North Pacific Coast: Places to Explore

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The Nicoya Penninsula Coast and Interior

Strung along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula are sparkling sand beaches lined with hotels and resorts in every price category. As recently as the 1970s, fishing and cattle ranching were the area's mainstays. Development has barreled ahead full speed, though, turning laid-back fishing villages into beach towns with sophisticated restaurants, hotels, shops, and nightlife. Development has also brought congestion, noise, construction chaos, water pollution, and higher prices. If resort life and the party scene are not your style, there are still some blissfully tranquil beaches just beyond the paved roads. South of Tamarindo, you'll find the interesting anomaly of a trendy restaurant or upscale hotel plunked at the end of a tortuous dirt road. The key to enjoying Nicoya is to pick your spot—happening beach town or off-the-beaten-path seclusion.

The parks and wildlife refuges in and around the Río Tempisque are prime places to hike, explore caves, and spot birds and other wildlife, and there's a smattering of culture, too, in the town of Nicoya with its colonial-era church and in Guaitil, with pottery made in the pre-Colombian Chorotega tradition. The town of Nicoya is the commercial and political hub of the northern Nicoya Peninsula. By road, Nicoya provides the best access to Sámara, Nosara, and points south and north and is linked by a smooth, well-paved road to the artisan community of Guaitil and the northern Nicoya beach towns.

The Nicoya Penninsula Coast and Interior at a Glance

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