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Best of Mal Pais Guide

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Mal Pais

Near the southernmost tip of Peninsula de Nicoya, Mal Pais offers rocky coves, white sand beaches, waterfalls, rainforests, surfing, and relaxation near a remote fishing village and Cabo Blanco National Park. The prime attraction is surfing at beaches like Playa Mar Azul, Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Manzanillo, and Playa Carmen. Plus there is fishing, boating, snorkeling, diving, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and 4-wheel drive touring.

A 4-wheel drive vehicle comes in handy for navigating unpaved roads in this still mostly wild area, particularly during the rainy season. Though locals zip around on quad bikes and motorcycles transporting their surfboards. Allow the better part of a day driving from San... more

Near the southernmost tip of Peninsula de Nicoya, Mal Pais offers rocky coves, white sand beaches, waterfalls, rainforests, surfing, and relaxation near a remote fishing village and Cabo Blanco National Park. The prime attraction is surfing at beaches like Playa Mar Azul, Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Manzanillo, and Playa Carmen. Plus there is fishing, boating, snorkeling, diving, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and 4-wheel drive touring.

A 4-wheel drive vehicle comes in handy for navigating unpaved roads in this still mostly wild area, particularly during the rainy season. Though locals zip around on quad bikes and motorcycles transporting their surfboards. Allow the better part of a day driving from San Jose Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) to Mal Pais. Budget extra time to board the car ferry from Puntarenas across the Golfo de Nicoya to Paquera on the Peninsula de Nicoya. Or take the short flight from San Jose to Tambor Airport (TMU), and be within an hour of Mal Pais.

Some Mal Pais beaches have little sand, and judging point break direction and swell size requires surfing acumen. A Mal Pais surf camp may be perfect for family members wanting to learn to read the surf better. Santa Teresa’s beaches have more white sand, and point breaks like Suck Rock are almost legendary among surfers flocking here when the seas around Playa Carmen get too rough. Playa Carmen has enough variety to accommodate all levels of surfers, but the swells can get too rough and too frequent to get out during the rainy season. A bit to the north, with waters calmed by a rock jetty, Playa Manzanillo is known for its annual sand castle competition.

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All things to do » Things to do

Sunrise Ranch
Sunrise Ranch
Owner description: Horse back riding tours Our horse riding tours run along the beach or through the mountains of Cabo Blanco, Mal Pais, Santa Teresa or Montezuma. A special event is a ride at... more Owner description: Horse back riding tours Our horse riding tours run along the beach or through the mountains of Cabo Blanco, Mal Pais, Santa Teresa or Montezuma. A special event is a ride at sunset or during full moon! Horse back riding tours can be booked for a few hours or several days. Hores riding school: professional riding lessons in dressage and western riding. In addition, we are a unique meeting place for riders, horse lovers and children. Our riding club for children and youngsters is unique in Costa Rica and we have a lot of fun and joy together. The kids learn how to ride a horse and the right contact with horses. In the holidays we organise camps for children as well as riding holidays. less
Attraction type: Ranches

Additional nearby recommended attractions:

Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa(Santa Teresa)
Attraction type: Beaches
See nearby places to eat
Playa Santa Teresa
Playa Santa Teresa(Santa Teresa)
Attraction type: Beaches
See nearby places to eat
La Escuela Del Sol
La Escuela Del Sol(Montezuma)
Owner description: Combine Spanish, surfing, yoga, fire dancing and scuba certification in any combination for 1-12 weeks in Montezuma, Costa Rica. Programs include accommodations, zip line canopy... more Owner description: Combine Spanish, surfing, yoga, fire dancing and scuba certification in any combination for 1-12 weeks in Montezuma, Costa Rica. Programs include accommodations, zip line canopy tours, horseback riding, waterfall hikes, bonfires and a whole lot of fun. less
Attraction type: Other
Montezuma Falls
Montezuma Falls(Montezuma)
Attraction type: Waterfalls
See nearby places to eat

All places to eat » Places to eat

Product C
Product C
Ranked #1 of 15 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Seafood
Dining options: Lunch
The Bakery
The Bakery
Ranked #2 of 15 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Pizza, Sandwiches, Bakeries
Good for: Families with children, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Delivery, Late Night, Reservations
Caracolas
Caracolas
Ranked #3 of 15 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Costa Rican
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night
The Papaya Lounge Restaurant
The Papaya Lounge Restaurant
Ranked #4 of 15 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Price: $4 - $18
Cuisines: Seafood, Contemporary, Tapas, Costa Rican
Good for: Special occasions, Bar scene, Romantic, Scenic view
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Late Night, Reservations
Las Piedras
Las Piedras
Ranked #5 of 15 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Argentinean, Barbecue, Grill
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations

All accommodations » Where to stay - Budget

Pachamama Tropical Garden Lodge
Pachamama Tropical Garden Lodge
$54 - $56
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La Hacienda Lodge
La Hacienda Lodge
$70 - $72
Ranked #2 of 4 Mal Pais B&B and Inns
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Vista Naranja Ocean View House
2.0 of 5
Vista Naranja Ocean View House
$43 - $96
Ranked #3 of 4 Mal Pais B&B and Inns
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Midrange

Hotel Oasis
Hotel Oasis
$92 - $122
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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Star Mountain Jungle Lodge
Star Mountain Jungle Lodge
$82 - $156
Ranked #1 of 4 Mal Pais B&B and Inns
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Hotel Moana
3.0 of 5
Hotel Moana
$92 - $130
Ranked #4 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Luxury

Casa Chameleon
4.0 of 5 Casa Chameleon
$258 - $557
Ranked #3 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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Additional nearby recommended accommodations:

Latitude 10 Beachfront Resort
4.0 of 5
Latitude 10 Beachfront Resort
$289 - $555
Ranked #7 of 25 Hotels in Santa Teresa
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Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
4.0 of 5
Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
$192 - $397
Ranked #9 of 25 Hotels in Santa Teresa
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.