Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica
On the Nicoya Peninsula the only reliable road connection between the provinces Guanacaste and Puntarenas is on the 26 km of
bumpy gravel road from Playa Naranjo to Paquera.
Other tracks interconnecting the northern with the southern province are only seasonally or not at all driveable with a car. See » Driving from Manzanillo to Playa Coyote.
No direct bus connects the popular tourist destinations of Samara, Nosara or Tamarindo in the north with the beaches in the south, Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. There is even a gap in the public transportation system as no bus at all serves the 17 km stretch of jungle road between Rio Grande and Naranjo.
Most travelers in a car breeze straight through on this bone-chilling track up hill and down dale although the area is an eldorado
for eco-tourism. There are hotels specializing in water sports like diving, snorkeling, and fishing. An outstanding adventure is a kayak tour in the Gulf of Nicoya where you
can explore hidden coves and islands with lonesome beaches.
Few people live in this region and the lush jungle touching the sea and covering the islands gives a wild beauty to rocky cliffs, promontories and bays.
Tours and Beaches from Playa Naranjo to Paquera:
Jungle shrouded in mist near Paquera
Playa Naranjo isn't much more than the ferry slip and an abandoned gas station, but there are some nice
hotels and the sandy beach of Naranjo, shaded by stocky trees. Close to Naranjo is the Karen Mogensen Reserve
with trail through the jungle, river swimming pools and waterfall.
3 km south from Naranjo, on the road to Paquera, a side road to the left leads to Playa Blanca which looks upon the Sugarhat Island and the former prison island Isla San Lucas.
The cove of Playa Blanca has white coral sand and turquoise waters where you can snorkel and swim.
If you continue on the main road to Paquera you come close to the shore at Bahia Gigante, a crescent sandy bay which is nice for a break and a snack in the funky beach bar. 400 m offshore lies Isla Gitana which in pre-columbian times had been a cemetery island.
Isla Gitana protects the Bahia Gigante and adjacent Bahia Luminosa, making them a safe and picturesque anchor place for sail boats.
5 km further on you pass through Rio Grande. From here you can make a tour on horseback or with a quad into the hills to the "El Salto" waterfall with its swimming holes. Also close to Rio Grande is the small, scenic cove of Playa Pájaro where you can swim and relax under huge old trees.
Playa Organos near the ferry in Paquera
From Rio Grande it's a 7 km drive on a bolder strewn road until Paquera, which is locally known for producing many different vegetables and fruits. In Paquera you find supermarkets, an ATM cashier, gas station and a couple of hotels and cabinas. Though there isn't much to do in the small village it's a good basis for visiting the Curu Wildlife Reserve which is only 5 km away. Local operators also offer boat and snorkeling tours to the Tortuga Islands or scuba diving.
Four km out of Paquera is the terminal for the ferries to Puntarenas. On the way to the ferry terminal a road to the right goes to Playa Organos, a placid wide bay with a picture-perfect sandy beach, surrounded by jungle. The bay is safe for swimming and you have views to the Tortuga Islands. Don't forget a repellent, as there are sometimes many bugs on Playa Organos.