The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information
Montezuma is a picturesque small village, known for its bohemian atmosphere and the stunning natural beauty of its beaches and waterfalls. Nestled into a landscape of true tropical paradise, Montezuma is perfect for any beach lover and eco-tourist. The village is surrounded by jungle covered hills with small rivers forming scenic » waterfalls and pools. Groups of capuchin monkeys live in the forests and are easily seen.
For decades Montezuma has attracted a multi-cultural blend of individualists, artists and hippies seeking an alternative livestyle. Due to its off-beat character Costa Ricans also refer to it as Montefumar or Moctezuma.
The hippie roots of Montezuma come alife on Saturday morning during the local farmer's market. Here you find organic food, artwork and handicrafts, while musicians gather for a jam session.
Montezuma's center, with charming old wood houses, itinerant artists and vivid street life has an almost Caribbean flair and feels like the open-air living room of the community. Within easy walking distance are beaches, restaurants and hotels in Montezuma. Lodging options also include many budget places in hostels and cabinas.
Montezuma's nightlife hub is Chico's Bar in the village center where at night you can dance to Latin music or techno beats.
If you crave a more tranquil evening choose a place on the beach to enjoy the breeze and views across the Gulf of Nicoya. The scenery is particularly romantic on the nights around full moon when the moon rises behind the distant mainland of Costa Rica and shimmers on the quiet water of the Gulf.
The waterfalls are among the most noted features of Montezuma. They actually consist of three cascades, located each on top of the other. The highest and most beautiful one is the lowest waterfall. It tumbles from a height of 24 meters into a large, rocky pool which is great for swimming. This waterfall is reached on a 20-minutes hike from Montezuma's village center. See » Map of Montezuma The rough trail leads steeply uphill through the thickly forested river valley. Wear sturdy, water-resistant shoes as you will wade through the river and clamber over slippery rocks and roots.
On your way upriver you find a couple of natural bathing tubs in the rocky riverbed. Some of these pools also offer sparkling jacuzzis, fed by the cool river water: a refreshing spa in pure nature, surrounded by the steep rising jungle.
From the lower waterfall thrill-seekers can climb uphill on a difficult, steep trail at the right side of the waterfall. It leads to the upper cascades with two more large swimming pools in the rocks. A rope is fixed to a low branch over the pool and you can swing and plunge into the water like Tarzan.
Instead of taking the steep trail it's far easier to get to the upper pools on a private trail which starts at the Montezuma Canopy tour. They charge a $4 toll for using their bridges and trails. You find the Canopy Tour entrance 1 km uphill from Montezuma, on the road to Delicias. See: » Map of the Montezuma Area
A host of tour operators and hotels in Montezuma offer tours to nearby sights and activities. Very popular is a canopy tour across the Montezuma waterfalls, or a tour by boat to the Tortuga Islands where you can snorkel in crystal-clear water. Other options include horseback riding along the beach, surfing, SUP paddling, fishing or yoga which is offered in various hotels in Montezuma. Nature lovers should not miss a visit to » Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica's oldest Nature Reserve, located 9 km south of Montezuma.
One of the most worthwhile and cheapest activities however is hiking along the scenic coastline which stretches for many miles to both sides of Montezuma.
Playa Montezuma is a large sandy beach a few steps north of the village center. It is great for sun bathing and swimming but take care as the sea bottom drops steeply and the surf is sometimes rough.
If you crave more solitude venture farther past pristine, secluded bays backed by the steep rising jungle of the Montezuma Biological Reserve. After a 15-minutes hike comes Piedra Colorado, a pocket beach between rocky outrops where a small river empties into the sea. The off-shore reef is good for snorkeling. Still further north, 3 km from Montezuma, you arrive at Playa Grande whose long expanse of white-sand beach is one of Montezuma's best surf spots. If you are still not tired, you can continue for another 5 km until Playa Cocalitos and the El Chorro waterfall where fresh water cascades off an escarpment into lava rock swimming pools and then into the ocean.
You can also choose to get to the El Chorro waterfall on a tour on horseback from Montezuma.
Choose low tide to walk around the rocky headlands south of Montezuma where tide pools provide natural bathing tubs. After two kilometers you arrive at Playa Las Manchas, a picturesque white sand beach with clear turquoise waters. The bay affords great swimming and snorkeling but you have to take care of a rip current, especially towards the southern part of the bay.
Further south, see: » Cabuya
A direct bus connects to San Jose and the international airport two times per day. Travel time, with ferry ride included, takes 5.5 hours.
With little luggage you can also take the 60-min taxi boat from Montezuma to Jaco or other beach destinations like Manuel Antonio, Dominical or Uvita.
Driving with a car to Montezuma, see: » Driving on the Nicoya Peninsula.