2 Nights in Southern Nicoya Peninsula: Sunrise to Sunset

If you’re short on time, but have heard from friends and fellow travelers that you just have to experience nature in Southern Nicoya, here is a quick itinerary to work it into your vacation and get the best of both sides of the peninsula. In just three days and two nights, you’ll see the sun rise over the Nicoya Gulf and the sun set over the Pacific, with lots of extra in between.

Day 1: Arrive in Montezuma

  • Check-in – Plan to arrive in Montezuma in the early afternoon by bus, shuttle, or boat. This will give you time to check in to your hotel and grab a quick bite to eat before adventuring. A few great hotel options are Hotel Ylang Ylang, located on the beach, or Amor de Mar at the base of the falls. Other great options in town include Luna Llena and Hotel Aurora, or Casa Frangipani above town on the hill (easiest to stay here if you have transportation).
  • Waterfalls – Next, you’ll have time to go to the famous Montezuma Waterfalls. The hike is short, but can be tricky for those not familiar with the area. If you know you’ll want to do this, you can hire a private guide in advance, which is safer and recommended for less experienced hikers. Take some photos and a dip in the cool water, and head back before it starts getting dark.
  • Shop & Dine – Once you clean up, you can walk around town, explore the little the shops, and then have dinner at one of the delicious restaurants. Cocolores is our favorite, but there’s plenty to choose from including some with live entertainment such as Organico.


sunrise_cabuya_BirdLoversMorningDay 2: Sunrise to Sunset

  • Bird Watching or Nature Tour – If you love birds, book a Bird Lover’s Morning tour. It starts early, but it’s a great way to see the sunrise, get in a bird watching tour and have a late breakfast in the town closest to the southern point of the peninsula. If hiking is more your thing, you can watch the sunrise from your hotel or the beach, then take a guided tour to Cabo Blanco nature reserve.
  • Travel to the Pacific Side – After checking out of your hotel, take a shuttle to the Pacific Side of the peninsula via the town of Cobano, or if you’re in your own car you can get there via the town of Cabuya in the dry season.
  • Check-In & Dinner –  You’ll be pretty hungry and tired by this point, so check in to a hotel with a great restaurant. We like Moana Lodge, or Frank’s Place in Mal Pais. Enjoy dinner while you watch the sunset over the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Mal Pais

Day 3: Explore Mal Pais/Santa Teresa

On your last morning, you’ll have time to explore Mal Pais or Santa Teresa a little before checking out. Schedule an early Stand-Up Paddleboard or surf session the day before, or spend the morning taking a long scenic walk on the beach. After that, you’re ready to checkout and head back to San Jose for departure home, or go on to your next Costa Rica destination.



Counting Birds in Tambor Bay

It’s before 6am in Tambor Bay, Costa Rica. The sun has just risen and the air is calm and cool, the sky a pinkish haze dusted with a few low clouds reflecting in the nearly silent bay; silent that is, all but for the songs and calls of hundreds of species of birds that inhabit the area.

group_birdcount2On Friday and Saturday, January 10th and 11th, Tambor Bay Birders association hosted one of their many bird counts in the area.  With a regular base of about 12 birders in the association, they form groups with other members and volunteers who then split up and explore trails surrounding the bay to identify and record the names of any birds they spot. We had the honor of sharing in the count on Saturday, setting out from the Tambor Tropical Hotel with a group of about 20 participants; a combination of professionals, avid bird watchers and novice bird lovers both from the area and abroad who excitedly point out any fluttering wings or brightly colored flying objects. After a day of meandering through various trails the groups reconvened to determine the collective results of their findings. In this case the count totaled nearly 200 bird species, ranging from more common ones such as the Long-tailed Manakin, to more rare species such as the Mangrove Hummingbird endemic to only the Pacific of Costa Rica.

group_birdcountTambor Bay Birders not only host these bird counts for reports to the Costa Rica Ornithological Association for official records, but also for local educational purposes. With a noble cause to promote education about birds, nature and conservation, the aim of the association is to involve local residents and students, as well as visitors and volunteers, to help spur greater interest and awareness about Costa Rica’s biodiversity and its valuable place in our world. If you’re interested in joining the association on their next count, you can follow their Facebook page here. You don’t have to be a professional or have your own equipment necessarily (although a good pair of binoculars does help), just bring your curiosity, keen eyes… and of course a little bug spray. 🙂

*Special thanks to Juan Carlos Cruz, Nick Hawkins and the rest of the Tambor Bay Birders for inviting JC Aguirre of JC’s Journeys to participate in this count.

*Be sure to check out our bird watching tour Bird Lover’s Morning.