Montezuma is a small and cute beach town. 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.
In all honesty, 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!
We 100% recommend visiting.
OK, enough fangirling. Now on to the rest of the Montezuma guide!
Like most of the country, the dry season here runs from mid-December until April or May.
From May until August you can expect some afternoon rainstorms, however, we once visited in early August and we didn’t have any rain during the four days we were there. You just never know!
From mid-August until December a lot of things close down because the weather can be really rainy.
We visited one year in late September and it rained every day but the next year we visited at the same time and had perfect weather. It’s impossible to predict.
Getting to Montezuma
Flying into the Liberia or San Jose airport are both good options for going to Montezuma. If renting a car (which we recommend) from San Jose you have two options for getting here. You can either drive up like you are heading towards Liberia and then back down on the hook of Costa Rica called the Nicoya Peninsula. Montezuma is located on this peninsula.
This route will take you about six hours. We have done this route and were a bit nervous about it because we heard most of the roads are unpaved. I think they’ve been doing a lot of maintenance because we found most of the main roads on Nicoya were actually OK.
You’ll definitely want a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but there was nothing TOO crazy.
One time we did this drive and when we arrived at our Airbnb in Montezuma our host said, “You drove around?!?! I did that once with my wife. I got divorced after.” Haha! Clearly other people think the drive is horrible.
Your other option is to drive to Puntarenas and take the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. From Paquera it will take you about an hour to drive to Montezuma.
This is a great option because it means less driving and is usually faster. It will take you about two hours from the airport to the ferry. It takes about 70 minutes on the ferry.
The problem with this route is that during high season the ferry fills up with cars fast. You either have to get to the ferry early or just risk that you might not get a spot and wait for the next ferry.
We have a guide to the Puntarenas Ferry here.
From Liberia, it will take about four hours to drive to Montezuma. You’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle because some of the roads along the drive are unpaved.
If coming from San Jose or from Liberia you can rent a car from close to the airport (but free transportation to the rental car office is provided from the airport).
We suggest using Adobe because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country (in our opinion) and we have a 10% discount for you. You can read more about renting a car here.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving to Montezuma on your own, the cheapest option is to take the public bus. The bus leaves from downtown San Jose every day at 6:00 am and 2:00 pm.
The ride takes about five hours (the bus goes on the ferry). It’s not the most comfortable ride, but it’s cheap (under $10 per person). There is no direct route from Liberia to Montezuma by bus that I can find.
I wouldn’t suggest the bus if you get car sick, though. The roads are really curvy and bumpy (because they are unpaved) in spots and as someone with major car sickness, I find that I’m an absolute mess on the bus.
Definitely get there early before the departure time because once all the seats are taken you may be left standing for a long ride.
Although you can take the bus to Montezuma we suggest renting a car and driving. The reason we suggest this is because Montezuma is great but if you are in the area you will probably want to explore other spots as well.
We always suggest Adobe for your car rental needs and they do not have an office on the Nicoya Peninsula so it is not possible to take the bus to Montezuma and then rent a car with them once there.
Getting Around in Montezuma
We suggest depending on a rental car while in Montezuma. The downtown area and beaches are easily accessible by foot, but you’ll probably want to take day trips while you are here and that is easiest to do by car.
If you plan on just relaxing on the beach and exploring the downtown area, save yourself some money and skip the rental car.
As we already mentioned, you will likely need a vehicle with 4 wheel drive (especially in the rainy season) because most of the roads in this area are unpaved.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.
Visit the Montezuma waterfalls: There are three waterfalls in Montezuma. We have a full guide to accessing the falls.
Check out the butterfly garden: Definitely go to the butterfly garden and then eat at their restaurant Clandestina and drink some of their tasty craft beer.
Walk along the Montezuma beach: From downtown Montezuma, you can walk north along Playa Montezuma and several other beaches connected by trails. 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 beach walk.
Take a trip to 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 here.
Take a day trip to Santa Teresa and Mal Pais: We like the Santa Teresa area for the backpacker feel. It is also Thomas’s favorite place to go fishing in Costa Rica. You can check out our complete guide to the area here.
Visit Cabo Blanco Reserve: A bit past the beach in Cabuya there is a ranger station and 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. We have a full guide here.
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. We have yet to find one that we absolutely love, but we will keep you updated if things change.
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 visit Curu Reserve you can plan a tour from there as well.
Aves Hotel & Resort– A small jungle resort located 1.3 kilometers from the beach. There is a restaurant, spa, and pool on the property for guests to use.
Kalapiti Jungle Suites– A unique hotel in the jungle. Enjoy the pool, hot tub, Turkish bath, yoga classes, and delicious restaurant on-site.
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort– Ylang Ylang is what I would call rustic luxury. The rooms and facilities have a jungle feel to them but are top-notch. There is a restaurant, pool, and yoga classes on-site. Oh, and it is located directly on the beach.
Casitas Sollevante– Beautiful hotel with pool and hot tub located about 1 mile from downtown Montezuma.
Fitos House– Modern rooms located near downtown Montezuma. There is a pool on the property.
Luminosa Montezuma Hostel-This hostel offers shared dorms and one private room near downtown Montezuma.
Hotel Luna Llena– Located 200 meters from the beach, with amazing views, there are shared dorms and private rooms available on-site. There is also a shared kitchen for guests to use.
Soul Fire Casitas– Located 2km from the beach, this hotel offers lush garden vibes with rustic accommodations. There is a shared kitchen for guests to use.
We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well as hotels in Montezuma. Sometimes you can get some really great accommodation deals at beautiful places on Airbnb. We like Airbnb because often you can get a place with a private kitchen.
Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here
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 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.
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