Mal País & Santa Teresa
Get ready for tasty waves, creative kitchens and babes in board shorts and bikinis, because the southwestern corner of Península de Nicoya has all that and more. Which is why it's become one of Costa Rica's most life-affirming destinations. Here, the sea is alive with wildlife and is almost perfect when it comes to shape, color and temperature.
The tiny village of Paquera is about 12km by road from Playa Naranjo and 4km from the Paquera ferry terminal. Paquera is not much of a destination in its own right, but it's a useful base for a few days of exploring in Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú and the offshore islands.
Islands near Bahía Gigante
The waters in and around the isolated Bahía Gigante, 9km southeast of Playa Naranjo, are studded with rocky islets and deserted islands. Isla San Lucas is tucked into the Golfo de Nicoya, while lovely Islas Gigante and Tortuga hang off the southeastern corner of the peninsula.
Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú
Situated at the eastern end of the peninsula and only 6km south of Paquera, the tiny, 84-hectare Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú holds a great variety of landscapes, including dry tropical forest, semideciduous forest and five types of mangrove swamp.
Isla Tortuga is actually two uninhabited islands, just offshore from Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Curú. This stunner – a quintessential tropical paradise – is widely regarded as the most beautiful island in Costa Rica. The pure white sand feels like baby powder; gargantuan coconut palms tower overhead; and clear turquoise waters lap up on the shores.
Isla San Lucas
The largest island in Bahía Gigante (just over 600 hectares) is about 5km off the coast from Playa Naranjo. From a distance, it seems like a beautiful desert island, but the ‘Island of Unspeakable Horrors’ has a 400-year history as one of the most notorious prisons in Latin America. In 2001 the island was declared a national park.