Back in the day, Montezuma used to attract bohemians and beach dwellers who would pitch tents on the sand and stay for months, living in harmony with nature. Nowadays, the town is more built up, with lots of restaurant and hotel options and bars that blast their music long into the night. However, it has managed to retain some of its original vibe, and the natural beauty of the place is still what draws everybody here.
The Montezuma coastline is a heavenly stretch of white sand with volcanic rock outcroppings and tide pools that are great for snorkeling. Although it’s unlikely, if you ever tire of resting your eyes on its gorgeous waters, Montezuma offers visitors scores of activities that include hiking along the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, which is a short drive away, or visiting its waterfalls, the area’s most iconic natural attractions.
The falls are located a short walk south of town and a refreshing dip next to the cascading water has soothed many a stinging sunburn. Daredevils will inevitably end up jumping from the surrounding cliffs, a signature activity for the adrenaline-hungry.
Planning a vacation to Montezuma
We recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights, but preferably 4 to 5 nights for visitors to Montezuma. Montezuma is located on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula, which requires a significant drive from most destinations and each of the airports. We do not recommend staying longer as there is much more to do and see in Costa Rica. In our experience, when people stay in one destination too long, they inevitably come onto contact with other tourists bursting at the seams with stories of adventure, rainforest, volcanoes and more, which are only found in inland destinations.
Visitors should be aware that the majority of hotels in Montezuma are actually perched up on the hillside. While there are plenty of small hotels in the area, only a handful are recommendable. Ylang Ylang Resort is the nicest hotel in town, though it is not for everybody due to the eco-style and location. Hotel Luz de Mono is a good option for budget travelers.
Tours from Montezuma can be arranged for day visits to Isla Tortuga, a paradisiacal island famous for great snorkeling and diving. Of course, the usual canopy zipline, horseback riding and ATV tours are available here too.
If you are staying at a hotel near the beach, you will not need a rental car. Then again, cabs are readily available from all hotels, so you will always be able to get around. It is nice to have a rental car in Montezuma if you are staying at one of the hotels on the hill. Visitors should keep in mind that it does require a difficult drive to reach the area and will require a ferry ride from anywhere other than the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste. 4x4 is a necessity.
Reasons to visit
- Stunning beaches
- Nice small town with shops, restaurants and bars
- Laid-back feel and atmosphere
- Authentic Costa Rican feel
- Close proximity to Cabo Blanco Reserve
- The Montezuma waterfalls are beautiful
Reasons NOT to visit
- It is difficult to access
- There are not many hotel options. Few of which are mid-range. None of which are luxurious
- No all inclusive resorts
- It is far from all other destinations
- There are not many adventure activities available
How to get there
From San Jose: The quickest way to get from San Jose to Montezuma is to take Autopista del Sol to Puntarenas and get on the ferry to Paquera, which is about an hour north of Montezuma on a paved road and follow the signs along Rt. 160 to Rt. 624.
Weather and packing list
Like all of Costa Rica’s Northwest Pacific Region, Montezuma enjoys one of Costa Rica’s driest, most glorious climates. With fairly steady temperatures, daytime highs reach up to the low 90s, while nighttime lows drop to the upper 70s. The worst of the wet season is experienced here from September to early November, while December to August generally sees the best weather.
Visitors to Montezuma should not forget to pack beach clothes such as swimsuits, flip flops, beach towels and sarongs for sunbathing. Shorts, t-shirts, rain gear, insect repellent, lots of sunblock and aloe vera gel are also in order. Our packing list article provides a more comprehensive list for your vacation.
Fun Fact: Because Montezuma is located on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, many visitors think it belongs to the province of Guanacaste, but this part of the peninsula actually forms part of Puntarenas province.