Last time we were on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica we had lunch on the beach in Montezuma. We were staying just down the dusty road in Mal Pais at the time but knew we had to come back to this same beach someday. Well, twelve years later we’re back. This time for just over a week.
Mal Pais? In Spanish means Bad Paradise. Probably why it’s the Costa Rican Mecca for hippies and surfers. AND the reason we liked it enough to come back. Miles of uncrowded beach with a few fish shacks along the shore trail. A throwback to undeveloped beachfront. Hard to come by these days.
The town is tiny. Maybe 1 kilometer long, along a bumpy, dusty gravel road. A bit hard to get to. Add to that a 90-minute ferry crossing from the mainland and an hour long road trip on a “road” you might imagine driving on the moon…
Forget your GPS. It doesn’t pick up these roads. Your best bet? Ask a local.
That is exactly the draw here. I’m guessing most people might say, What? A bumpy, dusty, cratered gravel road that’s hard to get to AND a “downtown” which is only about a half mile long. No thank you! I’ll stick to the fancy resorts up in Tamarindo.
That’s the beautiful thing about Montezuma. There’s enough of nothing to do. When you’re traveling two nights here, three there, it’s a bit of an oasis. Let’s stay a while. Linger longer.
In the twelve years since we were here last, it hasn’t changed! There isn’t pavement for miles, no tacky souvenir shops, just a few passing tour buses, and family run sodas( Costa Rican diners). This tiny village retains the same charm we remember. We absolutely couldn’t wait to spend more time here.
We stayed at Mariposario, a four room lodge with half a million dollar views above the Bay of Montezuma. A little pricey for the hostel goer, but mid-range for Montezuma at $60 a night. This included breakfast and admission to the onsite butterfly gardens.
The added bonus was that this place is run by American ex-pat Ryan who is also the brew master from Portland, Oregon. He’s been the only craft beer brewer in the area for 13 years. He’s also the bartender and was very happy to pour us a sample (or three).
While Mal Pais draws the surf crowd, Montezuma is a bit pricier so it attracts the older, “done with hostels” folks still young enough to endure walking the rough roads and trails to warm water tropical waterfalls with not a soul in sight.
Hali likes to call Montezuma the Costa Rican destination for the boho yoga-mom.
You’ve seen the Corona beer commercials, find your beach? The beaches here radiate that remote tranquility. Forget the only buzz, beat bar back in town. Just pick up a six-pack, follow the only river upstream beyond the BIG waterfall to your own private cascade. There you have it, you’ve found it!
We found ourselves here again. Traveling the road less paved.