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Paquera (Isla Chiquita, Isla Tortuga)

The Nicoya Peninsula’s southeastern coast looks over the glassy and calm waters of the gulf and several palm-topped islands in the distance. The area has yet to experience a building boom, so much of the shoreline is in its natural state with a scattering of small fishing villages, hotels, and small tour providers.

Isla Chiquita looks like a tropical island right out of a Hollywood movie and is home to the luxury Isla Chiquita Glamping Hotel. Getting there is only a 10-minute boat ride from Paquera. Guests can water sports in the calm gulf waters like kayaking, snorkeling, and SUPing. Certain beaches and bays in the area harbor bioluminescent plankton illuminating the water in a stunning nighttime boating or kayaking experience.

A visit to the uninhabited island of Isla Tortuga is perhaps one of Costa Rica’s most popular day tours. The island(s) sits just of the southern coast of the peninsula. Its pearly white sand and swaying palm trees hug the island’s steep and rocky interior. In front of the beach are several small islands with natural rock reefs teeming with fish and marine life.

Day tours to Isla Tortuga are by boat and depart from several locations along the Pacific Coast, including Puntarenas, Playa Herradura, and Quepos, in addition to several sites on the peninsula. Tours almost always include snorkeling and a barbeque lunch on the beach. Visitors can play volleyball, rent jet skis, or take a fun banana boat ride around the bay—a splendid day trip for the whole family.

Tambor Ferry connecting Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula

Paquera is a bustling Costa Rican port town known primarily as the launching point of the Naviera Tambor Ferry that crosses the gulf to and from Puntarenas on the mainland several times daily. Anyone driving to the Nicoya Peninsula from San Jose or the Southern Zone will likely take the ferry—which holds passengers and approximately 130 vehicles.

People departing from Liberia or the Pacific beaches in the north can drive directly to the Nicoya Peninsula without taking the ferry. Options include crossing the Tempisque river bridge (Puente la Amistad) or going through western Guanacaste down the length of the peninsula.   

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