Known for world-class surfing, the Nicoya Peninsula is home to some of the best stretches of coastline for catching waves. But if you're not a surfer, you can still enjoy these idyllic beaches with horseback riding, relaxation, or stand-up paddleboarding. Then take your adventures inland to kayak through the mangroves, explore the jungles, and visit Costa Rica's famed Macaw Recovery Network, which is responsible for releasing over 200 of the colorful birds back into the wild.

Getting Oriented

One of the many idyllic beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Set in northwestern Costa Rica, the scenic Nicoya Peninsula is home to Nosara and Sámara, two famed coastal towns known for long stretches of white-sand beaches and turquoise surf. In fact, this area of the Pacific coastline is home to some of the best surfing in the world, which you can enjoy whether you're a beginner or expert. But, of course, you can also simply relax on the beaches or try stand-up paddleboarding! 

When not enjoying the beach, there's plenty more to see and do on the Nicoya Peninsula. The area is also known for yoga retreats and cycling and is one of the best places to spot wildlife in Costa Rica. In particular, it's an excellent birding destination, as you can get up close with the colorful macaws at the Macaw Recovery Network. Enjoy more flora and fauna by kayaking through the peninsula's renowned estuary, snorkeling in the ocean, and hiking through a wildlife refuge.

On the Water

When on a peninsula in Costa Rica, water sports are a must. Take advantage of your location and test your skills with a surfing lesson or stand-up paddleboarding excursion.

Surf Lesson at Playa Guiones

Beginners to experts can catch waves at one of the best spots in the Pacific.

Whether you're a total beginner or seasoned expert, you can enjoy a surfing lesson at one of Costa Rica's best spots to catch waves on the Pacific Ocean: Playa Guiones. A professional surfing instructor will cater the experience to your ability level, helping you make the most out of your time on the water. Even beginners will be able to stand and ride a few waves! Read More

Ocean SUP Tour

Enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of shoreline on a stand-up paddleboard.

If you've ever wanted to SUP (stand-up paddleboard) in the ocean, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in which to do it! In particular, the Nicoya Peninsula offers one of the best breaks on the Pacific Ocean, where reefs stretch just offshore. Enjoy viewpoint after viewpoint as you paddle along the coast and pass famed spots like Rosada Beach, Coco Beach, Guiones Point, and Garza Bay. Read More

Plan your trip to Costa Rica
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Discover Wildlife

Costa Rica is a biologically dense country, and the Nicoya Peninsula offers various wildlife sighting opportunities. Cruise through the ocean, snorkel under the surface, kayak through a mangrove estuary, and visit the Macaw Recovery Network.

Wildlife Catamaran Cruise & Snorkeling

Spot dolphins and whales on the surface, then snorkel below to explore the area's reefs.

Enjoy the salty sea spray as you cruise along the coast on a catamaran. The area is known for its dolphin populations and migratory path for humpback whales. After spotting some marine life, get equipped with snorkeling gear and discover life beneath the surface. This region along the coast is protected by vibrant reefs full of fish and other animals. Read More

Macaw Refuge & Breeding Center Experience

Meet the birds that are helping the macaws make a comeback in the region.

In the town of Punta Islita, you'll find the Macaw Recovery Network. The network is a conservation organization dedicated to the survival of Costa Rica's native macaws, which once went extinct in the area. Since their initial efforts started, the organization and its partners have released over 200 birds back into the wild. Learn more about their conservation efforts and meet some of the friendly birds! Read More 

Boca Nosara Wildlife & Birding Kayak Tour

View birds, monkeys, and even crocodiles in the Boca Nosara mangrove forest.

The two largest rivers in the Nosara region of the Nicoya Peninsula are Río Nosara and the Río Montana. Where they meet, they create the Boca Nosara, an incredibly biodiverse estuary of mangrove forests. Enjoy kayaking through the ecosystem and spot animals such as various water birds, monkeys, iguanas, and even crocodiles. Read More

Hike & Horseback

Cherish one of Costa Rica's world-famous sunsets on horseback—or be an early bird and catch the sunrise instead! If hiking is more your thing, consider a trek through the wildlife-rich Werner Sauter Biological Reserve.

Sunrise or Sunset Horseback Ride

Take in the fiery skies at dawn or dusk while on horseback.

Wake with the sun or watch it melt into the horizon as you enjoy a horseback ride along the idyllic beaches of Nosara. You'll start in the hills behind Playa Guiones and make your way over jungle trails to the Gulf of Nosara. Then, as the sun is setting (or rising), you'll arrive at Playa Pelada, a scenic half-moon beach, where you can gallop along white sands as the waves crash nearby. Read More

Werner Sauter Biological Reserve Hike

See monkeys, birds, and butterflies in Costa Rica's dry tropical forests.

Although not very well-known, you can see a collection of creatures (including monkeys, birds, and butterflies) in Sámara's Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. This unique ecosystem is a tropical dry forest, as opposed to a rainforest, yet its inhabitants have adapted to its peculiar conditions. Enjoy hiking along the reserve's twisting trails, which offer a truly adventurous forest trekking experience. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Nicoya Peninsula 

The gorgeous coastline of the Nicoya Peninsula.

With a location in Costa Rica's northwest region, the Nicoya Peninsula fits well into any itinerary. You can easily combine Monteverde and Nicoya into a 4- or 5-day itinerary. But if you want to enjoy more of the country and include more regions of Costa Rica, give yourself at least one week.

When planning how many days to spend in Costa Rica, remember that it takes time to traverse the entire country. Opt for two weeks if you'd like to combine north and south, such as the Osa Peninsula, Nicoya Peninsula, Monteverde, and the volcanic region.

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include experiences on the Nicoya Peninsula: