Costa Rica's

MONTEZUMA

Global Mark : 13.29

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Culture Tradition Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
 4 5 1 1 1 5 5 1 11.50

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
25 100% 88%(22) 100% 10 to 20 15.08


Description : A westerners' village with an impressive setting : palms, waves and rocks

Comment : You do not come here for traditions but to meet other travelers and explore the surroundings treasures & wildness.

What to do ? Store on snacks & cash before coming / Show up very early during the HS (quite a few places do not handle reservations) / Say "waow" at the sight of the waves and wild coastline / Walk the beach and the forest / Gallop on a deserted beach (easier with an horse) / Spot thousands of colorful crabs / Study monkeys (or the reverse) / Climb rocks or hills toward waterfalls / Splash and loose your balance in the waves and strong currents / Follow a river upstream or downstream toward other falls / Jump into pools / Collect & degust mangos / Trek a national park / Play football with the locals / Drink or party with other travelers 

What you may not like ? The higher cost of accommodations and food (double price for bananas for example) / The lack of cheap rooms w. shower / The mosquitoes / The impressive waves and rip tides, making swimming a very hazardous activity / The lack of any tradition : westerners everywhere ! / A few local weirdoes and a general lack of smiles / The crowd during HS and the cost increase / The noisy bar or waves / The lack of things to do in the village itself, except by night / The look of some fish you ordered : sometimes frozen squared ones (is the water that polluted ?) / The rubbish in some parts of the beach. You will see as many rubbish as crabs on your way to the waterfall for example / The 10% service charge of most restaurant or even soda ! / The sometimes unreliable tap water / The heat & humidity in the forest / The lack of good roads toward the other side of the peninsula

How long ? A couple of days for the natural attractions. Much more if you love the festive & western atmosphere. 


Where to stay ?

- The cheapest option is camping and, during the high season, this may be the only option available (especially if showing late). It is forbidden to camp on the beach and quite a few boards will remind you about it. If you still do, be discreet and respect the environment (it is quite dirty but I don't think it is the traveler's fault). A legally correct option is the camping El Rincon de los Monos, 300m on the beach. The setting would be lovely except that a few houses were being constructed. You won't be on your own ! Anyway, the facilities are good. It cost C750 if you have your equipment or C900 to rent a hammock or C1000 to rent a tent. Reception from 7-8:30 and 17-20 only. 

- In the village :

  • Hotel Montezuma ((6420258), by the bus stop and the beach / 2500(1) or 4000(2), w. shower 4000(1) or 5000(2) / Go there for the only budget rooms w. shower, the correct rooms, the nice terrace over the waves and some rooms with a nice view (No19, 20, 9 &12 have a great view) / What you may not like : it can be very noisy as next to Chico's Bar (avoid the rooms by it, incl No9, although the mix of the waves and techno music plus the view over both could be an interesting experience), the rooms w. shower are downstairs and not as nice and it is expensive for one
  • El Capitan, by the beach after the above / Could not check the prices as the owner threatened to kill me just after I said I was checking the rooms for my friends. Funny guy ! For what I understood, it cost 2500 for one and 4000 for two. The rooms are nothing special but the balcony has got a view toward the sea. 
  • Cabanas El Parco Feliz, after the above / Go there to check the rooms & prices at it was closed. The garden looked lovely. 
  • Cabinas El Toucan (6420284), at the entrance of the village / 1500(1) or 2300(2) / Go there for the cheapest and correct rooms, in particular upstairs / What you may not like : the old owners are rather surly (you better obey their rules !) and there is no view
  • Pension Jenny (16420306), small path on the right before the football field / 2000p.p / Go there for the charming house w. terrace, the correct Dbl, if possible upstairs, and the relative isolation / What you may not like : no frills rooms and limited view toward the sea
  • Hotel El Parque, by the beach after the above / 2000p.p. / Go there for the great setting by the beach (at least for the restaurant) and the bigger than usual rooms / What you may not like : the Sgl room has no window, the other ones are quite empty and the restaurant is busy at night so you won't have the setting for yourself
  • Pension Arenas, after the above on the beach / 2000p.p / Small rooms not as nice as the other options but still acceptable
  • Hotel Lys, the last one in this beach section / 2000 p.p. / Go there for the correct rooms and beach setting / Western manager / Tasted potable water. 

