The first time we visited Montezuma Costa Rica was during the rainy season when half of the hotels were closed due to lack of customers. Despite the less than ideal weather in Montezuma, we fell completely in love with this remote part of the country.
The second time we visited there were a lot more people in this little town, but we still loved it!
Montezuma has a small cute downtown area on the beach. The 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 was 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 Montezuma.
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 visited in early August and we didn’t have any rain during the four days we were there. We also heard from some people that most of the rain they had been getting was only at night.
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. You just never know!
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.
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.
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 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 definitely need a vehicle with 4 wheel drive 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: We have not made it to the Montezuma waterfalls yet, so we can’t give you a whole lot of info on it. However, I got the intel from the locals and here is what I discovered. There are three good ways to access the waterfall. Your first option is to park at the butterfly garden. If you are not visiting the garden as well they will charge you a small parking fee. Ask them and they will direct you where to walk to get to the waterfall.
Another option is to head to SunTrails (near the butterfly garden). They will charge you a few dollars for access but their trail to the falls is better maintained and you get to go on a cool swinging bridge. The final option is free, but involves a steep uphill hike. If you leave the downtown area od Montezuma and turn left (heading south), you will see a parking lot of your right-hand side after about two minutes. You usually can’t miss it because it’s filled with people. Park here and you can access the trail to 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. Actually, you can even stay at their bed and breakfast as well. The butterfly garden costs $4 per person.
Walk along the Montezuma beach: From downtown Montezuma, you can walk north along several beaches connected by trails. This walk is one of the coolest things I have experienced in Costa Rica. 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. We went on the day after Tropical Storm Nate hit Costa Rica which made for a really eerie experience. 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 weren’t totally impressed with the Santa Teresa area, but it is definitely worth a day trip to the area. 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 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.
Buy Souvenirs: There are tons of cool little shops and street vendors in Montezuma. I’ve bought some really cool handmade jewelry at fair prices here. We love buying stuff at these little places because we are all about supporting other local business people.
Proyecto Montezuma Hostel: Cute hostel which is a few minutes walk from the downtown area and really close to the waterfall. It’s not directly on the beach, but you’ll get a great ocean view. You can expect to pay about $40 per night for a private room with bathroom. There is a kitchen on site which guests can use.
Hotel Luna Llena: For about $35 a night you can get a basic room with a kitchenette. This place is about 5 minutes from the beach. It’s a great budget option while still being comfortable.
Casa Susen: For about $40 a night you can stay in a basic double room with a shared bathroom. All rooms have a fridge and some have a small kitchenette. The location is not directly on the beach but you’ll have a nice view and a really easy walk into town.
El Mariposario Montezuma Gardens: For about $50 a night you can get a double room with a private bathroom. A super tasty breakfast is also included. This place is on the property and owned by the people who own the butterfly garden. By staying here you also get free admission into the butterflies.
We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well. 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. This definitely helps us to save some money so we are not constantly eating at restaurants. Also, often staying at an Airbnb will give you a more local experience.
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: We didn’t actually eat here because they had closed the restaurant for the rainy season, but we did drink some of the owner’s tasty craft beers and had a nice long chat. Seriously, they were the nicest people and this is the first place I will head for food on my next visit to Montezuma.
Chelo: I feel like I’m always talking about pizza on Costa Rica Vibes, but good pizza is hard to find in Costa Rica! Or maybe I’m just obsessed with pizza. 😉 This place has tasty thin crust pies at a good price.
Soda Tipica Las Palmeras: Ridiculously tasty typical 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. There is a nice reserve there called Curu Wildlife Refuge and you can take various day tours for a lot cheaper than in Montezuma. We have a full guide to the refuge here.