surfing lesson at Hacienda Pinilla

At 4,500 master-planned acres, Hacienda Pinilla is a destination unto itself. Here, amidst oceanside links and tennis beneath the palms, a vast trail system and a luxurious Beach Club, you and your family will discover the many things to do in Playa Avellanas and Hacienda Pinilla.

While there is so much to explore in the area, sometimes, it’s the perfect time to spend a day “at home,” making family memories. And whether you choose to do that for one day or your entire trip, Hacienda Pinilla is here to help you help you make lasting family memories, without ever setting foot outside our beachfront community.

Family Activity: Tackle the Playa Avellanas Surf

Rancho Surfboard Rentals

The Playa Avellanas surf is notoriously epic, so it’s an easy addition to our top things to do in Playa Avellanas and Hacienda Pinilla. “But,” you may ask, “is this surf also family-friendly?

Well, that depends on your family. Generally, the answer will be “yes” because, while Playa Avellanas churns up some truly spectacular waves year-round, there are calmer sections, too. In other words, whether you’re a bunch of brand-new beginners or a slew of serious surfers, it’s all in the family of Playa Avellanas surf.

If you’re new to surfing, we highly recommend booking a surf lesson to get you started. Armed with an expert instructor, you’ll not only learn the basics of getting up on your board, but will also stake out the most beginner-friendly waves on the beach. We can also help arrange for board rentals for the duration of your stay!

If you’re going it alone, here’s where to go:

Begin at El Parqueo, a stretch of sand best known for its long waves. Smooth though they are, they offer a solid challenge for beginners, the inexperienced, and the uninitiated. Ready to level-up?

  • Continue your wave journey at Lola’s Restaurant: Look straight out from the parking lot and you’ll see La Purruja, a left-hand reef break. Bear in mind that this break is not best known for its consistency, although waves are more likely to peak during the rainy season.
  • Next, check out El Palo, named for the fallen mangrove tree that marks its location. Here, left and right breaks form small barrels – a great intermediate challenge, in preparation for the Big Daddy.

And for the advanced surfers in your family, we know they’re here for Little Hawaii and the Avellanas River Mouth, or El Estero de Avellanas.

Little Hawaii is located at the northernmost point of Avellanas Beach, just across the river mouth, and is a local favorite for its right-handed break. Bear in mind, however, that this spot is for experts only, thanks to waves that can reach 18 feet and a rocky ocean bottom that only fades to sand as an afterthought.

The Avellanas River Mouth is also widely considered one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica. Here, lefts and rights crash over sandy ocean bottom and reefs alike, to crest in perfect A-frame arcs that pose a serious challenge. Due to ocean conditions and safety, this spot is best surfed during low (incoming) tide.

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Family Activity: Play a Round of Golf

Hacienda Pinilla Golf

Even if some of your family members have never golfed before, getting out onto the greens can be a wonderful way to make family memories as you stroll over heritage ranch land, look out over Pacific Ocean Views, and spot local wildlife.

Indeed, the Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course comprises once-farmland, now carefully revived into an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and eco-friendly golf course. The course is renowned for its ecological balance and respect for nature, and offers 7,200 yards of oceanside and ocean-view greens that dip and curve around Guanacaste’s natural slopes and beachy landscapes.

It can get wildly fun out there! We’ll just say that the not-quite-so-urban-legends of sunning crocs and small wildcats are not just rumors…

Prices (September 2023): 

  • 18 Holes: $125
  • 9 Holes: $65
  • Twilight: $90 (18 holes) or $65 (9 holes)
  • Super-Twilight: $75 (18 holes) or $65 (9 holes)
  • Rental Clubs: $50 (18 holes)/$30 (9 holes)/$10 (Juniors)
  • Golf Instruction: $100/hour or $55/half-hour

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Family Activity: Swim at the Oceanfront

Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club

While Playa Avellanas is more surfing beach than swimming beach, that doesn’t mean you can’t swim here. In fact, swimming definitely tops our list of things to do in Playa Avellanas, thanks to the Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club.

