The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information
In rainy season the only reliabable road connecting the southern and northern Nicoya Peninsula is via Paquera along the Gulf of Nicoya. In dry season and with a 4x4 vehicle you can take a shortcut through the countryside of the peninsula. Before leaving ask about current road conditions and fill up on gasoline. Both routes lead through rolling hills with almost no settlements and you have to cross various rivers.
Option 1 via Betel: If coming from Manzanillo turn left to Betel around 4 km after Manzanillo.
Coming from Cobano, turn right 12 km from Cobano. There are 3 rivers to cross. The last one, Rio Bongo, is the biggest and
can only be forded in dry season, Jan - April. When fording a river remember that most times the shallow part of the crossing
is a curve in a downriver direction.
Check the best track by foot before you cross in the car, or wait until locals come and show you the way.
Driving distance from Cobano to San Francisco de Coyote is 27 km.
Attention: As of 2015 this route should be avoided as there were several cases of armed robberies at the river crossings. The safest (and often also the fastest) route is the main road via Naranjo - Paquera.
Option 2 via Rio Frio: More reliable than the Betel route is the road from Cobano via Rio Frio. There are 5 rivers to cross
but they aren't too big so it should be manageable from Nov - Aug. Across the majestic Rio Bongo is a concrete bridge.
Driving distance from Cobano to San Francisco de Coyote is 36 km.
If you come from the opposite direction, from Coyote, don't follow the road sign to Cobano in Rio Frio which points to the left (via Esperanza). Continue straight!
Option 3 along the Beach: Is a No-Go. The shortest route, driving on the beach, is not only forbidden by Costa Rican law (and your car rental company), it is also environmentally irresponsible. The beach north of Manzanillo is a wildlife reserve for nesting sea turtles.
See also: » From San Francisco de Coyote to Carrillo and Samara (41 km)