Las Catalinas, Costa Rica

Las Catalinas is a resort developed in 2006 along the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the Guanacaste Province of northwest Costa Rica.[1] The objective was to create a compact, car-free, and fully walkable resort, based on the principles of New Urbanism.[2] Las Catalinas was founded by Charles Brewer (businessman), who was intrigued by the affect walkable resorts have on the health, happiness and well being, of humans.[3]

Las Catalinas
Las Catalinas, Costa Rica
Coordinates: 10°28′55″N 85°47′08″W / 10.481997°N 85.785682°W / 10.481997; -85.785682Coordinates: 10°28′55″N 85°47′08″W / 10.481997°N 85.785682°W / 10.481997; -85.785682
Country Costa Rica
Province Guanacaste
Canton Santa Cruz
 • Master-planned community4.86 km2 (1.88 sq mi)
 • Land4.86 km2 (1.875 sq mi)
 • Urban
0.97 km2 (0.37 sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)


Las Catalinas is located on the coast of Playa Danta and Playa Dantita near Potrero, near Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia. Projected as a 20+ year project, the beach resort incorporates the principles of New Urbanism to enable an environment that claims to favor human connection and interaction with numerous urban facilities.[4] It is located in at the center of over 404 hectares of tropical dry forest hills and valleys. Las Catalinas has an extensive network of hiking, running, and biking trails and has an annual Triathlon and Open Water competition.[5]


Las Catalinas has been featured in major travel publications such as Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The resort has gained international acclaim for its small-town environment, authentic Costa Rican culture, and scenery. The resort offers stays in a hotel, villas, and apartments.[6] Its architecture was inspired by colonial towns in Latin America such as Antigua, Panama's Casco Viejo, Panama, and San Miguel de Allende, as well as Mediterranean hill and coastal towns.[7] The natural environment and proximity to the sea makes swimming, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, boogie boarding, and snorkeling popular activities in the area.

Natural ReserveEdit

Approximately 400 ha (990 acres) of the 490 ha (1,200 acres) of Las Catalinas are currently a natural forest reserve.[8] It harbors diverse, local flora and fauna including numerous bird species, howler monkeys, iguanas, and the occasional wild cat.[9] There are about 35 kilometers of hiking, running and single track mountain biking trails. The resort is car-free.[10]

Architecture and UrbanismEdit

Urban DesignEdit

The planning of Las Catalinas was primarily executed by Douglas Duany, currently a professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.[11] It is densely designed and focuses on the pedestrian experience by maximizing views and integrating nature.[1] Of the 490 hectares, approximately 80 hectares are planned to be built on, while the remaining 404 hectares will be left as a natural reserve.[12]


Many urban designers and architects have since done design work in Las Catalinas, including:

  • Lew Oliver Inc.
  • TSW[13]
  • ASARQ[14]
  • Robert Orr[15]
  • Abraham Valenzuela
  • Gary Justiss
  • Dungan-Nequette
  • Michael G. Imber
  • Garrison Foundry
  • BCV Architects
  • Lauren Richa
  • Studio Sky


  1. ^ a b "Vacation Rentals in Guanacaste, Costa Rica | las Catalinas | About las Catalinas".
  2. ^
  3. ^ Walsh, Nora (2019-06-18). "A New Community Rises in Costa Rica, but Don't Bring Your Car". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  4. ^ "Casa Chameleon Hotel in las Catalinas | Costa Rica Hotels". 7 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Las Catalinas 2017 - Guanaride / Tri Las Catalinas - Costa Rica". Archived from the original on 2017-01-27.
  6. ^ "Beach Town Travel | las Catalinas".
  7. ^ "Vacation Rentals in Guanacaste, Costa Rica | las Catalinas | the Town".
  8. ^ Glusac, Elaine (14 October 2015). "At Some Resorts, It's Always 'Island Time'". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Las Catalinas | Costa Rica | AFAR". 24 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Eco Idyll: Las Catalinas, the Car-Free Costa Rica Town, Welcomes a New Hotel". Vogue. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  11. ^ "Douglas Alejandro - Duany // School of Architecture // University of Notre Dame".
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-07. Retrieved 2015-10-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Vacation Rentals in Guanacaste, Costa Rica | las Catalinas".

External linksEdit