Costa Rica Beaches: The Nicoya Gulf and Islands boast a fortune in natural assets, including turquoise water and white sand beaches
These beaches stretch along Puntarenas’ entire coast between the mouth of the Río Barranca and the place known as La Punta (“The Point”), where this extensive length of shoreline ends. The area between the wharf (Cruise Ship Terminal) and La Punta is the preferred place for swimmers; running parallel to this stretch is the Paseo de los Turistas (“Tourist Strip”), with its numerous hotels, restaurants, bars and other services. Besides swimming, visitors can enjoy other water sports and activities, such as boat tours.
This island is located very close to and northeast of Isla Cedros. Its 30-hectare area shelters a tropical dry forest, transitioning to wet forest. On the northeast part of the island is a rocky coast and lovely beach. Another beach may be found on the south side of the island.
With an area of under 200 hectares, this island’s irregular coastline makes for very attractive scenery. It has two main beaches: Langosta and Gringo. Its forests are of fine wood, coconut palms and shrub. Organized tours to the island are available.
ISLA MUERTOS (GITANA)
Many years ago this island housed a cemetery, which is why it is called Isla Muertos (“Island of the Dead”). It is also known as Isla Gitana (“Gypsy Island”). Most of its small territory (some 30 hectares) is covered by tropical dry forest, transitioning to wet forest. Many seabirds visit the island, and the surrounding scenery is quite pleasant.
ISLA PAN DE AZÚCAR
This islet is located southwest of Isla San Lucas. The beauty of its marine landscape is centered on the shape of the rocks that give it its unique form, and its name: “Sugarloaf Island.” The island has a large population of seabirds, particularly brown pelicans.
Just under four square kilometers, this island is long and narrow. Separated from Isla Bejuco by the Peter Harley Canal, Isla Caballo has many trees and is surrounded by reefs and cliffs. The island’s highest elevation, less than 200 meters above sea level, is found towards its center.
Also long and narrow, this island is smaller than Isla Caballo and has a maximum altitude of 118 meters above sea level. Its irregular terrain hosts many different tree species.
This 440-hectare island stands out among the other islands in the Gulf of Nicoya because of its sea-green color. The island’s inhabitants live off agriculture and fishing. Abundant seabirds nest on the island and in the mangrove swamps near the Jicaral estuary.
The largest (43 km2) and most populous island in the Gulf of Nicoya, Isla Chira offers more services than the others, including schools and a college. There is a large mangrove swamp on the northeast part of the island. An ecotourism association made up of women from the island offers basic accommodations, food, and fishing and mangrove-swamp tours.
To arrive, you must get away from the the center, walking approximately 20 min. The waterfall, 20 meters height, forms a refreshing natural pool surrounded by an exuberant vegetation.
This beach forms a small, lovely cove ideal for swimming and enjoying the surrounding seascape. Numerous artisan-fishing boats can normally be seen anchored here.
A beautiful protected cove featuring diverse coastal vegetation, this beach is great for swimming, relaxing and sea-gazing.
This refreshing waterfall is located in the northeastern extreme of Cocalito Beach. With it’s 12-meter height, forms a pond where you can swim contemplating the marvelous natural environment, with the leafy vegetation and the blue sea. It’s an attractive landmark and a relaxing place.
This beach is located inside the Bahía Ballena, which at the same time has Playa Pochote in its northeastern extreme. It is a beautiful and extense beach, excelent for bathing and enjoying walks, horse ridings and aquatic sports. This bay has the particularity of having two alligator-shaped points. Tambor has leafy coastal vegetation, and a wide range of touristic services wich allow tourists to enjoy from cheap lodging to all-included luxury hotels. Therefore, there are many recreative facilities such as golf, sport fishing, aquatic sports and mountain biking among others.
Great scenic beauty, also has a cliff in it’s northeastern extreme from wich one has a wonderful view of all the coast sector.
PLAYAS COCAL, COCALITO Y QUIZALES
These beaches are located in a coastal sector of great scenic beauty, where it combines sandy beaches with rocky platforms and cliffs, surrounded by exuberant tropical vegetation. Playa Cocal is very extensive and appropriate for bathing, sunbathing and hiking or horseback riding. Toward the north of Cocal there is Balvina Point, which once flanked communicates with Cocalito beach. This beach is narrow and occupies a rocky seaboard, delimited by high slopes that form a cliff.
