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Nicoya Peninsula | © chuck624 / Flickr
Nicoya Peninsula | © chuck624 / Flickr
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One-Week Travel Itinerary for Exploring the Nicoya Peninsula

Picture of Jenn Parker
Updated: 9 November 2017
The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica includes the provinces of northern Guanacaste and southern Puntarenas. It is also considered to be one of the world’s Blue Zones – places where people seem to be healthier and live longer. This region is one of the most popular areas to visit, and for plenty of valid reasons. While it would be impossible to see it all in just one week, here is an action-packed itinerary to help you make the most of your trip to this extraordinary peninsula.

Day 1

Fly into Liberia International Airport. After clearing customs and immigration and collecting your baggage, head to Playa Tamarindo. A private shuttle is typically around $80–$90 and shared shuttles are priced at between $18–$35 a person. Stay at Capitan Suizo, which is right on the beach at the very south end of Playa Tamarindo. This town is a great starting point because everything is within walking distance and there are over 100 restaurants, plenty of beachfront bars, multiple banks, food stores, surf shops, and medical centers. Check in to your hotel and then head down to the beach for one of Tamarindo’s famous sunsets. Welcome to Costa Rica.

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Imagine arriving to this | Courtesy of Captain Suizo

Day 2

Seize the day. Tamarindo is a world-renowned surf town and an excellent place to learn how to surf. After enjoying the incredible breakfast spread at Capitan Suizo, sign up for a surf lesson and spend the morning out on the water and in the waves. Make sure you wear plenty of reef-friendly sunscreen! After spending a few hours surfing, there are few things better than an ice-cold Costa Rican beer and some traditional Costa Rican food for lunch. Pangas, Noguis, and Sprout are all great lunch options. The rest of your day can be spent exploring the town, lounging on the beach drinking fresh cold coconuts, napping in a hammock under a palm tree, or soaking in the pool.

sunset
One of those famous skies | © Haylee Sherwood / Flickr

Day 3

It’s time to head south. Your final stop today will be in Playa Guiones/Nosara at the Harmony Hotel. But before you get that far south, you will make a stop at the Ostional Wildlife Park just to the north. This is the famous nesting beach for the Olive Ridley sea turtle. The turtles nest all year long on this beach, but the rainy season months are the prime season. There is nothing cuter than a baby Olive Ridley sea turtle making its way to the ocean, or more amazing than a giant mother giving birth to hundreds of turtles. The beach itself is stunning and home to a number of other animals, including a great variety of birds. At the Harmony Hotel you will be treated to luxurious accommodation, sustainably sourced organic meals, a chance to practice yoga or get a spa treatment, and easy access to the expansive Playa Guiones.

Harmony patio
Your private patio | Courtesy of Ocean and Oak

Day 4

Enjoy the morning in Nosara. Take a long walk on the beach, go for a surf, take a yoga class, or have a lazy morning drinking coffee on your private patio. The Harmony Hotel has an exquisite breakfast. After checkout, it is time to move further south. The earlier you leave, the better. Your final destination today will be the bohemian beach town of Montezuma. There is a fantastic and pleasantly short hike to a beautiful waterfall in Montezuma. You can swim in the cool pool underneath the giant falls there, which will be so refreshing after the hot hike. Montezuma has several great restaurants and bars and is known for its happening nightlife.

Day 5

Head to the islands. You will leave around 9 a.m. from Montezuma to head to Isla Tortuga, a picturesque and uninhabited island about an hour away. This will be an-all day tour. You will take a boat out to the island, where it is likely that you will spot whales, dolphins, jumping stingrays, turtles, and sea birds. You can also snorkel, enjoy a beach BBQ, go kayaking, and lounge and swim on this remote island. This is something that the entire family will love.

Day 6

Head to the wetlands. It is best to leave early in the morning to head back north to the Palo Verde National Park. This is about a three-hour drive, but it will put you relatively close to the Liberia International Airport. A guided boat tour down the Tempisque River through the Palo Verde National Park is an absolute must. You are guaranteed to see tons of crocodiles, giant iguanas, monkeys, and an impressive selection of wetland and dry-forest birds. This is actually one of the top birding destinations in Guanacaste. This is a truly spectacular tour where you will see a lot of animals and learn a lot about this ecosystem. The tours also include a typical Costa Rican lunch, which is a real treat.

crocs
They are everywhere | © Martin Lopatka / Flickr

Day 7

Spend your last day and night at El Mangroove on the Papagayo Peninsula. When you are there, you will feel like you are a world away, but you are actually only 20 minutes from Liberia International Airport. El Mangroove is a luxurious beachfront resort that has two farm-to-table and ocean-to-table restaurants, an amazing spa, and an abundance of on-site activities. This is a great way to unwind from all your adventuring and traveling around, and just totally relax and enjoy the beach on your last day in Costa Rica.

El Mangroove
Unwind and reflect on the best week ever | Courtesy of El Mangroove