Nicoya is a town in Guanacaste Province bearing the same name given to the entire Gulf area. While not a popular tourist town, it is a major hub for overnight stays while travelers go from one end of the gulf to the other or while stopping to see the many National Parks that you will find in the gulf area.
The town of Nicoya itself has a long written history dating back to the Spaniards records of landing on the nearby shores and finding the largest indigenous tribe up to that point of their travels. Archeology digs done in the area have found pre-columbian gold, pottery and tools indicating a very large population without regard to the Spains records of the event. You will find many of the museums in Costa Rica filled with artifacts taken during these digs and displayed as a part of their heritage.
Known as the cultural center of Guanacaste Province, Nicoya holds the oldest known church in the country, Colonial Church of Nicoya, as is worth seeing if you are spending the day or overnight. Nicoya is the city hub of the region giving many choices for accommodations and restaurants. Banking, pharmacies and shopping can be done here before you take off to more remote parts of the gulf.
Barra Honda National Park is located 21km east of Nicoya and makes a wonderful day of adventure roaming the caverns and repelling can be done. Some of the deeper caverns are not accessible in heavy rainy season but there are other caves and historical sights to choose from.
Boat tours on the Rio Tempisque are popular and sights of various birds, crocodiles and reptiles can be observed. Additional wildlife tours can be found at Tempisque Safari Wildlife Refuge outside of Nicoya around Puerto Humo.
Eco tours through the forest areas can be found south of Nicoya by visiting Monte Alto Nature Reserve. They have beautiful array of flora and sights of wildlife are quite common along the trails.
How to get to Nicoya
From the airport in San Jose, take the Pan American Highway which winds you through to the Pacific coastline inland of Puntarenas. At Highway 18 you travel over the Tempisque Bridge and through the tip of Barra Honda National Park until you come to Highway 21. Turn right for the road into Nicoya. Sansa Airlines and Nature Air also offer daily flights from the International Airport as well as various airports around other parts of Costa Rica.
Photo Credit: Sean Clare under this CC license , Lex.mercurio (originally posted to Flickr as DSC00866) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons, By Jorgerodriguez at es.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons