The Nicoya Peninsula

Mike and I have heard nothing but great things about the Nicoya Peninsula and eagerly head in that direction for our first night in Costa Rica. We’re stopped at a routine Police checkpoint and both agree the female officer is Eva Mendes‘ twin sister, complete with a pistol shoved down the front of her pants. I hand over my passport as well as my heart, though my Spanish doesn’t seem to convey my feelings very well. Tamarindo is very touristy and developed, with fast food joints and expensive clothing stores lining the main street. It’s obvious very quickly how expensive everything in Costa Rica is, very similar to prices in the US or Canada, which comes as a huge slap in the face after the amazingly cheap countries I’ve just been to.

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The main beach at Tamarindo

When I goto sleep there is only one other tent in the whole campground, and I think I’m dreaming when about fifty people rock up after midnight and have a huge party while setting up their tents, complete with a car stereo at full volume. It turns out a whole village has made the trek to the beach for the weekend and they intend to party pretty hard while here.

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The crazy tent city that appeared at Tamarindo

We spend a few nights here, partly because I’m still feeling sick and party because Mike lost his debit card a few days back and is trying to have money wired to the local bank, with little luck. It’s an extremely beautiful place, if not a little busy for my liking.

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The sunset over Tamarindo Beach

A 4×4-only dirt track winds down the west coast of the peninsula, possibly called the ‘Monkey Trail’ and is highly recommended by all. We wind our way down to Playa Sámara and quickly realize we’ve found a slice of paradise. The campground is a very laid-back, Rastafarian affair right on the beach and wandering around the town which has one of everything we need and nothing we don’t is great. At night we go to a little community center full of locals to watch a movie sitting on bean-bags & eating popcorn.
It would be easy to stay here for weeks.

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Camping right on beautiful Samara beach

We continue south and spend a couple of nights in the Malpais / Santa Teresa area. Here, a beachside road strings together a couple of small towns that have been overrun by surfers riding the powerful swell on the seemingly endless sandy beach. We catch up with Jamie who we met in Nicaragua who has been living in Costa Rica for six months teaching English. She’s been having an awesome time living the local life, which you can read about on her blog:

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Overlooking the Nicoya Peninsula

At the very southern end of the peninsula lies The Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica’s oldest protected wilderness area setup in 1963. We pay $10 USD each for entry and set out on a two hour hike to the beach at the southern tip. Walking through the dense jungle and enormous trees we walk right by a family of howler monkeys and spot a couple of brightly colored birds and giant butterflies. The beach is really peaceful and we both take catnaps in the warm shady area.

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Hiking through the jungle to Cabo Blanco

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These spikey trees are all over the place

We move around to Montezuma, a very popular spot on the coast. It’s a very Rastafarian place and we are offered drugs twice each on the three minute walk to the grocery store. Neither of us quite likes the vibe here, although nothing bad happens.

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Scared little crab

We catch up with Jamie again the next day and walk twenty minutes to the amazing Montezuma Waterfalls, where we swim and jump off a low rock. Using Jamie’s local knowledge we walk around and up higher to another waterfall and series of swimming pools which are almost deserted. This second fall turns out to be perfect for jumping off and we all jump multiple times from the 10 meter (35 feet) height before lying around in the sun enjoying the total relaxation.

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Winding up for a backflip at Montezuma Waterfall

We move on and hop the ferry across to Puntarenas an the mainland, excited for our next Costa Rican adventure.

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The main beach at Montezuma


12 Responses

  1. Dave G says:

    Hey Dan… great photos… digging the little crab.. hope he made it back to water safely!!!

    • Dan says:

      I do not know if those little guys live in the water. I have seen hundreds of them walking high up in the dry sand and vegetation.

  2. John says:

    Really enjoy following along with you on your trip. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Stevo says:

    Hey Dan,
    I had finished reading a book a little while back and was surfing the web. I am not sure how I stumbled onto your site but I did. I went all the way back to the beginning when the guys at the office tried to compete with you in the beard contest……

    I just finished reading the entries and I am caught up to you. It sounds as if you are having the time of your life. I have told as many of my friends about your journey and they should read through as well look you up on facebook. I look forward to traveling with you now via the web. Looking forward to the next entries.

    Take Care


    • Dan says:

      Hey Stevo,
      I am really happy you found my site and have enjoyed catchnig up on my adventures. I certainly am having the tmie of my life, no doubt about it! I hope you continue to enjoy!

  4. Avery says:


    Do you carry any surf fishing gear? I had a blast catching fish from the beach in that part of the world. Rapala lures are your friend.

    • Dan says:

      Avery, I had figured I would do a lot of fishing on this trip, and as yet I have not been once.
      In the north, licences etc. were a pain and now I have no excuse!

      • Avery says:

        I was traveling just North of Cahuita (on the Caribbean side of CR) and want to get off the bus to do some river fishing. We started crossing a large river and the driver stopped in the middle of the bridge. I couldn’t figure out why he stopped until I noticed the crocodiles sunning themselves right where I thought it would be a great place to fish from.

        • Dan says:

          Haha, that´s perfect. Our campsite in Tamarindo had a single strand barb wire fence seperating our tent from a crocodile in the river adjacent. A couple of days he was sunning himself about 20 meters from our tent!

  1. March 3, 2010

    […] The Nicoya Peninsula | The road chose me […]

  2. March 3, 2010

    […] The Nicoya Peninsula | The road chose me […]

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