Montezuma Costa Rica is known for its pristine white sand beaches, clear turquoise water and thunderous Montezuma Waterfalls.
Oozing a laidback bohemian vibe, edging on backpacker hotspot, Montezuma is a great alternative to more bustling coastal Costa Rica towns like Tamarindo or Jaco and a more economical destination than Santa Teresa. Most visitors choose to stay in a hotel directly on Montezuma Beach, just steps away from the water for a relaxing vacation.
While surfing in Santa Teresa nearby is more common, you can still catch some great Montezuma Costa Rica surf, especially for beginners and intermediates.
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The best things to do in Montezuma Costa Rica are all focused on scenic beaches or jungle excursions like the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. Make sure to leave enough time for an epic day trip to the paradisical Tortuga Island, too!
In this Costa Rica Montezuma travel guide, I’ll give you the lowdown on everything you need to know from the best hotels in Montezuma Costa Rica, to things to do, best day trips, a bit about the weather in Montezuma Costa Rica and when the best time to visit is, how to get there and even my top Montezuma Costa Rica restaurant options, plus more!
Montezuma Costa Rica Quick Guide
Montezuma Costa Rica Map
So, where is Montezuma in Costa Rica? Montezuma is located in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica, at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. The small community of Montezuma Beach Costa Rica can be reached from the capital of San Jose by a combination of rental car and ferry in about 4-5 hours, or 103 miles (166km) distance.
Alternatively, you can take a short domestic flight from San Jose International Airport (SJO) to Tambor Airport, the closest airport to Montezuma. From here, you can grab a taxi for the remaining 30-minute drive.
Click on the map of Costa Rica Montezuma below to plan the perfect route to get you to the picturesque Montezuma Costa Rica from where ever you are in the country.
About Montezuma Town + Montezuma Beach Costa Rica
The bohemian town of Montezuma (otherwise known as Montezuma Beach) is a small beach community with a population of only about 600 people. During the dry season, the town will get a large influx of backpackers, bringing some life to the usually laidback village.
Within a 1-hour drive of the trendier Santa Teresa Beach town, Montezuma sees day trippers flock to its pristine coastline to enjoy some surfing or sunbathing after a light hike to Montezuma Waterfall. The town centre is located around a small main square, where you’ll find a few restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore.
Montezuma’s real attraction though is its natural beauty. The beaches here are some of the most gorgeous in all of Costa Rica including the feature Playa Montezuma, with an expansive stretch of white sand and turquoise waters that will make your jaw drop.
Plus, if you get bored of the beach (you won’t), there is plenty to do in terms of day trips within a 1-hour radius like Tortuga Island, Cabuya Island cemetery and Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.
Best Time to Visit Montezuma
The best time to visit Montezuma is during the dry season (December-April) when there is less rain and humidity. Do keep in mind that because many roads in this region are dirt, rental cars and ATVs will inevitably kick up dust. Regardless, this is still the best time to visit Montezuma because Montezuma weather churns out endless sunny blue skies and warm days.
The dry season in Montezuma Costa Rica is also the busiest time of year with visitors peaking in January and February, so be sure to book your Montezuma hotel in advance!
For cheaper prices, albeit with a bit more rain, visiting Montezuma during the wet season (May-October) can be a great option. Just be prepared for some wet weather and possible mud on the roads. While the clarity of the ocean won’t be as crystal clear as during the dry season, you can expect some great surfing conditions.
Is Montezuma Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! As one of the cheaper beach towns in Costa Rica, Montezuma is great for people looking to catch some rays on the beach, and go on a day trip or two. Montezuma has a hippie feel to it, so great for backpackers or long-term retirees who just need the basic amenities.
How to Get to Montezuma Costa Rica
Montezuma Costa Rica is more remote than many other beach towns in the country, which adds to its allure. Here are the best ways to get to Montezuma:
San Jose to Montezuma Costa Rica
Best Way to Get to Montezuma from San Jose
The best way to get from San Jose to Montezuma is by rental car. You can drive the 103 miles (166 km) journey in about 4 hours.
This route takes you on a ferry from Puntarenas Port to Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula and takes 90 minutes to cross, give or take. Drive the rest of the way from Paquera to Montezuma in approximately an hour along winding roads. Renting a car for your Montezuma adventure is a great idea since it’s the best way to get around Montezuma and the country of Costa Rica as a whole.
You can also follow this same route via a shared or private Costa Rica shuttle which will be a 5-6 hour journey.
If you are uncomfortable driving in a foreign country or are prone to car or sea sickness, you can take a short domestic flight from San Jose International Airport (SJO) to Tambor Airport (TMU). From here, you’ll need to take a taxi for the remaining 30-minute drive into town.
