Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Thu July 09 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | July 9, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    Montezuma, Costa Rica: The Promised Land

    Montezuma, Costa Rica: The Promised Land

    A walk along Montezuma’s main beach for a spectacular sunset (All photos courtesy of Shannon Wolf)

    After three nights in the party town of Santa Teresa, Courtney and I both agreed we had our fun and left early to the promised land of Montezuma.

    We stood in the shade of palm trees waiting for our (very late) bus on the side of the road and when an hour had passed by, I stuck my thumb out and within minutes, we were in the back of a fruit truck sitting amongst crates of vegetables. Soon after, streams of tears began rolling down my face from laughing too hard — Courtney had let out a yelp after getting inappropriately poked in the rear by a root vegetable. Lesson learned: Don’t wear dresses to hitchhike and definitely don’t sit on crates of root vegetables!

    When we made it to the next town we then hitched a ride in “luxury,” an SUV with air-conditioning! Unfortunately, we were dropped off on a back road somewhere between Playa Carmen and Montezuma. Courtney and I looked around and then to each other, and she said, “Price you pay for hitching — well, looks like we’re going to have to use our feet for what they’re made for: walking.”

    And that we did.

    We hiked on uneven dirt roads, sweaty, dehydrated and singing to pass the time hoping we were going the right direction until we saw a four-wheeler in the distance coming towards us. “Is that a mirage or is there actually a vehicle coming?” Courtney asked. “I doubt he’d be able to fit both of us and our bags on that thing, but lets give it a shot!” I said. I stuck out my thumb while we laughed at the unlikelihood of him pulling over — until he actually did.

    Now, I don’t know how we managed to fit three people, two big Osprey backpacks, and three small bags onto a four-wheeler, but we made it to Montezuma nonetheless! Upon arrival however, every hostel was full. We walked down the road to the bus stop and stumbled across a small sign pointing us in the direction up the hill to a cute, tucked away hostel reading “Pura Vida” who just so happened to have one room left!

    My first view of Pura Vida, greeted by the lovable local dog Ashi

    We sighed happily with relief, dropped off our bags in our spacious private room and ran straight to the beach dipping our toes into the Pacific Ocean. That evening, we had one of the most incredible meals at our local soda down the road from Pura Vida where we ate freshly caught fish like kings for little money, and went to bed smiling and far from hungry.

    Montezuma was everything we could have hoped for and more upon arrival. Two days turned into three weeks and for the first time in my life, I felt like I found a place where I fit and that fit me equally.

    Between the warm-hearted people (from staff to locals to travelers), the breathtaking waterfalls, hiking trails, untouched beaches with perfect sunrises, star-filled skies and the best yoga I have ever attended in my life, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say, this is what heaven must be like.

    Best Accommodation: PURA VIDA HOSTEL ($10 a night)

    David, Enrica, and their unforgettable dog Ashi run Pura Vida and are some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. They will make you feel like a part of the family from the second you introduce yourself. To top it off, Ashi will walk with you bright and early as you head to your yoga class or to watch the sunrise. Can it get any better then that? I don’t think so.


    • Social, welcoming, and friendly staff. Great people all around.
    • Great communal space — plenty of benches and hammocks
    • Large, clean working kitchen
    • Steps to everything!
    • Free coffee!
    • Free towels!
    • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi
    • Basic but comfortable beds (if you’re traveling solo, try to get the single room for the same price as the dorm!)
    • Basic but good, large showers.

    (reserve in advance via Facebook)

    Other Budget Hostels:

    • Hotel Lucy Backpackers ($11 a night)
    • Downtown Montezuma Hostel

    Note: Bring enough cash to last you or go to Cobano for the closest ATM. There is one ATM in town, but it’s usually broken.


    • Go to the town of Cobano to buy cheaper groceries via short bus ride or hitchhiking. Otherwise shop at Super Montezuma for a better price in town.
    • Eat at the Balcon Del Mar soda for a delicious local tico meal.

    Must Do’s:

    • Day trip to La Tortuga Island

    • Attend Sunday candlelight Yoga class at Montezuma Yoga.

    The hardest part of the day was deciding which postcard worthy beach Courtney and I should go to

    • Head north or south from Montezuma’s main beach to discover beautiful stretches of white-sanded beaches such as:

      • Playa Grande: A huge stretch of untouched white-sand beach backed by a nature reserve. Perfect for surfing, relaxing, sunbathing, and jumping into waves. (Walk a few minutes north)

      • Playa Las Manchas: My favorite beach — small and cozy with crystal clear waters and great for snorkeling. (Walk about 10 minutes south)

      • Playa Rocas: Few minutes walk south. Great tide-pools for relaxing.

    • Hike the many waterfalls:

      • Montezuma Falls: Three levels of waterfalls and cliff jumping for brave souls. Note: it’s an adventure. Bring proper shoes.

      • Two-hour hike to El Chorro Waterfall and cove

More Costa Rica


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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