Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit

Montezuma, Costa Rica is a remote bohemian beach destination and our favorite beach town in the whole country

montezuma beach

The Montezuma Costa Rica Vibes

Montezuma Costa Rica is a small and cute beachside village on the Nicoya Peninsula. 

The white sand beaches are some of the nicest we’ve experienced in the whole country and you just can’t beat the vibe here.

The relaxed, nature-loving, hippie vibe is totally up our alley and we think you’ll love it as well.

Plus, despite being a small village there are plenty of fun things to do nearby.

Not to insult the rest of beautiful Costa Rica, but if we ever buy a house in Costa Rica it will without a doubt be in Montezuma. We just love it so much!.

OK, enough fangirling. Now on to the rest of the Montezuma guide!

Background Info About Montezuma Costa Rica

Nearest International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose and Liberia Airport are semi-easy to get to

Popular Things to Do

hiking, visiting the Montezuma waterfall, a day trip to Isla Tortuga

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April.

Grocery Stores

There is a small grocery store called Super Montezuma in the downtown area. For a bigger store, head to MegaSuper in Cobano.


Banco Nacional is located in Cobano.

Gas Stations

There are two gas stations in Cobano (a 15 minute drive from Montezuma).

Cóbano Service Station and Servicentro Jimal

(keep in mind all gas stations here are full-service. So stay in your car and an employee will fill your car up).

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Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and have called sunny Costa Rica home since 2016.

We are on a mission to help you plan the perfect Costa Rican vacation.

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Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit
montezuma map

Map Of Montezuma

Montezuma is located on the Pacific coast on the Nicoya Peninsula, the hook of Costa Rica.

This area is not the easiest to access, but we think that helps to give it a lot of its charm.

Flights to Costa Rica

Montezuma is great because it is easily accessible from the Liberia airport and the San Jose airport. 

More and more airlines are starting service to Liberia so check out the rates. It may be worth it for you.

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.

Driving to Montezuma

Driving Directions to Montezuma from San Jose

We always suggest renting a car and driving to Montezuma on your own. 

There are two ways to make this trip.

  1. Drive the entire way. This will take about six hours.
  2. Take the ferry from Puntarenas. This will take about five hours (but 80 minutes of that are no driving because you’ll be on the ferry)

So, let’s go through each one.

Driving the Whole Way

If you choose to drive the entire way, we recommend taking Route 27 from San Jose to the coast. Just keep in mind that this is a toll road, and they accept both US dollars and colones.

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Once you reach Puntarenas, you’ll exit onto Route 1 heading north. This road has been undergoing construction for some time now as they widen it.

So, while you may encounter smooth sailing, there’s also a possibility of running into construction delays.

When you reach the town of La Palma, you’ll come across a roundabout where you’ll need to take a left onto Route 18. 

If you’re in need of a restroom break or some food, there’s a small plaza on the right before the roundabout. There is a KFC and Subway in the plaza.

Aside from that, there aren’t many options for quick meals along the way.

However, I must admit that Subway is surprisingly good in Costa Rica.

Right after the roundabout, you’ll find a gas station on the left corner, which is a convenient spot to stop if you need gas, snacks, or a restroom break.

Continue on Route 18 until you reach Nicoya. Keep in mind that there are often police patrolling Route 18, so it’s important to stick to the speed limit.

In Nicoya, take a left turn and finally head south of the Nicoya hook. These roads have recently been redone, so many sections are in excellent condition.

However, be cautious as there are numerous speed bumps that are sometimes poorly marked. We’ve definitely encountered a few unexpectedly!

Drive along the coast until you reach the town of Paquera, which is where you would have arrived if you had taken the ferry.

When you hit the center of Paquera you will take a right on Route 160 towards Santa Teresa/ Cobano.

Continue on Route 160 for about 17 miles. You will pass the town of Tambor on your right.

After 17 miles you will come to a street called Calle Pura Vida. Take a left here and follow this road into town.

