International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Tiny Travel Story: Costa Rica

View ISA Costa Rica in a larger map

Explore this map and find out the exact location of the ISA offices and local points of interest!

What is Santa Cruz Like?

Santa Cruz is a small but active town located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. The Guanacaste region is known for its world-class beaches and ubiquitous national parks. Bordered by volcanos and mountain ranges on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, Guanacaste is home to incredible biodiversity and offers endless opportunities to explore.

Santa Cruz itself has all the charms of a small town but boasts a growing infrastructure and student population, and is quickly becoming a sought after destination for travelers interested in the culture of Costa Rica. While Santa Cruz is located more inland in the Guanacaste region, several famous Costa Rican beaches are just a 40 minutes bus ride away.

The city is a hotbed for celebrations and festivals, but also offers plenty outside of these festivities. Students will find many small restaurants, bars and parks where they can pass time, and there are also buses to nearby beaches for students looking to catch rays or waves after classes.

Region and Population

Guanacaste is located in Costa Rica's northwest region. Bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Guanacaste and Tilaran mountain ranges to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the region stretches down into Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. Santa Cruz is one of the region's two most important cities along with Liberia, located about 30 miles north of Santa Cruz.

The canton (province) of Santa Cruz has a population of around 60,000 people, while the city itself has a population of about 25,000 people.


The Guanacaste region, like most of Costa Rica, has a wet season and dry season. The wet season spans from May to November, and the dry season, which entails strong heat and extremely scarce rainfall, runs from November to April. The region experiences a particularly arid dry season, and a rainy season that brings comparatively less precipitation than the rest of Costa Rica, making it home to tropical dry forests, as opposed to the ubiquitous tropical rainforests found throughout other regions of the country.
Avg. Rainfall.