When it comes to choosing the top gated communities for families in Guanacaste, it isn’t easy: Our region is home to a wide array of incredible gated communities, each with its own distinct benefits, amenities, and lifestyle draws.
But we have to start somewhere! So, as we assessed each area community, we considered the following important criteria:
3 Must-Haves: Choosing the Best Gated Communities for Families in Guanacaste
Over the years, we’ve learned a few ingredients that consistently contribute to easier family transitions. Here are our top three:
#1: The Benefits of a Full-Time Community
In Costa Rica, you’ll find that most gated communities lean more toward either full-time residents or part-time/vacation residents.
When you’re setting down roots and raising a family, it’s likely you’ll prefer the former: You’ll really get to know your neighbors. Your kids will be able to make (and keep) friends. You’ll experience greater stability and consistency in your surroundings. And your community amenities will be more likely to include kid-friendly extras, like playgrounds, skate parks, and children’s pools.
Additionally, communities that attract full-time residents also attract residential services & amenities – everything from private schools and medical care to grocery stores and varied retail stores. By contrast, vacation and resort communities are often a little more removed from these everyday needs (as they’re not needs for people on vacation).
All this to say, as we consider the best gated communities for families in Guanacaste, we prioritize those that have more full-time residents, for all of the reasons stated.
#2: Proximity to Schools & Activities
While it’s true that full-time residential communities are more likely to be located close to amenities, that’s not a hard and fast rule. What’s more, needs and amenities can vary: For example, something that’s important to a family community (ex. proximity to schooling) may not be important to, say, a retirement community.
So, with that in mind, when we dial in on the top gated communities for families in Guanacaste, again, we’re thinking about the kids (and their parents): What communities and areas put you closest to the top schools in the area? (For more on your options, see our overview of the best private schools around Tamarindo and the best private schools around Playas del Coco.)
In addition to schools, we’re also thinking about extracurriculars: Where will your kids have the greatest access to fun and activity and entertainment? Because they’re important, especially for active kids!
#3: Other Kids & Parents
It’s not just full-time residents: As we assess some of Costa Rica’s best family communities, we’re truly thinking of families. Because there’s a lot to be said for shared experiences and friendships with people who understand your challenges and successes.
The great thing is that there are lots of families in Guanacaste. In the following communities, specifically, there are lots of kids and many age ranges. They come from both Costa Rican and expat / international families, so we have access to a great lifestyle mix of cultures, languages, and experiences.
Choosing a community with other expats can also be crucial to your kids’ successful transition: Living around other kids who have been there, done that – who have faced the same life and cultural challenges – can be of great benefit to your children. Their peers will be in similar situations and will understand your kids’ bi-cultural experience – all the ups and the downs, come what may. And that resulting empathy, compassion, and advice can make all the difference.
And with that in mind, let’s discuss 7 of our most recommended gated communities for families in Guanacaste, from north (Playas del Coco) to south (Playa Avellanas):
Pacifico Gated Community (Playas del Coco)
Playas del Coco is an excellent choice for raising your family: It’s incredibly convenient and has access to a wide array of amenities, including many choices for schooling. It’s also one of Guanacaste’s two coastal “cities” (note: we use this term loosely), home to a wide variety of services and amenities.
And when it comes to Playas del Coco proper, Pacificos tops our list for the best gated communities for families in Guanacaste: Somehow both in the heart of it all, this resort community is walking distance to all things Coco and yet, is also home to glorious peace and quiet, as well as resort-style amenities, which include a private beach club, community pools, and hiking trails that lead to a lovely waterfall and picnic area.
Here, this peace resides in Pacifico’s choice of either private homesites or two-story townhomes and luxury condos, designed in the Mediterranean style. The latter residences offer 1 to 4 bedrooms, high-end finishes, and mature landscaping to ensure ample privacy. Looking for a little more space? Choose one of the community’s homesites or existing single-family homes, many with panoramic ocean views.