Santa Teresa to Montezuma Costa Rica
It is very common for travellers to Costa Rica to combine the beach towns of Santa Teresa and Montezuma into one trip, either staying in both or travelling to either via a day trip.
By Rental Car or ATV
The drive from Santa Teresa to Montezuma takes about an hour along winding dirt roads.
If you are staying in Santa Teresa Beach or Playa Carmen, head south down the main road until you come to the junction. Turn left up this road and spend an additional 40 minutes driving through the jungle to reach Montezuma.
Again, I highly recommend renting a car or ATV, since this is really the ultimate and best way to get around on the Nicoya Peninsula, a lesser developed area of Costa Rica.
If you are trying to keep your trip to Costa Rica a bit cheaper, you can utilize the once-daily bus from Santa Teresa to Montezuma. Ask your hotel or stop by one of the tour businesses in town to inquire about the schedule and to purchase tickets. You can expect to pay about $3 USD for a one-way ticket.
Getting Around Montezuma Costa Rica
How do you get around Montezuma Costa Rica? If you plan on staying put in the town of Montezuma, then you can get around quickly by walking or renting a bicycle.
If you want to explore the nearby attractions and partake in a day trip or two, I recommend renting a car or ATV. Grabbing a taxi from the town centre is also a great option if renting a car isn’t in the cards.
TIP | As with most countries around the world, always negotiate and settle on a price before getting into the taxi
How Many Days in Montezuma
At a minimum, I recommend staying in Montezuma Costa Rica for 3 days (4 or 5 if you want a true beach holiday). Depending on your priorities, this will give you enough time to enjoy Montezuma beach and town, take a morning hike to Montezuma Waterfalls and participate in a day trip or two to some of the nearby destinations.
Simple Montezuma Costa Rica Itinerary
Montezuma Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 1:
- Relax on Montezuma Beach
- Explore Montezuma Town
Montezuma Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 2:
- Surfing in Santa Teresa or Montezuma
- Cabuya Island Cemetery
- Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
- Montezuma Waterfalls
Montezuma Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 3:
Best Things to Do in Montezuma
If you are looking for a classic relaxing beach holiday to read a book and dip in the waves occasionally, Montezuma is definitely the right place for you. Beyond the pleasures of the beach though, Montezuma still has a lot to offer. Here are some of the best things to do in Montezuma Costa Rica:
One of the most popular things to do in Montezuma is to visit the Montezuma Waterfalls. There are three waterfalls in total, with the tallest one reaching a height of 50 feet. The trailhead is located an 8-minute walk from the town centre.
From here, a dirt trail will take you through the jungle and across a small river or two to reach the thundering waterfall with a swimming lagoon below. The light hike takes roughly 15-20 minutes depending on your fitness level.
Do be aware that there are many tripping hazards along the way like exposed tree roots and uneven rocky ground, so Montezuma Waterfall Costa Rica is only suitable for sure-footed travellers and persons without mobility concerns.
Entrance to Montezuma Falls Costa Rica is free. If you arrive by rental car, you can park at the trailhead for a small fee paid in CRC to the gentleman sitting in the hut.
WHERE | Montezuma Waterfalls Costa Rica
Can you swim at Montezuma Beach Costa Rica? Of course! Montezuma Beach is the main attraction in town, and most decide to spend a few days just lazing on the beach and catching rays. With soft white sand and beautiful water, Montezuma Beach is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday.
The most accessible part of Playa Montezuma Costa Rica is located right out front of the town square, making it the most popular part of the beach. If you want a quieter experience, you can climb over the rocks and throw down your towel somewhere along the largest section of Montezuma Costa Rica beach.
For the ultimate seclusion, walk the 30 minutes to the desolate but idyllic Playa Grande, one of the Montezuma beaches often used by nudists.
WHERE | Montezuma Beach Costa Rica
Surfing in Montezuma
Is there surfing in Montezuma Costa Rica? Yes. While the larger, trendier, neighbouring town of Santa Teresa offers more world-class surfing conditions, you can still find a nice break to spend a couple of hours frolicking in the waves. Surfing in Montezuma is best for beginners and new intermediate surfers.
There are a couple of surf schools located just off the main square of Montezuma Beach, so grab yourself a board, take a lesson (if you want to!), and enjoy some casual surfing.
Located off the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and north of Montezuma, Isla Tortuga is an uninhabited island paradise. White sand beach, crystal clear azure waters, plentiful marine life, what’s not to love!
Tortuga Island can be visited through an organized Isla Tortuga tour since there is no accommodation on the island. Your knowledgeable guide will provide you with snorkelling gear and take you to the best snorkelling spots.
