Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific
The beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula are among the best in Costa Rica with hotels to match, the ideal location for watersports and sunbathing.
At the Pacific coast, the hotel was perfect and we enjoyed the fantastic sunsets with a range of happy hour cocktails, brilliant bars nearby and bobbing around in the warmest and most wonderful ocean waters.
The sandy beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica’s north Pacific Coast, aka the Gold Coast, attract visitors from around the globe. Accommodation ranges from top international brands to boutique hotels, there are busy resorts and quiet bays, watersports and inland reserves. Within a five-hour drive of San Jose and close to the Liberia international airport, this is the ideal beach holiday venue. Below are a few of our favourite spots. Inland from this coastline, there are also some fabulous national parks.
- Papagayo Gulf: This large bay with many of the country’s top luxury beach resorts, exclusive beaches, private villas, a marina and golf club has a distinctly upmarket feel. There are some smaller hotels and plenty of beaches and watersports for all to enjoy, as well as hiking, horse and bike riding, canopy tours and bird watching.
- Playa Hermosa: This beach is just to the south of Papagayo and is relatively quiet although certainly not undiscovered. Beautiful not just by name, the 2km beach is backed by lush forest and the sea is great for swimming, snorkelling, diving, paddleboarding, kayaking and sunset cruises. Trips to national parks and activities such as river rafting and horse riding can be arranged.
- Playa Potrero: Near the small fishing village of Potrero this is a peaceful sandy beach with opportunities for a range of watersports, sailing trips and deep-sea fishing, tours to the nearby rainforest and activities including ziplining and horse riding. The larger resort of Playa Flamingo is within easy reach and offers a greater range of amenities and tours.
- Tamarindo: This popular resort comprises several beaches of which Tamarindo is the original and most developed. Among the others Langosta with its tidal rock pools is a favourite for families, the sea swells at Playa Avellanas attract surfers and Playa Conchal’s pale pink sand is photogenic and the calm water good for swimming. Hotels offer a variety of water and land-based excursions and activities.
- Rincon de la Vieja: This national park is named after a volcano, still active, one of three in the 14-hectare park Walking the trails is the best way to enjoy the tropical forest, see waterfalls, survey the volcanic scenery with its bubbling mud pools and geothermal springs and observe capuchin, spider and howler monkeys, sloths and tapirs.
- Palo Verde: Located beside the Rio Tempisque at the mouth of the Gulf of Nicoya, this national park is a prime bird-watching destination with species including spoonbills, storks, egrets and ibis and the country’s largest breeding colony of black-crowned night herons on Pajero Island. Bird numbers peak at the end of the rainy season but in the drier months of January to April viewing is easier as they gather at the waterholes and seasonal marshes.