Why visit Nicoya Peninsula?
Located on the central, western coast of Costa Rica, the Nicoya Peninsula is just removed enough from the main tourist traffic to offer an authentic travel experience. Wildlife, national parks, and pristine beaches are some of the main attractions. The Nicoya Peninsula is also one of 7 “Blue Zones” in the world that indicate longevity based on a healthy and outdoor lifestyle. Read on below about some of the top attractions and visitor favorites in our area.
11 best attractions in Nicoya Peninsula for your next Costa Rican vacation
1. Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Cabo Blanco is named after the large white rock island off of the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Known for it’s incredible wildlife, rare tree species and hundreds of species of birds.
As the first area of protected land and the first National Park of Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco hosts incredible nature and wildlife. Cabo Blanco is named for the large rock formation island off of the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. This Island hosts one of the largest populations of sea birds and is important to their habitat. Cabo Blanco hosts a number of diverse trees, mammal and bird species. There are great trails and beaches to explore.
What’s Cool: Cabo Blanco was the very first protected land and national park in Costa Rica.
2. Curu National Wildlife Refuge
Curu is one of the most popular parks in the country for natural wildlife sighting. With rare species of animals and birds, you will enjoy seeing them in the wild.
Curu Wildlife Refuge offers incredible wildlife and natural surroundings as a lush tropical forest on the edge of a pristine beach. Hike through the incredible jungle, beaches, mangroves, and fields to experience the best of rare Costa Rica wildlife. Be sure to bring your camera to capture birds, animals and flowers alike.
What’s Cool: Take a hike through the park and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Cool off with a swim and continue on with your adventure!
3. Barra Honda National Park
Barra Honda National Park is a series of 42 under ground limestone caves, only 19 of which have been explored. Some of the caves are open to the public to explore by descending down a ladder into the narrow cave entrance. Enjoy the wildlife as you hike through the park to get up to the caves. To explore the caves, you’ll need to purchase a guided cave tour.
What’s cool: The caves are home to around 5,000 bats.
4. Palo Verde National Park
As tropical wetlands, Palo Verde National Park is one of the best places for bird watching in Costa Rica. Palo Verde is incredibly important to migratory bird patterns. The park is full of incredible Costa Rica wildlife including birds, insects, trees, flowers, and animals.
Palo Verde National Park is home to incredible Costa Rica wildlife and some of the best bird watching in the country. Palo Verde is a dry tropical forest, full of wildlife. An important part of the migratory bird pattern, Palo Verde is home to over 250,000 birds. Palo Verde is located on the edge of the Tempisque River, which is home to the largest numbers of crocodiles in Costa Rica.
What’s Cool: Depending on the time of year, Palo Verde hosts over 250,000 birds.
5. Ostional Wildlife Refuge
The Ostional Wildlife Refuge was created to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles that come onto the beach each year to lay their eggs in the black sand beach. Visit to watch the the sea turtles lay eggs or the baby sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.
The Ostional Wildlife refuge was established to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtles as they lay eggs and as the eggs hatch and the baby turtles make their way to the ocean. Every year, hundreds of turtles return to this beach to lay their eggs and once the eggs hatch, thousands of baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean. Both the egg laying and hatching are incredible natural wonders to experience.
What’s Cool: If the baby sea turtles survive to maturity, they return to the same beach to lay their own eggs.
6. Montezuma Waterfall
The Montezuma Waterfall is fun for the whole family. A great nature hike through the jungle and along the river leads you to a large pool with 75 foot, beautiful waterfalls.
What’s Cool: These waterfalls are actually a series of 3 waterfalls. Hike up higher and experience other pools and waterfalls.
7. El Chorro Waterfall
El Chorro Waterfall is one of only 7 in the world that drop from a river into the ocean and is considered one of the best attractions in Nicola Peninsula. Located at a beautiful beach called Cocalito, you can explore the rock formations and ocean while enjoying the waterfall. The best way to reach El Chorro is on horseback, otherwise timing your hike with the low tide. El Chorro is a special experience. Along a beautiful beach and with large rock formations, you’ll see the waterfall cascading below into the ocean.a
What’s cool: El Chorro is on a secluded beach called Cocalito. The easiest way to get there is on horseback on the beach!
8. Refugio Romelia
Refugio Romelia is a protected piece of land that runs along Playa Grande. With no road access, this pristine piece of beach and jungle is full of Costa Rica nature. Volunteers work day and night to protect the land and wildlife, including collecting and protecting sea turtle eggs.
What’s Cool: The volunteers collect and protect sea turtle eggs and then release the baby turtles once they hatch!
9. ASVO Turtle Hatchery
Another attraction in Nicola Peninsula is the ASVO turtle hatchery is located right on the beach in Montezuma. Located in the middle of Montezuma beach, volunteers spend day and night patrolling the beach and collecting turtle eggs. They protect the turtle eggs until they are ready to hatch. During most of the year, they allow people to gather and watch the baby turtle be released into the ocean. This is an exciting and beautiful experience for all ages!
What’s Cool: Baby turtle releases are open for public viewing! Most of the year, they are released each day around 4pm.
10. Nicolas Wessberg Reserve
Located between Ylang Ylang Beach Resort and Playa Grande, this untouched piece of land offers beautiful walking trails along the beach and through the jungle.
What’s Cool: Nicolas Wessberg and his wife Karen Mogensen were the founders of the Costa Rica national park system and spent much of their life living in Montezuma.
11. Karen Mogensen Reserve
The Karen Mogensen reserve is located high in the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula. The protected land is an important piece of Costa Rica’s biological corridor. It is home to primary forest, rare animals, plants and flowers. You can either choose to stay in the reserve’s eco-lodge or take a day hike to the Velo de Novia waterfall, which runs 84 meters tall and has a beautiful swimming pool.
What’s Cool: For a day hike, venture to the “Velo de Novia” waterfalls. At 84 meters high and a blue swimming hole, they are not to be missed!
Where to Stay in Nicola Peninsula
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort Long considered one of the most scenic resorts in Costa Rica, with beachfront rooms. For over 8 years we’ve received the Certificated of Excellence by TripAdvisor, and listed on leading travel publications including Fodor’s Choice.
Relax on our beach that is nestled between a rain forest teeming with exotic life. More adventurous travelers can explore the endless activities available including; surfing,scuba-diving, zip-lining, ATV, horseback riding and even trails through the jungle!