Looking for off the beaten path beaches and fun in the sun? Look no further than the tropical beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula! Seaside villages like Samara, Carrillo, Montezuma, Santa Teresa, and Tambor aren't on any of the mainstream top 10 lists but are home to some of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches and unique villages. Samara and Carrillo make a great combination as they are only five minutes apart. Go there for swimming or surfing, international restaurants, souvenir shops, and an authentic Costa Rican vibe. Further south, Montezuma, Santa Teresa, and Tambor round off the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. This isolated area is only accessible by a ferry from Puntarenas or by poorly maintained unpaved backroads. Tambor is a small village with more hotel rooms than local houses. The main beach is best for swimming, while the beach at Tango Mar is better suited for boogie boarding and surfing. Down the coast, Montezuma is a fun town for chilling, relaxing, and just taking it easy. Santa Teresa is just around the corner, providing world class surfing, yoga, and high-end boutique hotels. Most visitors to the Nicoya Beaches stay for three to five nights, combining with destinations such as Arenal Volcano or Monteverde on their Costa Rica vacation. Sound too good to be true? Well, it's not! Reserve your vacation to the Nicoya Peninsula today!
Playa Carrillo, Costa Rica
Overlooking the golden sand palm-studded Playa Carrillo, Nammbu Bungalows provides comfort and style in the area's newest hotel. The Blue Flag beach is simply beautiful, easily one of Costa Rica's best kept secrets. A walk at sunset down to the beach is like a stroll through a painting with vivid tropical colors. Of course, you don't need to walk to the beach to enjoy the sunsets. You can simply relax in the large freeform pool or lounge area overlooking Carrillo Bay. The Nammbu Hotel also offers an extraordinary dining experience with fantastic views, the delightful Green Leaf Spa, and so much more!
*Sample rates are per person, double occupancy [Oct dates]
Tambor, Costa Rica
Tango Mar Hotel is the definition of tropical seclusion. Located in Tambor, this remote beachfront boutique resort is like a slice of heaven when you arrive. The four-star Tango Mar offers luxurious accommodations along with a nine-hole golf course, spa and wellness center, yoga studio, gourmet restaurant, seaside bar, large swimming pool and much more. A walk through the expansive property is like a stroll through a tropical paradise with exotic wildlife, colorful flowers, and a gorgeous beach area. So why wait? Reserve your vacation to Tango Mar now!
*Sample rates are per person, double occupancy [Oct dates]
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Santa Teresa offers some of the best surfing in Costa Rica, and the Manala Hotel provides an affordable base camp from which to enjoy it! The simple, yet comfortable hotel offers eight well-equipped bungalows immersed in tropical gardens. An easy 100 meters walk will lead you to the north end of the fabled Santa Teresa Beach for surfing, long walks, or just fun in the sun. The surrounding community has plenty to offer with surf lessons, spa services, and yoga studios. Or you can just relax and unwind at the stylish freeform swimming pool and lounge area. The Manala Hotel is simple, comfortable, and affordable, making it a fantastic choice for your Costa Rica surf vacation!
*Sample rates are per person, double occupancy [Oct dates]
The Nicoya Peninsula is home to some of the best off the beaten path boutique hotels in Costa Rica. The Nammbu Hotel in Carrillo is a superb choice in front of a gorgeous beach and with easy access and connection to other destinations. Further south, in Tambor, you'll find quiet, comfortable boutique hotels in Tambor Tropical and Tango Mar. Also in Tambor, the Barcelo Tambor Resort is the only all-inclusive resort on the Nicoya Peninsula. Moving south around the tip of the Peninsula, Santa Teresa is an oasis for surfers and yogis alike. You won't find any large resorts, but you will find specialty surf and yoga lodges such as Moana Lodge, Indigo Yoga Resort, and Tropico Latino. You'll also find high-end luxury boutique hotels like Moana Lodge, Casa Chameleon, Flor Blanca, and Pranamar Villas.
The Nicoya Peninsula provides plenty of options for fun in the sun! Favorite activities and things to do in Samara and Carrillo include surf lessons and stand up paddle boarding, coastal kayaking and snorkeling, and you can even observe sea turtles nesting from May through October at Playa Camaronal and Playa Ostional. Down on the southern peninsula, you are almost obligated to go surfing or take surf lessons at Santa Teresa! Other options include nature hikes at Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, canopy zip line, and boat excursions to Tortuga Island.
We offer private transfers to all Nicoya Peninsula beaches from anywhere in Costa Rica. We also offer shared shuttle transportation from several major tourist destinations. Private transfers are based on your schedule and are exclusively for you and your travel companions. Shuttles are scheduled daily based on set departure times and shared with other tourists. Contact us toll-free at 1.866.853.9426 if you would like information on a domestic flight from San Jose. Click the link below to reserve your transportation today!
Most visitors to the Nicoya Peninsula elect to combine it with at least one other destination on their Costa Rica vacation. The most common combinations are Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, or Rincon de la Vieja, though Manuel Antonio can be a good combination for the lower peninsula beaches.
Arenal Volcano is by far the most common destination to connect with the Nicoya Peninsula. The volcano area offers some the best hot springs resorts and adventures. Adventurers will love activities like cave exploration at Venado, whitewater rafting, tubing, rappelling down rainforest waterfalls, ATV and horse riding, canopy zip lines, and much more. Nature lovers can enjoy activities such as a safari float down the Penas Blancas River, riverboat safari at Cano Negro, hanging bridges canopy exploration, or hiking through the jungle at the base of Arenal Volcano. Visitors to Arenal typically stay there for 3 - 4 nights. Arenal is approximately 4.5 hours from Samara and Carrillo or 5.5 - 6 hours from the southern Nicoya Beaches.
