Montezuma has practically everything on a vacationing kid’s wish list. Drop-dead gorgeous beaches, spectacular flora and fauna, action packed adventure activities and good food. The sunny and balmy weather is just perfect for enjoying horse rides by the beach and the water for learning to snorkel at beginner friendly diving spots. Several kid friendly eateries dot the landscape of Montezuma now that it’s turning into a much sought after vacation retreat for family revelers.
Great Beaches for Kids
Kids can start with Montezuma’s stunning beaches. There is an old fashioned cove at the corner of the tiny bohemian town that is as much frequented by the artist community as those seeking a respite from the more overtly pretentious and crowded luxury resort destinations in Costa Rica. Families can walk along the stretch that outlines the coast towards the left of the main town center to come across some of Montezuma’s most magnificent beaches.
With the tourism booming at both nearby Malpais and Santa Teresa, many families with kids visit the calmer Manzanillo Beach (Playa Manzanillo) to escape the busier beaches down south. Since it is protected by a rock reef, it is free from dangerous waves and hence particularly kid friendly, besides being uncrowded. Although the sea is a bit rocky here, making for unfavorable swimming conditions, snorkeling is excellent, particularly in the nearby lagoon, protected by a rocky reef that team with exotic marine fauna.
Exploring the unspoiled beaches to the north of Manzanillo is one of the main lure for families heading here. Visitors with four-wheel drive vehicles may drive to the cast away beaches (Playa Coyote and more), however, the drive is not suitable during rainy months, especially from September to November. Manzanillo Beach Info
Piedra Colorado is a beach located to the north of Montezuma. It is a nice 15 min walk along the shore and through the jungle trails. Pidera Colorada. The beach is known for the river that converges with the ocean, blending the hot, salty water with the fresh and sweet water in an amazing pool that is perfect for kids. While walking up along the river one can spot to several natural holes and relaxing jacuzzis for massages. If you keep walking past here another 15 minutes, you get to Playa Grande. Piedra Colorado
Kids can book a surf lesson at the Playa Grande beach (approximately 30-40 minute walk from the town) due to its non intimidating aura and easy waters. They can spot the region’s cerulean waters, golden flowing sands, sea-shell filled shores, and stony rivers along the way. Playa Grande is known to be a safe place to surf and as such is great for beginners, as it is a large line of translucent and beginner-friendly consistent waves. More info on Playa Grande
Playa Las Rocas
Playa Ros Locas
Another amazing destination for kids around the Montezuma region is the Playa Las Rocas, which located a short drive to the south of Montezuma. It’s actually juxtaposed between the beaches of Playa los Cedros and Playa las Manchas. There are two sandy beaches, that obstruct the waves from swelling too much owing to the rocks, thus making the spot perfect for kids. The beach features a river-mouth with a fun rope-swing, and shade to relax in while the children frolic in the fresh water river. Playa Las Rocas Info
Playa Los Suecos
Playas Los Suecos is another kiddie gem. Located in the Malpias beach area, this beach is known for its spectacular white sand, and perfect snorkeling conditions. It features postcard like natural beauty and it has gorgeous tidepools at low tide. It’s located adjacent to the famous Sunset Reef surf spot. Playa Los Suecos in Malpais
One of the most popular activities in Montezuma for children are horseback rides. It allows them to traverse through mountains, meadows, rivers and beaches on a tour horseback tour. Horseback riding is a fantastic way to see a sampling of terrain and experience the landscape in a new way. Kids get to traverse mountains, lush green meadows, rivers and beaches on this 2-3 hour horseback tour. Horseback riding is an enjoyable way to witness a glimpse of Montezuma’s famed terrain and its spectacular landscape. Horseback Riding in Montezuma Info
Next on the list can be a trip to the Turtle Island and Curu Park. During the trip to the Curu Reserve children can spot and learn about varied ecosystems such as mangrove forests and dry rainforest, all of which are thriving with life. In the boat and after short journey visitors arrive at the beautiful Turtle Island, where the adults can continue the adventure with the snorkeling equipment onboard while admiring the spectacular underwater life. The children can frolic on the beach.
Isla Tortuga is one of the Nicoya Peninsula’s star attractions for children with its crystal clear waters and tropical silver-sand beaches. Named Turtle Island for its stunning volcanic rock formations that resemble the striking marine creatures, Tortuga comprises two uninhabited islands and lies a few miles ahead of Curu Wildlife Refuge. Hypnotically swaying coconut palms line the beach, where kids can play volleyball, let their hair down under the sun, or simply swim in the island’s composed waters.
