Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco: Hiking and Pristine Beach

Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco is located on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica near Montezuma, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa. This stunning national park is the perfect place to spend the day hiking.

Along the trails, you will see a variety of wildlife and plants. At the halfway point of your hike, you will be treated to a pristine white sand beach with turquoise waters that is only accessible to hikers.

When we first visited Cabo Blanco we were pleasantly surprised by the reserve. However, there were a few things we wish we knew and planned for before visiting.

For example, we were not prepared for the oppressive heat here.

We created this detailed guide to visiting Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco so you can be completely prepared for your visit.

Let’s get planning!

Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco: Important Info

Opening Hours

The Cabo Blanco Reserve is only open from Wednesday until Sunday from 8 am until 4 pm. In other words, it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Cost

It costs $12 per person to enter the reserve. If you are a Costa Rican resident it is around $5 to enter.

Directions

From Montezuma just head south. You literally just drive south until you can’t drive any further.

If you are visiting the reserve from Santa Teresa or Mal Pais you will have to head west as though you are heading towards Montezuma and then head south. 

There is another road, but it involves a river crossing which is impossible during the rainy season. 

We have done it a few times and really don’t recommend trying it, especially with a rental car.

Here is a screenshot so you can see what I mean. You will likely have to take the route highlighted in blue. The other route is the one with the river crossing.

cabo blanco map

Once you arrive at the entrance to the reserve you still have about a mile more to drive before you will reach the parking lot. This road is a bit rough. 

Thomas was about to turn around because he didn’t believe me that the reserve could possibly be down this poorly maintained road. 

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If you would like to enter Cabo Blanco Reserve in your GPS or in the Waze app, just search for “Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve” and the reserve will come up.

Parking

There is a parking lot located next to the ranger station which you can use for free. Just be warned, I think they have had some problems with people breaking into cars recently. One of the rangers working told us to leave nothing of value in the car and that they are happy to store anything important in their ranger station.

There were two guys working while we were there and one was paying careful attention to the parking lot, but you never know!

Facilities

cabo blanco reserve

There is a bathroom at the ranger station. There is also a place where you can fill your water bottle with drinking water.

If you hike to the beach there is an outdoor shower and a spot with potable water. 

There was no sign at the faucet stating the water was potable, but we asked the head of the Cabo Blanco volunteer program who we happened to meet while we were there. She told us it was drinkable water. 

We filled our water bottles from it and didn’t get sick, so it must have been fine!

What to wear

We both wore sport shorts and cotton shirts.

We both wore sneakers, which were much-needed.

If you can, we suggest wearing your bathing suit under your clothes. You will probably want to go swimming once you arrive at the beach or at least will want to jump under the outdoor shower. 

There wasn’t a bathroom for you to change at the beach.

I also suggest wearing shoes like Keens. There were a few spots where we had to cross a stream and it was a pain to take our sneakers off every time. 

Actually, after the first one I was like “Forget this!” and just walked through all the streams with my sneakers on.

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What to bring

Everything! We saw some people just hiking with a water bottle in their hand and Thomas was over there with his huge day pack.

We probably went a bit overboard but we brought:

rain jackets (we should have left those in the car)

the drone (we need cool shots for this site and Thomas is obsessed with it)

binoculars (I’m happy we brought those)

three water bottles (we needed those)

snacks (bring food because once you get to the beach you will be starving)

sunscreen

bug spray

Amount of time you need

If you plan on hiking all the way to the beach I would give yourself at least five or six hours. 

It took us about two hours to the beach and two hours back. 

We spent about an hour relaxing on the beach, but I think we both would have been happy to stay there longer.

Best time to visit

Mid-December through mid-April is the dry season here. It is very unlikely that you will have rain if you visit during that time of year. However, this also means that the reserve could be very full of other tourists. Plus, the temperatures tend to be really hot. 

During the rainy season (mid-April through early December) you may experience afternoon rain storms to help you cool down. 

Just start your hike early and it should be no problem.

We once visited during early August and were surprised by how good the weather was. The trails were also very dry for the most part. 

The biggest downfall is that it was probably a lot more humid than if you visit in the dry season because there had been some rain recently.

History of Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco

If you are interested in the history of the reserve there are several detailed boards at the start of the hike which explain everything. For now, I’ll give you a brief overview.

In the early 1960’s a Swedish man named Nicolas Wessberg and his Danish wife Karen Mogenson moved to the area. 

He was interested in preserving the natural state of the area so he purchased 1,250 hectares of property which he turned into the reserve.

They also purchased the land that is run as a reserve along the beach in Montezuma.

I just found this out while doing some research, but apparently, Wessberg was assassinated in 1975 while showing support for the creation of Corcovado National Park. I’m going to have to do some more research on Wessberg and report back on what I learn. 

He was very influential in supporting preserved land throughout Costa Rica and it would be interesting to learn more of his story.