Rincon de la Vieja is another volcano area. This area is best known for the haciendas (adventure ranches) and the national park. Favorite activities include whitewater tubing, canopy zip line, ATV and horseback riding, and visits to the local waterfalls. While there are thermal hot springs, temperatures are typically in the mid-90s, making them less appealing than those of the cooler Arenal area. Visitors to Rincon de la Vieja usually reserve a 2 - 3-night stay before heading to the beach. Rincon de la Vieja is around 3.5 hours from Samara or 5.5 hours from the beaches of the southern peninsula.
Monteverde is the most famous cloud forest in the world and for good reason. The cloud forest is breathtaking with lush green forest and life on top of life. The forest provides habitat for many exotic animals and highland bird species. Birdwatchers come from all over the world for a chance to observe rare species such as Bellbirds, Emerald Toucannettes, and the most sought after, Resplendent Quetzal. Visitors can also explore the canopy of the forest on the hanging bridges. The bridges provide an enlightening way to discover and explore the treetops, where over 90% of life lives in the cloud forest. Of course, you can't forget the canopy zip lines of Monteverde! Imagine soaring through the canopy by wheel and harness from platform to platform. Monteverde is home to some of the best zip lines in the world! Most visitors to Monteverde stay 2 - 3 nights. Monteverde is around 4 hours from Samara and Carrillo and approximately 6 hours from the beaches of the southern Nicoya Peninsula.
If you're looking for another beach area to connect with the Nicoya Peninsula, you have plenty of options. Tamarindo (2 hours from Samara or 3.5 hours from the southern peninsula beaches), Flamingo (2 hours from Samara or 3.5 hours from south peninsula beaches), and Hermosa (3 hours from Samara or 4.5 hours from the lower peninsula beaches) all connect well with any of the Nicoya Beaches. Tamarindo is always a favorite with swimming and surfing beaches, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and more. Flamingo and Hermosa are quieter areas with pretty swimming beaches. Manuel Antonio (around 4 hours from the southern peninsula beaches including the ferry ride), on the Central Pacific coast, is a great option to combine with Tambor, Montezuma, or Santa Teresa. Manuel Antonio is home to gorgeous beaches and lush jungle that is home to loads of wildlife. This area also offers more activities than any other beach destination.
As you can see, the Nicoya Peninsula is a great destination to add to your Costa Rica vacation if you are interested in going off the beaten path. You'll experience beautiful beaches, authentic Costa Rican culture, and much more. So what are you waiting for? Book your vacation to the Nicoya Peninsula today!
How long should I visit the peninsula?
Most visitors stay 3 - 5 nights. Keep in mind that the southern tip of the peninsula is very remote, requiring extensive
Where can I find information on the ferry?
There are two ferries from Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula. One runs to Naranjo (northern peninsula) and the other runs to Paquera. The latter is used most often for Tambor, Montezuma, and Santa Teresa. You can find more information including the schedule and rates here. http://nicoyapeninsula.com/general/boat.php
*The ferry is not necessary to visit Samara and Carrillo.
When will I find the best prices?
May through November
What is the weather like?
The best weather on the Nicoya Peninsula is from January through April, but if you can deal with a little rain, add December, and May through July. The rainiest months are September and October. Daytime temperatures are typically in the mid-80s to mid-90s, though a little cooler during rainy months. Night time temps are usually around 15 degrees cooler.
Which airport should I use?
Samara & Carrillo: Liberia Airport (LIR) is approximately 2.5 hours away, while San Jose Airport (SJO) is around 4 hours.
The Southern tip of the Peninsula: No matter which airport you choose, you will have to endure a long transfer or limiting domestic flight. From San Jose (SJO), you have to take the Puntarenas Ferry (around 6 hours total). From Liberia (LIR), you have to take some unpaved backroads (around 4 hours). Most visitors opt for Liberia Airport. We recommend using an airport hotel for your first or last night if visiting Tambor, Montezuma, or Santa Teresa.
Where should I go on the Nicoya Peninsula?
Choosing where to go on the Nicoya Peninsula may be the easiest thing you’ve done all day! The southern peninsula requires extensive transportation or a domestic flight with strict luggage limitations. If either of those options does not sound good to you, then you should visit Samara and Carrillo for swimming and surfing beaches, international restaurants, and souvenir shopping (in Samara). If you want to go way off the beaten path, consider the southern beaches. Tambor is a quiet village with a swimming beach (waves are bigger at Tango Mar) and little else, offering tranquility and tropical seclusion. Montezuma is a funky little artsy town with basic lodging, dining, and souvenir shopping. The beach is gorgeous and perfect for swimming. Visit Santa Teresa for big wave surfing and yoga. Most hotels in Montezuma and Santa Teresa are on hills away from the beaches, so pay attention to the location when reserving.
The Nicoya Peninsula is the large peninsula in northwest Costa Rica. Most of the region is in the Guanacaste Province, but the southern tip is in the Puntarenas Province. The southern peninsula requires considerable effort to access. You can either take a ferry from Puntarenas, drive unpaved backroads from the northern peninsula, or take a domestic flight with strict baggage restrictions from San Jose. Carrillo and Samara are on the west coast of the northern peninsula. This area is much easier to access, but still well off the mainstream tourism path.
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