If you closed your eyes and summoned up an image of tropical paradise and the luxury lifestyle, it would look a lot like this multi-million-dollar beach club. And here, you’ll find one of our favorite features at Hacienda Pinilla: the Beach Club’s oceanfront swimming pool, easily one of the most incredible resort pools in Costa Rica: beachfront, infinity-edge, and a definitely resort focal point, this pool is the place for families to swim safely while enjoying Playa Avellanas.

Note that the Beach Club also offers a Beachfront Bar and Restaurant – the perfect pairing for your swim! – serving the freshest seafood, gourmet flavors, and other plates to please your palate, as well as an ocean-view, second-floor Fitness Center overlooking the Pacific’s crashing waves, daring surfers, and changing tides. 

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Family Activity: Challenge Each Other to a Tennis Match

tennis courts at Hacienda Pinilla Costa Rica

Whether you’re a competitive family or just love to have fun, Hacienda Pinilla’s twin tennis courts offer a great place to be outdoors, get active, and make some serious memories.

For here, amidst the shade of towering royal palms, you can serve and volley and play until you’re worn out. (Luckily, the beach is a quick stroll away!). Or, if you’re ready to level-up your game, the resort’s onsite tennis pro offers private lessonssemi-private lessonsgroup lessonsmonthly doubles socials, kids’ after-school programs, camps, and more – this is the perfect addition to your family trip to Costa Rica.

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Family Activity: Take a Hike or Go Mountain Biking

mountain biking trails at Hacienda Pinilla, Guanacaste

Costa Rica’s scenery is legendary, so you know that it’s going to make our list of things to do in Playa Avellanas, in some way, shape, or form.

And at Hacienda Pinilla, one of the most accessible and most enjoyable ways, shapes, and forms, is via the resort’s rugged backcountry paths, which offer an extensive trail system into the wilds of our terrain. Here, where even 4x4s can’t go, you and your family will have a blast either hoofing it or pedaling out onto some of the most untamed, jaw-dropping, and raw landscapes that our province has to offer.

As you tackle your choice of trail, you’ll ascend to some of the most beautiful views and emerge into incredibly remote corners of Costa Rica: 45 kilometers (28 miles) of forest, coastline, and cattle – your everyday-of-vacation invitation to uncover the side of Guanacaste that so rarely see: the wildly secluded and astonishingly beautiful backroads, hills, and valleys of Costa Rica’s coastline.

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Family Activity: Go Horseback Riding

Horseback riding beach tour

If exploration is on the docket but your family isn’t able or ready to tackle rugged hiking or biking trails, then you’re going to love horseback riding! Because Hacienda Pinilla’s 4,500 scenic acres unroll over Guanacaste’s cattle ranching country: a veritable paradise of rolling hills, sun-drenched coastline, and scenic pastures, seemingly tailor-made for explorations on horseback.

Experience these landscapes as Costa Ricans have for generations – atop your trusty steeds, as your family explores our rugged backroadsencounters wildlife, and treks from gorgeous beaches into lush forests. It all begins at Hacienda Pinilla’s stables, where there’s a horse and a tour for all ages and riding experience levels.

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Family Activity: Summon Your Inner Food Critics

La-Purruja-Playa-Avellanas-restaurant-guide-scaled 16 9

You’re never too young to develop your palate! And if your family is comprised of enthusiastic foodies, then you’re going to have a great time here at Hacienda Pinilla.

Make a vacation of it and add a few of the most appealing eateries to your list of things to do in Playa Avellanas: From lactose-free gelato and photogenic poke bowls at La Esquina to hand-thrown pizza (Il Rustico), Costa Rican-style ossobuco (Cactus), fresh ceviche (La Purruja), and mahi-mahi tacos (Lola’s), Playa Avellanas is packed with Costa Rican, international, and fusion cuisine that will please your palates. As we say in Costa Rica, ¡provecho!

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Family Vacation Home: Casa Blanca

6 Beds | 6 Baths | 20 Guests

Casa Blanca Costa Rica luxury vacation rental

Welcome to the ultimate relaxation experience: Casa Blanca, a 6-bedroom home so well equipped, you can consider it your family’s own private resort.

