Montezuma is a magical place located in the jungle on the Nicoya Peninsula. Sometimes it gets overshadowed by its close neighbor, Santa Teresa but I loved Montezuma way more. There is so much adventure in and around this town. You will fall in love once you turn down the main street and see the vendors all lined up. It feels like a hippie little town but it’s amazing. There are so many things to do in Montezuma.
Below is a list of activities that won’t disappoint any of the adventurists out there. This region (especially Montezuma) has grown in popularity over the last few years. I went during the dry season in January and every hostel was sold out in town. Costa Rica is one of those places where you have to buy your accommodation ahead of time during the peak season. We stayed at the Luz en el Cielo hostel and absolutely loved it. It came with the best Costa Rican breakfast I have eaten throughout my trip to Costa Rica. This list is a mix of hikes and the best beaches to explore during your stay.
How To Get To Montezuma
It is largely the same modes of transportation on how to get from one city of Costa Rica to Montezuma. Below I will go over the most popular ones.
Liberia to Montezuma
This is what we did. We bought a plane ticket to Liberia without really knowing where we wanted to start our adventure first. It ended up being alright but it probably would have been a little easier to get to Montezuma/Santa Teresa if we flew into San Jose instead. We took a shuttle that was $70 each and it took us 4 hours. There are cheaper ones but we were forced to take the late shuttle. It is possible to take the buses from Liberia to this area. This would involve taking a bus to Puntarenas, taking a ferry across to Paquera, and then another bus to Montezuma.
San Jose to Montezuma
By far the cheapest option is the bus and this is a similar route as from Liberia. You will once again be going to Puntarenas and getting on a ferry. There are also similar shuttle services in San Jose that will be able to take you to Montezuma. Another option is to take another flight to the local airport of Tambor. This option is only available if you are flying into San Jose.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
12 Awesome Things To Do In Montezuma, Costa Rica
Explore the Massive Beach of Playa Grande
Playa Grande in Montezuma is easily one of my favorite beaches so far in Costa Rica. The vastness coupled with it being a 30-minute walk to get to it makes it so special. There will be barely anyone around if that and you feel like you are on a deserted island. What really adds to this beach is that it is surrounded by national refuge so you will see plenty of wildlife. On our multiple trips to this beach while we were in Montezuma we saw manta rays, anteaters, and a ton of white-faced monkeys. Just make sure to watch out for your belongings! The monkeys have been known to steal people’s items.
To get to this beach, all you do is follow the main beach in Montezuma for around 30 minutes. This is mostly all on the beach but towards the end, it goes more on a trail through the woods. I love this aspect of it as it really feels like you are going to a magical beach. This is a popular spot for a lot of the local surfers as there is no one around to take your waves because of the hike. Playa Grande is easily on top of my list of things to do in Montezuma.
Stack the Rocks at Piedra Colorada
If you decide to head to Playa Grande then you will pass this section of the beach called Piedra Colorada. This is just a short walk away from the main Montezuma beach and as such, is an easily accessible area to come layout and hang out if you want to get away from the crowds. The most popular and well-known part of this area is the many rock stack sculptures you will see there. It is a tradition that has been kept alive for many decades. This section of the beach might look small but there is actually a lot more here than you think. The river comes straight out of the forest and flows into the beach. You are able to hike back into the forest and find some swimming holes to go in if you’d like. There is also a good section of trees with shade if you don’t want to lie in the sun. You can kill two birds with one stone on your list of things to do in Montezuma with this one.
Visit the Island Cemetery in Cabuya
Just a short 10-15 minute car ride away is the small fisherman’s town of Cabuya. This area is home to a very unique cemetery. This cemetery is on an island and can be walked to during low tide. Isla Cabuya is a fascinating area to explore. It is said that people have been buried there since the 1700s. To get to this area from Montezuma, there are daily shuttles to this town for 1000 CRC. You might see some people try to walk through the ocean to get to the island, I would not suggest this. The water can get up to your knees and it is around a 400-meter walk to the island. Below are some amazing shots of the island while my girlfriend and I took the walk during low tide.
Related Blog Post: 10-day Itinerary in Costa Rica
Relax at Playa Cabuya
Playa Cabuya isn’t the most popular beach in the area but it has its perks. There are many great lodges around the beach line here that gives your backyard as the beach. We weren’t really planning on coming here for too long but ended up staying for a few hours. It is a perfect area to relax and wait for the tide to go down so you can visit Isla Cabuya. The best thing to do here when visiting this beach is to find a good couple of trees to set up a hammock and read a book. There won’t be many people walking to disturb you and you will have a constant view of the ocean.
When visiting this quaint town of Cabuya there are other things to do as well. We went to a nice little coffee shop right off the street that leads you to Isla Cabuya. This whole area at Playa Cabuya is rather rocky, as you will see when it becomes low tide. So some of the spots are more like swimming holes. Being that this town is so close, it is for sure on the list of things to do in Montezuma.
Eat At The Local Sodas
If you are on a budget but still love to go to restaurants, then sodas are the places to go to when visiting Costa Rica. These have authentic Costa Rican meals at a very cheap price. The farther away you are from the city center, the cheaper they get. We tried all of them in Montezuma and the best one by far was Soda Tipica Las Palmeras. The only downside to this one is it is around a 10-15 minute walk from downtown. The menu has anything you would want and all meals are placed on a banana leaf. The presentation value was an A+. An added bonus was that this was half the price of the other sodas in downtown Montezuma. Overall it is very worth the walk, especially if you are visiting the popular Playa Manchas.
