Last Updated on August 31, 2023 by Carolyn
There are memories that stay with you for a lifetime and Montezuma beach ride and day in Montezuma was one of them.
Morning Monkey Greetings
Table of Contents
We woke up early and for the first time, we heard the eery howls of howler monkies. What a sound! It would be alarming if you weren’t forewarned about them. As it was we were thrilled to finally hear them close by. We were also up early enough to watch the sun rise over the ocean which is certainly a sight to behold.
Our host, Lucy treated us to delicious Costa Rican coffee and a breakfast Tipico- eggs, rice, plantains, and fruit which we enjoyed on the patio. After breakfast, we walked to town to meet up with our mounts for the morning. The morning was clear and perfect for a beach ride.
Jungle Trail Montezuma Beach Ride
We met up with our guide “Jaime” and the horses on the far edge of town where the road dead ends into the beautiful tropical Montezuma beach. My mount for the day was a little flea-bit grey mare named “Pequena” and Wally’s mount was a pinto gelding.
We mounted up and headed out across the beach, and then to a jungle trail that ran alongside the beach and offered welcome respite from the sun. The jungle trail wound up and around volcanic rock hefted from the earth by some prior ancient volcanic eruption.
I was impressed with my mount’s sure-footedness, she picked her way through the rocky terrain nary placing a wrong step. My American horses would have surely put on the brakes and refused to step further.
The jungle trail was bordered by coconut palms on one side and wild pineapple plants on the other. We caught glimpses of the purple mouthless night crabs scuttling beneath the undergrowth, while above us we saw streaks of green as parrots flitted about, and an occasional capuchin monkey could be caught giving us a watchful eye.
We crossed one stunning beach after another. First was Montezuma Beach where we started off, then Playa Colorada with its rock cairns, and then the lengthy Playa Grande, a popular surfing beach. Finally, we arrived at our destination Playa Cocalita where the waterfall El Chorro tumbles down from the cliff above into a rock pool on the ocean’s edge. Here the fresh river waters mix with the salty water of the sea.
We dismounted and stripped to our bathing suits, and relished a refreshing swim in the waters beneath the waterfall. Jaime nimbly sliced up a fresh pineapple with his machete for our enjoyment, which tasted simply amazing. A freshly picked pineapple is so much tastier than a pineapple that has been picked prior to ripening and then shipped thousands of miles.
We relaxed on the surrounding lava rocks and savored our surroundings as the horses took a well-earned nap.
We headed back the way we had come. Along the way, Wally mentioned that I had yet to drink from a coconut. Jaime quickly put a stop to that, riding into the palms brandishing his machete and in no time returning with a coconut.
One crack with his machete and the coconut was opened and handed to me to savor. Ah.. the fresh coconut water was sooo good. Jaime then fashioned a spoon from the top of the coconut for us to scoop out the yogurty innards, what a delightful treat.
On the way back we rode alongside the ocean with the surf nipping at the horses’ hooves, and the ocean breeze playing in our hair. I could feel my stress melting away into the waves and any worries disappearing in the breeze. I sighed, so relaxed, along the beaches of Montezuma, I had discovered, Pura Vida.
After three hours we arrived back at our point of departure and bade Jaime and our mounts farewell.
I can’t think of a better way to have spent a morning.
We walked back to our accommodations had lunch on the cozy covered patio of Kassandra House and passed the rest of our afternoon catching up on email, reading about the area, and making plans for our onward journey.
The Birth of a Bohemian Town
Until the mid-1970s, Montezuma was the ocean port for all the agricultural production in the Nicoya Peninsula. When the road was built from Cobano to Paquera the port was no longer needed and Montezuma became a fishing village and bohemian beach destination for adventurous tourists and backpackers.
Electricity didn’t come to Montezuma until 1986 and only in the last couple of years has the road from Paquera where the ferry from Puntarenas drops its passengers, been paved.
Montezuma and its surroundings have always had close connections to nature. In the early 60s, thanks to the vision of a nature-loving Swede, Ollie Wessburg, who saw how quickly the few remaining virgin forests were disappearing, it became home to Costa Rica’s first national park Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.
An interesting note about Ollie: He also lobbied to get the lands of Corcovado National Park into protected status, and died while doing so, being murdered by his guide who shared many of the local’s fears that they’d suffer economic losses if they weren’t able to farm the lands any longer.
There are now several nature reserves in the area active in assisting nature in restoring the lands and fauna to the days of old.
Refugio Romelio operates a turtle hatchery on Montezuma Beach where volunteers patrol at night awaiting the arrival of these sea creatures who return to their birthplace each year to nest. The volunteers carefully gather the sea turtle eggs and bury them in a protected nesting area where they are closely monitored and on hatching days the hatchlings return to the sea and are cheered on by visitors from around the world.
Curu wildlife reserve located between Paquera and Tambor is a 1,496-hectare area of forests, mangroves, beaches, marine habitat, and pastures.
Curators of this reserve have been instrumental in reintroducing the scarlet macaw and spider monkies back to the Nicoya Peninsula. There is even a coral reef within the Bay of Curu that is being restored and preserved.
Visitors to Curu can observe the abundant wildlife via one of the many trails in the park. The trails are easy though they can be muddy in places and the bridges? Well judge for yourself!
Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
West of Montezuma, just past Cabuya is the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve founded by Ollie Wessburg. It protects over 3,000 terrestrial acres and 4,000 marine acres.
Cabo Blanco features 3 hiking trails of varying difficulty from a simple 1 hike to a 10km out and back fairly strenuous hike to the beach.
Popular Montezuma Activities
One of Montezuma’s most popular attractions is Montezuma Waterfall on the Montezuma River. The waterfall can be hiked from the base at the edge of town, or accessed via Suntrails from the top.
The hike from the bottom is a lot of fun and involves the use of ropes to get across a ledge. There are 3 main falls along the river, with swimming holes at each. The lower fall is the tallest at approximately 80 feet and the most popular.
Surfers love Montezuma and the neighboring town of Santa Teresa. Lessons are available for new surfers of all ages.
Yogi’s from around the world come to Montezuma to practice in the many yoga studios around town. Or perhaps a sunset practice on Montezuma beach would be more to your liking?
Being a beach town on the Pacific Ocean there are many ocean activities to pursue including whale watching, deep sea fishing, diving and snorkeling excursions, and one of my favorite bioluminescent tours. SUPs can also be rented as can kayaks.
I don’t think there is any need to extoll further about how enjoyable a beach horseback ride can be. If the tide is right, sometimes full-moon beach rides are available which I imagine would be equally awesome.
Montezuma can be quite amusing at night with its handful of bars. Those who enjoy open mic nights will enjoy Organica.
On holidays there are often fire dancers putting on a show for the public in the park alongside Montezuma beach.
A Small Town with A Lot to Offer
We were quite enthralled with Montezuma and truly thought it was magical but since time was limited we opted to press on to Samara the following day.
Oddly enough we didn’t even visit Rancho Delicioso which had attracted us to Montezuma in the first place!
Want to read more about Montezuma? Visa this post the day we arrived Costa Rica Itinerary Day 11. And if you’re interested in following from the start of the trip here’s where it all started: This Costa Rica Adventure Need a Plan