Montezuma, Costa Rica in Puntarenas Province lies on the Pacific side of the country, on the Nicoya Peninsula and boasts beaches, jungle, incredible wildlife, and Montezuma Falls, one of Montezuma’s most popular stops.
Costa Rica gained traction as a popular ecotourism location starting in the early 80s – something that I, purely on anecdotal evidence,believe Wheel of Fortune had a large hand in. In fact, I remember watching as a child and thinking that it was a beautiful tropical place.
Actually, I assumed it was a Caribbean Island.
Luckily, no one asked me to locate it on a map before I discovered that it’s a gorgeous Central American country about the size of West Virginia an excellent destination for travelers with a tight budget.
Calming Natural Beauty
Awe-inspiring sights will draw tourists from all over the world, and Costa Rica has jaw-dropping natural beauty in spades.
Known for its amazing and exotic wildlife, glorious, silvery beaches, and verdant tropical jungles that are bursting with life and the sublime beauty of the cascading waterfalls, Montezuma attracts a wide range of tourists from all around the globe. The town has a hip Bohemian air about it and the twilight show a most animated scene of vibrant night-life, parties, fun, and amazing adventures.
More than that, the country’s economy is pretty stable, their people have access to education and the means to make a living, and the government has made a concerted effort to keep their native ecosystems in good health. They have tons of designated national and regional parks that enjoy protected status.
Montezuma in particular holds special allure for families due to its slower pace and more relaxed vibe. For fun, there are great restaurants and affordable options in town, about 15 minutes from the beach.
Check out this write-up from travelwheretonext.com:
Driving: Around 5 hours from San Jose (includes a ferry)
Why you should visit Montezuma: The more remote town of Montezuma is on the Nicoya Peninsula. It is a small beach town that generally sees many backpackers and younger families. The best attraction is the Montezuma Waterfalls.
Focusing on budget travel has its place, but today let’s talk about what it’s like to luxuriate in Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica holds a special distinction as both eco-conscious and budget friendly, proving that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Montezuma Costa Rica, a small town on the Pacific side of the country, has fine dining suitable for romantic getaways for foodie adventures. In this post, we’ll take a look at one traveler’s Best of the Best list.
Below you’ll find options for seafood aficionados, pizza lovers (I know, right?),
Cocolores– Also beachfront . They aren’t rated as high as they should be on Trip Advisor, because of their grumpy staff. But the food is amazing and people go back again and again.
Beautifully assembled food that tastes absolutely divine – worth every penny. Reviewers seem to love it all. Lovely curries. Price is a bit steep but not out of hand. I beg of you to follow the link and drool over pictures of the food.
Cuisine: Seafood, Central American, Costa Rican.
Sano Banano Restaurant – is one of the healthiest choices anywhere in town. Feast on traditional Costa Rican items made healthy with many other options for all your favorite dishes. Sano Restaurant is the place to go…
If you want to know what’s happening in Montezuma, Sano is the place and has become one of the best hangouts to eat some really good food and enjoy a movie in the evening sipping your favorite drink and enjoying this organic little village.
Cuisine: Seafood, Raw Food, Vegan, Chicken.
No red meat.
Playa de los Artistas – Amazing beachfront dining experience. Arrive before sunset and take hours to eat. Expensive but worth it. One of the most famous restaurants in Costa Rica for over a decade.
Reviewers claim that this Mediterranean Restaurant is the best in Costa Rica. People especially rave over the Sea food. The menu includes Tuna Tartar, Lobster Carpaccio, Octopus Salad, and Shrimp Ceviche. Bonus points for the cool Boho name.
Sushi at Puggo’s – twoweeksincostarica.com
Puggo’s – One of the newer restaurants. Everything on the menu is completely delicious. The first time I had the “whole baked fish” I thought it was the best fish I had ever eaten.
A locally beloved restaurant decorated like a bedouin tent, Puggo’s specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine, including falafel, hummus, kebabs and aromatic fish, which they dress in imported spices and herbs and roast whole. Cap it off with a strong cup of Turkish coffee. (lonelyplanet.com)
Tierra y Fuego – Located way up in the hills of Delicias, their pizza and pasta are among the best in Costa Rica. Only currently open Thurs-Sunday.
