Nicoya, the ever so charming capital of the Nicoya peninsula, was the first colonial town of Costa Rica. It is located about 5 hours away from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. The name Nicoya came from a Chorotega chief at the time of the arrival of the Spanish the area; the Nicoya peninsula is well known for its old culture and the city is thought of as being the cultural as well as political capital of the area.
Today, it is not only the commercial center of the whole region but also a reminder of the old days, still palpable all around Guanacaste. As you drive along, you will see lots of stands selling Chorotega ceramics. Don’t miss the lovely little church, the oldest of the country; The Parroquia of San Blas, that was originally founded in 1644, now has a small museum exhibiting religious artefacts. In front of the church lies the expected little plaza with a well kept central park, bearing huge trees that provide a welcome shade for the locals who like to meet up there in the late afternoon.
The town itself is very lively and exceedingly friendly. It has a good array of shops and a couple of supermarkets and hardware stores that provide all the people living in the nearby beaches, like Samara, Nosara, and Ocotal, with their provisions and necessities.
Following some scientific studies, it has been established that the inhabitants of the Nicoya Peninsuala have the highest life expectancy; various reasons have been put forward, from the local diet to the climate; the people of Nicoya certainly do have a healthy lifestyle.
Nicoya counts with a few good and reasonably priced hotels and restaurants. It is a good place to stay for exploring the whole area and of course the fantastic beaches of the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste. There are many tours you can undertake from Nicoya, including the Barra Honda National Park where a guide will take you on a tour in caves descending down 60meters to caves complete with stalagtites and stalagmites formations.
Take a trip on the Rio Tempisque starting from the Tempisque Bridge or in Puerto Humo and see the jungle with monkeys, birds and crocodiles. Visit Palo Verde National Park and its amazing concentration of aquatic birds, the Tempisque Safari Wildlife Refuge in Rosario, where you can see Monkeys, wildcats and many many birds, the villlage of Guatil, where you can see how the typical ceramics of Chorrotega are made and of course, buy one, or a few to take home. You may also take an Eco-Tour near the little village of Hojancha in the Forest of Monte Alto Nature Reserve, well known for its amazing orchids.
If you really like to explore, take the old rustic road to the beaches of Samara, Carillo and Punta Islita from the little town of Hojancha where you can see an incredible display of orchids, and enjoy the beautiful scenery on an almost deserted road.
The beautiful little town of Nicoya and its surrounding area, full of history and mysteries, bustling with life and with plenty to do is an excellent choice for those who like to mix beach, culture and adventure!