Note: Please don’t depend on these directions to get here. Most of these roads are not marked clearly and sometimes you’ll come to an intersection and have no idea which way the road continues.

We suggest the free app Waze for getting around.

Taking the Ferry

The best way to do this (if coming from San Jose) is by going on the Puntarenas ferry to Paquera. In total this trip will take about five to six hours.

However, about two of those hours will be spent on the ferry/ getting off the ferry. So, in actuality, it is not too much driving.

Enter,”Naviera Tambor ferry” as your destination in your GPS. This will bring you to the ferry terminal in Puntarenas.

Basically, you will drive on Route 27 all the way to the city of Puntarenas. Route 27 is a toll road. You will spend about $8 USD in tolls. They accept US dollars or Costa Rican colones. 

In Puntarenas you will exit and drive straight through the downtown area until the very tip of Puntarenas. 

This is a city so there are a lot of traffic lights and people walking everywhere.

At the ferry terminal, you will drive your car onto the ferry, exit your car and sit up top and enjoy the ride.

Check out our guide to the Puntarenas ferry for all the details

We suggest pre-booking a ferry ticket to ensure you get on board. You want to go in the direction of “Paquera”

From Paquera, continue driving on Route 160 towards Santa Teresa/ Cobano.

Continue on Route 160 for about 17 miles. You will pass the town of Tambor on your right.

After 17 miles you will come to a street called Calle Pura Vida. Take a left here and follow this road into town.

Driving Directions to Montezuma from Liberia

From the airport head south on Route 21 toward Nicoya.

Continue on Route 21 until you reach the town of Nicoya. In Nicoya there are some food places and gas stations if you need a break.

Also, if you would like one of the most interesting dining experiences of your life, check out, Bernina Artisan Food.

It is about a 10 minute detour but totally worth it.

But keep in mind it is on the high end price wise and you will probably end up spending at least an hour here.

Anyway, in Nicoya you will stay on Route 21 all the way to Paquera. 

In Paquera, turn left onto Route 160. 

Continue on Route 160 for about 17 miles. You will pass the town of Tambor on your right.

After 17 miles you will come to a street called Calle Pura Vida. Take a left here and follow this road into town.

Note: Google Maps may try to direct you along the west coast on the Nicoya Peninsula. Don’t drive this route! It involves river crossings and is almost impossible to pass. You want to drive along the east coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. 

Rental Car to Montezuma

We suggest renting your car with our favorite Costa Rica rental car company, Adobe. They have an office at the Liberia Airport and at the San Jose Airport. 

We suggest them because they are upfront with their prices, have excellent customer service, and are just overall a great local company.

They have kindly given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you. 

⤷ Book Your Rental Car with Adobe

In the past, you needed a 4×4 to get to Montezuma. That is no longer the case. The roads are mostly well maintained.

However, a lot of accommodation options are located in the hulls above the towns on unpaved steep roads.

I suggest checking exactly where your hotel is located to help you decide the right car for you.

We suggest at least renting an SUV for decent clearance. 


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Private Shuttle to Montezuma

It is possible to take a private shuttle from almost anywhere in the country to Montezuma.

We suggest Adobe Transfers for all your private shuttle needs.

They have experienced drivers, comfortable air-conditioned vans, and will be happy to make short stops along the way if you need. 

⤷ Get Your Private Shuttle Quote Here

Public Bus to Montezuma Costa Rica

Taking the public bus to Montezuma is really difficult because it involves switching buses three or four times. 

We don’t suggest doing this, but if you would like to try it, use the website The Bus Schedule for the best routes. 

Domestic Flights to Montezuma

There isn’t an airport directly in Montezuma, but the Tambor domestic airport is only about 30 minutes away by car or taxi. 

Sansa is the main domestic airline in Costa Rica and they offer flights from San Jose Airport to Tambor. 


rental car montezuma
palm trees in Montezuma costa rica

Transportation In Montezuma

We suggest depending on a rental car while in Montezuma. Everything is a bit spread out here and you’ll probably want to take day trips. That is easiest to do by car.

