Accessible by well-paved Highway 21, the large, rectangular-shaped, and predominantly mountainous Nicoya Peninsula stretches from Guanacaste’s beaches in the south to the upper portion of the Central Pacific coastline on Costa Rica’s northwestern Pacific coast. Two-thirds the peninsula lying in Guanacaste and the lower third in the Puntarenas Province, this once volcanic landscape is richly veiled by both dry and wet tropical forest – making it a unique transitional zone between southwestern Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest and Northern Guanacaste’s dry forest climate. Here you will find an equally rich biodiversity to match the natural beauty, unique flora and fauna thriving along the peninsula and within its many natural reserves and national parks, including Nacional Parque Barra Honda, home to deep underground caves; Nacional Parque Marino Las Baulas; Refugio de Vida Silvestre Curú; and Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve. Lying just between the east of the peninsula and the Costa Rica mainland are the shallow, nutrient-rich waters of Nicoya’s gulf, which are speckled with verdant islands. An ideal combination of coastal wetlands and marine habitat, the gulf’s extensive mangrove forests and large estuaries sustain an incredible biodiversity on the islands found in few places outside the country.
With the whole of the peninsula ringed by stunning and varied beaches, Nicoya is a top beach destination in the country. Its warm waters drawing many for snorkeling, scuba diving, sportfishing and surfing among the most enjoyed. Popular beaches include Bahia Ballena’s Tambor Beach, just northeast of bohemian favorite Montezuma, whose beautiful jungle waterfall entices a swim in its base’s cool depths. A short boat ride from Tambor lies the uninhabited islands of Tortuga, the gulf’s most popular ecotourism spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, snorkeling and more. Hip locales Malpaís and Santa Teresa (one of Costa Rica’s best surf spots) boast miles of mostly-deserted beaches, superb sunsets, shopping and dining and celebrity sightings. Meanwhile, surrounded by tropical forest and a serene beach, the secluded and pristine town of Punta Islita makes for an ideal romantic hideaway, with a wide range of activities including adventure tours and horseback riding as the perfect complement to your intimate vacation. And, despite being one of Costa Rica’s premiere surf spots, Nosara and its nearby beaches remain fairly remote and unvisited, allowing you to enjoy the various beach and point breaks to yourself.