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Driving directions - Juan Santamaria Airport to Nosara
The Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula, while part of the province of Guanacaste in the north, is part of the Province of Puntarenas at the southern end. As one moves south through the Peninsula, the climate changes from the Guanacaste dry forest to a more tropical one. One can find isolated, secluded beaches that are incredibly beautiful. The surf spots are numerous and besides the "identified" surf beaches of Nosara/Guiones, Junquillal, Marbella, Ostional, Pelada, Camaronal, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa, with a little exploring, you can find yourself surfing a killer break to surf all by yourself.
The northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula is part of the Guanacaste Province and has generally a hot, usually dry climate. Like all of Costa Rica, it receives quite a bit of rain during the "green", rainy season but not as much as other places. Still in the northern peninsula area, roads become difficult, sometimes unpassable without a 4X4. Directions for getting there from can be found on the Nosara page.
The Southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula is on the western side of the Golfo de Nicoya and from San Jose is most easily accessed by ferry from Puntarenas to Tambor.
From the Juan Santamaria Airport or San Jose to Mal Pais:
* take the Highway No. 1 / Interamericana west and drive
for about 2 hours to Puntarenas. Drive through town,
follow the signs for the ferry.
* You will need to buy a ticket for your car, and for your
pasengers (separately) You will receive a number. The ferry
takes about 33 cars, less if there are trucks or buses. The
ferries run approximately every 2 hours. You will drive on
and then leave your car (make sure you lock it and all of
your belongings are secure.
* The ferry takes you to Paquera, on the Nicoya Peninsula.
There is a ferry leaving for Paquera about every two
hours . The ferry ride is about one hour and 15 minutes.
* From Paquera it takes another 1.5 hours until you get to
To get to your destination, take the road to Playa Tambor and
continue straight to Cobano.
* From Cobano you follow the road until you get to Playa El
Carmen. This is the intersection that divides Playas El Carmen
and Santa Teresa in the north from Mal Pais in the south.
*Note: It is recommended to get to the ferry site in Puntarenas at least an hour before you want to depart.