Old-fashioned wood fire stoves bake the pizzas, and they are a favorite of visitors. Not too steep in pricing. Gorgeous interior with views of the natural surroundings, too.
Cuisine: Italian. I know, Right? Old-fashioned wood fire stoves bake the pizzas, and they are a favorite of visitors.
Hey, you’re saving a ton of money while enjoying life to the fullest in Montezuma, so have a splurge day. What’s a vacation without tucking into food that you’ll dream about later? Ah, I myself still dream of a little Italian restaurant in Chicago. Butternut Squash Ravioli. Winter 2003 and I still think of it. Montezuma has all the trappings of an unforgettable trip.
When’s the best time to take a trip to Montezuma? Depends on what you want out of your trip. During the Green Season (rainy season) you’ll be surrounded by lush plantlife and see some amazing sunsets. This time from May to Novemer is Costa Rica’s winter. Hotel rates are lower at this time because it rains nearly every afternoon.
…in the Köppen climate classification is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures of at least 18 °C (64 °F). In tropical climates there are often only two seasons: a wet season and a dry season.
During the dry season Montezuma may not receive so much as a raindrop for over two months or more! In this brief video by Anywhere travel, you can learn more about the difference between the popular dry season and the less popular rainy season.
Lower Prices in the Lush “Low Season”
The tourism industry has dubbed the rainy season from May to August the “Green Season” because in fact it only rains occasionally in the late afternoon.
Costa Rica regulars love this season most of all because the land is verdant green, sunsets multi-hued, and many hotels offer low season rates.
At least one tourist thought it was really quite a beautiful location, regardless of the raindrops falling on her head. Youtube poster Anna Macko stayed in Montezuma and shared her experience in a short video, “Rainy Season Costa Rica on Vacation – In Montezuma”:
Find your way to the beach with this map of Montezuma beach.
All of Costa Rica lures in travelers with the winning combination of breathtaking natural beauty and affordable travel, but there are luxuries to be had, too.
The relative seclusion of Montezuma lends a romantic air to its beachfront resorts and restaurants, though if you want more privacy away from other travelers, choose your accommodations carefully.
Unlike most beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula, which are generally big and long, Montezuma’s beaches are small and separated by a series of rocky outcrops, giving them a more secluded feel.
Even these three high-end resorts are affordable for quite a few international travelers from Europe and North America. If a whole week isn’t affordable, try bunking down in town for less and treat yourself at the end of your trip! That way you’re relaxed when it’s time to head home, too.
Ylang Ylang is in a totally natural setting, between a pristine rainforest reserve and a white sandy beach, with more coves and longer beaches to explore nearby. It offers dome-shaped bungalows with balconies, luxury tents, simple rooms – most with fabulous views of the sea and all reached along a winding path through beautiful vegetation, which also hides a lovely swimming pool and a small spa. (iescape.com)
This luxury beachside resort is the sister resort of the three-star, more affordable hotel in the town, Sano Banano. Guests of Sano Banano are allowed to use the pool and hammocks at Ylang Ylang, and anyone can enjoy the eclectic international menu at Ylang Ylang well-reviewed restaurant.
Visitors can book a bungalow facing the jungle or the ocean. Some bungalows can hold families or groups, and a few have more intimate settings. These bungalows offer privacy starting from their beautifully designed walkways surrounded by flowers and greenery. There is also a larger building with multiple units, and tent rooms, too. Ylang Ylang is considered one of the best hotels in Montezuma.
Sano Banano is the perfect Costa Rica getaway for affordable without skimping on the service — get ready to be shocked! Guests of Sano Beachside Hotel will have the opportunity to be wowed with a free pass to their sister resort property Ylang Ylang Beach Resort just a few minutes walk up the beach with full use to the pool and hammocks.
At Sano, you won’t give up anything to stay here since they have all the necessities for a great weekend stay including your own private bathroom and air conditioning for your comfort, and of course, free Wi-Fi, warm showers and a generous and delicious Costa Rican style breakfast in our own restaurant.
