Set on a plateau north of Parque Nacional Guanacaste, overlooking Bahía Salinas and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the tiny, sleepy town of LA CRUZ is the last settlement of any size before the border, just 20km away, and makes a reasonable stopover if you're heading up to Nicaragua. The views at sunset are incredible, and there are a couple of good places to stay in town, although if you're spending any length of time in the area you'd do better at one of the nearby tourist lodges such as Finca Cañas Castilla (from La Cruz head north on the Panamerican and turn right after 5km onto an unpaved road to the village of Sonzapote. Follow signs 2km down. Tel:381-4030, Web: www.canas-castilla.com ), a Swiss-run ranch situated on 150 acres along the bank of River Sapoa. It is mainly a hilly terrain with lots of beautiful trees and grassland for grazing horses and cows. 15 acres are planted with organic orange groves and bananas. Free range chickens produce fresh eggs every day for guests and the local market. If you want to enjoy a holiday in an unspoiled environment, this is a good choice.
In La Cruz is the quirky Amalia's Inn (Tel:679-9181; Price: $31-50), about 100m south of the town's Parque Central, with spacious rooms, a pool and a spectacular view over the bay. It's well worth paying extra for a room with a view. Casual, friendly Cabinas Santa Rita, across from the courthouse (Tel:679-9062, f679-9305), offers clean, simple rooms with shared or private bath (Price: $11-20), along with more upmarket, air-conditioned doubles in an annexe at the back (Price: $21-30); there's also secure parking. Eating options aren't so rosy – La Orquidea and Thelma, on the main road, are the town's best sodas but nothing to write home about. For more interesting fare, head to one of the hotels out of town or to the Hotel Bella Vista near the square, which has a bar, restaurant and fine views. You can check your email at BT, just east of the town square.