One of my favorite parts about studying abroad with Sol has been the freedom to travel on my own on weekends. Having a few planned excursions was great, and I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to go anywhere on my own the first few weeks, but I’ve learned and experienced more in the weekends that I’ve traveled than in all of my days in class combined. On my own, I have traveled to Jacó, a touristy beach town about two hours from San José, Uvíta, a quiet town nestled between the forest and the beach that’s part of a national park, and Montezuma, a one-bar coastal town with hidden marvels to be discovered. I spent my last weekend in Costa Rica in Montezuma, and fortunately, I saved the best for last.
Montezuma’s beaches are the clearest and bluest I’ve seen, the town is lively and friendly with great restaurants, the hidden waterfalls are breathtaking, and the hike to the waterfalls is worth every shaky step and the next-day soreness that I’m experiencing right now. Probably my favorite part about Montezuma, though, was that I could smell the ocean, which is something I can’t say for anywhere else I’ve traveled in Costa Rica, and it smells amazing. Not everything was smooth sailing, though (pun intended… keep reading).
We stopped in Jacó on the way to Montezuma to meet with some other Sol-mates, and from there took a boat taxi across the Gulf of Nicoya. It’s definitely the fastest way to get there from San José… if one of the boat’s engines doesn’t die in the middle of the ocean. We spent half an hour rocking around in the gulf until another boat arrived, we hopped across, caught our luggage as they tossed it to us, and made it safely the rest of the way to shore. After a short bus ride, we were dropped off at Hotel La Aurora, and it was beautiful. Just 200 meters from the beach, our room had a private balcony with hammocks and it was clean and cool. I spent most of Saturday night in a hammock listening to a live reggae band that was playing at a bar down the street.
Montezuma’s beaches are far different than the others I visited, primarily because of how rocky they are, but that’s what produced the amazing smell of saltwater that surrounded us all weekend. You could only get in during low tide because of the size of the waves, but for people like me who prefer to sit on the beach and watch the waves crash to shore, it was ideal.
The best part of the weekend, though was the hike to Las Cascadas de Montezuma (The Waterfalls of Montezuma). I’m not an avid hiker by any means, but it was definitely the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. There were parts where the rocks were too vertical to walk on, so there were cables in place to hold onto to scale the face of them, and the paths were marked with spray painted arrows–which we didn’t notice until we were halfway into the rainforest–because the path was so indistinguishable at some points. (“Path” is to be taken lightly, because it was mostly just tree roots or rocks where the grass had been removed.) Not only was the trip there beautiful, but the end result was breathtaking.
The tallest waterfall of Las Cascadas de Montezuma was nearly 15 meters tall, and I only jumped from the rock that was about 5 meters, but there was a man that dove headfirst multiple times all the way from the top. Every time we waited for him to come up from under the water thinking, “He’s dead. Definitely dead…” But he emerged every time to applause from everyone present.
The trip home was much more peaceful than the trip there, and this time, we took a ferry across a smaller part of the gulf, and the sun was setting and the water was calm and the weather was perfect and we met interesting people and the scenery was amazing.
In summary, I’m only one person, but I can say with a good amount of certainty that 10/10 would recommend.
To read more about my study abroad experience, visit my bilingual blog here.