Anamaya (which is Sanskrit for “good health”) is located in Montezuma in the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica on the Pacific. The region has been designated one of the world’s Blue Zones where people are known to live long and healthy.
Anamaya, as you may have guessed, is centered around healthy living through yoga, wholesome, organic foods, and other healthful activities. The room rates are somewhat higher than Ylang Ylang, but include
Many of the rooms and cabins have ocean views and outdoor showers, which are wonderfully liberating. All rooms are built with non-toxic materials and decorated with organic fabrics and works from local artisans.
While Ylang Ylang offers jungle bungalows and beachside dinners, and Anamaya resort pushes you to embrace your body and commune with like-minded active, healthy travelers.
All three have delicious food and fun activities, so you really are looking and degrees of activity. If you’re interested in staying in your room more than beachside yoga or gliding through the jungle, Ylang Ylang might be the place for that.
Ylang Ylang’ s gorgeous bungalows give you such beautiful views that I think you’d have a hard time staying put.
Montezuma, Costa Rica sparkles from its setting on the Nicoya peninsula. Remote and relaxed, the town offers a respite from fast-paced living. Visitors can check out local spots in a town rich with the work of local artists, affordable lodgings and restaurants, as well as luxurious beach resorts.
The surrounding area of Montezuma, Costa Rica offers beautiful views of the ocean, beach, jungle and wildlife. There is so much to see and do when exploring Montezuma. Beautiful beaches stretch out before the Pacific in the area of Montezuma lead you through jungle paths and secluded beach coves, across rivers and lava rocks.
Montezuma has the most beautiful little bay, which is part of what makes it such a beautiful little town…
The fisherman, boat excursions, and water taxis all launch from here. It can be exciting because at times the waves can be large. Contributor Geoff from montezumabeach.com
Author Geoff adds that the close proximity to nearby businesses means that the precious little cove can get polluted during flooding, or by careless business owners nearby. Plus – boat traffic appears to be pretty heavy, so the author recommends swimming or fishing in less-trafficked beaches on the opposite end of Montezuma, or Playa las Manchas, which is 20 minutes south of Montezuma Bay.
Montezuma Beach brims with energy. Its waters carry tourists in water taxis and tour boats to islands and locations around the area, and people are also ferried back and forth from Jaco to Montezuma on a one-hour speedboat ride.
While the waves are usually too small for surfing, they are too much for swimming. Couple Jenn and Matt from twoweeksincoastarica.com write,
The shoreline of Montezuma town is picturesque but be warned it’s not the best beach for swimming. Understand that most people come here for the scene, not the swim. It’s more of a cosmopolitan beach for live entertainment. When the waves are smaller, it’s safe, but pools in hotels are recommended if you want a safer and quieter swim, especially if you brought children along. There are fantastic and safer beaches just outside of town, however, such as Playa Grande or Las Manchas.
But the scene isn’t the only thing that gets the tourists flocking this area. Even nature lovers have a place in Montezuma.
Places To Stay in Montezuma
There are dozens of hotels in Montezuma ranging in price and luxury level, including the popular hostel type hotels for budget travelers to the more expensive resorts in Montezuma proper and on Montezuma beach.
While many prefer resorts, there are those that prefer a comfortable and inexpensive stay in between hostels and resorts, what we call “glamping hotels”, which may include amenities like A/C, room safes, private baths, hot water and more.
Healthy eating seems to be a popular topic in Costa Rica and you won’t have to look far to enjoy a good traditional meal in a decent restaurant in Montezuma. Everything from full traditional Costa Rican to vegan, gluten-free to raw and paleo are available in the area.
Very few offer a total “glamping” experience in the area, so, you’ll have to search for them and you’ll be almost guaranteed to have a full and pleasant experience in Montezuma.
This beach is calmer than Montezuma Beach, which primarily caters to people looking to take excursions, boat rides, and possibly surf if the waves are big enough.
