Montezuma's remote position on the southern tip of Nicoya Peninsula means it's still one of Costa Rica's best-kept secrets. The village nestles among tropical jungle that reaches right down to the crashing waves and rocky beaches. The region's off-the-beaten path feel has long attracted alternative types. You can experience the sights and sounds at the Saturday craft market (look out for street musicians) or in Montezuma Gardens, a butterfly garden that doubles up as a microbrewery.
A lot of hostels in Montezuma are in timber houses typical of Costa Rica's jungle villages. Choose an eco-friendly hostel or one that has language classes and surf camps. Choose a Montezuma hostel with hammocks overlooking the shore below or have free breakfast on an open-air terrace. If you prefer to cook for yourself, most Montezuma hostels have guest kitchens and free Wi-Fi for that all-important recipe inspiration too. Some have cafés or common rooms so you can mingle with fellow travellers.
Wooden houses and vibrant street life gives the centre, at the south of Montezuma Beach, a Caribbean ambiance, especially when live music fills the alleys after dark. North of the rugged outcrop Piedra Colorada you'll find secluded coves for swimming and further down lies the apparently haunted Cabuya Island, only accessible at low tide. Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve is a popular spot for wildlife watching and is just a 30-minute bus ride away.
You can take part in activities that directly benefit the community of Montezuma: there's a non-profit organisation that runs Spanish or surfing lessons to fund local education. Hiking is a fun way of experiencing the wilderness and, after a 20-minute trek, you can be swimming under the Montezuma Waterfalls. Head north to El Chorro and bathe in lava rock pools or go on a boat trip to Tortuga Island where clear water and white sand provide perfect snorkelling terrain.
To get here, fly to Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José (Costa Rica's capital) and catch a 5.5-hour direct bus to Montezuma. A different and exhilarating choice is the express boat from Jacó, which takes around an hour and includes a shuttle from Jacó bus terminal. To travel between the coastal villages and more distant beaches, either hire a bike or hop on a local bus. The schedules are subject to change, but one runs regularly to Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve.