Located just south of Tamarindo on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the exclusive resort community of Hacienda Pinilla offers a getaway blending nature and luxury in Guanacaste province.
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Over the last decade, the gated community of private homes and holiday villas overlooking several beaches on the Guanacaste coast has emerged as one of the leading golf resort towns in Costa Rica. With country club-like amenities and plenty of nearby places to explore, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Hacienda Pinilla no matter how long you plan on staying!
Over the last few years, Hacienda Pinilla has become one of your favourite spots in the Tamarindo area. We visit the community daily, be it to hang out at the beach club, go to the gym, visit the restaurants, or take our nieces to the local playground.
It’s important to note that as a gated community, Hacienda Pinilla is not open to outside visitors. We are able to visit the community because Max’s family owns a rental property inside, giving us, as an extended family, access to its facilities.
But with plenty of rental properties inside the community, you too can visit Hacienda Pinilla and stay inside the resort to enjoy all of its facilities during your time in Costa Rica.
It really is a beautiful and very special place!
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About Hacienda Pinilla
The development of Hacienda Pinilla has been an ongoing project for over four decades. The expansive historic ranch property of 4,500 acres was bought by Atlanta developer Hg Pattillo in the 1970s when it was a desolate pastureland.
Since then, the property has slowly been transformed into a beachfront gated community with a beach club, resident houses, vacation rentals, hotels and a golf course.
Located south of Tamarindo on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Hacienda Pinilla offers direct access to three pristine beaches: Playa Golondrina, Playa Mansita and Playa Avellana.
The community is also surrounded by dry forest and clear water that offers a chance for plenty of outdoor activities, from mountain biking to surfing and horse riding.
How to Get to Hacienda Pinilla
The nearest international airport to Hacienda Pinilla is Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport or Liberia International Airport (LIR). You can also fly into the small domestic airport at Tamarindo Airport, which offers some commuter flights to other cities.
The easiest way to reach Hacienda Pinilla is by car. From Liberia International Airport, it’s about 1.5 hours or a 75 km drive to the southwest of the city. If coming from the nearby town of Tamarindo, then it’s just a 30-minute or 17 km drive to the south.
There are no direct public transport links to Hacienda Pinilla, but you can take a bus from either San Jose or Liberia to Tamarindo. The Alfaro bus line offers daily public transportation from San Jose to Tamarindo, which takes about 6-7 hours. The La Pampa bus company travels daily from Liberia bus terminal to Tamarindo which takes about 2.5 hours.
From Tamarindo, you’ll have to arrange a taxi or transfer to Hacienda Pinilla.
Note that there are no public transport options inside Hacienda Pinilla, and the community is quite large, so we highly recommend renting a car for the duration of your stay so you can get around the community but also pop out to the shops or for activities.
Best Time to Visit Hacienda Pinilla
Guanacaste has two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season runs from December until May, with the peak hot, clear weather lasting from January to March. During this time, daily temperatures often reach over 35℃ (95℉).. This season coincides with the winter in North America and thus high season for tourism on the coast, leading to higher prices and more crowds.
The rainy season starts in late in May, peaking around September and October (the rainiest month) and then slowing down by November. However, Guanacaste province tends to have less rainfall than other provinces, with rains typically coming only in late afternoons.
Things to Do at Hacienda Pinilla
With plenty of facilities within the resorts of Hacienda Pinilla, you can easily pass the time without ever leaving the community.
Here’s our favourite things to do in Hacienda Pinilla.
Spend time on the Beaches
One of the most appealing aspects of Hacienda Pinilla is that you have access to three miles of coastline featuring beautiful beaches galore. You can relax on Playa Avellanas, Playa Golondrina and Playa Mansita, all accessible from within Hacienda Pinilla.
Playa Avellanas is the most popular of the beaches accessed from the Beach Club, located in the heart of the community. The scenic long stretch of beach is often considered one of the best beaches in Central America, with popular activities such as surfing and bodyboarding.
Access to Playa Golondrina is reserved exclusively for residents of the Golondrinas Sub Community within Hacienda Pinilla. In order to access this beach, you need to be staying in one of the properties in Golondrinas ( or have a friend, that is).
Playa Mansita is located in front of the JW Marriott Hotel, inside the community. While the beach is not exclusive (there are no private beaches in Costa Rica), it can only be accessed by guests at the JW hotel.
Playa Avellana is the nearest beach with good surf, and it’s famous for its stellar conditions. Stretching out in front of the Beach Club and further south, the sandy beach is known for its great breaks for all levels. With far fewer crowds than in Playa Tamarindo, the surf here is characterized by its sandy bottom with some small reefs that create breaks suitable for beginners as well as advanced surfers.
Be aware of some dangers, including huge surf, rips, and hidden rocks on the sides of the beach. It’s important to get local tips and advice on the best areas to surf if this is your first time visiting Playa Avellanas. If the swell is right, you’ll find lots of them on the beach at sunset time!