Playa Grande is a 30-40 minute walk north of Montezuma. It’s smaller, more consistent waves are okay for beginning surfers. There are actually some surf schools in the area. It’s also a good swimming or fishing spot. To see more nearby beaches by category, click here.
Explore the wildlife! Animals thrive in the green jungle and waters. See lizards, birds, monkeys, agoutis, and so many more fantastic natural wonders. Although animals roam all over the area, treat yourself to a day at Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve, where you’ll be able to enjoy birding and see fascinating species in an extremely well-kept habitat. Cabo Blamco holds the distinction of being Costa Rica’s first national reserve. It was established by a Swedish couple in 1963.
Cano Blanco is about 9km (5.6 miles) south of Montezuma. The reserve encompasses the rest of the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, as well as Cabo Blanco island.
While there, you will explore a dry jungle with over 150 species of trees, at least three different breeds of monkey, and exceptional tropical bird species.
If you enjoy hiking, or just feel like a stroll, there are comfortable hikes for novice hikers or families, as well as more strenuous hikes reserved for experienced hikers.
Rivers and Waterfalls
The small rivers that pass through Montezuma invite you to hike up around them to find hidden waterfalls. In fact, Montezuma Falls is one of the most popular sites in Montezuma. As described by charming couple Jenn and Matt :
Probably the most popular activity in Montezuma are the waterfalls just south of town. The Montezuma Waterfalls are a set of three cascades that have something for everyone. While some just relax or picnic at the largest waterfall (almost 80 feet tall), more adventurous types jump and swim at the other two. The falls can be visited in two different ways. One includes a cool hanging bridge and the other goes up the riverbed. We did both on our latest visit…
This three-star hotel sits in the center of town, but guests are welcome to use amenities at its sister beach resort, Ylang Ylang. Enjoy the beach-side luxury resort’s seaside pool and hammocks on Montezuma beach – just a quick 15 minute walk from town.
El Sano Banano Villa Hotel is located in the center of town in Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Sano Banano has a well-known restaurant attached to it that’s a popular gathering spot with decent food and a fun atmosphere. It is appropriate for families, as well.
Friendly, Courteous Staff
The Sano Banano Beachside Hotel responds to any guest issues promptly. If a guest chose to leave comments in a review rather than alert Inn staff, management is unfailingly respectful in their response to such criticisms and offers solutions. The hotel is known for friendly staff and helpful management.
Both times I’ve visited Montezuma I’ve stayed here. It is clean, safe, and has private bathrooms. ( a few other spots have shared bathrooms although they are mainly hostels) The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful – so much so, that as I was checking out. guests were lining up to hug the staff good-bye.
If you are looking for something more romantic then their sister hotel, Ylang Ylang, would likely be a better choice but both times I’ve stayed here I was traveling with friends and Sano Banano had everything we needed. Also, if you stay at Sano Banano you also have access to the pool and facilities at Ylang Ylang.
Breakfast is included and the restaurant is very good. It is also located right in the heart of Montezuma town which is convenient for shuttles or if you take the speedboat water taxi from the mainland to Montezuma Beach. From a review by kdsNYC_11, “Have stayed here twice” on tripadvisor.com
It’s no surprise that the staff are so friendly and helpful. First, the bohemian vibe of Montezuma, with its relaxed pace and gorgeous settings, affects the people who live and visit the place. But second, the ecotourism business is Montezuma’s bread and butter. Rest assured that the people of Montezuma want you to return.
Sano Banano Beachside hotel Room twin bed view
Sano Banano Beachside Hotel Room with queen single bed
A quick note about windows: two out of 12 rooms at this hotel do not have windows. This is great if you plan on partying all night and sleeping all day! Ask for one of these when booking.
(But please do not sleep ALL day – you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world!)
If windows are a must, tell staff when you book so they can work with you to get one of the ten rooms with views.
There is no smoking in any of the rooms at Sano Banano. All rooms have access to WiFi, and guests also have the option of having breakfast included for a small fee. Next door to Sano Banano you’ll find a cute little grocery store. Stop by and get healthy snacks for day trips.
Take a look at one of our videos on YouTube below to learn more: