Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica

Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica

Who loves the surf can’t get lost there Costa Rica which, despite my poor experience in the matter, I believe has the best coasts and waves in all of Central America.

Thanks to the fact that the beaches are kilometers long in this part of Costa Rica, surfers do not crowd into a single small spot, as can happen in The Savior but they are distributed along very long coasts so as not to bother each other.
In the Nicoya Peninsula apart Montezuma (said friendly by the locals Montefuma) all the other main destinations are surfer villages and, if you have never done it, then consider taking at least one lesson or you will be an outsider.

In fact, those who come here do only and exclusively this, only a few people don’t rent a board and throw themselves into the water in search of “cool”, a term that actually means cool, the temptation is strong and if I have done it too it means that you really can’t not do it.

However, while on the coasts surfing dominates and everyone tries this sport at least once, in the interior it is still a land of countryside, farms and ranches not much explored due to the fact that public transport is lacking and moving inland is rather complicated.
Unfortunately, however, the coast is instead colonized by foreigners and the language spoken could very frequently be English rather than Spanish.

I also met, unbelievably, some Italians who moved there and decided to become surf instructors and opened their own business, a surf school and apartments on Santa Teresa beach .
Obviously it was my surf instructors who rejoiced with me at my first stand on the board and of whom I can only write a note of thanks as well as highly recommending them. Thanks Peppe and Simone!

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Main attractions and villages of the Peninsula de Nicoya

The Nicoya peninsula, perhaps due to the fact that it is difficult to reach and is “specialised” in surfing, I found it very devoted to nature and the undisputed queen for the lack of transport convenience.

In fact, it is not easy to move from the south to the north from the interior, unless you have a car, the roads are rough but what you will find here will be something unique: endless beaches, palm trees under which to shelter from the sun , waves of 2, 3 meters and even more, tanned people and a slow flow of life far from everyday stress.

In short, not all evils have a silver lining.
Below are the top destinations on the peninsula which summarize the major attractions and activities that can be done in this area of ​​Costa Rica: surf, snorkeling, relax and natural parks.

Coco Beach

Playa del Coco is the most accessible town on the entire peninsula. The country is in fact located just 22 kilometers from Liberia and easily reachable by buses directly from the city.
From Liberia there is in fact a direct bus which will take you to your destination in an hour (cost $0.75).
Playa del Coco is a place where people have fun, fish, dive and relax. Sometimes it is chaotic and in the high season even dirty but if you don’t have time to go down to the south of the peninsula then it could give you an idea of ​​what the coast is like.
To surf, however, you have to go via local boats at the Santa Rosa National Park ($250 for 8 hour boat tour for 5 people).
The best beach for swimming is instead Playa Ocotal just 4 km from the town and the view from the local beach is beautiful in fact you can see the Pelonas Islands, Cacique Point and Cantinela Point.

Coco Beach

Tamarindo Beach

Do you want to surf during the day and have fun at night? Tamarindo Beach then this is what you are looking for, just think that it is one of the most popular destinations on the peninsula.

Although not my favorite for reasons I’ll list below.
Playa Tamarindo until 30 years ago was inhabited by just 21 families but in recent years there has been unprecedented immigration, the call of “pure Life” of Costa Rica has attracted many Americans, the roads have been built and now it is one of the unmissable stops for all those who want to party all night and alternate nights of partying with morning surfing.
Personally it wasn’t what I was looking for, considering that I wasn’t part of either of the two groups I mentioned above and because it was a little too touristy for my tastes but with this they can’t fail to mention it.
To get to Playa Tamarindo you can take a bus from San Jose, the journey takes 6 hours and costs around €4. Alternatively you can get there from Liberia the journey takes 2 hours and costs €0.90 or from Santa Cruz, 1 hour and a quarter, costs €0.60.


Montezuma also called Montefuma…I leave the interpretation of this name up to you.
I liked it very much and considering that I stopped there purely by chance, the simplicity of this place made my stay here even more surprising than I could have imagined. Montezuma is a small village overlooking a quiet bay where there are no waves, only the beach, quiet and relaxed people and in the evening music coming from everywhere.
The country is known for being a little Hippy here people gather on the beach in the evening to play the guitar while some perform performances with fire.
It is a tourist location but despite this it maintains a very respectable bohemian style.
For those who don’t want to stay in the sun all day, excursions to the nearby waterfalls or snorkeling tours to Isla Tortuga can be organized which cost $40.
I slept at hotel Lys, the rooms are small but the location is lovely, right on the beach and there is nothing nicer than waking up in the morning and having your feet on the sand. Cost per night €6 in private room. The second night they moved me to the room on the upper floor and it was too hot during the day but it would still be madness to lock yourself in your room when you can have the whole beach to yourself.

Malpais and Santa Teresa

Here you really surf. The imposing ocean and always with incredible waves will not disappoint lovers of the table.
In Santa Teresa it’s all about surfing, people go to sleep early to wake up at 5 in the morning and ride the waves and even if there are parties and events don’t be surprised if these tanned and muscular blonds have as their only thought the application of wax on the table.
There are numerous surf schools here, I relied on my Sicilian compatriots from Pacifica Surf Studio in addition to the fact that it was recommended to me by a friend, a regular in the area.

My teachers were Palomitor and  Ester.
I still remember the day I stood up on the board and slid onto the sea without falling.
Considering my agility I think they were happier than me. However, his career ended where it was about to begin.

A note about the surf school. Surfing is an extreme sport so it’s important to get into the water with someone you trust and with years of experience.

Many give private lessons without belonging to a school, I recommend choosing only certified schools with years of experience and even with these if you don’t feel comfortable then don’t continue.

All the staff at Pacifica Surf were great and made me feel comfortable in and out of the water, as well as giving me the psychological help I needed to overcome the performance anxiety of the first day.
Santa Teresa is located not far from Montezuma but to get there you have to go up to Cobano and take a bus there (departure at 10.30 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon).

Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve

This nature reserve is located in the extreme south of the peninsula and is one of the oldest protected areas in the entire area.
White sand, tropical forests and small islands.

The park was created by a Danish couple who moved to Montezuma in 1950. When they discovered Cabo Blanco in 1960 they understood that it was an area to be protected and given that the Costa Rican government at the time was more interested in an agricultural policy rather which upon preservation the couple decided to do themselves.

Today Cabo Blanco is the kingdom of uncontaminated nature, just think that until 30 years ago tourists could not access it, not even to visit it and even today it is closed to visits on Mondays and Tuesdays to minimize the environmental impact.
To get from Montezuma you have to take a bus at 7 or 9 in the morning or 1 or 4. Or you can take a taxi which costs $12 (€9) return.

How to get to the Peninsula de Nicoya

Getting to the Pensinsula is possible either from the North, towards Liberia or from San Jose or from the South by ferry from Puntarenas crossing the Gulf of Nicoya by taking the ferry to Flirt.
If you go to Montezuma or Santa Teresa be careful do not take the ferry that arrives at Punta Naranjo. I made this mistake by extending the journey even further and asking for a ride from some French guys.
From Puntarenas I will turn on the Ferry Peninsular in case you have to go to Montezuma, the cost per passenger is €1.50. Ferries leave every day at 4.30, 6.30, 8.30, 10.30, 12.30, 14.30, 16, 30, 6.30 and 20.30.
I don’t recommend the last ferry as you won’t find any buses going to Montezuma so the latest possible one is 4.30pm otherwise you have to take a taxi which will cost €5.
Bus from Liberia instead they will allow you to get to Playa de Coco and Tamarindo.
In general, things get complicated to move around the peninsula, I recommend renting a car or returning to Puntarenas and continuing from there.

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