Take the time to stay in Montezuma for a few days.
The town and it’s surroundings have a lot to offer:
Beach view accomodation, waterfalls, snorkeling trip to Isla Tortuga, Isla Cabuya – Cemetery Island, charming cafés & restaurants
Montezuma is located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast and it’s a small hippie village right on the beach. If you want to find out what else you can do in Costa Rica read Costa Rica – Volcanoes, Beaches and Wildfile. Otherwise just continue reading.
Stay with Beach View
We stayed four days in the laid back town of Montezuma. It basically consists of the main street right on the beach and a few other small streets accomodating hotels, restaurants and some small shops. Our home for the time being was the Hotel Moctezuma, at the right end of the main street, with a perfect view on the beach.
Montezuma is a perfect place to relax, walk and swim on the many beaches surrounding the town and just let your soul rest for a while. However, there are also lots of things to do in the area. I think we managed a pretty nice mix of relaxation and small time adventures.
Hike to Waterfall
One of my favorites while in Montezuma: hiking up to a lovely waterfall. We heard that it is advisable to go there early, so we started walking right after breakfast. From Hotel Moctezuma you walk over the beach until you reach the street. You continue on the street in the same direction (toward Cabuya). There is a little hill, but it’s not too steep.
Keep on going until you pass a little yellow bridge. Right after the bidge – and I mean right after the bridge you turn right into a little path. Do not take the street after the parking lot, the hike will be a lot more exhausting and not nearly as nice.
The little path takes you to a river. Continue walking up the river until you reach the waterfall. At some point you basically walk in the river and then the path continues on the other side of it. There are no signs, but it’s easy to find. The walk takes about 1 hour.
We arrived at the waterfall without too many people present, however it got more crowded as time went on. So we appreciated the advice of getting there early. The water is nice and clear and there were a lot of locals climbing up the waterfall and jumping down with impressive backflips. It was definitely a treat to watch.
Apparently you can go even further to see two more waterfalls. However, as more and more people arrived, we decided to skip the other ones and head back to the beach.
Snorkeling Trip to Tortuga Island
One of my goals for this trip was to learn how to snorkel properly. I tried it once before in Thailand, where we were basically thrown off our boat into a very rocky sea, I swallowed a lot of water, didn’t get to see any fish and I ended up not enjoying it too much. Costa Rica definitely gave me a more friendly experience and I totally fell in love with seeing little colorful fishies.
We booked the trip with the company right across the street from the supermarket (they also have quads for hire, so it should be easy to spot them). They were a bit cheaper than the one right next to the supermarket, and we certainly were not disappointed. Meeting point was at 9h on the beach just a few meters from our hotel. We were 12 people on the boat including the two skippers on the picture. We had a beautiful and smooth boatride along the coast for about an hour until we stopped for our first snorkeling spot. I was amazed by the variety of colorful fishes, we even saw a pufferfish. We had a lot of time to spend in the water and one of the skippers went into the water with us to point out special fishes.
After a second snorkeling spot, where the ones who wanted to dive a little deeper got to see a small shark, we took the boat to Tortuga Island, where we stayed for lunch. We had a healthy lunch (rice, vegetables, salad, avocado, fruit and fresh fish for the non-vegetarians). The leftovers were fed to an entire family of lizards and little pigs that live on the island.
After lunch we had a few hours to enjoy the island, stay on the beach and swim. In the afternoon we took the boat back to Montezuma, it was a bit more windy than on the way there, so we got showered by the waves quite frequently. We got back to Montezuma around 17h.
The trip included snorkeling masks and finns, drinks throughout the entire day and a nice lunch on the beach of Tortuga Island.
Isla Cabuya – Walking over Water to the Cemetery Island
We read about the cemetery island beforehand and it just sounded so weirdly fascinating that we had to see it with our own eyes. So we drove the 9km from Montezuma to Cabuya. We saw some people walking but it’s not the nicest way to walk and 9km can get long, especially considering the heat.
The town is very small and before we could even look for the right way a pickup drove up next to us offering to lead the way. When the tide is low you can walk over to the island, it’s just a few hundred meters from the shore.
We had checked the tides beforehand but when we got to the beach the water was already pretty high and rising rapidly. There were a few fishermen hanging out at the beach in their hammocks, so we ask if we could still make it. They were not very talkative, so we had to go with their short “if you’re fast…”. Yet they were all smiling and we figured if push came to shove, they owned boats to save us.
So we started walking. I only had my flip flops on and the ground was covered with pointy rocks. But we had our mind set on seeing the island, hence there was no turning back. We took off our shoes and hoped to get used to the pain. The water was already up to our bottoms on the way over there. But the pleasure of reaping the reward is even bigger when you have to work for it, right?
Once we arrived at the island we started running toward the cemetery, had a quick look, took some pictures and commenced our way back, since the sun was already setting. By the time we got back we were soaking wet, but exhilerated and happy. And all of the fishermen were greeting us with laughter.
Usually I’d recommend to get there well before the flood comes, but we had so much fun worrying about whether we would be able to make it back, that I am leaning toward telling you to do the same. Maybe you can go there at least a little earlier so that you can actually enjoy seeing the island. And I would definitely recommend to wear some sort of shoes.
Cafés and Restaurants
In the mornings we bought breakfast in the supermarket around the corner and sat in the sun on our little terrace. A little hint if you go to that supermarket: they have a small rack of clothes toward the back and it’s really worth to flip through the few items. I bought a pretty nice summer shirt and I love bringing back clothes from wherever I go, because they always remind me of the trip.
Right down the street we found a wonderful café called The Bakery Café. Every single thing we tried was heaven – from fresh smoothies, to avocado pita and delicious baked goods. They have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options and occasional non-human visitors like birds, monkeys and lizards. Don’t be surprised if it gets loud: mangos are falling onto the ribbed roof quite frequently.
Across the street from The Bakery Café (a little to the right), there is a little gate. If you walk past the gate and continue toward the beach there is a very nice restaurant. We went there with two girls we met on our snorkeling trip, ordered four different meals and all of them were delicious. They also have plenty of vegetarian options. You sit outside, there are canopies everywhere and at night they light a lot of lanterns, which makes the place very cosy and beautiful.
On the way to the restaurant you pass a little garden. It belongs to a small hotel. They rent out rooms, with a hammock on each little terrace and a nice view on the garden and the beach. Unfortunately I don’t remember the names of either the restaurant or the hotel, but I am working on getting that info. So I am hoping to provide you with an update soon.
A few pictures to give you an impression of what kind of beaches and beach walks to expect in and around Montezuma.