Wildlife at Cabo Blanco 

The reserve protects a variety of wildlife and several species of trees in the tropical forest.

Some of the animals you might see include; white-tailed deer, howler monkeys, white face monkeys, coyote, and coatis. If you are really lucky you might get to see margays.

The Cabo Blanco nature reserve also protects a variety of fish marine mammals, and marine birds (including brown boobies and pelicans). 

The Hiking Trails at Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco

On the map, you will see that there are two trails that are each one kilometer long which you can turn into a nice little loop if you are looking for a shorter hike. These trails are labeled Danish Trail and Regreso.

From the end of either of these trails, you can continue on to the beach. It is another 4km (2.4 miles) out to the beach. 

This means if you want to go to the beach and back you will be walking 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in total.

The trails towards the start of the hike were very well maintained. As we got closer to the beach there was more brush blocking the trail in some places. 

However, we did meet some nice women who were part of the Cabo Blanco volunteer program. They were in the process of clearing the trails with machetes.

You can expect to see a lot of wildlife along the hike including monkeys, armadillos, anteaters, and coatis.

The Beach at Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco

playa cabo blanco

When you (eventually) arrive at the Playa Cabo Blanco on the very southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula you will feel like you have arrived at paradise.

The beach has a lot of stones in some spots, but it it is the perfect beach to walk (not that you probably want to do any more walking after your hike).

There are several picnic tables, an outdoor shower, and potable water. We also discovered a hammock that is a permanent fixture here. The hammock is located to your right when you get to the beach area.

The water was calm and we saw several people swimming.

Our Experience

I think I have only ever said this one other time on this site and that was in the Nauyaca Waterfall Guide, but guys, this hike was intense! I wouldn’t say it is overly strenuous, but it is just long and so humid.

The first time we visited, we started the hike a bit later than we should have. I think we finally started walking around 10 am.

First off, I need to say that the two guys working at the ranger station were so nice. They were extremely helpful in explaining everything too us. We talked to them in Spanish which is usually a struggle for us, but they talked slowly so that we both understood everything.

The first trail we did was the Danish Trail. We then came to a stream and you better believe Thomas and I were there full on dunking our heads in it. 

Along this trail, we continued to cross the stream in various parts. We took every opportunity we had to soak our heads. It helped so much.

After one kilometer we came to where the Swedish Trail to the beach starts. At this point, we thought we would only go halfway and then turn around. 

This part of the hike was rough! It was almost all uphill. 

Luckily every time I thought, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m turning around” the trail would even out for a bit.

Once we got to the middle part of the trail it started to go downhill. We decided we had come that far, we could make it to the beach. The second two kilometers on the Swedish trail were mostly downhill.

We were so ready to just sit when we arrived at Playa Cabo Blanco. It was nice to be greeted by an outdoor shower and drinkable water. 

You better believe I took my shoes off and jumped immediately under that shower.

We then found a picnic table to hang out at for a while. Thomas flew the drone and I chilled out for a bit.

cabo blanco beach

We could have stayed at that beach all day, but after about an hour we started to head back so we could get back before the reserve closed for the day. The hike back seemed so much easier!

We ended with the Danes Trail to get a little variety on our trip. 

Helpful Tips for Visiting Cabo Blanco Costa Rica

– Start your hike as early in the day as possible. It gets hot hot hot! Plus they told us at the ranger station that we needed to head back from the beach by 2 pm to get back by 4 pm when the reserve closed. If you want ample beach chilling time you will need to start early enough.

– They will not give you a paper copy of the map at the ranger station, but there is a nice laminated copy you can look at before you start hiking. Make sure you bring your phone and take a picture of the map before you start your hike.

– These are listed on the map, but just as a backup, there are two emergency number you should be aware of during your hike. You will be a bit remote and it is good to have these numbers just in case.

The number for the tourist area: (506) 2642 0312

The number for the ranger house: (506) 2642 0094

– If you are interested in spending an extended period of time in the area, the Cabo Blanco Reserve is always looking for new volunteers. For more info, you can email the head of their volunteer program at: [email protected]

What to do After Visiting Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco

If you are heading back to Montezuma, we suggest stopping at the Cabuya cemetery on your drive back. It will be about ten minutes into your drive on the right side of the road. 

This cemetery is only accessible during low tide, so you will have to try and time things out correctly. 

Also, definitely look out for the giant Banyan tree on the left side of the road. This is about 15 minutes into your drive. You can pull your car off onto the side of the road to check it out. It’s definitely a cool sight!

cabuya tree

If you do the entire hike you will likely be so hot after. All we could talk about for the last 45 minutes of our walk was which cold beer we were going to order at Butterfly Brewing Company.

This awesome craft beer spot is located in Montezuma and is home to some of our favorite craft beer in Costa Rica. They also serve tasty food.

butterfly brewing

For more ideas, check out our complete guide to the Montezuma area

Hopefully, this helped you out in planning your visit to Cabo Blanco Reserve. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

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