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Separating Nicoya Peninsula from mainland Costa Rica, the gulf is a stunning marine habitat. A geological fault caused the land to submerge; leaving only the tops of low hills exposed as numerous islands.

At its upper end, the gulf is shallow and muddy as the Tempisque River washes soil and organic material into the estuary, and mangroves thrive on the shores, where birds nest and the mud and root systems shelter mussels, crabs and shrimps. Algae flourish in the nutrient rich water, feeding fish and molluscs.

However, the lower reaches the gulf are very different: there are few mangroves and the area is even more sparsely populated, with densely forested hills and promontories reaching down to the sea and closing off secret bays. The water here is saltier, clearer and in addition to brown pelican, Guayabo is also home to boobies, frigate birds and falcons at certain times of year. This is not an area regularly visited by tourists – a distinct advantage for anyone with a keen interest in wildlife!

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, brown pelican, brown booby, giant frigatebird, olive ridley turtle
  • Where: Puntarenas province, Costa Rica

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Pacific Coast Journey

Discover the natural wonders of Costa Rica’s cordillera region and Pacific coastline. From the small yet spectacular Manuel Antonio National Park to the hummingbirds of Monteverde, the trip culminates with a few days at the remote Osa Peninsula, a beautiful natural paradise on the Pacific Coast.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,595 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Villa Caletas

Villa Caletas is a luxurious boutique hotel perched on a hilltop amidst lush tropical rainforest, with breathtaking views over the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific. Bask in seclusion on the hotel’s private beach, or relax in one of the magnificent infinity pools whilst pairs of scarlet macaws fly by.