Things to do in Montezuma, Costa Rica
by Josien - 13 May, 2020
Montezuma is a remote part of Costa Rica where nature is taking full advantage. You will find wild waves, beaches full of washed-up branches, and lush jungle with monkeys, birds, and butterflies. Montezuma is also a paradise for anyone who wants to relax on the endless beaches. You will certainly enjoy yourself, especially if you like surfing, beaches, and nature.
You will find Montezuma on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Due to the lack of good infrastructure, this town had been virtually inaccessible until the 1980s. This has ensured that there is a colorful group of hippies, surfers, backpackers, and eco-tourists. Many of those visitors have never left. Montezuma is still difficult to reach and therefore not a standard part of a route through Costa Rica. As a result, it is not (yet) overrun by tourists and is a wonderful place if you want to get away from the busy city life.
To discover all the highlights of Montezuma you need about four days, however, people stay here longer because of the vibe and (unexpectedly) great surf conditions. We stayed 3 months in Santa Teresa, a nearby beach town, and visited Montezuma a few times. Curious about things to do in Montezuma? In this article, you will discover all the highlights of Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Surfing in Montezuma, Costa Rica
Most people come to Montezuma to surf. And it makes sense, this little town has great waves almost the whole year round and some interesting point breaks! Are the waves too big for your taste? There are many nearby beaches with a different swell, like Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, and Hermosa. So go out with your own board or get your rental / take surf lessons at one of the many surf shops.
Beach hopping, hanging at the beach
One of the main reasons why many backpackers come to Montezuma is the vast and deserted beaches. You can walk hours along the coastline, where you will find endless beaches.
Most of it is found at the north of the village. Playa Montezuma is the first beach you will encounter. Most people will be here, sunbathing or playing in the waves. Be careful because it gets deep quickly and the current can be very strong. If you continue for 15 minutes you will come to a spot with a small waterfall and many rocks. An amazing place and if you go early, you have the place to yourself!
If you continue further, about 3 kilometers from Montezuma, you will find Playa Grande. This is a vast beach and probably the best for surfing. The walk here takes about 45 minutes and goes through the jungle. So there is a good chance that you will spot some animals along the way. Do bring water and snacks if you go here because there are no vendors or restaurants at this beach. If you are not tired after this hike you can continue walking for 5 kilometers to Playa Cocalitos and the El Chorro waterfall.
Montezuma Waterfall (three levels)
A popular activity in Montezuma is to visit the free waterfall about a 20-minute walk south of the village. The waterfall actually consists of three smaller waterfalls on top of each other. This means there is something for everyone to experience.
First, ground level, waterfall
To get to the bottom/first waterfall you have to follow the river bed and some stairs. All rivers in the country are zoned as public land, so anyone can take a hike up any stream or river in the surrounding area without fear of being apprehended or stopped by the local authorities. For the two higher waterfalls you can take a difficult path through the jungle. It is wise to put on sturdy shoes because you have to climb over smooth rocks and roots of trees. Chances are monkeys will come out and take a look at what you are doing.
When we got there, a family of four was having a picnic down at the first (and biggest) waterfall. We took a swim here, like many others. This waterfall is 24 meters high and opens into a large and deep pool. For security reasons, you can not jump from the top. We went for the more adventurous option and climbed up to the next two waterfalls. The climb is steep and you have to be careful where you put your feet, but totally worth it.
Second and third level waterfall (where you can jump!)
The second waterfall is around 15 meters high and the real dare-devil can jump off here. Half of our group made the jump, the other half took the pictures. The third waterfall is close to the second and this one is around 5 meters high. An easy jump, if you don’t have any fear of heights of course. We chilled here since there was no one else who made it all the way up there.
From here you take an easy route back to the bottom waterfall. It has stairs and a normal path. You do have to pay a guy who created this path, he will be waiting for you somewhere along the route. Down at the bottom you have to cross the river by stepping stones, and then you’re back at the parking lot.
Cabo Blanco, National Park
Nature lovers do well to visit Cabo Blanco. This is the oldest nature reserve in Costa Rica, and is located about 9 kilometers south of Montezuma. Here you can take serious hikes in the jungle and see wild animals such as monkeys and birds. At the end of the path, you will find a secluded beach where you can take a refreshing dip after the long hike. If you are lucky you have the entire beach to yourself!
Isla Tortuga, nearby Montezuma, Costa Rica
A popular tour from Montezuma is to visit nearby Isla Tortuga. This small island is an hour’s boat ride from the village. The trip there is already worthwhile, as you sail along the beautiful coast of Costa Rica. If you are lucky you can spot dolphins, turtles, manta rays or even whales from the boat.
Once you arrive at Isla Tortuga, you’ll find a white sandy beach where you enjoy snorkeling or diving. Often times you get a BBQ lunch with a tour. You will absolutely enjoy this day, but we do warn people to be aware of the eco-system and to not disturb the turtles and other wildlife. You can spot them, look at them, but stay away and keep nature as wild as possible.
Ziplining in Montezuma, Costa Rica
Just like in many other places in Costa Rica you also have the opportunity to zipline in Montezuma. You would swing between the treetops (and have a little adrenaline rush) and you have a great chance to see many wild animals such as monkeys and colorful birds. Like many places, many tours offer ziplining combined with the Montezuma Waterfalls. This way you kill two birds with one stone. Perfect if you are short on time, but more fun if you spread the activities over several days.
Visit the farmers market of Montezuma, Costa Rica
The small center of Montezuma consists of a maze of streets that almost all run to the beach. Montezuma’s hippie roots come alive on Saturday morning during the farmers market. You will find handmade jewelry and art, organic food, and many musicians gather to jam. Want a taste of the local community? This is the time to go out and explore Montezuma, Costa Rica.