The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information
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 23 km stretch of bumpy gravel road between Paquera and Naranjo, where also no public bus is available. Instead, both Paquera and 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.
Most travelers in a car breeze straight through on this bone-chilling track up hill and down dale from Paquera to Nosara. The area however 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.
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.
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.