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Gulf of Papagayo
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Tamarindo Beach Area

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The Gulf of Nicoya, which separates the Nicoya Peninsula from the mainland of Costa Rica,  is a stunning marine and coastal landscape of wetlands, jagged rocky islands and cliffs, extensive mangrove habitats and of high biodiversity.

Sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya seen from Venado Island
A geological fault has once caused that the land submerged, leaving exposed only the tops of what formerly were low hills. Nowadays these are the numerous islands which dot the Gulf.

At its upper end, the Gulf is shallow and muddy. The Tempisque River is constantly washing much soil and organic material into the estuary, this is why mangrove swamps thrive on the shores. In Costa Rica mangroves are protected because they play an important role for aquatic life. In their foliage birds are nesting and the mud at their roots shelters mussels, crabs and shrimps.

The water in the upper Gulf is rich in nutrients, allowing algae to flourish which feed fish and mollusks. Most of the area's inhabitants depend on food from the sea. From July to August however, nobody is allowed to fish, as this is the breeding time for maritime life.

Jungle covered slopes on the Gulf of Nicoya the lower Gulf of Nicoya is much different from the upper part. There are few mangroves and the area is even less populated. Densely forested hills and promontories touch the sea, closing off secret bays.
The water here is saltier, clearer and much deeper: between 30 and 180 meters. There are many fish in the lower Gulf but by far fewer shrimp and shellfish.

Currently, only few of Costa Rica's tourists visit this region - an advantage for those who love nature instead of crowds.

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