Day Trip – ATV from Santa Teresa to Montezuma
This day trip was one for the books! From the food, to the company, to the thrill of the journey, it was day travel writers dream about. Read on to get some tips on how to make it a day out of an Elizabeth Gilbert novel.
Tips before you leave!
- Bring LOTS of water. It is HOT, especially if you’re going in the heart of the dry season (Mid November-April). Definitely stock up on agua before going to the waterfalls, as sometimes the hotel restaurant (the only place nearby to grab water) is closed
- Map out the journey – Take a look at the tides if you are wanting to see Mar Azul or Cabuya Island in the same day. Go to Mar Azul and Cabuya Island at Low Tide if possible, and plan your waterfall visit around that
- Pack Wet Wipes! You’ll look like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown about .4 seconds into the trip. These bad boys come in handy.
- Wear a Bandana! Your lungs and nostrils will thank you. Big sunglasses help dry eyes (bring eye drops on your trip for après ATV).
- Ask your ATV company for suggestions on where to go and for a map of Santa Teresa + Montezuma. This will help you map out your day, allowing you to save time and feel confident.
You got this.*
*what I whispered to myself putting the helmet on and starting the ATV for the first time.
Stop Numero Uno – ATV Rental
Recommendation: ATV Rental on the Main Strip to the right of The Bakery if you are facing the ocean. It’s a few shops down – $50 for 8 hours, $60 for 24 hours, Discount for three days – Negotiable, ask for a deal
We loved this ATV place. The owner Juan was so knowledgeable, and made us feel very safe by giving us a full rundown. It’s important to get all the information you’ll need on what to do when the worst happens. AKA if you forget to put the ATV in neutral before shutting it off (did this a few times, shocker) or if you get stuck or casually fall into a crevasse etc.
Stop Numero Dos – The Waterfalls near Montezuma
This photo just made me realize these sunglasses make me look like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys..
Tips for the Waterfalls
- Park your ATV in the little parking lot for 1,000 colones ($2 US) and walk right in, or you can try to find free parking on the nearby roads (I was too lazy for that)
- Wander down a pathway and make your way over rocks to a pathway situated on higher ground (keep right). It is a lot easier to navigate by foot this way. I’d recommend runners.
- You will come across the most impressive waterfall first. If you get there early enough, you might have the place to yourself. Helllooo, instagram worthy photos.
- Now *insert cautionary voice here* there are two ways to go up to the subsequent falls above. The first and more adventurous way is to walk up the local route, hand over foot and grabbing onto tree roots. OR you can pay to use the stairs built for this very reason (and at one time for a zip line that has now been abandoned. Was too scared to ask why..).
Tip within a tip: If you go on Sunday the stairs are free as no one is working. We went the local way up and realized there was no way in hell we were getting back down that way. To go the local route, I recommend following an actual local as they know the easiest and quickest way and you can follow their footing. The start of the path is just North East of the waterfall.
Hang around here for a while, swim in the pools, have a snack, bask in the sun and dry off. When you’re ready to go, put your runners back on and head back to your ATV. At this point, you’ll probably be hungry.
Stop Numero Tres – Montezuma Town
We headed 5 more minutes into Montezuma to check out the town.
I highly recommend Soda Tipica Las Palmermos. It isn’t in the heart of the town but you would have passed it on your way to the waterfalls and is en route back to Santa Teresa. Check out the town and then hop back on the ATV to have lunch there. It is set in the trees overlooking the ocean. Order the Casado or Ceviche and a shake and get out the wet wipes to wipe the layer of dust you have accumulated on your bod.
Stop Numero Cuatro – Choose Your Own Adventure
Depending on the tide, you could now check out Secret Beach for the rest of the afternoon, go to Cabuya Island or head to Mar Azul and see the tide pools
Stop Numero Cinco – Papa Pipa’s Coconut Stand
After exploring either of those, visit Graham on your way back to Santa Teresa. Graham is the owner of the small coconut stand, Papa Pipa’s. Graham is from California, and after building houses for years, he traded in his 9-5pm for the Hakuna Matata lifestyle in Costa Rica. It is here that he set up his coconut stand, and now spends his days meeting new faces + providing killer coconuts to passersby.
At 60 years old, he doesn’t look a day over 40. I blame the no stress livin’ and coconut water. His trick is to chill the coconuts until ice cold, and the result is pure heaven. It was the best coconut I’ve ever consumed. They are $2US or 1,000 colones.
Mmmmm I want to go back just for one of those coconuts.
Stop Numero Seis- Santa Teresa Beach for Sunset
Finally, head back to the beach in Santa Teresa to watch the sunset. Sip on a marg and contemplate joining the ever-growing tribe of nomadic drop-outs that turned their supposed one time visit into a forever home. Time to toast to another beautiful night in an uninterrupted oasis, and daydream about what tomorrow will bring.
Other stops you can hit if you have time:
- Playa Hermosa in the other direction
- Various Beaches that line the route from Montezuma back to Santa Teresa
- Vista De Olas for Sunset or a dip in the pool
- Watch your speed and wear a helmet. Some days you’ll see no police and the next day the roads will be crawling with them. They are always looking for an excuse to issue you a ticket + we saw lots of tourists pulled over sans helmets.
- For reference, it should take around 40-60 minutes to get to Montezuma if you don’t stop depending on speed (BRRRAAAAAPPPPPPP).