4-Day Adventure Itinerary in Montezuma, Costa Rica
The second you touch down on the Nicoya Peninsula in Montezuma, Costa Rica, you somehow feel like you're exactly where you need to be. When people think of Costa Rica, they think of adventure and nonstop outdoor exploration. I love Montezuma because you get all of that outdoor exploration and experience at a slowed-down pace, with a fraction of the tourists of other, better-known destinations. In Montezuma, lush jungle backs up to pristine, unspoiled beaches, and you're woken up by the howl of monkeys in the morning. Without having to get into a car or coordinate a taxi you can snorkel, hike, deep-sea fish, horseback ride, chase waterfalls, surf or simply do nothing but enjoy the ambiance of the sun setting over the Pacific.
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Where to stay
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort
In Montezuma, a special beach resort with thatch-roof buildings and a colorful style, plus easy access to jungle adventures.
Day 1: Yoga and Leisure Upon Arrival
Montezuma isn't the most accessible destination to arrive at, so take the first day of your trip to relax and quite literally do nothing but enjoy your surroundings. Consider indulging in a morning kundalini yoga class if you’re feeling up for it. Ylang Ylang offers daily yoga classes in their open-air yoga studio, which boasts truly breathtaking views of the beachfront, ocean and surrounding jungle. This morning, enjoy a 90-minute class to set your intention for a rejuvenating vacation!
Following yoga, enjoy breakfast! Ylang Ylang understands that a big part of having a relaxing vacation is delicious food with family and friends. Their open-air restaurant fosters an ambiance of nourishment and community!
After a long travel day, leave the afternoon open for you to do as you please and truly relax. Here are a few inspirations:
1. Read a book by the pool, in a hammock, or elsewhere on the property.
2. Explore the property. The landscaping is lush, and the buildings are stunning. It's worth it to walk around and soak it all in. You're guaranteed to see iguanas, monkeys, birds and more.
3. Walk to and play in Playa Grande. A long and seemingly endless stretch of pristine beachfront, Playa Grande is great for sunbathing, wading in the ocean, swimming, boogie boarding or surfing. You'll enjoy a 20 minute walk weaving through the jungle paths and tropical beaches to arrive at the Playa. If you're looking at the ocean, walk to the left, and you'll get there!
Dinner at Cocolores
Cocolores is a restaurant that serves innovative and delicious dishes. Think: exotic curries, soups, seafood, kabobs and high-quality steaks. The atmosphere is excellent for couples with candlelit tables at the ocean’s edge. Cocolores is open for dinner only and a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
A note from Molly
The kitchen stops serving breakfast at 10 am, so you'll want to get breakfast following yoga. Going in your yoga clothes is appropriate.
Day 2: Cabo Blanco National Park
As the very first national park founded in Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco is home to beautiful tropical rainforests, beaches and wildlife. You can hike the trails on your own or let a naturalist guide take you through the park.
Next, head out to lunch at Soda Tipica Las Palmeras. (Try their banana bread with vanilla ice cream!) Sodas are what Costa Ricans call local Costa Rican restaurants. Costa Rican sodas are typically small, mom-and-pop restaurants that serve only traditional Costa Rican food. Sodas are the best places to experience eating out like a local.
Explore Montezuma & Dinner
The walk from Soda Tipica Las Palmeras back to Ylang Ylang is 25 minutes and takes you directly through the entire town. Take your time to bop about and pop into any store, bar or cafe that strikes your fancy. Following your busy day out and about on the Nicoya Peninsula, take a drink at one of the restaurants in town and enjoy a local dinner.
Day 3: Chasing Waterfalls at El Chorro
Enjoy a three-hour horseback ride along seven beaches and jungle trails of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. As a final stop, you will see Montezuma's famous waterfall, El Chorro – one of the seven waterfalls in the world that drops into the ocean. Climb to the top for a stunning panoramic view!
The onsite spa at Ylang Ylang is a peaceful haven. Nestled between the jungle and the ocean, you’ll receive relaxing, therapeutic treatments that nurture your mind, body and soul. Ylang Ylang prides itself on using only the most natural ingredients found locally.
Drinks and dinner on the beach
Head to the Sano Banano for a pre-dinner drink. They make a great fruit gin and tonic. Cheers! After soaking up the ambiance of Sano Banano, head to Playa de los Artistas for a beachside dinner. Dim lighting, soft music and large wooden tables spread around the covered patio and open garden area just a few steps from the ocean, making this a wonderfully romantic place to dine. The menu is handwritten every day and adapts to what’s fresh and available. You might find some fresh-caught octopus grilled, and slow-cooked pork ribs in a rum-and-honey glaze served over crostini. Seafood is the main draw here, and the whole grilled fresh catch-of-the-day is hard to top.
Day 4: Montezuma Waterfall and Butterflies
Following your daily yoga practice and breakfast, head to the Montezuma Waterfall to enjoy this natural wonder! The parking lot to the Montezuma waterfall is a 30-minute walk, straight through town, from Ylang Ylang. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you'll see a sign and can take the “trail” to the waterfall! The trail is not super well defined, but there will likely be other people passing through who you can follow. The path will take about 30 minutes to get to the lower waterfall.
To access the two upper waterfalls, look for a rustic set of stairs about 100 feet (30 meters) before the lower waterfall on your left. This steep climb with around 200 stairs is best described as moderate to difficult. After about 20 minutes, you’ll reach a small structure at the top. After the structure, about 80 more steps go down to the river (5 -10 minutes). Finally, you’ll come out at the top waterfall and then can swim to the middle waterfall if you want.
Lunch at Butterfly Brewing Company
Have you heard of a brewery and restaurant that's also a butterfly garden? The Butterfly Brewing Company is located on the property of the Montezuma Butterfly Garden. The garden began working with locals and biologists to develop a sustainable environment to house and grow local neotropical butterfly species in 2005. More than two years later, after pointers from local biologists, lots of hard work and approval from MINAE (Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy,) they were delighted to open their doors to a jungle-butterfly garden by the sea. On an average day, guests enjoy up to ten different butterfly species.
Sunset Cruise and Bioluminescence
Enjoy a beautiful boat ride in the calm waters of Tambor Bay, where you'll have the opportunity to see marine birds and float by huge mangrove fields. Next, you'll visit beautiful white sand beaches (perfect for swimming) while enjoying fresh fruits and drinks. Finally, you'll see one of the most spectacular sunsets on the ocean as the sunsets over the peninsula's mountains. When night falls, you will have the chance to see and swim in the bioluminescence.
A note from Molly
You will be crossing the river, and the river is knee-deep in places, so be sure to wear closed shoes and shorts, or pants that will do ok in the water!