Here, you’ll have a hard time choosing between indoors and out, as they’re both spectacular. In Casa Blanca’s stunning outdoor living area – a true Costa Rica luxury vacation experience – you’ll find an expansive pool, paired with hanging hammocks, a gorgeous thatched rancho, and an entire oasis that bids you do nothing more than relax, drink in hand. That is, unless you’re reading a book on the spacious patio or whipping up a feast at the outdoor dining area, equipped with a barbecue grill.

Indoors, you’ll discover more to inspire your vacation relaxation. A gourmet kitchen promises high-end appliances – a welcome addition, whether you’re cooking all your meals or simply whipping up an afternoon snack. And then, there are the home’s six luxurious bedrooms, all beautifully appointed and home to ensuite bathrooms and total privacy. Speaking of privacy, Casa Blanca also offers a private guest home with its own living and sleeping areas, ideal for grandparents, a couple, or other traveling companions who desire a little separation.

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Family Vacation Home: Villa Uana

6 Beds | 6 Baths | 16 Guests

Villa Uana vacation home Costa Rica

With a nod to minimalist design and a modern aesthetic, Villa Uana is an honest-to-goodness oasis for your family’s Costa Rica wanderings and journey to relaxation. Because here, as much as you want to explore outside, you’ll also want to stay home a bit. Or a lot.

Relax, put your feet up, and enjoy the villa’s walls of glass and double swimming pools – yes, plural. There are two private pools! And thanks to outdoor night lighting, they’re also the perfect spot for dinner and drinks beneath the stars. To outdoor showers (two of them, of course!) and easy access to Hacienda Pinilla’s skatepark and basketball court, among other amenities.

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Family Vacation Home: Casa Bonita Beach

6 Bedrooms | 6 Bathrooms | 19 Guests

Casa Bonita Beach Tamarindo vacation rental with waterslide

For discerning families who value a 5-star experience and you-can-only-have-them-here amenities, Casa Bonita Beach is located just 600 yards to a secluded beach and has the kind of whimsy that works best when you’re on vacation: a mix of elite beach house ambiance, a touch of modern design, and the personality of your favorite fun uncle.

Here, where sleek lines join calming colors and custom details meet expansive glass, you’ll also enjoy a shaded outdoor living-dining areagrillsun terrace, and a spectacular private pool, complete with a waterfall and waterslide. Yes, we said waterslide! And a waterfall. Because sometimes, those 5-star touches lean in to a little bit of wow factor.

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Family Vacation Home: Casa Navidad

4 Beds | 5 Baths | 12 Guests

Casa Navidad luxury vacation rental

Welcome to everything your family could want: minimalism and hygge (an environment of quiet comfort), luxury amenities and high design. Best of all, you’ll have all this and still be just 200 meters (0.2 miles) to a secluded beach, accessible only to guests.

There is much to love about spacious Casa Navidad. It’s more than the four ensuite bathrooms,  incredible outdoor living spaces, shaded terrace, outdoor living room, and indoor-outdoor dining with a grill, wet bar, ice maker, and wine refrigerator. Because it’s also your very own private pool and pickleball court, a dedicated housekeeper and a secluded ambiance.

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Free Concierge Services to Plan the PERFECT Family Vacation

Readying for your vacation is about a lot more than prepping your things to bring to Costa Rica; it’s all about dreaming up what you’ll do, once you’re here! And, of course, about balancing your entire family’s needs, wants, and expectations…

Did you know that, when you reserve your Hacienda Pinilla vacation home with us, you gain access to our full concierge services? And by that, we mean an on-the-ground expert whose job is to explore, engage, and experience it all. She knows her family-friendly everything.

When you book with us, we’ll get in touch to help you plan all the details of your stay. Our job is to get to know you, so we can help you plan the trip of your family’s dreams. Whether you just need help arranging transportation or would like a full itinerary – everything from your airport shuttle to a full trip’s worth of activities, private chef services, and golf cart rental – we’re happy to help.

Even better, our concierge services are always free. So, why wait? Get in touch and let’s get started!