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Overview

The Gold Coast refers to the northern beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, from Bahía Culebra in the north to Nosara mid-way down the peninsula. Most of Costa Rica's few white-sand beaches are here — one reason this is the most touristy resort area in the country, and ground zero in a recent condo and hotel development boom. The region has gone upscale, too, with Four Seasons leading a wave of luxury hotels, many with exotic spas and their own golf courses, centered on Bahía Culebra. Still, it's the laid-back, surfing party crowd that comprises the mass of visitors to this rugged coast, where dozens of beaches — most offer prime ...

The Gold Coast refers to the northern beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, from Bahía Culebra in the north to Nosara mid-way down the peninsula. Most of Costa Rica's few white-sand beaches are here — one reason this is the most touristy resort area in the country, and ground zero in a recent condo and hotel development boom. The region has gone upscale, too, with Four Seasons leading a wave of luxury hotels, many with exotic spas and their own golf courses, centered on Bahía Culebra. Still, it's the laid-back, surfing party crowd that comprises the mass of visitors to this rugged coast, where dozens of beaches — most offer prime surf — are separated by craggy headlands. Few roads are paved, and it's a blast to negotiate the dirt road with fordings — a real challenge in wet season!

The beaches differ greatly. Tamarindo (great for surfing) is by far the most developed area and has great restaurants and hotels for every budget. Nearby Playa Grande is the foremost nesting site in the Pacific for leatherback turtles, and Ostional is renowned for mass nestings of olive Ridley turtles. ATV and horseback excursions are popular. Scuba diving is top-notch out of Playas del Coco. And there's no shortage of party cruises.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December-April, dry season, although it's windy January-March in the north