We suggest renting a 4×4 for this area. Some hotels and VRBo’s are up hilly dirt roads. 

More and more roads in this area are getting paved, but there are also still a decent amount of dirt roads. 

Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit
montezuma waterfall

Montezuma Costa Rica Weather

Just like in other parts of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the dry season usually lasts from mid-December until April or May.

From May to August, you might encounter some afternoon rainstorms.

But, you never know. One time we visited in early August and had four rain-free days!

From mid-August until December, it tends to get pretty rainy. A lot of restaurants and tour companies close during that time. 

Things to Do in Montezuma Costa Rica

​​Visit Cabo Blanco Reserve

A bit past the beach in Cabuya there is a ranger station and a place to park to access the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.

Admission is $10 per person and there are a few different hike lengths you can take. It is a great way to see some awesome wildlife and the trail ends at a beautiful beach with white sands. We have a full guide to the Cabo Blanco Reserve.

Visit Curu Reserve

Curu Reserve is located north of Montezuma near Paquera (where the ferry lands). This reserve has tons of trails and very few tourists. We really really like this spot.

Here is a full guide to Curu.

Spend a Day on Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga is an undisturbed tropical island that you can visit on a day tour. It is perfect for snorkeling and relaxing on the beach.

There are tons of Tortuga Island tours that leave from Montezuma. 

Go Bioluminescent Kayaking

Have you ever seen bioluminescence? It is really cool! One of the best places to experience this in the world is in Paquera (north of Montezuma).

There are several companies that offer tours from Montezuma, or if you drive yourself to Paquera we suggest this tour from Bahia Rica Adventures.

Visit the Montezuma Waterfalls

The Montezuma Waterfalls cascade down a series of tiers, which creates a stunning display of water surrounded by tropical vegetation. 

It is possible to hike (it is somewhat strenuous because it involves a lot of hopping along rocks in a stream) through the jungle to reach the base of the waterfall. 

At the base you can take a refreshing swim in the pool beneath its cascades.

We have a full guide to accessing the Montezuma Waterfalls.

Walk along the Montezuma beach

From downtown Montezuma, you can walk north along Playa Montezuma and several other beaches connected by trails. There are lots of tide pools you can take a little dip in to cool down. 

At the very end you will come to Chorro Waterfall which flows into the ocean.

If you are lucky you might even see baby sea turtles making their way into the ocean.
This walk is the perfect morning activity. It is free and an absolute must-do.

We loved it so much that we created a complete guide to the Montezuma beach walk.

Take a trip to a cemetery island

From downtown Montezuma, you can drive about 30 minutes to the small village of Cubuya.

During low tide, you can walk out to their cemetery island. Just make sure to come back to the mainland before the tide comes in or you’ll be stuck out there. 

We have a full guide to Cabuya Cemetery

Go Beach Hopping

If you drive towards Cabo Blanco Reserve you will pass several small beach entrances on your left. Just pull in any of these entrances and enjoy the views!

Take a day trip to Santa Teresa and Mal Pais

We like the Santa Teresa area for the backpacker feel and surfing beaches. Mal Pais is a small fishing village south of Montezuma. 

To get to these towns you will need to drive around. There is a road that goes directly to Mal Pais, but it involves river crossings which are not possible, especially during rainy season.

montezuma turtle
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Montezuma Restaurants

Cocolores:  Great spot for dinner. They have a nice varied menu of meat fish, pasta and more. This cute little place abuts the beach.

Clandestina:  Excellent fresh food. Also, they brew their own beer here so definitely try that as well. 

Ylang Ylang Restaurant– On the pricier end of mid-range, but totally worth it. This place is located in the Ylang Ylang resort. They serve up quality food for all dietary needs. 

