Peninsula de Nicoya Travel and Vacation Guide

From Playa Naranjo to Paquera

Map of Playa Naranjo to Paquera

On the Nicoya Peninsula the only reliable road connection between the provinces Guanacaste and Puntarenas is along the Gulf of Nicoya. Other tracks interconnecting the northern with the southern province are only seasonally driveable with a 4WD car. See » Driving from Manzanillo to Playa Coyote.

While most of the Ruta National 160 is now paved, there is still a 24 km stretch unpaved between the village of Paquera and Playa Naranjo. This part is currently under construction to prepare it for pavement. Currently enormous quantities of earth are being moved to cut straight through the hills and dense jungle of this mountaineous area. For the heavy construction work there are now temporary road blocks in both directions :

Road Construction Naranjo Paquera
Road Construction Naranjo Paquera

Complete Road Closures
Naranjo - Paquera
       8:30 am - 12 am
       1 pm - 3 pm
       4 pm - 6 pm
Probably until mid of 2020

As of now there is no public bus servicing this route. Instead, both Paquera and Playa Naranjo connect to Puntarenas by ferry boat. Travelers without own transportation have to backtrack to Puntarenas or use private minibus services if they want to go from Samara, Nosara or Tamarindo in the north to the southern Nicoya beaches like Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa.

Beaches between Playa Naranjo and Paquera:

Gulf of Nicoya
Jungle shrouded in on the Gulf of Nicoya

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. Sadly, as in many parts of the world, the beaches are often littered with plastic trash washed into the Gulf from rivers of the mainland of Costa Rica.

Playa Naranjo isn't much more than the ferry slip, a small hotel and an abandoned gas station. A short drive from Naranjo is the Karen Mogensen Eco Reserve with trails through the jungle, river swimming pools and waterfall.

Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca

3 km south from Naranjo 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.
On the same road is also a small supermarket, restaurant and some dispersed villas and vacation rentals of the Roma del Mar development.

Beach Bar
Ranchos Ericka on the beach of Bahia Gigante

Further down the main road to Paquera you come close to the shore at Bahia Gigante, a crescent sandy bay with dark sand which is nice for a break and a snack in Ericka's cozy little restaurant by the beach. From here you look upon Isla Gitana which lies 400 m offshore. In pre-columbian times it had been used as a cemetery island.

Bahia Gigante
View of Bahia Gigante

Isla Gitana protects the Bahia Gigante and the adjacent Bahia Luminosa, making them a safe and picturesque anchor place for sail boats.

5 km further on you pass through the hamlet of Rio Grande. From here you can make a tour on horseback into the hills to get 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 another 7 km drive until Paquera, which is locally known for producing vegetables and fruits. In Paquera you find supermarkets, an ATM cashier, a gas station and some nice options for staying overnight. Cabinas in Paquera are inexpensive compared to the popular tourist spots. Although there isn't much to do in the small village Paquera is 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.