Most day trips to these islands are arranged aboard party catamarans, yachts or speedboats that depart from nearby beach designations. Full-day tours organized by reputed tour companies here normally include roundtrip transportation, a bilingual guide, snorkeling or scuba diving, snacks, and a delicious BBQ lunch served on the beach. Some tour operators include complimentary wine and fresh ceviche en route to Tortuga. Snorkeling and scuba diving are the island’s biggest attractions. There are jet skis and kayaks to rent, banana boat tours, horses to ride, a small canopy tour, and a nature hike across the island, all these activities can be done by slightly older children and some by younger kids with adult supervision. Tortuga Island Info
Curu Wildlife Reserve
Curu Wildlife Reserve
Curu National Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda is nestled on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica. The area is filled with a large number of wildlife species and hosts features some of the most spectacular beaches and protected bays in the Nicoya Peninsula region. The area offers convenient access to viewing some of the most celebrated native species such as White-faced monkeys, Howler monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, White-tailed Deer, Collared Peccary, Coati, Raccoons, Coyotes, Iguanas, and several hundred species of indigenous and migratory birds. Curu comprises Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge and is great model for a sustainable development program that works. The focus of Curu at present are tourism and visitation by school groups and researchers. Curú National Wildlife Refuge is managed to create a profit and employment for locals, while also protecting the threatened and endangered forested habitats in its premises such as mangroves, tropical moist and dry forests, and coral reefs. Curu Park Article
One of the most notable and attractive features of Montezuma are the waterfalls. The highest and most beautiful one is the Montezuma Waterfall which cascades from 24 meters and fills a large swimming pool. The waterfall is reached on a 20-minutes hike from the village center. Those that prefer to cool off in freshwater can hike up any river in the area and find natural bathing tubs with sparkling jacuzzis amidst the forest amphitheatre. The best pools are those of the Rio Montezuma where you find a series of waterfalls that tumble over the rocks and form deep pools in which kids can swim in cool water under adult supervision.
Adults accompanying the kids need to remember it is unsafe to jump from the top of this fall, and it has turned fatal for many. Continuing uphill past this waterfall leads you to the second, 50-foot fall. Caution is advised here as well. The third and final waterfall is directly above this one, and offers perhaps the best place to relax or swim. The waterfall is only about 10 feet high, and flows into a peaceful pool that is perfect for splashing about for kids. At one side of the pool is a nice rope swing, and there are many other zones that are suitable for relaxing, picnicking, and sunbathing. Montezuma Area Waterfalls
Mariposario Butterfly Garden
Mariposario Butterfly Park
Another kiddie hotspot in Montezuma is the Mariposario Butterfly Garden. It is not enjoyable but also educational. Owned by the Bickle family and operated by brothers Josh and Ryan, the garden is nestled high atop the town, near the Montezuma Waterfalls. Given its lush location, surrounded by jungle and abundant fauna, it’s a great spot to catch sights of some of the indigenous wildlife species such as howlers, capuchin monkeys and birds of various kinds. On an average day, kids can view up to ten different butterfly species. Their gardens are lush, tropical and peaceful, allowing children to paint, relax or simply witness nature at its best.
The area is a paradise for hikers and children curious about nature. Take advantage of the short hike from their garden to the upper Montezuma waterfalls. You can hike along seven beaches to view Cocolito Falls gushing into the ocean, or hike through the magnificence of the Cabo Blanco forest. This place has been developed after more than a couple of years of pointers form native biologists, plenty of work, and approval from the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy. At this jungle-butterfly garden by the sea, on an average day, kids can see up to ten different butterfly species. Butterfly Gardens in Montezuma
Turtle Watching Tours
Turtle Watching Tours
The Nicoya Peninsula is not a very big region, but it hosts two significant nesting grounds for the world’s endangered sea turtles. At Playa Camaronal, a few minutes south of Samara, children have the chance to spot four turtle species: black sea turtles and leatherbacks, which nest in small numbers year-round along with hawksbill turtles and Olive Ridleys. To the north near Nosara, the Ostional Wildlife Refuge is famous for its arribadas, or en masse Olive Ridley turtle nesting cycles that crescendo from June through December. During an arribada, which happen every two to four weeks during nesting season, hundreds of Olive Ridleys can crowd the beach in one single night, which is a sight worth seeing. Kids can spot turtles year-round, but the famed Olive Ridley arribadas are most frequent June-December. More about the Turtles
Rainforest wildlife tours also work well for the more wildlife loving and adventure streak possessing kids. You can hike down a sandy, beachfront park trail when the guide points out a three-toed sloth just above you or a green iguana hurriedly scurrying along a palm tree. If that seems too tame and calm, wait for a troop of howler monkeys come out in full force in boisterous hoots that vibrates through the rainforest.
Olingo Nature and Surf Tours at Santa Teresa conducts a wide range of wildlife tours for nature lovers. When you come to the Santa Teresa/Malpais/Montezuma area, visiting a National Park is a must or your natural experience is incomplete. In the area of Santa Teresa the tour company has two outstanding parks that feature the way to imbibe and enjoy the amazing biodiversity of the region’s varied ecosystems. Olingo Surf and Nature Tours
Playa Hermosa Giant Tide Pool
To the south of the main beach of Playa Hermosa is a gorgeous and gigantic tidepool right opposite Hotel El Rey Patricio. It is known to b a much sought after haunt of families to bring their kids along at low tide and teach them to swim or snorkel. The huge protected pool also has a lot of native sea creatures, and its also known to be extremely safe, thus making it an ideal kid hotspot. Hermosa Tidepool Details
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 […]