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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 Santa Teresa
Playa Santa Teresa(Santa Teresa)
Attraction type: Beaches
See nearby places to eat
Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa(Santa Teresa)
Attraction type: Beaches
See nearby places to eat
Montezuma Falls
Montezuma Falls(Montezuma)
Attraction type: Waterfalls
See nearby places to eat
Playa Carmen
Playa Carmen(Santa Teresa)
Attraction type: Beaches
See nearby places to eat

All places to eat » Places to eat

The Bakery
The Bakery
Ranked #1 of 17 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: French, American, Cafe, European, Gluten Free
Good for: Families with children, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Late Night, Brunch, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Delivery, Free Wifi, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Caracolas
Caracolas
Ranked #2 of 17 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: International, Caribbean, Latin, Seafood, Central American, Costa Rican, Pacific Rim
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Families with children, Scenic view, Special occasions, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Buffet, Free Off-Street Parking, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff
Las Piedras
Las Piedras
Ranked #3 of 17 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Argentinean, South American, Latin, Barbecue, Grill
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children, Large groups
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Product C
Product C
Ranked #4 of 17 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Price: $3 - $13
Cuisines: Seafood
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Cash Only, Free Off-Street Parking, Highchairs Available, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Street Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Wine and Beer
Ritmo Tropical Restaurant Pizzeria
Ritmo Tropical Restaurant Pizzeria
Ranked #5 of 17 Restaurants in Mal Pais
Cuisines: Italian, Pizza, Mediterranean
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff

All accommodations » Where to stay - Budget

Pachamama Tropical Garden Lodge
3.0 of 5
Pachamama Tropical Garden Lodge
$72 - $180
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Hotel Moana
3.5 of 5
Hotel Moana
$72 - $129
Ranked #3 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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Hotel Oasis
Hotel Oasis
$73 - $123
Ranked #4 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Midrange

Hotel Vista de Olas
2.5 of 5
Hotel Vista de Olas
$221 - $232
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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Hotel The Place
3.5 of 5
Hotel The Place
$85 - $170
Ranked #5 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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Indigo Yoga Surf Resort
Indigo Yoga Surf Resort
$63 - $213
Ranked #6 of 9 Hotels in Mal Pais
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All accommodations » Where to stay - Luxury

Casa Chameleon
4.0 of 5
Casa Chameleon
$254 - $486
Ranked #2 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
$293 - $1,003
Ranked #9 of 27 Hotels in Santa Teresa
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Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
4.0 of 5
Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat
$195 - $478
Ranked #13 of 27 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.