Costa Rica, even remote areas such as this, has a very well-developed tourism industry. Locals and foreigners have started all kinds of businesses catering to nearly everything a traveler could hope to want to do here. And of course, the country itself provides an endless array of activities that you can just do on your own, such as swimming in the ocean, hiking to waterfalls, or birdwatching.
In the Montezuma area, pretty much everything that’s available in Costa Rica is here as well, except for a few things, and I thought it could also be helpful to list those things things too, in case they’re important to you. The ones that I can think of are: jet skiing, volcanoes, hot springs, white water rafting, hot air balloon rides, helicopter tours, rock climbing, and skydiving. These things are all available a few hours away, but not in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula.
Costa Rica has become an action-sports mecca, with all kinds of activities for adrenaline junkies available. The following is a list of which you can find near to Montezuma.
Click here to jump to the ‘beaches’ section of the website. Look for the red surfboard icons to see which beaches are best for surfers. In general, the Malpais side of the peninsula has better, more consistent waves, but the Montezuma side has its great spots as well.
Two Canopy Tours
There are two canopy tours in the area. The Montezuma one is shorter, but it includes a swim in the world famous Montezuma Falls. The Malpais canopy tour is longer and higher. These should really be called “Jungle Zip Lines” because the tour is all about zipping through the canopy rather than learning about it. But still, they’re very fun.
If you’re not up for surfing, you can still do this, which is easier and a lot less painful. You can rent boogie boards in Montezuma or Santa Teresa in many places. Just watch out for the surfers.
Many have found the diving here to be the best on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. There are many large fish, rays, turtles, eels, etc in the area. There is a wreck off Cabuya, and in August you can see whale sharks. There are many places in Montezuma to book a scuba trip.
Cliff Jumping and Ropeswing
People die every other year trying to jump the Montezuma falls. Usually they fall while attempting to climb up. So we recommend the third pool of the falls, where it’s much safer, with cliffs from 2m-12m (6-40 feet). There’s also a ropeswing and a tree you can climb out on and do a backflip (or a bellyflop) to amuse
Take a sea kayak trip out to mysterious Cabuya Island and go snorkeling at the fan reef there. This is a spectacular trip and one of the best things you can do in the area. You may even see whales, which are frequently in these waters. Sea kayaking is easy, so don’t worry if you haven’t done it before.
If you’re a serious adrenaline junkie and the other activities shown here aren’t enough to get your juices flowing, try visiting Playa Grande at night. This is the site of an ancient burial ground, and there have been reports of tourists who have been found in a near comatose state from the fear of what they have seen there late at night. Try this at your own risk! These spirits (described as swirling lights in the dark) don’t want you on their beach at night. Also, overnight camping is not allowed, not that you’d want to.
Part of Montezuma and Costa Rica’s allure is the reputation the country has for great, healthy living, the famous “Pura Vida Lifestyle”. Yoga, hiking, and healthy food are part of daily life here, whether you’re living here or a tourist.
In this part of Costa Rica, we have a huge selection of yoga classes and retreats. Click above for our yoga section or ask in your hotel. Yoga is a great way to start the day with a morning class.
Visit a Waterfall
The Montezuma side of the Nicoya Peninsula has a few well-known waterfalls and many secret ones. Click here to learn details about many of both. If you want to get away from the crowds and have a safe and exciting adventure without seeing another person, this is for you.
There are many great hikes in the area. Leave as early as possible in the morning if you hope to see wild animals. During the day, you may still see monkeys, coatis (pizotes), anteaters, deer, agoutis and possibly even a puma or jaguarundi, all of which are active during the day.
Horseback Riding Tours
Until 20 years ago, travel by horse or by foot was the only way to get around this part of Costa Rica. If you’re looking for an amazing horseback adventure, there are many options. One of the best is to ride to Cocolito Falls from Montezuma. Another is to ride from Cabuya overland to Malpais for a sunset dinner at Mar Azul, then back.
Plucking orchids out of the jungle is illegal and is causing these rare and beautiful flowers to head towards extinction. Searching for them in the jungles to photograph and/or identify is a favorite pasttime of many nature lovers.
Many people visit Costa Rica hoping to see wild animals, but where are they? Why did I hike for four hours in a national park without seeing a single animal? For those of you who think ‘animals should stay in zoos where they belong,’ you’re probably vacationing in the wrong place. Try El Salvador, where all the jungles have been destroyed. Here in Costa Rica, with a little effort, you will find Monkeys, Pizotes, Iguanas, Parrots, Whales, and many other animals in their natural habitat (not eating french fries handed out by tourists!) Who knows, maybe you’ll even get really lucky and see an ocelot or a kinkajou.
Rainsong Animal Sanctuary
Volunteer at Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the area’s first wildlife rescue center. Rainsong needs your help and your donations. The best visiting days are Sat and Sun, with a minimum $5 donation to help keep the sanctuary going. Thanks for your help!
Montezuma has a great butterfly garden. Here you can see the amazing ‘blue morpho’ and other butterflies. It’s also a bed & breakfast, and the owners know a secret path to easily get to the rope swing at Montezuma Falls.
