A 208 mile (335 km) off-pavement adventure over some of the most challenging and rewarding terrain of our trip…
I am now convinced that bike touring on the Nicoya Peninsula will lead to nothing short of an adventure. Lee and I set out to try and cobble together an interesting route circumnavigating the Nicoya Peninsula in Nortwest Costa Rica. Although the gravel roads and ridiculously steep rocky dirt tracks proved themselves much more challenging than anticipated, the peninsula offered many shiny gems amongst its rough and dusty terrain. Over the course of 6 days we were covered in dust and dirt as we discovered some interesting off-road tracks, beach routes, remote camp spots and surprise experiences on this wild Pacific outcropping. Details are in the photos:
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This guy (Coati) liked to sneak up and scare the crap out of me in the morning when I was having coffee at our hotel in La Cruz (before heading into Nicoya).
Finally drained this bottle of oil I’ve been carrying since somewhere outside of Mexico City… I will kind of miss it.
Lee tearing up some berms on this dirt descent into the peninsula.
Yep, this is a road.
The ‘track’ going over the point to Playa Conchal.
I think we’ll stay here (Playa Conchal)… probably one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen.
Our camp at Conchal.
Leaving Conchal the next morning… skirting the beach to find the track out to the South.
An old sign for Little Hawaii (a surf break made famous by Endless Summer II)
Nope, I think we’ll camp on the beach again.
We were woken at 5:15 by a woman saying, ‘tortuga, tortuga…’ at Ostianal, the most important and protected beach in the world for sea turtle nesting. This Green Ridley was within 10 feet of our tent.
She had dug several holes and seemed to be very tired.
Back to the sea.
Evidently we were very lucky to witness this 5 months before the high nesting season.
In September, this is what the beach may look like, as a local gentleman points out!
Lots of locust shells this time of year.
The first of many river crossings.
Cruising through another beach outside of Samara.
Darting off the gravel onto a dirt track.
Navigating a river bed as we tried to piece together some tracks in West-central Nicoya.
Some interesting public art in Islita…
The whole square is full of whimsical paintings and sculptures.
Spring is popping as the rainy season is approaching.
Sunrise over our campsite on the remote Playa Caletas.
Playa Caletas… all to ourselves.
This guy washed up not too far from camp on Caletas. Evidently if one of these happens to bite you, you’re dead in :20.
Also, lots of hermit crabs.
I wish I had a constant supply of hielo… it’s really hot.
Several kms of beach riding to piece together our route.
Rounding a point in low tide.
Beautiful and interesting rock formations along the the Southwestern edge of Nicoya.
The mighty Lee.
Cows trecking along the beach outside of Playa Hermosa.
Beached and rounded pebbles contrast against the rock formations.
Higuerón – This giant strangler fig was honored the ‘Exceptional Tree of The Year, 2009’.
- Conchal beach – a hidden gem.
- Ostional – One of the most important turtle-nesting beaches in the world.
- Stretch of beach road on the Southwest corner during low-tide.
- Hidden ‘tracks’ strewn throughout the peninsula.
- One can reach some really nice remote and beautiful places on a bike.
- Some of the off-beaten-path riding is superb for dirt lovers.
- You can find nice places to camp on beaches… gratis.
- Plenty of opprtunities for adventure if you can talk to the locals with a little español.
- This time of year, the dust can be overwhelming; may be a better to visit at the end of the rainy season.
- Groceries, restaurants and places to stay are expensive. USA expensive.
- Without being able to ask questions to the locals, you may find yourself lost on many occasions; the maps are a little off.
For more information on this route, including GPS and logistics, click here. Also, check out our growing list of bikepacking and dirt road touring routes.