Bus travellers journeying between San José and the beach towns of Sámara and Nosara need to make connections at the country town of NICOYA, inland and northeast of the beaches. Set in a dip surrounded by low mountains, Nicoya is the peninsula's main settlement. The town is permeated by an air of infinite stasis but is undeniably pretty, with a lovely Parque Central and its white adobe church (earthquake-battered, structurally unstable and currently closed), cascading bougainvillea and colourful plants. There's a considerable Chinese presence in the town and many of the restaurants, hotels and stores are owned by descendants of Chinese immigrants.
Eight buses a day arrive in Nicoya from San José, a journey of around six hours. Some take the slightly longer route via the road to Liberia, but most use the new Tempisque Bridge. Buses also arrive from a number of regional destinations, including Liberia (10 daily), Santa Cruz (16 daily), Sámara (3–6 daily) and Nosara (1 daily). Two buses head for Naranjo, from where you can catch the ferry to Puntarenas, or head further south towards Montezuma. Most buses arrive at Nicoya's spotless bus station on the southern edge of town, a short walk from the centre; the Liberia service pulls in across from the Hotel Las Tinajas.
The friendly Hotel Jenny (Tel:685-5050; Price: $11-20), 100m south of the Parque Central, is the cheapest place to stay, with 28 old, basic rooms with TV and phone (only four have a/c). The Hotel Las Tinajas (Tel:685-5081; Price: $21-30), 100m northeast of Parque Central, is cleaner and somewhat more modern, with dark rooms inside the main building and lighter cabinas around the back. Good restaurants include the Cafetería Daniela, 100m east of the Parque, for breakfast and pastries; the sodas by the Parque (El Nuevo Horizonte is the best) for large casados; and, for quick serve Chinese food, the Restaurant El Teyet, across from Hotel Jenny.
As usual, you'll find most services around Parque Central, including the correo and banks, several with ATMs. Taxis line up by the Parque, or call Coopetico (Tel:658-6226). There's an Internet café opposite Hotel Jenny, just south of Parque Central.