The Montezuma beach walk is hands down one of the coolest things we have done in Costa Rica. This is one of those gems that makes Costa Rica amazing and I can’t believe it took us almost two years of living here before we visited this cool corner of the country. Along our walk we saw baby turtles, a beach filled with rock sculptures, a nice wildlife reserve, empty beaches, hermit crabs, and more!
Alright guys, I need to preface this post by saying I apologize for the pictures. I know they don’t make the Montezuma beaches look like anything amazing. Unfortunately, we visited Montezuma with my dad at the same time as Tropical Storm Nate and the weather was the worst we’ve ever seen in Costa Rica. I promise you that usually, it is sunny and much prettier here!
Ok, now on to what you really came here for… an amazing free walk in Montezuma!
The Montezuma Beach Walk – The Walk
Your beach walk will begin at Playa Montezuma (aka the beach at the center of town). You will then walk to your left (north). The first thing you will pass is a turtle conservatory.
If you are interested in protecting sea turtles, you can read more about the conservatory here. Also, the offer a volunteer program, which I think would be an absolutely amazing opportunity if you want to spend some time in Costa Rica, help turtles, and stay at one of the best locations in Costa Rica.
Definitely, keep an eye out for baby turtles heading out into the water. If you want to see some holes with eggs, check out the top of the beach. You may get lucky and see some. Just don’t get too close!
Next, on your beach walk you will pass Ylang Ylang Beach Resort on your left. We were a bit freaked out when we saw a guy standing in the woods next to the resort, but we then realized he was security for the resort. So, don’t be alarmed if you see someone standing there alone. He’s just keeping the resort safe.
As you continue your walk you should check out some of the rocky areas to see some crabs. When we were in Montezuma there were tons of them! It was fun to watch them all scramble when we’d approach. Sorry, little crabs!
About twenty minutes into your walk you will hit a place called Piedra Colorada. This area has a beautiful beach garden filled with rock cairns. Apparently, a local artist used to go out here every morning to set up his rock sculptures and now the tradition has stuck.
Also in this area is a nice little waterfall with a pool and stream. We definitely suggest stopping here for a little dip in the stream. It’s a really popular swimming spot during good weather. We didn’t swim because it was a bit too cold when we were there. Either way, you will need to cross this stream so prepare to get wet during high tide.
Just after this, you will reach a trail called Dream Green which is part of the Nicolas Wessberg Natural Reserve. This trail will take you away from the beach and into the woods for a bit. The trail is about one mile long and along the way, you will see 11 signs telling you about the reserve. You’ll have to visit to find out the whole story on the amazing couple who started this reserve, but here’s ↑ a little preview for you. 😉
About forty minutes into your walk you will reach Playa Grande. This is usually the end point for most people. It is a beautiful, flat beach which you can usually have almost completely to yourself.
Unfortunately, this is where our journey stopped because it started to rain really hard (Tropical Storm Nate was moving in), but that doesn’t mean your journey has to end here!
If you continue walking you will hit another wildlife reserve called Romelia Wildlife Reserve (the same people that run the turtle conservatory), then another beach called Playa Cocolito, and eventually you will reach a nice waterfall. This whole walk will take you about 1.5 hours one-way.
Important Info About the Montezuma Beach Walk
What to wear
We wore our bathing suits, t-shirts, fast drying shorts, and flip-flops. This was fine, but it was definitely rocky in spots (as you can see in the picture above). If you have sensitive feet, you may want sandals which have a bit more stability in the sole. I suggest Keens or Chacos. They are my go-to sandal/ shoes for adventure in this country. I also suggest wearing a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
What to bring
Obviously it was really gray when we were in Montezuma, but usually, it is sunny and hot hot hot! We have a complete post on how to protect yourself from the sun, but definitely, put on and bring SPF 50 sun lotion.
We also brought our dry bag. Having a dry bag is so helpful in Costa Rica because you never know when things are going to get wet. During the Montezuma beach walk, we had to cross a stream at one point. It was low when we were there, but during high tide, it could have been more difficult to cross. After doing this type of crossing at another spot in Costa Rica and soaking an iPod, we swear by our dry bag.