PLAYA SANTA TERESA
This beach is very extense, with surfing-appropiate’s swell. It has a wide coverage of coastal vegetatio and beautiful rocky sectors such as Peñón de Arío, located in the north. Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve can be watched toward south of Santa Teresa beach. Besides bathing and taking the sun, this beach is ideal for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and camping.
Pochote is located towards the south of Manzanillo Point. It presents a small rocky inlet, plenty of vegetation and great scenic beauty. The place is great for hiking, enjoying the sea and taking the sun among others activities.
This beach is located four kilometers from Paquera. It presents a length of little less than two kilometers and has an estuary (Organos) and a mangrove swamp located in the north sector. The beach is very popular among the residents of the nearby towns. It possesses great scenic and natural beauty, Tortugas and Negritos Island can be seen from it coast.
This long beach is located 12 kilometers from administrative area of the Santa Rosa National Park. In its north sector it has a dark sand strip surrounded by the seawater and the rivers mouth’s form an extensive estuary and mangrove swamp rich flora and fauna. It is ideal for hiking, and to observe the magnificent surrounding landscape that includes the Peña de la Bruja, a popular small rocky island among the surfers. Also it is permitted to camp in this beach.
The rocky sectors and clear sandy beaches make this coast extremely beautiful. Plentiful vegetation is the habitat of numerous animal species, congos and many birds may be observed. The central beach of Montezuma is a beautiful and small inlet, the main beach is found towards the north of the central one, and is prolonged for hundreds of meters unitl it gets to a rocky sector, where a road communicates with other beaches such as Cocal. In Montezuma one can enjoy horseback rides, mountain bike, diving and sport fishing tours and other night time activities.
This beach has a very irregular rocky seaboard. It has great natural and scenic beauty, due to their coastal vegetation and it’s very pleasant wooded zones. Barrigona point can be found in the central part of this beach, and it’s nice for hiking and the observation of the beautiful surrounding maritime landscape. Toward the south extreme of Malpaís, Punta Cuevas can be found, an extremely beautiful place wich border the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve. In this beach other activities can be practiced: surf, horseback rides, dive, sport fishing, mountain bike, kayak’s rides, watch the dusk, etc.
This small beach, surrounded by abundantly vegetated mountainous slopes. It has a quiet swell and from its coast, Isla Muertos can be seen at south. Very pleasant conditions for rest, hike or horseback ride to nearby places for characteristics flora and fauna observation can be found here. From the nearby hills’, a magnificent landscape of the Gulf of Nicoya can be admired.
It is located inside the Curu National Wildlife Refuge and is a beautiful little inlet, with smooth swelling. It has coastal vegetation and a mangrove swamp, congos and carablanca’s monkeys as well as racoons, iguanas and many other animals can be found on it’s different types of forests. It possesses a very pleasant coastal landscape from where you can see the Tortuga Islands, two kilometers away. Is an ideal place for bathing, flora and fauna observation and resting in full contact with this beautiful refuge.
This beach is located in an intermediate point between Santa Teresa and Malpaís, exactly in the sector where the access road to this coastal sector forks: north to Santa Teresa and south to Malpaís. Besides enjoying the sun and the beach, this seaboard is great for hiking and horseback riding, as well as mountain biking and admiring the varied and rich coastal vegetation. Also very visited by the surfers.
It is located seven kilometers south of Montezuma and two kilometers north of the Absolute Nature Preserve of Cabo Blanco. Also communicates with Malpaís through a convenient, very picturesque road for double-tractioned cars. Is an open-sea and rocky beach. Has plenty coastal vegetation and strong swelling. It possesses a beautiful coastal landscape, where Cabuya Island, which has the particularity to be a pre-Colombian native cemetery stands out. During the low tide you can get there by foot, since there’s a rocky platform that unites it with the coast. It is an ideal beach to carry out walks and to observe the nature, especially in Cabo Blanco.
This beach is inside Murciélago of Santa Rosa National Park sector. It is located in the Peninsula of Santa Elena, geologically ancient zone of Costa Rica. It is a beautiful bay delimited in its south part by the Fila Carrizal, which is prolonged to the Santa Elena cape. It has plentiful coastal vegetation and because of its width and tranquil water is ideal for the rest, the walks, to bath and to observe interesting flora and bird life. Other nearby beaches can be visited like Santa Elena and El Hachal bays. Camping is permitted 17 km away of this beach, in the administrative area.