrictions may apply for water sports.

Child pricing may only be available with select tour operators and valid for select dates and durations. Child pricing rules are subject to change without notice. Please contact one of our vacation specialists if you require assistance with child pricing.

Photo identification and/or credit card or cash deposit may be required at check-in for incidental charges.

Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on hotel policy. Rollaway beds and cribs (infant beds) may be available and should be requested at the time of booking; fees may apply.

Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in. Special requests cannot be guaranteed and may incur additional charges upon check-in to fulfil.

Hotels do not condone unruly behavior, parties in rooms, excessive noise or any other actions that violate the hotels terms of use. Guests may be removed from the property at their own expense in the event of any disturbance or complaint from other guests or hotel staff. cannot be held responsible for any guests who may be removed from the hotel due to a violation of rules. makes every effort to ensure that the information on this page is accurate, however, all information on this page is subject to change without notice. is not responsible for any changes, errors or omissions that may occur.