Looking to book your next adventure? Or simply want to escape reality?
Look no further than the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – a standout Central American country.
It thrives on passion for life; perhaps its most appealing attribute, and boasts a vibrant display of jungle and coastline which is home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife.
And the best part is that you can see it all in one week.
Limited to seven days ourselves, and on a very tight budget, my sister and I flew into San Jose where we stayed for one night before catching the bus and ferry across to the west coast to Montezuma (on the east side of the peninsula).
This was our first stop on our Costa Rica itinerary.
Costa Rica itinerary
Our week in Costa Rica itinerary started off spending four days in Montezuma.
Where to stay in Montezuma
Luz en el Cielo-Eco B&B/Hostel. This place is unreal. It costs between $16 – $20USD per night for a shared room, with cooked breakfast included. Not a bad price to pay for a clean hostel in a spectacular location-nestled in the colourful jungle and an arms throw from the beach and town. They also have private dorm rooms and cabanas.
The staff are great- extremely friendly and helpful, the showers are warm, and the hammocks are perfect for monkey and bird spotting.
What to see in Montezuma
Montezuma is the epitome of hippie. Just stroll 50 meters down to the main street from your hostel and you’ll see for yourself. It draws a multi-ethnic crowd of an artistic and beach-loving nature. Stalls decorated with hand-made crafts and jewelry line the street, sarongs and artwork are on display, and alfresco-beach style cafes bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for you to partake in the continuous mellow party.
Day One: Hiking to waterfalls
You can’t visit Montezuma without hiking through the overgrown jungle to an opening where waterfalls tumble into large natural pools of cool, emerald water. There are two large waterfalls – the highest standing at around 14 meters tall, often seen with Tico’s diving from it head first into the water below.
For the sane and safe, though not lacking an adventurous side – a rope swing and smaller jumping rock provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. The easiest way to reach the waterfall is by following the dirt road bypassing town heading south. I do however suggest you take the other path off the beaten track and use the vines to hoist yourself up the steep parts of the jungle. It’s beautiful seeing it this way and the views are spectacular.
Leave yourself a full day for this as you may find yourself wanting to explore beyond the falls.
Day Two: Day trip to Tortuga Island
Every day a trip to Tortuga Island leaves from Montezuma in the morning, taking you on a 40 minute boat ride across pristine waters to your destination. The boat stops at two large rocks just off the beach.
Here you will discover an incredible underwater world as you snorkel in the warm water before heading onto the main island for a feast of fresh fish, a game or two of volleyball and perhaps a jet-ski or banana boat ride.
Day Three: Secluded beach day
You may need a helping hand to find this one but its worth seeing if you can. A 15 minute walk north along the rocky beach will take you away from the populated main beach to a stunning, secluded spot enclosed by jungle and rocks.
You can spend the day soaking up the sun, rolling on the sleepy waves in the sea, and trekking a short way up the fresh water stream to a small opening for natural mud-masks and a massage under a waterfall.
This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax, read your book or just zone out and forget about your worries.
Day Four: Zip-lining through the treetops
Spend your last day in Montezuma zip-lining through treetops of jungles alongside incredible wildlife on a canopy tour. This is awesome. Zip lining is like going on a flying fox, but you go faster, longer and you’re harnessed up. A perfect way to finish up your Montezuma experience.
Our next stop on our Costa Rica itinerary was Santa Teresa which sits on the west side of the peninsula.
Where to stay in Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa is a long stretch of coastline, lined with restaurants, bars, small stores and jungle. It’s a surf-lover’s, yoga fanatic’s, photography guru’s utopia. There are so many hostels to choose from, though we chose to stay up the Northern end away from the main part of town which was perfect for us as we wanted our last couple of days to be peaceful.
What to see in Santa Teresa
It’s impossible to describe Santa Teresa in one word. It truly is an absolute paradise. Spend your morning and evenings walking 40 minutes to and from the other end of ‘town’ either along the beach or dirt road and you will stumble across some hidden treasures.
The beauty of Santa Teresa is that although it is defined by a long stretch of coastline, it is broken up into separate beaches by rocks and vibrant green trees, perfect if you want to steer clear of the main crowds.
Santa Teresa itinerary
Day Five: Walk through the town & beach
I would highly recommend you walk along the stretch of dirt road to town ducking into the many small stores they have full of sarongs, swimwear, jewelry, crafts and surf gear.
Stop for lunch at one of the many “soda’s” along the way which will set you back around $4USD depending on your café of choice.
There’s not much to see in the main part of town, so you may not want to spend your time looking around there. Instead I suggest you walk back along the beach and pick a beach front bar to settle on a hammock in and sip the afternoon away with a mojito in hand as you watch the sun set over the surfers.
Day Six: Hit the waves
Grab a surfboard from your closest hire shop and take to the waves. Though if you haven’t surfed before or if you are a beginner, make sure you don’t go alone as the currents are strong and rips are common in parts.
If you are experienced, this is an absolute haven for you as Santa Teresa is home to world-class waves, and many who have simply visited on a surfing holiday in the past have ended up staying.
Day Seven: Relax on the beach
Spend your last day in paradise letting it unwind you, relax you and mellow out somewhere on the beach. Don’t forget your camera as the setting is perfect to get the perfect photo.
Pick a restaurant at night (Rocamar restaurant has a laidback vibe with beanbags and hammocks to laze about on), and let the music transform you into a state of bliss.