Hike to El Chorro Waterfall
El Chorro waterfall or also known as Cocolito Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in the world. It is 1 of 7 in the world that falls straight from the jungle into the ocean. There are a few ways of getting here but I would suggest you take the hike from Montezuma to it. It is a 4-hour out & back hike, so be prepared. Along the way, you will pass by Piedra Colorada, Playa Grande, and many different national refuges. You will see many monkeys and other animals along the way. El Chorro waterfall is located right next to Playa Cocolito, so you can relax before and after the hike.
Another alternative to hiking is taking a cab to the town next to the falls and making a 10-minute trek down to it. This is an option but the adventurer in me tells you to do the hike instead. It also makes for a cooler story when telling others all the things to do in Montezuma.
Spend the Day at the Montezuma Waterfalls
By far the most popular activity to do while visiting Montezuma is to spend the day at the Montezuma Waterfalls. These waterfalls are a combination of 3 different-sized waterfalls all in succession with each other. Most of the photos you see will be of the main (lower) waterfall. This is by far the largest waterfall but you can hike up to the other two pretty easily. Some routes cost you money but only around 1000 CRC. There are also a few different ways to enter the waterfalls, some have activities with a tour company and others are free of charge. The main entrance that you will most likely take is free of charge and begins right past the bridge in Montezuma.
This will certainly be on your list of things to do in Montezuma. It gets super crowded, so if you want to have less of a crowd then I suggest going as early as possible. Either way, you will fun no shortage of fun here and can easily spend multiple hours just hanging out and swimming.
Explore the Neighboring Town of Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa, along with Montezuma, has grown in popularity throughout the years. Santa Teresa’s beaches are world-famous for a reason. You might already have visited and are coming from that area to visit Montezuma. If that isn’t the case, it is very easy to go for a day trip there. My suggestion would be to rent ATVs and make the 20-30 minute ride through Cabuya to Santa Teresa. Once here you can explore the multiple beaches there all by ATV. We had a blast stopping at each and even got to ride on the beach for a little bit.
One of our favorite beaches in this area is Playa Hermosa. This is very close to the main beach of Santa Teresa but is a completely different vibe. The beach is much wider and far less crowded. If you are looking for a more laid-back quieter vibe, then staying in this area when visiting Santa Teresa is a great idea.
Take a Day Trip to Isla Tortuga
Another very popular activity when visiting Montezuma is vising Isla Tortuga. You’re able to visit this island when staying in other places like Santa Teresa or Jaco but it is cheaper when doing it from Montezuma. It costs $70 if leaving from Montezuma and $15 more when leaving from Santa Teresa. Tortuga Island is beautiful as it is full of white sand beaches and clear water. All the tours you go on will offer snorkeling and it is the best I have done so far. The fish are plentiful and you will definitely be hungry afterward. While you are snorkeling, they will be cooking your food on the island. I was very impressed with the meal they gave us.
If your budget allows for it, I highly suggest adding this to your list of things to do in Montezuma. On your way to Isla Tortuga, you will pass by some of the activities mentioned above. The boat ride to the Island is around 50 minutes.
Spend the Day at Playa Manchas
Another popular beach in Montezuma is Playa Manchas. This isn’t the biggest beach but it’s a little bit quieter than the others. Mainly locals come here and have some good shade to lie in. If you have your own snorkeling gear, it is great for that. We saw a few people doing it but unfortunately didn’t have any gear of our own. If you do end up going to this beach, it is very close to Soda Tipica. You can enjoy the day here at the beach and then go to this soda for sunset. We went after dark so we couldn’t see the beach but you can hear the waves. These two activities are a great way to relax while visiting Montezuma.
Visit the National Park of Cabo Blanco
Cabo Blanco is located on the corner of the Nicoya Peninsula between Santa Teresa and Montezuma. It is the first-ever national park in Costa Rica thanks to Olof Wessberg and Karen Mogensen. This area is home to many different species of wildlife and plants. There are a couple of main trails to follow in Cabo Blanco, one of which leads to the secluded beach. After walking through this national park, you realize why this area was trying to be saved from deforestation in the first place. The cost of entry is $12 and is open from 8 am-4 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
Have a Few Drinks During the Downtown Party
Every Saturday is a party downtown. Many people flock to the streets to have beers with friends. It is a good time to meet the locals and see the downtown explode with energy. It probably started earlier than in previous years because there was a 10 pm curfew for businesses. One time there was even a fire dancer that came and the whole crowd watched in awe. The only place to get food here after the stores closed was street food. It was the best chicken I’ve had and was only 1000 CRC. Definitely one of my favorite things to do in Montezuma!
Thank you for reading my guide on the top things to do in Montezuma. This has been my favorite town so far on my visit to Costa Rica and I really hope you get a chance to see it yourself. It is so different than any other town in the country. The vibe is amazing and you won’t want to leave. We stayed for 10 nights and still felt like we had some things we wanted to do. I would suggest visiting this area to everyone that wants to go to Costa Rica.