- On the road toward Cabo Blanco, after Los Mangos, 5mn away

  • Pension Lucy (6420273) / 2000(1) or 3000(2) / Go there for the impressive location, just by the waves, the correct rooms and good prices / What you may not like : the house is so near the water that it violates the zona maritima and not all the rooms have sea view, the waves can be very noisy and there is only one single (after, you pay for a dbl room)

The High Season ? Most places increases their prices during the HS from November to April. They would be stupid not to do so as the place is packed solid : if you do not arrive with the first morning boat & bus, be prepared to sleep on the beach or spend much more than expected ! 

Where to eat ? Most people are heading toward the restaurant El Bosque by Hotel El Parque : the setting is gorgeous and the prices (+10% service) reasonable. They however tend to use frozen food and their cheapest fish looked and tasted everything but fish / Soda El Caracol (closes at 7pm), by the path toward Pension Jenny, is about the cheapest option in town and unfortunately it is not that cheap : the casados cost C1000 and are reasonably well served. And here, at least, the fish looked like a fish ! For better culinary experience at a reasonable price, head toward Cocolores, on the way toward the beach. The restaurant Montezuma by the hotel is also recommended but is often closed for dinner in the low season.

Is the tap water drinkable ? Not all the water was reported drinkable in the village as coming from two sources : the unpurified waterfall (the one you may jump in) or the municipal reserve. The latter is OK.  Ask at your GH where their water is coming from and select a place where it is ok : water in bottles are expensive !

Internet ? A few places charging C25 per mn (C1500 per hour). Pizza@net offers an AC atmosphere. 

Bank ? At the village of Cobano, 7km inland. Probably a low rate. 


A waterfall walk ?
The around 2 hours walk toward the waterfall falling right into the sea should be high on everybody's agenda. The fall is not too impressive but the walk is certainly very interesting : on sand or on rocks, by the beach or inside the forest, you will pass thousands of colorful crabs and inhabited shells, as well as monkeys and squirrels. Do not walk barefooted in the forest however : I spotted scorpions !
You need to exit the village toward north and pass the Camping El Rincon de los Monos. Within 30mn, just after the second stream, you will find yourself on one of the most impressive beach, a favorite spot for splashing in the waves. Go into the water with extreme cautions however : the waves are powerful and the current impressively strong and weird. You should always make sure that you can stand and avoid getting water above your waist. It is best to keep the wave experience for the way back as the waterfall is much more peaceful early in the morning. 
You can spot it from quite a distance. Once there, it is a relatively easy climb to the top, from where you will get a lovely panorama. Continue a bit after and you find a private property protected by barbed wires : that's the end of the walk ! 
20mn before the fall, you will pass a small cafeteria with natural drinks, on the beach Cocolito. Bringing some water is however essential : there is little shade on the sand ! 
A fastest and pleasant way to go is by horse. It takes around 4 hours and cost $25.  Galloping on the beach is certainly a treat and something that you will remember for a long time !

