Mal País is a long thin village with houses, restaurants and small hotels spread on three kilometers of gravel road parallel to the Pacific Ocean. Immediately to the north are Santa Teresa and Cabo Blanco Reserve to the south. The area is very spread out and transportation is a must. You are going to see that most locals get around on motorbikes. Malpais is a small costal community at the southeastern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Puntaneras and although it’s remote village, it has modern luxuries, including hotels and restaurants. Malpais is also known as the Hawaii of Latin America and maybe that’s way it is growing one of Costa Rica’s hottest tourist destinations, where the weather is great all around the year, with pristine subtropical nature and a peaceful atmosphere.
The town got its name from the fact that all the rivers and streams that flow into the beach in the area dry up in the summer season, making it a “bad land” to try to live in.
The area has recently become famous due to several celebrities buying land and building dream houses including Mel Gibson and top supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
What to do
There’s a lot to do and see in Mal Pais. You can relax on one of the beautiful beaches which are mostly rocky beaches with occasional sandy coves. Other things to do include scuba diving, costa rica sport fishing, kite surfing, snorkeling, horseback riding, canopy tours, mountain biking, quad biking, hiking, bird watching, motorcycling, you just name it. Malpais is said to be surfers’ paradise with big waves and long beaches with sea shells. The best beaches to surf which are nearby are Mar Azul, El Carmen, Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa, Playa de los Suecos, Punta Barrigona and Manzanillo. Malpais is a home to a huge number of costal and migratory birds so for bird watchers is an awesome place to visit. There is also a good nightlife with several bars and parties.
Even though Malpais borders Cabo Blanco National Park, there isn’t any entrance to the park. The only entrance for tourists is in Cabuya, which is just south of Montezuma. The park is open from 8.00am till 4.00pm every day, except on Mondays and Tuesdays.
How to get to Mal País
The fastest way to get here is to take a flight to Tambor and then take a cab or a local bus to Malpais. The flight takes only 20 minutes.
By bus or ferry
If you’re planning to go by bus, it can be a little uncomfortable as there are no direct buses from San José to Malpais. At first you have to take a bus from San José to Puntaneras (there are many buses every day), then in Puntaneras take a bus to Paquera, and from Paquera to Cobano, and from Cobano to Malpais.
The other option is to take a ferry from Puntaneras to Paquera. There are two different kinds of ferries Lancha (only for passengers) and The Ferry (for passengers and cars). The Lancha leaves for Paquera at 6am.,11am., 3.15pm. and it costs about $2.5. The Ferry leaves at 5am., 8.45am., 12.30pm., 2.30pm., 5pm., 8.15 pm, and the rate per passenger is $3. When arriving in Paquera take a bus to Cobano. Then a local bus to Malpais that runs twice a day and costs $2. The ferry schedule can change so you should ask and check it.
You can also take a boat from Jaco Beach to Montezuma. These boats depart daily from Herradura beach, which is just north of Jaco, at 7:45 am. The boats back to Jaco depart from Montezuma at 6.30am. The one way trip costs $38.
You can also take a private transfer from San José to Malpais through a travel company and it costs about $35.
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