When you visit Malpais Costa Rica, on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, be prepared to relax and unwind. This area of the country is so laid-back, that when you’re there it feels as if you’ve left the rest of the world off somewhere else, vaguely in the background. And that’s a good thing.
Besides being simply gorgeous – the Pacific beaches of Malpaís and Santa Teresa consistently are named the best beaches in Central America – Malpaís is a revered surf spot in Costa Rica. And the surf is indeed exceptional. See the Malpaís surf report here. Consistent swells delight surfers all year round.
Malpaís sits at the southwestern end of the Nicoya Peninsula, opposite the popular beach town of Montezuma, with the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve lying in between. From a hilly interior, the jungle sweeps down to the Pacific Ocean, hugging the shore and creating some of the most beautiful and hidden beaches of Costa Rica. Long swaths of gold, dark gray and nearly white sand, and warm, clear blue water run down a palm tree lined coast from the beaches of Santa Teresa to Malpaís.
Too spread out and without any central area to be called a town, Malpaís is more a really long, tranquil neighborhood meandering along five kilometers of dirt road. The beaches at Malpaís alternate between soft sand and large patches of rock, bordered by green jungle full of monkeys. Far less developed than its northern neighbor Santa Teresa, there might not be a supermarket in Malpaís but there is a canopy zip line tour, horseback riding, stand up paddling and the excellent surfing.
How to get to Malpaís Costa Rica
From the capital city of San Jose and the mainland, you’ll need to take a ferry from the port of Puntarenas across the Nicoya Gulf to the ferry port of Paquera. From there, simply drive west following the signs to Malpaís and Santa Teresa. The road ends at the beach of Playa Carmen. To the right (north) is Santa Teresa and most of the tourist development; to the left (south) lies the quiet beach hamlet of Malpaís.
Or you can fly from San Jose to Tambor on the southern peninsula and drive from there.
Where to stay in Malpaís and Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Right at Playa Carmen by Malpaís, the Santa Teresa beachfront hotel Tropico Latino is a relaxed, charming oasis on four acres of abundant gardens – perfect for your Costa Rica beach vacation. Hotel Tropico Latino offers comfortable and stylish tropical bungalows and suites, a beachfront spa, yoga classes and retreats, surf lessons and surf camps.
From Hotel Tropico Latino it is an easy walk to excellent restaurants, bakeries, juice bars and shops in town. Playa Carmen is a beautiful sandy beach and a recent winner of the ecological Blue Flag in Costa Rica.
Article by Shannon Farley