A waterfall adventure ? Although in theory much closer, reaching Montezuma's waterfall is a much strenuous trip than the tranquil above walk. 
Finding the way is easy : walk 5mn toward Cabo Blanco Reserve, pass Pension Lucy and take the small path on the right just after the bridge. 5mn later, you will arrive at a few tiny falls. From there, it gets trickier. Although there is a path on the left bank, you need to cross the river : the right path is on the right (easy to remember, no ?). You can either jump from stone to stone (beware, it is slippy) or get wet. The path is fairly clear at the beginning but, soon, you have to climb or grasp some rocks to keep going. The impressive waterfall is 5mn away. Most tourists stop here. Most backpackers continue.
Climbing the waterfall would be a ridiculous idea and at least someone died from attempting it. The way to go is on the right of the path and basically involves climbing the hill. It is rather easy as there are lot's of roots to grasp. At the top, you should find a clear path. Follow it for a bout 10mn. You will pass a small stream, nicely flowing over rocks. Just after, the path will go down steep and immediately up steep. 15 meters later, beware : the path to the falls is on the left. It is not obvious and quite a few people keep going up (I did !). Doing so, you will reach the top of the hill and be able to spot a nice panorama (and possibly some wildlife). Continuing on the path for 10mn will lead you to an upper section of the river. If you do not mind getting wet, you could follow it downstream toward the falls. A longer and more adventurous way !
So, back on the right path on the left (still with me ?). It goes down steeply but you still have roots to grasp. 5mn later, you will be at the upper pool. Another one 15 meters below. Both are great & safe places to swim (at least when the water is not too dirty from the previous rain). Adventurous people could also jump into them in various positions. In this area in the morning, you should also be able to spot monkeys. They will spot you as well and possibly get annoyed and throw you some minor fruits or leaves. Do not excite them and keep a safe distance. 
After you have cooled off, it is time for the adventure again, in reverse order. On your way back, do not forget to pick up some mangos from the trees near the hotel Los Mangos... 

Backpacker's Tips :  Anonymous, Sweden (Nov 05)
 Pension Jenny, costs 3000 per person nowdays and that was during rain season (and i think that pension jenny is one of the cheappest). The beach at Montezuma is really bad, with rocks and stuff. the waterfalls are very hard and dangerous to get to during rain season.

Backpacker's Tips : Renee, USA (August 04)
hippie beach town which is one of the more expensive places to visit in costa rica. everyone (locals and tourists) is either from europe or the u.s. definitely not the place to visit if you're hoping to meet costa ricans and experience their culture. however, because it is so small (2 main roads that intersect) the town has a personality of its own and that makes it worth visiting.
great place to visit if you want to hang out at the beach and hike to the waterfalls. the waterfalls near the hotel la cascada are amazing. howler monkeys found in trees off main road near the path where you begin the hike to the falls. you can't see it from the base of the main falls, but definitely recommend hiking up to the second set of falls above the main falls where people jump off rocks into lagoon.
el sano banano restaurant shows movies each night if you're looking for something to do when the sun goes down. bakery cafe across the street from the school is a good place to eat breakfast. pretty good prices. friendly staff.
boat ride to isla tortuga was nice. saw dolphins and whales on the ride to the island. snorkeling was okay. some trash floating around though.
 

 

 << Discover waterfalls expeditions


Other tours ?
The others options are unfortunately not free. The Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco should be a primary choice : it is located 9km SW of Montezuma and cost $6. Then could be an excursion to Tortuga Island ($40, one day incl food & snorkeling equipment). And if you enjoyed the underwater, scuba dive ! It cost $45 for one tank or $70 for two.

Leaving ? The bus back to Paquera is at 5:30, 8, 10, 11:45, 14 & 16. The connecting lancha is at 7:30, 12:45 & 17. The bigger ferry leaves from the same place at 8, 14:30 & 20:30 but it arrives about 2km away from the bus station and cost C550. 

The trip back to Puntarenas via Paquera : SSS / L & R / C700 + C450 / Bus + Boat
It was an early 5:30am departure, in order to catch the first boat at 7:30. The bus left nearly empty. It filled up 15mn later at Cobano. As for the rest of the trip, I don't know as I decided to extend my night a bit. We arrived at 7:05. 
The boat's ride was as relaxing as the first time, with the same impressive number of pelicans welcoming us at Puntarenas pier. Keep your camera handy...