Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula

The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information


Playa Junquillal, Costa Rica

Junquillal is a relaxed little village set in the middle of a beautiful, 4 km long expanse of salt and pepper colored beach.

The beach of Playa Junquillal

The area around Junquillal is still largely undeveloped and beaches are deserted even during high season. Due to the powerful waves and ocean currents swimming on the beach of Junquillal is not advisable. There are however tide pools in walking distance which are large enough for bathing and snorkeling.

The village of Junquillal is remarkably tidy. The friendly community is well organized and cares about their environment. Playa Junquillal proudly flies the Blue Flag, a coveted ecologic award given to clean beaches and waters.

Map of Junquillal:

Map of Junquillal with Hotels Avellanas Hotel Guide with Hotels in Junquillal

South of Junquillal the road ends at the estuary of the Rio Nandamojo. A lagoon has formed behind the beach and mangrove forests extend inland. Kayak Tours are offered and you can paddle into the river to admire the intriguing water jungle with its flora and fauna. Besides monkeys and birds you might see crocodiles on a river bank.

Junquillal Estuary
Fishing at the Rio Nandamojo

The estuary is a favorite place for locals who do fishing with hand lines. On some weekends you see families having a picnic and enjoying Costa Rican "Pura vida" with a barbecue of freshly caught fish, while children frolic in the waters.

Around low tide - 3 hours before and after - you can cross the Rio Nandamojo by foot. A hike along the coast yields a fantasyland of beach wilderness and you can get lost in time collecting shells and taking in the views. 6 km south of Junquillal you arrive in the small fishermen village of Playa Largato.

Playa Junquillal
Playa Callejones north of Junquillal

If you hike around low tide from Junquillal village to the north you get to Playa Blanca, a delightful white sand beach bordered by a rocky outcrop with many tide pools. A little bit further on comes Playa Callejones, and after 3.5 km you arrive at the surf beach of Playa Negra.

Despite its small size there is a choice of nice and intimate hotels in Junquillal, as well as restaurants and bars for travelers looking for a relaxed beach vacation away from the crowds.

The sea turtle project in Junquillal

Sea Turtle Hatching Station
Seaturtle hatching station in Junquillal

From July - February sea turtles digg their eggs into the sand of Junquillal. 4 different species of turtles are present, including the large and severely endangered leatherback sea turtles. The community maintains a hatching station in the center of Playa Junquillal and at night boys of the village patrol the beaches to protect the eggs from poachers.

Junquillal Turtle Project
Seaturtle hatchling

At certain intervals you can watch baby turtles at the hatching station struggling out of the sand. Ostional, one of the world's most important nesting sites of sea turtles, is only 25 km down the coast and when an arribada, a turtle mass nesting, takes place hotels in Junquillal will arrange tours to witness one of the most amazing phenomenas Costa Rica has to offer.

Activities in Junquillal:

Besides hiking along the beaches, you can also explore the coast on horseback. Horse tours in Junquillal are offered for a couple of hours, a day, or up to a week. It's a scenic and memorable adventure where you can learn a lot about the nature and culture of rural Guanacaste.

Snorkeling is possible in tide pools at the southern end of the Junquillal beach or at Playa Blanca at the north.

Surfing is world-class in Playa Negra (6 km) or Avellanas (9 km). When there is a swell you can also surf in Junquillal at the northern and southern end of the beach. And maybe locals will disclose some of their secret surf spots at other nearby beaches.

In Playa Callejones, a 10-min drive from Junquillal, you can go sport fishing. Tours are run professionally by a tico family who has been fishing in these waters for decades. During the boat trip you might see schools of dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles.

Only 10 km from Junquillal is the 18-holes championship golf course of Hacienda Pinilla one of the best you can find in Costa Rica.

Hotels in Junquillal also arrange tours to nearby attractions: you can do caving in Barra Honda, bird watching in Palo Verde, or see an arribada in Ostional.

How to get there:

From Tamarindo or Santa Cruz drive to the village called "27 de Abril". From there continue 13 km on a newly paved road until Paraiso where you turn left and to drive the remaining 3 km on a dirt road until Junquillal.