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- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Paquera, 24 kilometers south of Playa Naranjo, is where the Paquera ferry (Ferry Naviera Tambor, tel. 506/2661-2084, ferrypeninsular [at] racsa [dot] co [dot] cr) arrives and departs to/from Puntarenas. The ferry berth is three kilometers northeast of Paquera. Paquera has banks and a gas station.
The road linking Playa Naranjo to Paquera has tortuous switchbacks. Formerly a despairingly rugged ride, at last visit it had been graded and is again served by bus.
Plus, you get some marvelous views out over the Gulf of Nicoya—including toward Isla Guayabo, which comes into view about six kilometers south of Playa Naranjo, where the road briefly meets the coast at Gigante, at the north end of Bahía Luminosa, also called Bahía Gigante.
Offshore, Islas Guayabo and Negritos Biological Reserves protect nesting sites of the brown booby, frigate bird, pelican, and other seabirds, as well as the peregrine falcon. They are off-limits to visitors. Dolphins and whales are often sighted offshore (January is the best month for whales).
Tiny Isla Gitana, in the middle of Bahía Luminosa, was once a burial site for local peoples (hence its other name, Isla Muertos—Island of the Dead—by which it is marked on maps). The undergrowth is wild, and cacti abound, so appropriate footwear is recommended. You can hire a boat on the mainland beach. You can also reach the island by sea kayak from Bahía Gigante, a 30-minute paddle journey.
Hotels and Restaurants
Cabinas y Restaurante Ginana (tel. 506/2641-0119, $35 s, $40 d), in Paquera, has 28 simply furnished rooms; some are air-conditioned, all have private baths. The restaurant serves hearty local dishes. A swimming pool has been added. Alternatives include the similar Cabinas Naomy (tel. 506/8829-2558, cabinasnahomy [at] hotmail [dot] com).
You can also bunk in five basic beachfront rooms with private cold-water-only bathrooms at Curú National Wildlife Refuge ($15 pp). The generator-powered electricity shuts down at night, so bring a flashlight. Meals cost $8.
Turismo Curú (tel. 506/2641-0004, www.curutourism.com) arranges camping ($10 pp) at Playa Quesara, three kilometers from Curú. It’s accessible by 4WD vehicle in dry season, and by hiking or kayak at other times.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition