January 6, 2017, Category: Costa Rica

We hike all day. To waterfalls. Swimming holes. Deserted beaches. Through the jungle. Montezuma, Costa Rica is heaven. Read to see the the details and pictures.

Day 5: Montezuma, Costa Rica

In December of 2012, Sandi and I went to Costa Rica. It has taken a few years, but I'm finally taking the time to edit my journal entries, post the blogs, and upload the pictures. Click the pictures to expand them. Click here to jump to the beginning with a link to every day.

During breakfast, we paged through our guidebook and tried to decide what to do. It was tough. Montezuma offered a ton, and we had one day. To the south, the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve sounded incredible. Renting a quad and driving down the coastal trails to see it would have been a blast. But it is frequently called the “mini-Corcovado,” and we’d be backpacking three days in the Corcovado, so we passed. We decided to focus on the beach and nearby waterfalls. We’d start the day with a hike to Montezuma Falls.

The hike to the lower falls began on the creek/river just south of town. Today it was a creek, other days it’s a river. We started up the trail. There were a few other hikers, most wore only swimming suits and flip flops. The trail was flat, easy, and with minor obstacles—a couple times we scrambled over rocks and waded through the river. Trees blocked the glare of the sun, and jungle sounds came from every direction. Birds chattered, and iguanas climbed through the trees. The short hike ended in a canyon where water tumbled down three levels of waterfalls. From our view at the bottom, we only saw the last level. It fell from the sky into a water hole where a handful of people were swimming, diving off the rocks, or relaxing on the shore with feet dangling into the water. I took off my shirt and dove in.

The cool water sucked the air out of me and felt refreshing—I hadn’t realized how hot I’d been. I swam against wind and spray generated by the falling water, and passed through the falls to the rock behind them. Like others, I climbed the rocks then jumped through the falls into the pool.

A few people climbed up the canyon to the upper falls using old ropes that hung about. Sandi put a hard veto on my suggestion before I’d even voiced it. No climbing for us. But we could still see the upper falls. After swimming, we hiked back out of the canyon to a road that circled around to an easier trail to the upper falls. When we reached the road/trail junction, monkeys were hanging, eating, jumping, and climbing in the trees all around us. We walked past, and some were just a couple feet away—above and to the sides of us. We could see the bugs in their fur and sores on their skin.

We could have driven up the dirt road to the start of the upper falls hike, but we didn’t find that out until we were halfway up the steep, steep, very steep road. Without tree cover, the sun pounded us. In sweat soaked clothes, we reached the top, admired the view of the coastline, and ducked back into the jungle on a rugged, winding trail back down the canyon. The path, at times, hung to the edge of the canyon wall. Frayed ropes and warped wooden steps kept us from tumbling to the bottom. I kept waiting for Sandi to demand we turn around, but she stayed with me all the way to the bottom.

The canyon floor was shaded and a nice escape from the heat, and we snacked on trail mix next to the upper falls—which were much smaller than the one we’d seen below. The hike down to the middle falls required some bouldering and tree climbing, so Sandi waited above while I hiked down. From there, I could look over the edge to where we had been swimming earlier. I played around on a rope swing, then hiked back up to Sandi. By the time we reached the hotel for lunch, we’d covered about five miles. Not impressive, but the steeper parts made it seem like a lot more.

After lunch, we left town in the other direction, north, along the beach. We could have hiked all day on that beach—exploring the Romelia Wildlife Refuge. Given we just had the afternoon, we decided we’d hike to a creek set in lava rock with “gorgeous pools and cliffs,” according to what I’d read. The shoreline was crawling with critters and covered in shells. Waves pounded the rocks and beaches. Coconut trees arched out over the edge of the sand and marked the start of the jungle. After a mile or so, we took a dip in a cool stream to escape the heat. At about three miles in, Sandi’s foot starting bothering her. She’d hiked eight miles in sandals, and her feet were not happy. Which meant Sandi was not happy. Which meant I was not happy.

I was sure we were close to the pools—they weren’t supposed to be too far from Montezuma. Sandi waited and I ran ahead to look around the next corner. Then another corner. I climbed over lava rocks, waded through mud, and tunneled through tall grass. When I reached a vantage point, I saw another long beach, over a mile long, and no stream (to mark the pools). I gave up and ran back to Sandi. I knew she was tired, and I felt guilty for leaving her on the beach. Turned out, she was happy for a chance to rest in the shade and get a break from my mumblings about finding the pools.

The hike back was long and hot. One beach seemed to stretch forever, no shade, and we were tired. We could escape the sun by hiking up under the trees, but then we had to deal with thick sand—so we stayed in the sun. I hiked looking down, watching little crabs that were scuttling out of my way, imagining the progress we’d made. Thinking we had to be almost to the end, I’d look up but there was always still a long way to go. I figured we’d never make it to the end of that beach. My whole life would be spent just trudging one step after the other, trying to get to the end.

We veered from the beach and stopped short of town at our hotel’s big sister that was set in the jungle not far from the beach. The same owner owned both locations and each served the guests of the other. Our hotel was the simple, cheaper version. This was the glamorous, spoiled rotten version, located down a back road a bit out of town and up the beach. We took a refreshing swim in their pool, had a well-earned drink, and sacked out in hammocks.

Later, back in town, I tried to find a shark tooth necklace for Curtis. One guy had the perfect tooth but no necklace.

“Which necklace would you want with it?” he asked.

I looked them over and pointed to a green one. He said, okay, I’ll make it for you tonight and meet you back here in the morning.

I ordered the same burrito from the night before, from the same table, from the same restaurant. Normally I like to try new things, but that one was too perfect.

Click here to go to Day 6.

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One thought on “Day 5: Montezuma, Costa Rica

  • By grandmahenke - Reply

    Oh boy, Warren, that is a lot of hard work fun. I like how you describe it because I know I will probably never see it in person. I wish that I could see the monkeys and listen to the sounds of the ocean and island birds.

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