Soda Tipica Las Palmeras: Ridiculously tasty typical Costa Rican food at a good price. Plus their presentation is on point.

montezuma food
Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit
butterfly brewing

Montezuma Costa Rica Hotels

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort: Rustic luxury on the beach. The rooms and facilities have a jungle feel to them but are top-notch. There is a restaurant, pool, and yoga classes on-site. 

Casa Frangipani: A nice hotel with lush gardens and an inviting outdoor pool amidst breathtaking views of the rainforest and ocean.

Casitas Sollevante: Beautiful hotel with pool and hot tub located about 1 mile from downtown Montezuma.

Luminosa Montezuma Hostel: This hostel offers shared dorms and one private room near downtown Montezuma

Check out our guide to the 10 Best Hotels in Montezuma for more great ideas!

montezuma pool
Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit

Airbnb and VRBO in Montezuma

We always love renting a home or villa for our vacation in Costa Rica. This gives you more privacy and allows you the flexibility to cook your own meals.

Note: We try to only ever suggest places with good cancellation policies, but always double-check before booking.

Octagonal Oceanfront Home – A two-bedroom home that sleeps 6 guests. The home is rustic but, has everything you would need. Plus, we love that this spot is directly on the beach. 

Casa Mas Mañanas – A luxury modern 4-bedroom home. We love the pool, views, and open feel of the home.

Montezuma Casita – The casita is located on a property that also contains the owner’s house. However, the casita is in its own secluded area and has a private plunge pool. It has one bedroom and sleeps two guests.

LUNATICAlounge – This house is insane. If you like modern architecture, you’ll love it. It has 4 bedrooms and can sleep 9 guests. 

Blue Zone Jungle Oasis – A unique two-bedroom house that can sleep 8 guests. Definitely check out the listing. We personally love the massive waterslide. 

montezuma waterfall
Montezuma, Costa Rica: A Complete Guide to Planning a Visit

Montezuma Travel Tips

– Montezuma is one of the few places in the country where I would suggest spending at least four or five nights. There is just so much to do nearby.

– When we recently went to Montezuma we spent two nights in Paquera (where the ferry lands). It is not a place where most tourists stay, but we actually really enjoyed it and recommend it.

– Don’t forget travel insurance! Heymondo travel insurance was designed with ease and flexibility in mind.

Their comprehensive plans offer 24/7 assistance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, lost baggage coverage, assistance in case of medical issues, as well as the option to add-on adventure activity coverage. 

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Packing for Montezuma Costa Rica

In general Montezuma is a really relaxed town. There is no need for nice clothing unless you plan on going to a fancy restaurant.

We suggest packing mostly beach gear and stuff for hiking. When possible, opt for fast drying clothes that don’t wrinkle easily. 

Don’t forget your rain gear during rainy season!

Check out our Montezuma Packing List on Amazon for all the essentials. 

Montezuma Costa Rica FAQ

Is Montezuma Costa Rica safe?

In our experience, Montezuma Costa Rica is safe. However, sometimes petty crime happens. Please keep an eye on your belongings and don’t flash money or expensive material goods. 

Is Montezuma Costa Rica expensive?

It is comparable to the rest of Costa Rica. To save money, eat at the local sodas and enjoy all of the free beaches. 

Is Montezuma Costa Rica worth visiting?

Yes, it is 100% worth visiting. This town is less touristy than some other areas in the country. But, if you are looking for a relaxed feel, this is the perfect spot for it.

Is it safe to swim in Montezuma Costa Rica?

This area can have strong waves and rip currents. Look for the tide pools to soak in for a safer experience.

Articles About Montezuma Costa Rica

You Might Also Like Visiting

Santa Teresa: A popular surfing and yoga village with a backpacker vibe

Mal Pais: A small remote fishing village with beautiful ocean views

Tambor: A small fishing village and home to the Nicoya domestic airport

….if none of those appeal to you, check out our Guide to the Nicoya Peninsula for more ideas of places to visit in this area.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks Paul! Those pictures make me really sad we’ve missed it so far. 🙁