Pacifico Community Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Private Beach Club, including the Beach Club Bar and Restaurant
- Four community pools with decks and loungers
- Coming Soon: Recreation area with tennis courts and pickleball
- Kid-pleasing pool (one of the four community pools), with water features
- Access to hiking trails and picnic areas
- Immediate proximity to the Village Shops, including an upscale supermarket and restaurants
Hermosa Heights Gated Community (Playa Hermosa)
Just south of Playas del Coco, Hermosa Heights is an exclusive development and true family-friendly community.
Located on a scenic hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Playa Hermosa’s breathtaking bay, this 45+ acre community offers both small and large homesites, as well as state-of-the-art homes – all, with access to a host of lifestyle amenities, including a movie theater, gym and spa, restaurants, a dental office, and more.
What’s more, as this is an established community of more than two decades in the making, Hermosa Heights is populated mostly by existing single-family homes (move right in!), as well as an exclusive selection of larger homesites recently offered for sale.
Hermosa Heights Community Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Community pool with swim-up bar
- Onsite movie theater
- 18-hole, Costa Rica-inspired mini-golf
- Onsite gym and spa
- Cocktail lounge
- Hiking trails
- Onsite restaurant and sports bar
Altos de Flamingo Gated Community (Playa Flamingo)
Traveling further down the coast, Altos de Flamingo is located between Playa Flamingo (and the new Flamingo Marina) and Playa Potrero – not only a strategic location but also a great investment (thanks to the new marina) and an easy choice for boating families.
In addition to its winning location and convenience, Altos de Flamingo feels like a true neighborhood: wide, paved roads connect you to all the services and amenities you’ll need on a daily basis, including banks, grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, hardware stores, entertainment, and, of course, water sport shops – all within walking distance.
And speaking of convenience, Altos de Flamingo is a popular choice for families whose children attend the nearby La Paz Community School or Costa Rica International Academy (CRIA), two of the top private schools in our area. You’ll also find that the community is still young enough to have inventory for almost any type of real estate you seek, from building lots and homesites to fully constructed, ocean-view villas. Choose the home of your dreams!
Altos de Flamingo Community Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Spectacular Playa Flamingo, Potrero, and Marina Views
- Walking Distance to Services
- Close to Schools
Mar Vista Gated Community (Brasilito / Playa Flamingo)
One of the newer and already most popular gated communities for families in Guanacaste, Mar Vista is an oceanview, 750-acre residential gated community located between Brasilito and Playa Flamingo.
Known for its biodiversity, wildlife, and scenic landscapes, Mar Vista is a true sustainable community, where the emphasis is firmly on the environment: over 25% of the project has been set aside as a nature reserve and every detail is designed to leave the smallest possible carbon footprint.
In addition to teaching your kids environmental stewardship in actual practice, Mar Vista offers many more benefits to resident families: an onsite school (La Paz Community School, offering the prestigious International Baccalaureate, or IB, degree), plus first-class amenities, including night-lit clay tennis courts, a community clubhouse and restaurant, an infinity pool with swim-bar, a game room, playground, and hiking and biking trails, which lead to waterfalls and a natural swimming hole.
Mar Vista Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Lighted Clay Tennis Court
- Top-of-the-Line Fitness Center (New 2019)
- 4-km Trail System
- On-site Restaurant
- On-site K-12 Bilingual School
- Organic Orchard
- Tilapia Pond
- Children’s Playgrounds
Reserva Conchal Gated Community (Playa Conchal)
Unfolding over 2,300 acres of rolling landscapes, natural wonders, and pristine white-sand beaches, Reserva Conchal occupies one of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking locations. We’ll be the first to admit, though, that “paradise” is a perfect recipe for a vacation community, so you’ll find more part-time and vacation residents here than at any other community on our list. That said, there are still many full-timers and families!
Committed to a more sustainable future, Reserva Conchal blends environmentally conscious practices and amenities with both neighborhoods that make you feel welcome and resort amenities that fulfill your lifestyle dreams: a luxurious Beach Club, an ocean-view resort swimming pool, the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II championship golf course, five onsite restaurants, and more.
