Day 5: Montezuma

Today we take a boat to Isla Tortuga and snorkel along the way. After a day on the island and hiking Tortuga’s Eco Tour, we return to Montezuma to visit Butterfly Brewing Company and Cocolores.

Today we are going to Isla Tortuga! Yesterday, we booked the Tortuga Island Snorkeling Adventure through Zuma Tours for sixty USD. Snorkeling at two locations, equipment, fruit and beer on the boat to and from the island, and lunch are included.

We begin the short walk into town for breakfast from Hotel Las Cascada . The ground is still damp from last night’s storm and the sky is overcast.

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Pocket Shots of tequila, rum, and bourbon, and awesome One Potato Two Potato chips in a Montezuma grocery store. 

After breakfast at La Delicias Soda, we walk to the grocery store. Meeting the rest of  our G Adventures group on the beach, we wait for our boat to arrive. During our forty-five minute ride to the island, we visit two areas to snorkel along the volcanic reefs.

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Views from the boat ride to Isla Tortuga from Montezuma
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Snorkeling on the way to Isla Tortuga from Montezuma

Arriving at our first snorkeling location, we grab our gear and jump into the ocean. Our stop allows enough time to swim around the large rocky island

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Snorkeling on the way to Isla Tortuga from Montezuma

At our second location the visibility is low due to last night’s storm, but we still are able to see marine life swimming along the reef. Climbing aboard the boat, we grab an Imperial and enjoy the rest of the ride to Isla Tortuga located in the Southeastern Gulf of the Nicoya Peninsula.

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Isla Tortuga
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Isla Tortuga

Chairs and picnic tables line the beach. A small souvenir shop, beach bar, pavilions, and two bathrooms charging a fifty Colones entrance fee appear to be the only buildings on this section of the island. We meet at our group’s picnic table and enjoy a delicious lunch of grilled chicken and fish, vegetables, and potatoes.

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Tortuga’s Eco Tour Guide
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Point #2 Monkey Ladder, the most common vine in a dry forest used to cure diabetes (right) on Tortuga’s Eco Tour, Isla Tortuga.

Passing a couple of heavily feathered chickens milling around, we enter the gift shop and inquire about an overlook mentioned on the boat. After paying a man five USD each, we are handed a guide of Tortuga’s Eco Tour with twenty-seven ecosystem points. We are directed to the trail entrance behind the gift shop.

Walking through an opening between the weeds, we begin following a leaf covered trail. Quickly we encounter point number one and two.

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Point #4 Caimito produces a milky sap that causes irritation. (left) Point #5 Guayaba and #6 Guanabana  are frequently used in smoothies, ice cream, jams and juices (right) on Tortuga’s Eco Tour, Isla Tortuga.
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An armadillo along Tortuga’s Eco Tour, Isla Tortuga

Walking ahead of Mitch, I spot an armadillo crossing the trail. He arrives just in time before it burrows beneath a tree.

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Point #26 on Tortuga’s Eco Tour, Isla Tortuga

As we approach point twenty-six, the bright ocean water peeks through a screen of branches.

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During extremely low tides it’s possible to walk across the canal from one island to the others and groups of fish can be seen swimming along the volcanic rocks.
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Point #26 on Tortuga’s Eco Tour, Isla Tortuga

The small island of Alcatraz can be seen from the lookout across from Isla Tortuga. Today Alcatraz is a national wildlife refuge. Behind Alcatraz, Curú , part of the mainland in the Nicoya Peninsula is visible. This view made it worth the hike through the forest.

Finishing the tour, we order drinks from the small bar and relax on the beach before boarding the boat to Montezuma.

Traveling Gingerbread Note: Overall, we are disappointed in our visit to Isla Tortuga, but enjoyed the scenic boat ride through the Nicoya Peninsula. We were only permitted to access a small fenced off, tourist area on the island. Hiking the unadvertised Tortuga Eco Trail gave us the opportunity to see a little more of the island, but other than point 26 there wasn’t much to see except trees and a leaf covered path.

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Boat ride to Montezuma from Isla Tortuga
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Boat ride to Montezuma from Isla Tortuga

Before leaving for Costa Rica, we found a brewery online near our hotel. Unsure of the exact location, we begin climbing up a steep, dirt road in search of Butterfly Brewing Company.

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Butterfly Brewing Company, Montezuma

We slowly walk hill after hill. Each larger than the last, the only sign of life is the occasional four wheeler heading into town. Ready to turn back, I run ahead hoping it’s just over the next hill. Several hills later, finally, a sign for Mariposario Montezuma Gardens and Butterfly Brewing Company appears over the crest of a hill. Catching my breath, I begin walking back downhill to tell Mitch the exciting news.

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Butterfly Brewing Company, Montezuma

Drenched in sweat, we sit down at a bar in Clandestina Restaurant overlooking the rain forest and order a flight of the three available beers: Luna Azul, Summerweizen, and Earthquake IPA. There is a small menu of appetizers, salads, and fish. We place an order of tacos ticos and empanadas to share.

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The rain forest trees outside Clandestina Restaurant become illuminated with small green lights at night. 
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Our walk back from Butterfly Brewing Company, Montezuma

Finishing our beers, we begin the walk back down the hill. At times our IPhone flashlights are the only sources of light between sparsely placed street lights.

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Soda el Balcon de Mar (left) and a land crab (right) Montezuma

We hear land crabs scattering across the road and burrowing beneath the dry leaves in the nearby banks. During the rainy season, the crabs make the journey to the coast to lay their eggs. The crabs travel in a straight line regardless of obstacles obstructing their paths. Many crabs become trapped in kitchens, bathrooms, homes or killed crossing the road.

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The streets of Montezuma 

Relieved to be back in town where street lights are more abundant, we walk along the streets in search of a place to eat dinner. Near the end of town, we see a sign for a hotel and restaurant Cocolores at the beginning of a dark path. Intrigued, we walk past the empty hotel desk towards the sound of voices.

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Cocolores, Montezuma
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Cocolores, Montezuma

An ocean side terrace softly illuminated by hanging lanterns comes into view. We follow the beer flow chart and order our corresponding beers: Nazanja, a reddish ale, Osuza, a new Belgium, and Illozena, a brown ale. All are brewed locally on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula at La Selva Cerveza Artsenanal. The menu consists of Mexican, Thai, Greek, and Italian cuisine.

The ambiance, craft beer, and great vibes may have contributed, but the curry at Cocolores was one of my favorite meals in Costa Rica.


* For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures Costa Rica on a Shoestring.

  1. Day 1: Fly into San José
  2. Day 2: San José travel to La Fortuna
  3. Day 3: La Fortuna
  4. Day 4: La Fortuna travel to Montezuma
  5. Day 5: Montezuma
  6. Day 6: Montezuma
  7. Day 7: Montezuma travel to San José
  8. Day 8: Fly out of San José

April 2018