Nicoya is one of the 29 best things to do in Costa Rica. It is the largest peninsula in the country and is located on the other side of the Golfo de Nicoya.
Home to some of the most secluded and beautiful beaches, this rugged peninsula is one of Costa Rica's most popular tourist destinations.
You'll find everything from wonderful nature reserves, heavenly beaches, hotels and hostels to suit all tastes, as well as quaint rural towns and spectacular sunsets.
We advise you to rent a car during your stay in Costa Rica, and the best would be a 4x4 if you plan to make a road trip
1. Kayaking at the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre
Located in the south of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Curú private reserve is one of the first private reserves. It is full of animal and plant species typical of the area: monkeys, iguanas, coatis and tropical birds.
The best thing to do is to enjoy a kayak trip in the mangrove and let yourself be seduced by the exuberance of this magnificent reserve.
2. The beautiful beaches
The Nicoya Peninsula offers incredible biological diversity and its location and beautiful beaches have made it a top destination in the country.
Six of the main beaches are :
- Santa Teresa,
- Mal Pais,
All of them are perfect for surfing or lounging, alone, as a couple or with the family. A true happiness for the nature lovers.
3. Visit Montezuma
Until the 1980s, Montezuma was a quiet fishing town. Since then, it has become one of the most popular places for a beach vacation.
The beaches of Montezuma offer many activities and a very baba cool atmosphere. You will find many beachfront hotels and romantic bungalows. As well as many activities: surfing, hiking, canopy...
The area attracts alternative personalities such as rastas, surfers and artists. You will find a wide variety of local artisan shops as well as a wide range of restaurants and bars.
4. Observe the turtles
The Nicoya Peninsula is home to two important nesting areas for the world's endangered sea turtles. At Playa Camaronal, a few minutes south of Samara, you have the opportunity to observe four species of turtles:
- Leatherback turtles
- Lora turtles
- Carey turtles
- Green turtles.
To the north, near Nosara, the Ostional reserve is famous for its "arribadas" when hundreds of Ridley turtles can storm the beach in a single night.
The best season to see them: all year round! But the famous olive ridley turtle arribadas are more frequent from June to December.
Discover the best of surfing in Costa Rica ! Famous for its surf breaks, Costa Rica, and especially the Nicoya Peninsula, is a world-class destination for beginners and advanced surfers.
Surfers from all over the world come to Costa Rica and enjoy the warm water and waves all year round, thanks to the excellent surfing conditions on both coasts (point breaks and beach breaks, lefts and rights, reefs and river mouths). Often, what the waves lack in size, they make up for in length.
Many isolated beaches and breaks along both coasts are accessible, but the following world-class surf destinations are the most popular: Tamarindo, Avellanas, Playa Grande, Playa Negra, Nosara, Santa Teresa...
6. Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa beach
At the tip of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula lies Santa Teresa. Hip restaurants, co-working spaces, beach parties and a growing population of young expats make it seem like the next big thing.
Taken over by surfers and yoga and wellness enthusiasts, Santa Teresa will appeal to wave lovers.
7. Discovering the Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve protects the semi-dry tropical forest at the southern tip of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. The 3 km long trail crosses a ridge and descends to Playa Cabo Blanco.
The Cabo Blanco visitor entrance is on the east side of the peninsula near Cabuya, south of Montezuma.
Open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Fee: $12.00 USD.
8. Scuba diving in Playas del Coco
Some of the best diving in Costa Rica takes place off the Nicoya Peninsula, and Playas del Coco is the perfect town to use as a base if you intend to explore the underwater world.
Many dive clubs offer dive and stay packages here, and whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, there is something for everyone. Whether you just want to do a first dive or become a Dive Master, it's possible here.
Mal Pais is a small hamlet located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean.
Its southern boundary borders Cabo Blanco National Park, from which the community extends about 4 km to Playa Carmen. Here, at the intersection of the road, the surf town of Santa Teresa begins.
Malpais is home to the only fishing port in the region. Some of them offer boat trips to tourists. The harbour is also the starting point for many water activities such as kayaking, paddle surfing and boat trips.
10. Taste the local gastronomy
local grilled fish
Known as a "blue zone" region, Nicoya is inhabited by a large number of people living to at least 100 years of age. This is due to the immense amount of vitamin D provided by the sun, as well as a vitamin-rich local diet of whole, fresh, locally prepared foods.
Advice from the experts:
In addition to the "casado" (rice, beans, plantain and meat), "gallo pinto" (rice and beans for breakfast), "ceviche" (marinated fish) and whole grilled fish that you'll find everywhere, take a trip to Nena in Cabuya. You'll see how Nena makes its jams from coconut oil.
There is also a local restaurant, Fusion Mar y Tierra, located just before the entrance to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. The owner was once a chef at a Japanese restaurant in San Jose, so the menu offers typical Costa Rican and Japanese dishes.
Have a fresh coconut. There are street vendors everywhere, especially on the surfing beaches, thirsty after catching big waves. If you are traveling in March, April or May, stop if you see a mango tree. Mangoes at this time melt like sweet butter in your mouth.
And if you like cocktails, don't miss the Passion Fruit Mojito at Banana Beach Bar in Santa Teresa!
Bonus : Isla Tortuga
Located only an hour and a half by boat from the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Isla Tortuga is ideal for day trips and small family excursions. The popular Tortuga Island has a sandy beach perfect for fun.
You can relax on the beach, go hiking, take a canopy tour or go snorkeling. Tours can be arranged from Puntarenas, Montezuma and Jaco.