Papagayo Gulf & Nicoya Peninsula

Beach after beach. Where one ends, another begins, each with its own personality.

Papagayo Gulf & Nicoya Peninsula

Including Santa Rosa NP, Palo Verde NP, Gulf of Nicoya Islands and Marino Las Bailas NP

Beaches are a large part of the attraction of Costa Rica and there are plenty of them. The Pacific coast is one stunning beach after another –  so many beautiful beaches stretching endlessly along the coast.

Papagayo Gulf is up in the northwest and is part of the Guanacaste region. The Nicoya Peninsula is just south of here (and still partly within Guanacaste). Linking these two coastal regions are the amazing beaches found here. This is, quite simply, a tropical paradise. The Papagayo Gulf and Nicoya Peninsula are renowned for picture-postcard beaches, swaying palms and spectacular Pacific Ocean sunsets and with so many different beaches, some very isolated, there is bound to be one to suit you.

Reasons to Visit Papagayo Gulf & Nicoya Peninsula

  • Sport fishing – try your hand at game fishing at Playa del Coco or simply enjoy a beer with some of the local Costa Ricans.
  • Diving – this area has some of the most accessible diving. If you’ve time you can also do a course and get your diving qualifications.  Popular places to dive are Playa Ocotal and Playa El Coco.
  • Beach life – sample a few beaches and soak up the different vibes. See our beaches page for more information.
  • Kite Surfing – November to April is the best time to try your kite surfing skills
  • Hiking – Take a hike to the tip of Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica’s oldest protected wilderness area.
  • Whale spotting – Another area to try your luck at whale spotting as the humpback whales migrate north in Sept & October.
  • Turtles – during September and October, when the area receives most rainfall, is the best time to see olive ridley turtles nesting on the beach.
  • Birding – Tick lots of waterfowl and coastal birds off your bird list.
  • Boat Trip – Take a boat trip down Río Tempisque and marvel at the mangrove swamps.
  • Exploring National Parks – The Santa Rosa National Park, Palo Verde National Park and Marino Las Baulas National Park are all fantastic.
  • Gulf of Nicoya Islands – a number uninhabited islands off the coast of the southern peninsula.
  • Isla Tortuga is made up of two uninhabited islands close to Curú. The scenery here is stunning with white sands, palm trees and a coral reef for snorkelling – paradise.
  • Isla Gigante is widely believed by locals to be haunted. Known also by the name Isla de Muertos (Island of the Dead) because there are several Chara burial sites here.
  • Isla San Lucas is the largest island in Bahía Gigante and whilst it looks like an idyllic paradise, it harbours a horrible history. The island was used as a prison for over 400 years and was used to detain political prisoners as recently as 1992.

Places to Stay

This area has everything from resorts to quaint eco-lodges. Our experts have stayed at most of them and can offer advice to match you with the right property.

Andaz Papagayo

Andaz Papagayo

Deluxe, Papagayo Gulf

Bahia del sol Beach Front Boutique Hotel

Bahia del sol Beach Front Boutique Hotel

Modest, Papagayo Gulf

Cala Luna

Cala Luna

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

El Mangroove

El Mangroove

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Wyndham Elspendor Tamarindo

Wyndham Elspendor Tamarindo

Modest, Papagayo Gulf

Four Seasons

Four Seasons

Deluxe, Papagayo Gulf

Florblanca

Florblanca

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Harmony Hotel

Harmony Hotel

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Hotel Bosque del Mar

Hotel Bosque del Mar

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Hotel Capitán Suizo

Hotel Capitán Suizo

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Hotel Punta Islita

Hotel Punta Islita

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

La Ensenada Lodge

La Ensenada Lodge

Modest, Papagayo Gulf

Tango Mar

Tango Mar

Mid-range, Papagayo Gulf

Westin Golf Resort and Spa

Westin Golf Resort and Spa

Deluxe, Papagayo Gulf