Montezuma frequently has humpback whales, orcas, and other types of whales frolicking in the waves right offshore. A great place to look for them is at Hotel Amor de Mar, or walk up the hill from the hotel and climb out to a bluff with ocean views above. They can be seen almost any time of year.
Cabo Blanco National Park
Cabo Blanco has an amazing story behind it. It was the first national park in Costa Rica, founded by two Scandinavian immigrants who lived for years in Montezuma, and are buried here. Most of the park was originally cow pasture, but for over twenty years was allowed to grow back. No tourism was allowed in the park. Now there’s a single trail through the park to a rugged and wild beach on the other side. Its a two-hour hike each way. Don’t expect to see any animals unless you arrive first thing in the morning.
Curu Wildlife Reserve
Curu is a privately owned park with an abundance of wildlife. It’s easy to find because its on the road between Tambor and Paquera. Curu has an amazing wildlife reintroduction program, and is the first place in the area to reintroduce both Scarlet Macaws and Spider Monkeys.
See a pet pizote
If you’re just crazy about pizotes and want to see one up close, then you can walk one and a half hours up the beach north from Montezuma, where you’ll find an old Tico man with two pet pizotes. Look for a sign that says “Cafe Coca Cola”. The pizote (Coati in English) in this photo is 14 years old.
Pet a Peccary
The peccary shown lives on Tortuga Island. It was born with an injured leg, and was rejected by its parents as a baby. It found its way down to where people were living and was adopted. Now it’s become a pet and a favorite among tourists who take the trip to Tortuga Island (a highly recommended excursion.) He runs loose among the tourists and is pretty much just like a dog.
Many people aren’t aware that birdwatching is one of the world’s most popular pasttimes. It takes great skill and patience to identify or photograph rare birds. This part of Costa Rica has hundreds of species, including many that tourists want to see, such as Parrots, Toucans (Aracari here), Long-Tailed Manakins, Mot-Mots, and Bellbirds. The best time to look for birds is early in the morning, between 6-8pm. Or if you’re lucky and find an army ant swarm, dozens of types of birds are often following the swarm, eating bugs that are flushed out by the ants.
The bat caves are part of Cabo Blanco park, and you’re not allowed to go there. You get there by driving to the far end of the road in Malpais, where you’ll see the sign shown in the photo. The caves aren’t far away. But remember, don’t go there because it’s on park land. People who have visited the caves in the past describe them as “filled with bats, and without a bottom.” Vampire bats live in this part of Costa Rica, and if you go into these caves, you may be sucked dry of your precious bodily fluids, so don’t go. Instead, perhaps wait outside the caves at dusk to see the bats fly out in droves.
Rio Bongo Crocodile Tour
Huge crocodiles, nearly the size of African Nile River crocs used to live in Costa Rica, but their wholesale slaughter long ago reduced not only the population, but the average maximum size for these tasty-tailed critters. In our area, there are three places to see them. Curu Park has a few living in the river mouth, you can see them occasionally from the bridge over the Rio Panica on the main road to Tambor, and finally the Rio Bongo, just north of Manzanillo, is swarming with them. This is not a good place to take your dog to play frisbee unless Spot has chewed up your flip-flops one too many times. Occasionally a croc will swim from the Rio Bongo all the way to Cabuya or even Montezuma and surfers occasionally report seeing them swimming past in the waves. Luckily there are plenty of fish to eat, and thanks to all the toxic chemicals in modern food, we humans aren’t as tasty as we used to be.
There are many other fun things to do in the Montezuma, Malpais, and Tambor areas of Costa Rica when you get tired of hanging out with monkeys and surfers.
Gambling in Tambor
Costa Rica is known as a fairly expensive country to travel to, but if you aren’t feeling you’re spending enough money, you can go lose it at a casino in Tambor. Why leave an inheritance for your lazy kids or grandchildren when you could spend hours with your eyes glazed over, pulling the handle on the old one-armed bandit? Cash your Social Security check and head for Tambor…
If you’ve visited the area before, you’ve probably had your eyes and ears assaulted by groups of incredibly loud 4-wheeled motorcycles known in Costa Rica as quads. They arrive with the sound of thunder and lightning, flattening lizards and all other small animals in their path, and causing children and monkeys to cry in fright. If you can’t beat them, join them and live
out your Easy Rider fantasies in style.
Tambor is blessed with two golf courses for visitors. One is at Los Delphines and one at Tango Mar. While in most countries, golf is considered a fairly safe sport, Costa Rican golf is a bit different. Crocodiles, venomous snakes, lightning strikes, killer bees, and drunk golf cart drivers have pushed Golf into the top spot for number of injuries per player for any sport in Costa Rica, just barely beating out Reef Surfing and Quad Hockey.
My new favorite restaurant, Clandestina is not to be missed by food lovers staying anywhere near to Montezuma. Established in March 2015, Clandestina is the new kid on the block. The Oregon/Tico collaboration is a winner among locals and travelers alike, with artisan craft beers, made onsite by Butterfly Brewing Co. and delicious, exciting […]