The southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is a spectacular destination to visit – gold and white sand beaches, world-class surfing, warm blue Pacific Ocean, lush rainforest. The region stays off the beaten path, however, due to its remoteness.
The traditional way to get to the towns and beaches of the southern Nicoya Peninsula – Tambor, Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa – is by ferry. The starting point is the Central Pacific port of Puntarenas, and it takes about 90 minutes for the ferry to cross the Nicoya Gulf to Paquera. Add on to that time at least another 20 to 30 minutes on each end for loading and unloading the ferry of cars and passengers. If it is high tourist season or a holiday and you are traveling with a vehicle, you need to be in line at the ferry terminal at least an hour or more before the ferry departs to ensure you’ll get on board. The trip definitely is picturesque and not overly expensive – 810 colones per adult passenger and 11,400 colones for a car one-way – but you had better not be in a hurry.
A quick and exciting way to get to the Nicoya Peninsula without having to drive, take a ferry or an expensive domestic flight is by Boat Taxi from Herradura Beach near Jacó to Montezuma. Zuma Tours uses fast 30-passenger boats to cross the Nicoya Gulf in an hour. Boats travel in the morning, when the weather is usually nicer, departing Montezuma at 9:30 a.m. and from Herradura Beach at 11:00 a.m. The fare is $40 per adult one-way; there are children’s rates and toddlers (3 and under) are free.
Besides being swift and easy, the trip is scenic across the beautiful blue Gulf. Chances are high you could see dolphins, manta rays, sea birds, sea turtles, and maybe even a whale. The boats have canopies so you are protected from the sun.
Zuma Tours offers shuttle transportation from the beach town of Jacó to Herradura Beach, and can arrange rental cars at either Herradura or Montezuma, or transportation to other destinations. Boat taxi details:
- Reservations in advance are required.
- Luggage: 20 kg maximum per person.
- Surf boards and boxes have an extra cost of $10 per piece.
- Bicycles and pets are not accepted.
Where to stay on the Nicoya Peninsula
Santa Teresa Beach is known for its shimmering light sand, excellent surf conditions, crystal-clear aquamarine water, interesting volcanic reef formations and stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The coast is lush and green, in transition from the northern dry forest to the southern tropical rainforest. Santa Teresa is an easy 30-minute drive (or taxi ride) from Montezuma, where the boat taxi disembarks.
The 4-star Hotel Tropico Latino faces the white sands and brilliant blue sea at Playa Carmen at Santa Teresa. Set on four acres of lush, tropical gardens, accommodations are comfortable and luxurious. Hotel Tropico Latino specializes in surf and yoga vacations, and features a full-service beachfront spa and an award-winning restaurant. Top internet travel site TripAdvisor named Santa Teresa one of the “Best Beaches in Central America” three years in a row, and awarded Hotel Tropico Latino a Certificate of Excellence.
Article by Shannon Farley