November 14th, 2014 – by: Jollyjetsetter
Church in Montezuma (Montezuma; Costa Rica)
Slightly confusing blog title here perhaps, but the capital letters involved do make the destination of Montezuma (on the Nicoyan Peninsula in Costa Rica) clear enough. Upon arrival at San Jose's outlying airport (nearer to Alajuela), a rental car was picked up, which is something of a requirement if a lap of honour round trip is what you're seeking. Add to that the necessity to get a 4x4 vehicle, for reasons of sorry road states, and you'd probably be set to tackle the terrain as much as I was. The first port of call was the town of Puntarenas, itinerant, and the place at which to board the car ferry to transport you across to Paquera, on the Nicoyan Peninsula.
Approaching pure tropicality (Isla Tortuga; Costa Rica)
From there, it is a 90 or so minute drive to Montezuma, which is essentially a tiny coastal enclave of colour and life boasting a scattering of hotels and eateries, and a beach flanking the town proper. Staying at the Casacolores bungalow-style property was a smart move due to its quiet location and amenities, yet the gradients and twists and turns required to reach the town suggest why this spot is best suited only to a guest with their own transport. A couple of attractions in the immediate area include a waterfall and a butterfly garden, but for my money, the real star turn attraction in this region is the boat trip to Tortuga Island, an enclave of tropicality, and a day trip which functions on a few levels, ranging from pure chilled-out hedonism to seeking out marine life in outlying areas. On a more reachable scale, the neighbouring beach resort of Santa Teresa
/ Malpais is a bona fide surfing zone, where catching waves is the order of the day, and offers a sample slice of coastal Costa Rican activity, perhaps in lesser-developed surroundings to more established and built-up resorts (much) further north.
A view of greenery in Central Costa Rica (Monteverde; Costa Rica)
Heading out of the Nicoya peninsula, and northwards, you'll encounter Monteverde, which is a hub of tourist-oriented activities, the most prominent of which is the zip-line canopy tour. Slightly further north still is the settlement of Tilaran
, which is the node on the map which you'll pass through in order to complete the drive along the north shore of Lake Arenal, which nestles alongside the semi-active volcano of the same name. West of these 2 key reference points, the town of La Fortuna
is located, and it soon becomes apparent due to the omnipresence of tour operators here too that Costa Ricans have attempted to capitalize upon every last opportunity to plant their tourist infrastructure in all towns and cities where activities in nearby areas can easily be arranged.
Central La Fortuna town (La Fortuna; Costa Rica)
One of the area's major draw cards is the abundance of established hot spring resorts, dotted here and there, and destined to capture the 'relaxation and spa culture' end of the tourism market in fine style. Indeed, this is something of a sore point, as time did not really permit this pre-planned indulgence, but a brisk drive along the stretch of road from the lake to La Fortuna town revealed this branch of culture to be well represented. This was indeed a cross-section of Costa Rican culture, albeit an area coated in a kind of tourist layer which thankfully did not detract from the natural splendour of the experience. Getting back to the Costa Rican capital city was the very last piece of the jigsaw, and would attempt to validate even further the choice of Central America as this year's longest-haul destination.