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Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Steamboat Springs...
Level Contributor
50 posts
17 reviews
Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Hello! I am hoping to get some feedback on whether to visit Montezuma or Malpais this November with my family. We will be traveling with small children and plan to fly into San Jose. I would like to avoid flying into Tambor due to additional costs, but am wondering if the ferry is difficult when traveling with children? Also, we are looking for more seclusion rather than hustle and bustle, sandy beaches and family friendly activities. Would love to see Tortuga Island and the falls. We love to surf, but aren't any good so big waves aren't necessary! Also wondering what the travel time is between Malpais and Montezuma? Any input would be great! We have visited Costa Rica three times without kids, but are now going the family route and trying to make it easy!!

Thanks!

Kansas City...
Level Contributor
89 posts
1 review
1. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Hi there, we just backed from 10 days in Costa Rica, we flew to San Jose, spent 2 days there (Pura Vida Hotel) took 2 city, volcanoes tour and them we hired a private driver with Everywhere Costa Rica (everywherecr.com ask for Erick if possible) to go to Mailpais. They took care of you and your luggage all the time.

I dont see any issues traveling to Montezuma or Malpais with young kids. In my opinion Malpais is more friendly for family activities.

Hope this helps!

Knowlton, Canada
Level Contributor
975 posts
39 reviews
2. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Hi there -- the ferry is a beautiful way to start your trip. You can get a private shuttle with Montezuma Expeditions or rent a car. If you get the shuttle, you have two options -- the cheaper one is they drop you off at the ferry with your luggage, then another vehicle gets you at the other end for the rest of the trip. But you have to lug your bags onto the ferry in that case, which can be hard if you've got small kids. When we went with our two little ones, we decided to pay more to have the van go onto the ferry with our stuff. When they got bigger, we got the van to drop us off.

Mal Pais is very small, adjacent to Santa Teresa, which is a surf town spread out along a 4-km road a few hundred metres inland from the beach. The waves are quite rough and you have to watch out for rip tides.

Montezuma is a friendly, bohemian, very compact village with lots of young families and activities for kids. You can take them to the waterfall, the butterfly garden, Cabo Blanco, Cabuya (with its cemetery island and the Panaderia and Soda Marvin restaurants), the farmers' market, lots of yoga and tai chi classes, and other activities for kids. For example, there used to be an excellent twice-weekly music class, a Saturday arts and crafts activity for kids, horse riding classes and tours via Indiana Tours, and Spanish, but I don't know if those still exist.

Locals with kids often go to the waterfall or the two rivermouths on the road to Cabuya for a swim. You can also go to the swimming hole by the rivermouth two beaches north of Montezuma. Don't go swimming in the bay just south of Montezuma (that's where dirty water gets dumped), and be very careful about rip tides. Ask locals where it's safe to go. Have fun!

Edited: 3:35 pm, June 09, 2016
Steamboat Springs...
Level Contributor
50 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Thanks for all the fabulous information! Sounds like Montezuma it is!! How are the beaches there as far a walking/jogging and swimming? We love the beach at Manuel Antonio, is there anything like that around the area? We will also have a car loaned to us by friends in SJ, so hopefully that makes the ferry easier!

Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
Level Contributor
7,646 posts
265 reviews
4. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

I'm bookmarking because I'm interested in these areas too.

Level Contributor
238 posts
7 reviews
5. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Malpais has more activities for kids but the surf is rougher. Montezuma has better/quieter water but you will have to work harder to find stuff to do for the kids (you didn't say how old they are or how long you'll be there). If you are willing to pay for a few excursions you should be able to find enough to do for a week

Knowlton, Canada
Level Contributor
975 posts
39 reviews
6. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

We stayed in the Montezuma area over two winters for a total of seven months with our kids (then 5/6 and 7/8 years old) and had lots to do. The area has lots of young families and young people who organize activities for kids, on top of the more touristy activities I mentioned above. We were really sad to leave and loved it there. Montezuma is a special place.

Edited: 3:38 pm, June 11, 2016
Knowlton, Canada
Level Contributor
975 posts
39 reviews
7. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Almost forgot to mention the aerial silk classes for kids with Alex. They used to be on the beach, but I believe are now at Anamaya: www.anamayaresort.com/aerial-arts-workshops/. Very cool! Thanks to Alex, our kids have been doing silk ever since, and we installed one in our house back in Canada.

San Francisco...
1 post
8. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Hello, love this conversation...surfing the net and found my exact questions...only its 2 single girls choosing between these locations. Both mid 30's

My friend is finishing a month of yoga training in Nosara and i meet her in after. Only we then have 5 days and a choice between these two packages in each location. It sounds like Montezuma, the other place too quiet?

I'd like to do water sports...jet ski, snorkel, scuba and snorkel. Not an expert in any but we all have to start somewhere ;)

Knowlton, Canada
Level Contributor
975 posts
39 reviews
9. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

Mal Pais is a tiny village, while Montezuma is a fair bit bigger -- still quite small but with a great community and fun activities in and around town. That includes yoga and surfing at a couple of nearby beaches, but no water activities (except snorkeling and diving at Tortuga Island, which is a day tour from Montezuma). Montezuma has a very special bohemian vibe in a small compact town.

If you like surfing, Mal Pais could be a good choice as it's near the much-larger town of Santa Teresa, which has an amazing, long, beautiful beach perfect for surfing with lots of great restaurants, community life and things to do. The downside of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais is they're both kind of spread out along about five km of road, so not super-walkable.

Another option is Samara, which is closer to Nosara and has a very nice, beautiful beach perfect for beginner surfers and a compact walkable town right on the beach with nice restaurants. No commercial jet skiing, but you can rent kayaks and SUP board to tool around the bay, which I don't think you can do around Montezuma or Santa Teresa as easily because the water is much rougher. (Btw beware of rip tides in Montezuma and Santa Teresa.)

Edited: 4:07 pm, May 24, 2017
10. Re: Montezuma or Malpais for family vacation!

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