Isla Tortuga Costa Rica is a beautiful playground (for adults and kids, alike!). Grab a coco loco rum drink and spend some time on a lounger, play some beach volleyball, or get your adrenaline pumping with a jet ski rental. Don’t forget to take the hike up to the breathtaking viewpoint.
TOUR | Tortuga Island Tour (departs from Paquera – an hour drive from Montezuma)
WHERE | Tortuga Island Costa Rica
Bioluminescence Kayak Tour
Off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, you can experience the cool phenomenon of bioluminescence. While kayaking through Paquera Bay at night, you can witness the magic that is bioluminescence. One of the only places in Costa Rica to see the glowing blue-green algae, a bioluminescence kayak tour is a must while visiting Montezuma.
TOUR | Bioluminescence Kayak Tour
Day Trip to Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa Costa Rica is a nearby beach town. It’s known for its trendy cafes and shops, world-class Santa Teresa surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, beautiful beaches, and lively, yet laidback, atmosphere. If you have access to a rental car or ATV, I’d recommend taking a day trip to Santa Teresa to experience a bit more buzz. Young, international digital nomads flock to Santa Teresa for relative ease of living and access to great amenities.
If you decide to stay in Santa Teresa, you can expect hotels in Santa Teresa to be more modern, stylish and sociable.
The drive from Montezuma to Santa Teresa takes about 1 hour through winding jungle dirt roads.
WHERE | Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Cabuya Island Cemetery
If you are looking for unique or off-the-beaten-path things to do in Montezuma, I direct your attention to Cabuya Island Cemetery. About a 30-minute drive south down the coastline, you will find a small island off the shore in the village of Cabuya. The island cemetery can be accessed on foot during low tide, or via a small boat during high tide.
Once on the island, you can witness fantastic views of the mainland coast, a plethora of tropical plants and flowers, lizards and vultures. The graves here are beautiful, just make sure to respect them as you pass by. Watch the water level, because it’s easy to get stuck out on the island if you aren’t aware.
WHERE | Cabuya Island Cemetery
Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Taking up the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is Costa Rica’s first national park. Created by Niels Olof Wessberg and Karen Mogensen, the reserve was an attempt to preserve the Costa Rican rainforest from overdevelopment and farming.
The lush rainforest preserve is home to a multitude of wildlife, including lizards, howler monkeys, and a plethora of bird species. The tough hike through the jungle out to Playa Cabo Blanco will take about 4 hours round trip if you are an avid hiker. If you are there just for the wildlife, you can choose to take the smaller, shorter loop. Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve entrance fee is $12 USD per person.
Great in combination with a visit to Cabuya Island Cemetery or Santa Teresa Beach.
WHERE | Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Best Hotels in Montezuma Costa Rica
Montezuma is a small beach community, so options for a hotel in Montezuma Costa Rica are somewhat limited, especially in comparison to the larger selection of hotels in Santa Teresa. However, there are still a few great places to stay along Montezuma Beach.
Here is my shortlist of recommended Montezuma Costa Rica hotels:
Best Restaurants in Montezuma
You will find most Montezuma Costa Rica restaurants located around the main square of Montezuma Beach. From local Costa Rican cuisine to pizza and sushi, you can find a bit of everything here. Most restaurants will have a casual atmosphere, rather than an upscale one.
Restaurante Montezuma Latino Beach Food | Classic Costa Rican fare with ocean views
Cocolores | Steak and seafood dishes
Sano Banano Restaurant | Amazing ambience with a bit of everything on the menu
Soda Tipica Las Palmeras | Typical Costa Rican fare just outside of town
Puggo’s | Dinner-only global menu
Tierra Y Fuego | Thursday-Saturday dinner-only pizza
Ash Sushi | Sushi and Asian classics
Montezuma Costa Rica Packing List
Generally speaking, the dress code in Montezuma Costa Rica is comfortable and casual beach wear. In Montezuma, I would recommend clothing that is quick-dry or moisture-wicking since you will be in and out of the ocean most days.
I lived in athletic shorts, a cotton tank top and a light linen coverup for most of my trip to Costa Rica. Of course, I always had my swimsuit on underneath my clothes in Montezuma, just in case.
You also couldn’t find me without a trusty ball cap or bucket hat to keep the sun off my head. Even when it’s cloudy, you can still be affected by UV.
A packing list for Costa Rica should also include mosquito repellent and reef-safe sunscreen since you are travelling to a tropical rainforest country!
Montezuma Costa Rica Conclusion
So, there you have it, everything you need to know about Montezuma Costa Rica! This small beach community is the perfect spot for a relaxing holiday, with plenty to see and do if you get bored of the idyllic Montezuma beach. Whether you’re looking to spend your days lounging on the plushy white sands or exploring the nearby jungle attractions like Montezuma Waterfalls, the bohemian town of Costa Rica Montezuma has something for everyone.