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Santa Cruz Guanacaste

Santa Cruz Coat of Arms

Santa Cruz Facts


Canton No. 3:  Santa Cruz
Capital:  Santa Cruz
Size:  1 312.27 km2
Population: 45.000 p.
Founded:  No. 167, 7/12/1848
Km from Santa Cruz to San José:  289 km
Local Saint: Esquipulas Christ

District 1:  Santa Cruz City
District 2:  Bolsón, Villa
District 3:  Veitisiete de Abril, Villa
District 4:  Tempate, Villa
District 5:  Cartagena, Villa
District 6:  Cuajiniquil, Villa
District 7:  Diriá, Villa
District 8:  Cabo Velas, Villa
District 9:  Tamarindo, Villa

Santa Cruz Guanacaste Coat of Arms


Santa Cruz is located at 10 ° 15'06 "north latitude and 85 º 41'07" west longitude. Bounded on the north by the Canton of Carrillo, in the east by the canton of Nicoya and Bagaces, south to the Canton of Nicoya and the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Local festivals / Saint Activities:
The capital city of Santa Cruz, is a typical rural and local town. Its inhabitants are a big group of farmers, fishermen, workers and employees.  The town is known for its cultural traditions and for its history.  These traditions are the Easter week celebration and the Guanacaste’s bullfights.
A wonderful time to visit Santa Cruz is during January when the city honors its patron saint Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, with dances, parties and scrumptious local delicacies. People from all over Costa Rica attend this festival.

Feast Of Santo Cristo De Esquipulas
The celebration unfolds in phases: La Víspera (eve): On January 13, the Cristo de Esquipulas is moved from Arado, where it is kept, to a house on the outskirts of Santa Cruz, where it is prepared for the procession on the afternoon of the 14th. La Festividad (the Festivity): January 15 is the day of the Patron Saint, and a procession is made through Santa Cruz accompanied by los indios promesanos (indigenous people offering vows to the Christ). Santa Cruz's image of Christ was brought from Guatemala in 1840.

In addition to these activities, cultural shows are organized from January 14 to 18: traditional dance, music from Guanacaste and marimba music is played. The events take place around two main locations: the Plaza de los Mangos, where the bull-riding stage is set up; and Parque Bernabela Ramos, where cultural activities are held.

Economic activities from the past:
Meat and dairy cattle, corn, cotton and rice was big on cultivation.


Main Attractions:

  • Santa Cruz is  one of Costa Rica´s most popular  folkloric cities.
  • There are 94 kilometers of long and gorgeous beaches. There are about 50 different registered beaches; for surfing.
  • Local festivals are very famous in Guanacaste, and attractive for their parades, songs, dancing, foods and the big profess faith to their Saint Esquipulas Christ.
  • Guaitil handicrafts, a small town where the main economic activity is pottery.

Meaning ‘Holy Cross’ in English, the historic city of Santa Cruz is located in Guanacaste, and is considered to be the second most important city in the province after Liberia. In the heart of the Nicoya Peninsula, and a short 30 minute drive away from the Daniel Oduber International Airport.

Santa Cruz holds the distinction of being the national folklore city, thanks to its commitment to keeping its traditions and customs alive, including traditional dance, musical instruments, food and drink, it was declared the ¨Folklore City by the Central American institute of tourism. The canton has delightful folklore attracting many tourists and has more special tourist areas than any other canton area in the province. Part of the Guacamaya tourist center is here as well as splendid beaches of Potrero, Conchal, Brasilito, Nombre de Jesus, Grande, Tamarindo, Langosta, Avellana, Junquillal, Manzanillo, Veracruz, Ostional, Nosara, and others. The Ostional National Wildlife Preserve is also located in Santa Cruz.

This region was discovered by the Spaniards a year before Nicoya in 1522 by Gil Gonzalez Davila. By 1760 the first Spaniards settled near what is today known as Lagunilla. When the daughter of one of the first settlers, Bernabela Ramos, married, she placed a wooden cross on her house in Delicias, west of the river Diriá. In honor of that cross every year, a rosary prayer was offered. Soon it became a tradition and eventually, the name of the town was changed from Delicias to Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
As for religion, specifically Catholicism imposed by the Spaniards, it is believed that Ms Bernabela Ramos played a major role to foster religious worship and devotion to start the "Santo Cristo de Esquipulas." This lady brought the priest to officiate Nicoya Mass in her house once a month, creating in turn a center of encouraging the collection and concentration of people. Later Ms Bernabela consolidated the town by donating four land ownerships. This grant is aimed to build the church and the streets were delineated for the establishment of the neighbors there. This was in 1814.

The canton is drained by the rivers Diria and Enmedio which along with the Cañas River make up the Bolson River that divides Santa Cruz from Carrillo Canton. The climate is very warm with temperatures above 28 degrees C.

Guaitil And San Vicente Pottery

The residents of Guaitil de Santa Cruz and San Vicente de Nicoya (towns with more than 5,000 years of tradition in pottery) fashion beautiful work out of clay using the traditional and ancestral techniques of the Chorotega indigenous group, which once inhabited this part of the country.

Guaitil is a small town that hosts one of Costa Rica's most important centers of native ceramic handcrafts. For generations, the Chorotega tribe has passed down tried-and-true methods for producing its pottery and paintings. These involve local clays, natural dyes, and wood-burning ovens that create the "Chorotega"-style pottery.

Guaitil is situated between the cities of Santa Cruz and Nicoya .  The Guaitil Art Cooperative continues this tradition of fine Chorotega Indian ceramic crafts.

Souvenirs may be purchased in the two communities, where pottery sales make up the residents' main source of livelihood. This lovely tradition is handed down from generation to generation; in addition, the time-honored techniques are taught to students at Guaitil's primary school.


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