Liberia: Key to the Beach

by : Nick Viale

It's no secret that Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but you may be surprised at just how easy it is to get to them. Many people know of Costa Rica's central international airport in San Jose, which is a five hour commute from the coast. However, a smaller second international center, Liberia's Daniel Odbur International Airport (LIR) is hot with those in the know, and it's gaining popularity fast. Just seven miles southwest of Liberia's city center, LIR is only 20 minutes to an hour from most of the beaches on the North Pacific Coast. Liberia is the capital of Guanacaste province and provides easy access to Playa del Coco, Tamarindo, Playa Negra, Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande, Playa Hermosa and beautiful nearby parks.

Since the inaugural international flight in 1995, this bustling arrival zone has grown to serve almost 30 airlines, including Air Canada, Delta, American Airlines, US Airways and Continental Airlines with flights arriving from cities like Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver.

In fact, Continental offers 16 weekly flights from the US to Liberia. LIR saw 237,199 passengers in the first six months of 2007 - an increase of more than 15 percent from the same time period the year before and a figure that continues to grow. With the first direct flight from England arriving in May 2007, the Costa Rican government is currently in discussion with at least four European carriers in hopes of securing regularly scheduled flights.

By 2017 LIR is expected to see over a million passengers a year, and plans are underway for a new terminal capable of processing 15,000 people an hour (the current terminal sees about 700 people an hour during peak times). With two new temporary open air terminals, the Daniel Odbur International Airport now offers a bank, medical services, a gift shop, an Internet kiosk, a fire department, and snack bars. The facility can handle up to four planes at once and offers domestic connections to several Costa Rican destinations.

A number of shuttles service the airport making it an easy, hassle free alternative to get to your destination quickly. If you'd prefer to drive yourself, you can rent a vehicle from any number of the nearby agencies that provide pick up and drop off services.

Because of its intimate, safe environment and desirable location, Liberia's quickly gaining a positive reputation with Costa Rica's more seasoned travelers and travel agents alike. For some the deciding factor is finding flights to this airport at better rates than those to San Jose.

So the secrets out! It's a great time to consider investing in Guanacaste province - besides the year round appeal of the amazing climate and beautiful beaches, this area is only growing in popularity as it becomes more accessible. Whether you're looking to invest in a vacation rental or live out your retirement dreams, Costa Rica is within reach.