If you want to arrange a surfing lesson (a good idea if you are a beginner), you can arrange it through the concierge at the Beach Club or head to the other end of Playa Avellanas to find Avellanas Surf – ask for Mauricio (a good friend and one of the best surf instructors in the area).
Enjoy a Day at the Beach Club
The Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club is located at the end of Playa Avellana amongst the mangroves. It offers easy access to the beach, an infinity edge pool, a fine dining restaurant, a beach bar, a fitness center, a spa, a kids playground, meeting rooms and a business centre.
It’s easy to spend an entire day hanging out here, and we often do. Relax by the pool, head in for a surf, enjoy a seafood lunch, and sip on a cocktail at sunset time. There’s a fee to use the facilities (even for those staying at the villas inside the community), but this comes off any bill from the restaurant.
The Beach Club is also a popular event venue, offering a beautiful setting for weddings and other special celebrations.
Go Mountain Biking
Hacienda Pinilla is home to over 45 kilometres of trails throughout the old cattle ranch, forest area and coastline. There are trails for every level, including beginners and mountain bike experts.
Head to the BikeCraft shop right in the middle of the resort area, which offers both biking tours and bike rentals. You can grab e-bikes or classic mountain bikes to explore the beachfront trails or technical climbing trails on a single track.
Try Horseback Riding
Hacienda Pinilla is also home to horse stables and plenty of horseback riding trails. You can take in the natural beauty from horseback with tours running for all experience levels. There are 16 km of scenic trails as well as miles of beach to ride along not far from the resorts.
You can inquire about booking a horseback adventure at the beach club. The packages typically include a shuttle, tour guide, bottled water, and helmet.
Hacienda Pinilla’s Tennis Center offers two tennis courts for guests to enjoy. There are private lessons, group lessons, monthly socials, kids’ after-school programs, kids’ camps, racquet rentals and more!
Designed by renowned architect Mike Young, the Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course is a 7500-yard 72-par world-class golf course – a must for avid golfers.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful and well-maintained courses in the region, Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course offers a stunning ocean backdrop. The club also has golf instructors and rentals for novices. The golf resort holds many tournaments and other events throughout the year.
Where to Stay in Hacienda Pinilla
The community of Hacienda Pinilla consists of holiday homes, permanent residences, and resorts. It a typical Guanacaste gated community, (similar to Las Catalinas a bit further north) in that it’s open to both residents and visitors alike, with options for families and couples looking for a getaway on the Costa Rican coast.
Hacienda Pinilla Vacation Rentals
Hacienda Pinilla’s collection of vacation rentals offers a touch of luxury for your family or group. The community offers a variety of villas, most designed in traditional Spanish architecture and surrounded by tropical gardens.
Most vacation rentals offer a large luxurious villa that can sleep up to 12 people, with access to a private pool plus all the other amenities of the community. This is perfect for those travelling in large groups.
Over the last few years, we have worked on building a beautiful villa in Hacienda Pinilla that’s now available for rent. You can check out the villa here and stay in a space we designed first-hand!
JW Marriott Resort & Spa
Located right in front of Playa Mansita, JW Marriott Guanacaste is the best luxury resort in the community. It features a spectacular infinity pool overlooking the beach, an award-winning spa, a fitness center, a kids club and four restaurants onsite. The king rooms offer an ocean pool or garden pool, with most featuring balconies, air-con, and luxury toiletries.
The resort also arranges a bunch of tours and activities, including kayaking, surf lessons, horseback riding, zip lining, ATV tours and more.
Where to Eat: Best Restaurants in Hacienda Pinilla
If you’re renting a private villa, you’ll have access to your own kitchen if you want to cook or hire a private chef. Otherwise, the Beach Club and onsite resorts offer upscale restaurants for guests and visitors.
Tamarindo is also just a 30-minute drive away and offers a wider variety of options for all different budgets.
READ NEXT: Best Things to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club
Open from breakfast through lunch until dinner, the Beach Club is a popular place to enjoy a relaxed meal after a surf, while lazying by the pool or watching the sunset.
You can enjoy a diverse menu with variety of options. Our favourites are open tacos, bowls, and any raw fish options.
JW Marriott Restaurants
On-site at JW Marriott Guanacaste, you’ll find four different restaurants.
The Azul Grill beachfront restaurant is perfect for those sunset snacks, or try the Asian-inspired menu at Tamarine. For local food, Sabanero is a genuine Guanacastecan Steakhouse, and Mansita Restaurant serves a range of international cuisine all day.
The Bottom Line
A sprawling community of private villas and resorts, Hacienda Pinilla offers a complete lifestyle rather than just a vacation.
With access to great amenities and activities, there’s plenty to keep you busy, or simply spend your days at one of the beaches within walking distance. It’s a great option for a multi-gen family holiday in Costa Rica or a luxury getaway on the Guanacaste coast.