Private funding, sustainable design and collaborative leadership transform access to Playa Naranjo in Santa Rosa National Park, paving the way for a thriving future.
By Danielle Finnegan | January 4, 2024 | Guanacaste

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Rosa National Park, home to the world-famous Playa Naranjo (Witches Rock) in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, faced financial challenges as government funding diminished. The result was park closures and neglect of essential infrastructure like roads leading to Playa Naranjo. The Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) overseeing these areas was compelled to allocate resources to critical needs, leaving the once-popular destinations in disrepair.

Recognizing the urgency, private funding from PPGY came to the rescue. Alejandro Masis, the Director of ACG, spearheaded the initiative, swiftly hiring a contractor to repair the road. During the assessment of Playa Naranjo, a rundown ranger station was also intervened. Plans were laid out to refurbish the station and upgrade sanitation facilities, ensuring compliance with government regulations for reopening.

A reservation system was developed and supported by the proceeds from a golf tournament. Architect Ronald Zurcher collaborated with Alejandro Masis to introduce innovative designs to provide a comprehensive service village experience at Playa Naranjo. Negotiations with the Costa Rican government are ongoing to secure compliance, and fundraising efforts are underway.

The envisioned service village includes a hospitable ranger station with showers, toilets, and sleeping facilities. Additionally, plans encompass a small store catering to day visitors with shirts, hats, food, and water offerings. Camping supplies, a cafeteria, and proper sanitation facilities are also part of the development plan.

The reservation system extends to surfing activities, ensuring fair and regulated access. The progress made in the past year, driven by funding and attention from various stakeholders, has led to the swift restoration of the road and ranger station. The renovated ranger station now incorporates sustainable features such as solar power, fans, and a reliable water supply.

The overarching goal is to reopen Playa Naranjo to the public and eventually have locally run concessions, providing an enhanced and well-maintained environment for locals, visitors, and surfers alike. Ongoing negotiations and fundraising efforts are pivotal in achieving this vision.