Road trip around the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Hit the road for a road trip adventure through one of the world’s Blue Zones, the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
A road trip through the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica takes you on a journey through the remote and rugged northern Guanacaste and southern Puntarenas provinces. One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, you can spend a week or two getting to know this beautiful region.
We recommend spending at least a week, though two would be better on this road trip through the Nicoya Peninsula. Just be sure to rent a sturdy 4-wheel drive vehicle; the roads can be challenging.
Fly into Liberia International Airport and pick up your rental car for your road trip of the Nicoya Peninsula. If you’d rather drive from San Jose to Puntarenas, reverse the itinerary. This plan is flexible, allowing a couple of days at each stop.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Spend the night right on the beach at Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo, one of the area’s most famous surfing breaks. Travel time to Tamarindo is about 90 minutes.
While here, make a visit to Las Baulas National Marine Park, part of the Tempisque Conservation Area, just north of town. Three sea turtle species nest here: the leatherback, lora, and black sea turtles.
Playa Guiones and Nosara, Costa Rica
It’s a 2-hour drive to your next stop: Playa Guiones/Nosara. On your way into town, stop at the Ostional Wildlife Park. Olive Ridley sea turtles nest year-round at Ostional. Playa Guiones is a beautiful beach that is home to many other animals, particularly birds. Consider staying at The Gilded Iguana, a distinctive beachfront hotel.
From here to Santa Teresa and Malpais, there are two routes, so ask your concierge for directions and about road conditions. Both are about a half-day’s drive, one overland and along the Nicoya Gulf coast. The other—a less traveled road—follows the Pacific coastline. The Nicoya route will mean some backtracking to get to the ferry in Paquera.
Santa Teresa and Malpais, Costa Rica
Santa Teresa’s charming and eclectic vibe makes the journey worthwhile. The beautiful and uncrowded beaches are one of the main attractions. The nightlife is one of live music and beach bonfires—a Pura Vida experience.
Just down the road from Santa Teresa is Malpais, and it’s literally the end of the road. This is a world-class surfing destination that draws the pros from around the globe. Still a fishing village, Malpais also attracts international celebrities and the excellent hotels and dining that go with them.
It’s a 35-minute drive to Cabo Blanco Reserve that covers the end of the Nicoya Peninsula. Along the coast, are trees where pelicans roost each night. The marine portion of the reserve protects many fish species, lobsters, giant conches, and oysters.
Montezuma, Costa Rica
Montezuma, on the Nicoya Gulf side of the peninsula, with white sand beaches and lush forests, is a perfect romantic getaway. From Montezuma, you can take a day trip out to Isla Tortuga. You’re likely to see whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and sea birds. You can snorkel, kayak, swim, and sunbathe.
It’s an hour’s drive from Montezuma to Paquera, where your road trip around the Nicoya Peninsula ends. From Paquera, you’ll take the ferry to Puntarenas. From there, you can head off in new directions.
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