On the peninsula of Costa Rica, you will find several small towns, but the best known is Santa Teresa and the slightly lesser known Montezuma.
Montezuma is small in size, not very touristy and has a relaxed character. You will also find free to visit waterfalls in Montezuma and Montezuma has its own brewery. The most famous free waterfall is ‘Catarata Montezuma’ and has 3 platforms. If you search on Google you will find the waterfall in no time. The hike to the first waterfall includes crossing a river, so be prepared for wet shoes, walking over rocks and walking through mud. Occasionally a rope is hung up to help you. It’s not a long hike, as it takes about 25 minutes to get to the first waterfall. However, it is unclear how to get to the other 2 platforms. It is expected that you will literally have to climb up right next to the waterfall and above it are the other 2 platforms. However, it does not seem to be entirely without risk. Good to know that you can also swim at the waterfall.
From Montezuma beach you will find 2 other waterfalls. If you walk towards Playa Grande there is a small waterfall, a little more inland. And about an 8-kilometer walk from Montezuma, you can also visit the “Cocalito waterfall,” just off Playa Cocalito. This waterfall comes directly from the rocks.
Next to the ‘Montezuma waterfall’, a road turns right and rises steeply. If you keep following that road you will come to the Butterfly Brewery after about 750 meters. The road is quite steep so you will have earned your beer by then. Here you can take a refreshing break while enjoying locally brewed specialty beer. There is also a butterfly garden, but unfortunately it cost to close because of the pandemic.
Santa Teresa is the more touristy beach town on the peninsula and has trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, boutiques several beaches at its disposal. A nice place to relax, surf and go to the beach.
If you want to do something active, Playa del Carmen to Playa Hermosa are connected by beach and is a fine walk of about 9 kilometers. Also, you can rent a scooter/motorbike or quad and explore the area.
Good to know
For both places, be careful of the tides of the sea. When the tide is out, the current and waves can be very strong. This also gives good opportunities for surfing, but keep this in mind, as it can become dangerous.
How do you get there and back?
To get to the peninsula near Montezuma and Santa Teresa travel through Puntarenas, on the other side of the water and from there take the ferry to Paquera on the peninsula. The bus that stops in Puntarenas eventually stops 2.5 km away from the ferry at the ‘Terminal de autobuses’. From there you can walk to the ferry (about 2.5 km), take a cab (around 3000 colones/€4.50, discuss a price in advance) or go by bus. For that bus stop, walk 3 blocks to the Pali supermarket. Just before that on that street on the right is a building called “Zona Libre”. In front of it is a bus stop (pole with a sign: parada de autobuses) and that bus goes to the ferry. Takes about 5 minutes and costs 280 colones/€0.45 per person. For the way back from the ferry to the ‘Terminal de autobuses’, it is best to walk to the main street ‘Av. Central’ and wait for the bus there at a bus stop, if you want to take the bus to the ‘Terminal de buses’, to catch a bus to other cities.
The ferry, company Naviera Tambor, goes 6 times a day to Paquera (on the peninsula) and back (exactly the same times) to Puntarenas. Tickets in Puntarenas are purchased at the boleteria in front of the gates on the right. Tickets are 810 colones/€1.30 per person and the ferry travels to Paquera in 70 minutes, the journey is quiet and steady. In the same building as ticket sales is a cafeteria with fresh sandwiches. You can also buy food and drinks on board. If you come by car, it can also be taken on the ferry. For this, you do need to book in advance through the website(www.quickpaycr.com). There is also an option to take a ferry from Paquera to Jáco, but this ferry is not very frequent.
Once in Paquera, there is a bus to Montezuma or to Santa Teresa. Both buses go to Cóbano, where you can change to the other destination. Bus from Paquera to Cóbano costs between 1500 and 1800 colones/€2.25 – €2.75 and takes about 1.5 hours, you pay at the driver. Note that the buses to and from the villages (Paquera, Cóbano, Montezuma and Santa Teresa) go only 5 or 6 times a day (see photo).
If you want to go from Montezuma to Santa Teresa or visa versa you can take the bus. See photo for bus schedule (May 2022). The buses do not connect. The only bus that connects best is the bus from Montezuma to Cóbano and then to Paquera to the ferry. So for the transfer, keep in mind a waiting time of at least 45 minutes.
The bus from Montezuma to Cóbano costs 375 colones/€0.55 for 20 minutes and the bus from Cóbano to Santa Teresa costs 1000 colones/€1.50 and takes about an hour. So from Montezuma to Santa Teresa or visa versa easily takes about 2.5 hours. Get on the bus at Playa Hermosa and you will pay 1700 colones/€2.50 for the bus back to Cóbano. For this place there is no official stop, you can wait at the intersection of the main road and the road to the beach. The main road goes up on the left and at that intersection is the Playa Hermosa ‘stop’.
However, in Cóbano there is a large supermarket if you want to do some shopping to kill the waiting time. A cab from Cóbano to Montezuma costs around 4000 colones. You can try to haggle but the cab drivers do not (almost) drop the price.