Casa Montezuma: A Little Slice of Costa Rican Paradise
I should start off this post by saying jungle living is not for everyone. A craving for adventure is definitely required if you want to truly experience living in the rainforest. So if you enjoy both wildlife and the beach and you’re looking for accommodations in Costa Rica, have I got the place for you.
The surprising thing about planning our Costa Rican trip was that I didn’t choose the area first, I chose the house. I had my general criteria in hand:
- Within walking distance to the beach yet close to the jungle
- 2-3 bedrooms
- Washing machine
- Preferably under $100 per night
I searched sites like Airbnb and VRBO, moving my map around the coastline and bookmarking houses that caught my eye. Once I narrowed down my list I started researching attractions and activities in the area. Even the beach can get boring after spending a month in one location. After weeks of research and emails I finally settled on Casa Montezuma, a rustic 3-bedroom house situated on 2 acres of pristine jungle.
I chose Casa Montezuma because of all the amenities it had, its AMAZING third story observation deck and the close proximity to both wildlife and the beach. It was the perfect vacation home for us.
Casa Montezuma is located between two small towns, Cabuya and Montezuma, near the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Instead of getting the cooler waters of the Pacific the nearby beaches have warmer waters from the gulf. We were surprised the first time we went for a dip in the ocean; it felt like taking a bath!
The house has 3 bedrooms, 3 toilets, 2 shower rooms (separate from the toilets), a kitchen/dining area and 2 decks for lounging. I was so relieved to find a dryer the house because it takes FOREVER for clothes to dry in the jungle. A dryer means your clothes don’t smell like mildew and in the rainy season that’s extremely important. We even had to wash things like our toiletry bags because the humidity was making everything smell!
While each town is only a couple kilometers away the roads are bumpy, unpaved and muddy during the rainy season. The house has a pair of bicycles but since there were four of us we just used taxis when we went into town. A $15 round-trip taxi ride is a much cheaper option than renting a car for $60 a day. Casa Montezuma even provides its guests with a prepaid cell phone with the phone numbers of some local taxi drivers saved in the address book.
Casa Montezuma is a wildlife lover’s dream come true! The yard is full of flowering bushes and fruit trees, attracting an infinite amount of birds and mammals. I spent hours on all three levels of the house photographing wildlife but the best spot has to be the observation deck. It has a 360-degree view of the yard, giving you the ability to see animals in the far away canopy and at a better angle.
On our first day at the house we discovered a bare-throated tiger heron nesting in a coconut tree. We watched the parents for 2 weeks as they incubated the eggs and were present when both of the babies hatched. We saw raccoons, coatis, agoutis, monkeys, butterflies and hummingbirds daily. There is an older coatimundi named Otis who visits the house frequently. You can recognize Otis by his gnarly, gray muzzle.
But Casa Montezuma doesn’t just boast wildlife. The owner Tito lives next door with his pets, 2 cats and a pig, and we were welcome to visit them any time. The cats weren’t exactly playful but Chuleta the pig loved our visits. She would wag her little piggy tail and perform tricks for us when we brought banana peels and watermelon rinds. Tito even had a long handled brush we could use to scratch Chuleta’s back.
Casa Montezuma doesn’t have air conditioning but with ceiling fans in every room and additional pedestal fans we managed. The first few days were a big adjustment but we experienced the same thing in the Amazon jungle so we knew what to expect. The freezer was stocked with ice packs and the lack of air conditioning gave us an excuse to eat ice cream every day.
As our month in Costa Rica progressed I discovered that this house is a PERFECT mix of jungle and beach living. Playa Cedros is only a 5 minute walk away and the jungle is quite literally our backyard. The waves at Playa Cedros are big enough for surfing but if you’re a parent with young kids then you might want to consider swimming in the nearby rivers. In one direction there’s Rio Miguelon and in the other direction there’s Rio Lajas. Both are about a 15 minute walk from the house. The river water is a little cooler than the ocean water and the trees provide ample shade so you can stay longer without worrying about sunburns.
One of the unexpected advantages to staying at Casa Montezuma was the abundance of edible foods nearby. Coconuts, star fruit, mangoes and plantains all grow on the property. Tito even showed us where to find the wild cilantro in the backyard!
There are a few downsides when it comes to jungle living, though. While the bats were awesome at keeping the mosquitoes away we also spent most mornings sweeping their poop off the deck. Army ants swept through our house a few times and they’re completely harmless unless you interfere with them. So if you step on their trail in your flip flops (like we did) be prepared for some VERY intense, painful bites.
There were only a few instances where we were concerned during our stay: during some rough nighttime thunderstorms (common in September and October but not in May) and when we found a scorpion hiding in Stink’s dress on the clothesline. Those things come with the territory, though, and you just have to roll with the punches. As they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida” which translates to “pure life!”
The Verdict: I would absolutely recommend Casa Montezuma to anyone wanting to explore the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The house isn’t geared toward any specific type of traveler so it’s perfect for anyone looking for an adventure. I recommend a minimum stay of one week. Between wildlife watching, beach bumming and exploring the towns you’ll definitely want to stay more than just a few days.
Good to Know: There’s a few necessities you should consider bringing: a good flashlight, a reusable water bottle and a reusable shopping bag or backpack. All the outlets are American so there’s no need for power adapters if you’re visiting from the US.
When to Go: Anytime! The dry and rainy seasons of Costa Rica are completely different. Depending on which month you visit you’ll see different plant life and different animals. Visit August through November for the whales, in mid-April for the massive land crab migration or May through July for the lush greenery.
Child Friendly? Yes, but probably not ideal for infants and toddlers. There’s one television in the largest bedroom that has popular children’s shows in English (win!) but I still recommend bringing some durable toys for your kiddos. We brought a few beach toys, Hot Wheels, and a butterfly net. There’s no danger of malaria, rabies, or crocodiles in this part of Costa Rica and Montezuma is an extremely safe town to visit. The biggest danger to watch out for are the rip currents at some beaches.
Pet Friendly? Casa Montezuma is a pet-friendly house, just be sure to inquire with Donna or Tito about the specifics. As always, keep an eye on your pets while in the jungle!