Surprising Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort, Costa Rica

After exploring Asia for several years, I finally made my way over the Pacific Ocean and, after a brief stopover in New York spent three weeks exploring Costa Rica. My good friends from Canada decided on a destination wedding, and I joined them for almost a week at Riu Guanacaste resort. After the festivities, the three of us and another five friends spent a couple of weeks on a road trip through some of the country’s best national parks.

Riu Guanacaste resort is located in Guanacaste province – one of Costa Rica’s most Northern provinces famed for its beaches and dry climate.  The resort is nestled on  Mata Palo Beach on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Interestingly, the Nicoya Peninsula is considered one of the world’s longevity hot spots, where people commonly live past 100 years. Not surprisingly, it is home to some of the best vegan-friendly resorts in Costa Rica. However, Riu Guanacaste is not one of them.

I am not a fan of resorts. In fact, I’ve never been to one, but when you are in a country as beautiful as Costa Rica, even an all-inclusive resort looks like a set from a Jurassic Park movie. It’s hot, it’s humid and it’s very lush. And as an added bonus it offers a bit of an introduction to Costa Rica animals.

READ MORE: 50 Outstanding Safari Holidays Destinations Outside of Africa

Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort
Riu Guanacaste Resort

Riu offered rather limited wildlife watching opportunities, but I loved being in a new environment. Costa Rica was not just a new country for me, it was a new continent! Everything around me was new and unfamiliar, waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort

At first, it seemed that the only wild things living on the resort grounds were the noisy and brazen Great-tailed grackles. But later, I discovered a troop of Mantled howler monkeys, passed out in the heat up in the trees, Variegated squirrels, humongous dinosaur-like Green iguanas and Ctenosaur lizards (Spinytail iguanas), and microbats that would fly over the pool after dark.

READ MORE: Unique Costa Rica Itinerary: 2-Week Wildlife Watching Road Trip

Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - Mantled howler monkey
Mantled howler monkey
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - Lizard

Explorations slightly further afield brought me to the Monkey bar, about a kilometre away from Riu along the beach. There is a small patch of forest between the beach and the bar, and it was teaming with wildlife. There were howler monkeys, Iguanas, a Rose-bellied spiny lizard, an incredibly colourful Deppi’s whiptail, White-throated magpie jay, Orange-chinned parakeets, Great kiskadees and Turkey vultures soaring above.

READ MORE: 25 Landmarks in Costa Rica to Add to Your Bucket List

Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - Deppi's whiptail
Deppi’s whiptail
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - young Green iguana
Young Green iguana
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - bellied Spiny Lizard
Rose-bellied spiny lizard
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - Ctenosaur
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - White-throated magpie jay
White-throated magpie jay
Wildlife of Riu Guanacaste Resort - Great kiskadee
Great kiskadee

The main wildlife surprise that Riu turned up was a Striped hog-nosed skunk nonchalantly walking across the lawn at night when I was nowhere near my camera.

One of the places we visited outside the resort was the coastal town of Tamarindo. And while we did not see any wildlife – it was more of a social visit – we did get a chance to appreciate the beauty of the famous Tamarindo beach at sunset.

Tamarindo beach, Costa Rica
Tamarindo beach

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