Don’t forget a towel if you want to relax on the beach for awhile. We suggest a microfiber towel because they dry really quickly and take up less space in your suitcase than a regular towel. If you want to keep things very minimal, you can always bring a nice lightweight tapestry to lie on at the beach.
And the most important thing, snacks and water! If you opt to do the whole walk you will be out here for at least three hours. There is no place along the way to buy food (except for Ylang Ylang Beach Resort which we’ll get to in a minute). Bring lots and lots of water.
Pro tip: Montezuma is one of the few places in the country where you should not drink the water from the sink. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle from home and just buying a gallon size bottle of water from the grocery store to refill your bottle.
If you are in downtown Montezuma just walk onto the beach and head to the left.
We had our car with us so we needed a place to park. We drove to the left of the downtown area and parked at a random beach parking lot. There was nobody around so we were a bit worried about leaving our car there, but it was fine.
However, for safety reasons, I suggest being a bit more cautious than us idiots and either park your car in town, where there are people around, or check if there is a parking attendant at any of the beach lots. We were there during rainy season, so it may be that during high season there are parking attendants. If this is the case, you just park your car and when you leave you will give the person watching the car a few dollars/ some colones as a thank you.
Don’t forget to remove all valuables from your car. Even with someone watching your car, it is best to air on the side of caution here.
Tips for the Montezuma Beach Walk
-Don’t forget to look out for little baby turtles and big momma turtles. We were so freaking excited to see two little baby turtles making their first steps in the world out into the ocean. This is something we have tried (without success) to see in Tortuguero and near Nosara. We never expected to see this in Montezuma! You will most likely only see this if you are in Montezuma between August and November, but maybe you’ll get lucky at another time of year as well.
– If you do run into a little baby turtle, help it make its way into the water. A lot of these turtles don’t survive so do what you can to help them out. We like to clear debris out of the path of the turtles so they can make it to the water. We then watch it until it swims off to make sure the little guy/ girl actually made it.
-If you want to take a little break along the way, Ylang Ylang beach resort is a great place to stop for lunch. Their food is excellent and their restaurant is the perfect place to just chill out for awhile. Also, they have a nice gluten-free selection. You do not need to make a reservation unless you plan on going for dinner. You can check out the menu here. However, maybe you should stop here on the way back because there is a good chance you will be too full to continue walking. 😉
Also, Ylang Ylang has given us a 10% discount for accommodations to pass on to our readers! You can find out more about this discount here.
-Get yourself a partner who thinks he/she is a paparazzi. Sorry, had to share this. Honestly, I do not ask Thomas to take these pictures. I’m happy he does because as much as I always mean to take pictures, I never actually do. This one ↑ made me laugh though because I liked the picture. I was then going through the rest of the pictures from Montezuma and came across this ↓ that my dad must have taken. Cracked me up! Thomas is a total Instagram husband without being asked. Anyone else have the same situation?
– We felt safe here, but don’t walk at night and don’t carry valuables. We’ve never had anything bad happen to us in Costa Rica, but just remember you are in a foreign country and sometimes the Montezuma beaches can be really empty. You will most likely be fine, and maybe we are a bit too cautious, but you never know!
-It is best to do the walk during low tide. It is possible to walk during high tide but some of the areas will become more difficult to pass. If you plan on doing the entire walk (about three hours round trip) we suggest starting about two hours before low tide so you’ll have mostly low water for your whole walk.
-Don’t hesitate to jump in the water! The ocean is really refreshing. When we were there the waves were big though so we opted not to swim. Costa Rica is known for rip currents, so just be careful.
What to Do After the Montezuma Beach Walk
After the Montezuma beach walk, we suggest exploring the souvenir shops in downtown Montezuma, visiting the butterfly garden, or heading over to Cabuya Cemetery. Although, I think after doing this beach walk, especially if it is sunny, you will probably be completely ready to head back to your hotel for a nap.
We have a whole guide to Montezuma to give you a better idea of amazing things you can do in the area including the best restaurants, the coolest activities, and nice places to stay while sticking to a budget.
If you have any questions or comments about the Montezuma beach walk don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We love to hear from you and are always happy to help our readers out!
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