What’s more, due to its central location, Reserva Conchal is convenient to many services and amenities – from international schools and restaurants to summer camps and shopping. It’s a very easy place to set down strong roots and quickly begin saying “yes, this feels like home!”
Reserva Conchal Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Beach Club with an Ocean-View Pool
- 18-Hole Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course
- 5 Restaurants: Cocina de mercado, Latitud 10 norte, Zona Azul, Living Room or Wet Deck at W Hotel
Las Ventanas de Playa Grande Gated Community (Playa Grande)
Overlooking two scenic beaches (Playa Grande and Playa Conchal), Las Ventanas de Playa Grande is a gorgeous, 380-acre private community with truly breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and, depending on your location, vistas to the Las Catalinas Islands, Las Baulas National Marine Park, the Tamarindo Estuary, and Bahía de Los Piratas (Pirates’ Bay).
And if the view isn’t enough to lure you in, then consider the fact that this makes our list of best gated communities for families in Guanacaste for several more reasons. To begin, families and kids love the sense of community they find here, in each of Las Ventanas’ distinct neighborhoods – La Sabana, El Roble, Caracara, and San Pedro, with Cenízaro nearing completion – that have their own amenities, including pools and family recreation areas.
Here, you don’t have to compromise: Surrounded by tropical dry forest and eco-friendly architecture – cross ventilation, ample natural light, alfresco verandas, and other features designed to lower your carbon footprint – Las Ventanas is also a hop, skip, and a jump to Tamarindo and its long list of family-friendly amenities, from schools to activities.
Las Ventanas Community Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Planned Community Clubhouse with infinity pool
- Nature & Bike Trail
- Community Organic Gardens
- Skatepark + Playground
- Backdoor Access to Secluded Beaches
Hacienda Pinilla Gated Community (Playa Avellanas)
If you love the idea of a family-friendly resort community, then extraordinary Hacienda Pinilla – one of the largest, most prestigious, and most established gated communities in Guanacaste and Costa Rica – is both more than a resort and beyond the bounds of its distinctive neighborhoods.
The epitome of resort living – a multi-million-dollar, oceanfront Beach Club and a par-72, 7,200-yard championship golf course, plus tennis courts, horseback riding stables, hiking and biking trails, and more – Hacienda Pinilla’s over 4,500 acres of historic ranch property encompass backcountry and Blue Flag beaches alike.
What’s more, thanks to its palatial size, Hacienda Pinilla is subdivided into seven gated communities, each with its own distinct personality. For your family, this means a more intimate neighborhood experience, with access to the major amenities only a community of this size can offer. All this, about 10 miles to Tamarindo…
Hacienda Pinilla Community Amenities:
- 24/7 Gated Security
- Beach Club with an infinity-edge pool, fitness center, and restaurant
- 72-par Mike Young Championship Golf Course
- Tennis Courts
- Private Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails
- Event Spaces
- Direct Access to Playa Avellanas, Playa Mansita, and Playa Bonita
Moving with Kids? Looking for the Best Gated Communities for Families in Guanacaste?
You have questions, we have answers! Whether you’ve already settled on your favorite family community in Costa Rica or are still wondering whether our tiny nation would work for your lifestyle, we’d love to help you explore your options.
For years, we’ve made it our job to help people just like you to make their own successful and dream-fulfilling transition to live in Costa Rica. That’s because we offer honest advice rooted in real, hard-earned expertise. We don’t sugar-coat the truth or side-step the tough stuff. We’re here to share the whole picture – not just the carefully curated, postcard-perfect bits.
We hope you’ll find that the real Costa Rica is still your Costa Rica. Download our founder and broker, Becky Clower’s, free eBook. Reach out on socials. Sign up for updates. And look into our Costa Rica relocation services. Go ahead – try us. Give us a chance to show off our expertise – and wow you with the possibilities! We look forward to it.