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Rent an SUV to Visit the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

 In Car Rental, Costa Rica

Great Places to Visit on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula- Remember, you’ll need an SUV!


A place out of time, the Southern Nicoya Peninsula is a remote place of spectacular and rugged beauty. The habitat, climate, and lifestyle have contributed to making it one of the most famous of Earth’s Blue Zones—places where longevity and contentment with life are the rule rather than the exception. The area’s mild tropical climate is one of year-round ocean breezes. Yoga retreats, alternative lifestyles, and world-class surf are cultural hallmarks of the region.

The best way to get to the southern peninsula is by ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. The 70-minute ride across the Nicoya Gulf is $25 one-way for a car; reservations can be made online or pay with cash at the terminal. The roads are unimproved, and a 4WD is a must. Road conditions mean it often takes longer than you think to reach your destination, but the effort is worth the journey.


Montezuma, on the Nicoya Gulf side of the peninsula, has quiet, white sand beaches and lush forests, making it a perfect place for a romantic getaway. Despite its isolation, you’ll find many good restaurants and lodging. Montezuma’s bohemian ambiance reflects the lifestyle choices of ex-pats and locals alike, resulting in a vibrant community.


On the Pacific Coast, at the tip of the peninsula, Malpais’ weather is near perfect year-round. Literally, at the end of the road, Malpais is seldom crowded despite its world-class surf. Still retaining its humble beginnings as a fishing village, Malpais is nonetheless cosmopolitan enough to attract celebrities, fine dining, and top hotels. The village lends its name to the area from Playa Carmen to Santa Teresa, which can be a little confusing to the uninitiated.

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is an adventure to get to, and that’s its charm. Beautiful lonely beaches mix with the eclectic vibe that is Santa Teresa, one of the top destinations in Central and South America. One doesn’t accidentally arrive in Santa Teresa; the road is rough and only partially paved. If you’re looking for a new age beach groove, this is the place to visit. The mix of nightly live music, beach bonfires, surf and sun, ATV adventures, horseback riding on the beach, and “pura vida” creates a mystique like nowhere else in the country. 

Things to do

Horseback riding is an excellent way to connect with the area’s natural history and to get acquainted with the local culture. The trail to El Chorro Waterfall is a good one. Starting from Montezuma, it crosses several beaches and a couple of national parks before arriving at the beachfront waterfall set in a cove. 

Surfing is popular on the peninsula, known worldwide for the quality of the breaks. Less well known than Malpais-Santa Teresa, Montezuma’s swells are at their best when there’s a southern swell. Surf breaks in the Malpais area are legendary, drawing the pros from around the world, and are not for the novice surfer. There are many surf camps and schools in the area if you’re thinking of paddling out. Most are right on the beach.

In keeping with its Blue Zone designation, Montezuma/Malpais area of Costa Rica is known its holistic approach to life. There are dozens of yoga resorts and schools in a very small area. Best known among them are Pachamama, Indigo, and Anamaya. 

Other tours and activities include visiting waterfalls, sea kayaking, and ziplining. Mostly, the Southern Nicoya Peninsula is a place to rejuvenate your spirit and zest for life. All you need is a 4WD rental car and the will to make the trek. Reach out and book your Costa Rica SUV travels now


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