How to get to the Nicoya Peninsula with a car
From San José it takes 1 hour to drive on the new Ruta 27 via Orotina and Caldera to Puntarenas. There you take the » ferry across the Gulf to get to the southern peninsula.
To get to Tamarindo and northern Nicoya Peninsula continue on the Interamericana direction Liberia and turn off at km 168 to the bridge over the Tempisque river. See also » Map of the Nicoya Peninsula
From Liberia it's less than an hour to drive reach the beaches of the northern Nicoya Peninsula. For Samara and Nosara drive on Highway #21 via Santa Cruz to Nicoya where you turn to the right. To continue to Santa Teresa or Montezuma see description below.
From Tamarindo/Nosara/Samara to Santa Teresa/Montezuma (and vice versa)
There is only one year-round driveable road which connects the northern with the southern part of Nicoya Peninsula. The road is in good condition and paved except for a 24 km stretch of gravel road between Paquera and Naranjo.
» Along the Gulf from Naranjo to Paquera
While on the map it looks shorter to take the coastal road from Samara to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa it actually takes longer time and you risk to get lost or drown your car in a river. Don't trust Google Maps or your car navi too much: the roads they indicate are sometimes barely drivable. You will criss-cross rolling countryside on rutted dirt roads and cross several rivers. If you have plenty of time and are adventurous check out the description and road map for » Coastal route to Samara.
The Nicoya Peninsula is notorious for its horrendous roads. Few parts are paved and potholes abound. During rainy season roads sometimes transform into giant mud swamps, while in dry season you jolt in a collective dust bowl over rutted dirt roads. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is useful, particularly towards the southern part of the peninsula.
There aren't many gas stations on the Nicoya Peninsula. On the southern peninsula there is one gas station in Paquera, two more
in Cobano and another one near Santa Teresa.
On the northern Nicoya Peninsula gas stations are a bit more common, but there are none on the road from Nosara to Tamarindo and from Samara to Santa Teresa. In a pinch ask locals if someone sells gasoline from a barrel.
Patience while driving is a virtue. Car accidents are frequent due to bad road conditions and unexpected hazards. Driving at night in general is highly inadvisable.