Explore Mal Pais
Mal Pais Tourism: Best of 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 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.