Activities in Malpais
For many people in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais surfing is the one and only activity. However, there are much more choices for beach lovers, sport enthusiasts and eco-tourists. The small fishing port in Malpais serves as a base for various water sports and the proximity of the Cabo Blanco nature reserve provides additional options for activities and tours:
SUP or Kayaking
SUP means stand-up-paddle boardig. It’s an exciting water sport which makes a lot of fun and is a true full body workout. SUP is very easy to learn and suited for all levels of skill. Sup is an alternative to surfing. The board is broader for a better stability and you use a paddle to keep yourself upright on the board. Tours are offered from the fishing port in Mal Pais. You can also rent boards or take lessons. The SUP office is by the side of the small grocery store in Malpais.
In the open water in front of Mal Pais you can often see sea turtles, manta rays and fish from your board while enjoying views of the coastline and scenic sunsets.
Another sport that involves paddling is ocean kayaking. Guided tours are offered along the coast of Mal Pais, Santa Teresa and Cabo Blanco. One of the highlights is a spot in the ocean where you see bubbles coming up from the sea bottom from a submarine volcanoe. Sea Kayaking tours are also offered for fishing. You can catch mostly jackfish, snapper, barracuda, sea bass, tuna and mackerel. The 3-hours kayaking tour includes a guide and all fishing equipment.
Boat Tours and Fishing
The Pacific Ocean in front of Mal Pais is an excellent fishing ground, where you can catch tuna, wahoo, roosterfish, mackerel, mahi mahi and snapper. In the small fishing port of Malpais you hire a boat, and an experienced guide brings you to the best fishing spots, where a good catch is almost guaranteed. Most times you haul in more fish than you and your friends can eat.
You can also make a boat tour without fishing. You will see the beaches of Mal Pais and Santa Teresa from a different viewpoint, cruise along the wild coastline of the Cabo Blanco Nature reserve and around the tip of the peninsula. During the boat ride you can spot dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and maybe whales, when it is the season. Boat tours can also include snorkeling at a reef and swimming in the open ocean.
Costa Rica is one of the world’s top surf destinations and Santa Teresa and Malpais host some of the best surf spots of Costa Rica! Each year some international and national surf competitions take place here. With miles of white-sand beaches, warm water temperatures and consistent surf throughout the year Santa Teresa and Mal Pais offer perfect conditions for all surf enthusiasts – from beginners to pro surfers. In Santa Teresa a great number of surf shops, ding repairs, surf teachers and photographers offer their services. Additionally you find many hotels in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais who rent boards, arrange surf classes or host surf camps.
Horse tours are a great way to experience the amazing flora and fauna of Costa Rica. While ambling along on a horseback you quietly observe nature and wildlife without disturbing the environment. In Malpais tours are offered through the countryside, in the backlands of Cabo Blanco, or along the beach. Take care to pick a responsible tour operator who cares about his horses.
The type of horses you will usually ride in Costa Rica are Spanish Criollos which are also used for cattle ranching. These gentle horses are well adapted to the tropical climate and don’t need to be kept in stables. As Criollos are smaller than the horses in North America or Europe most tour operators have a weight limit for the riders. Criollo horses in general have a noble temperament and comfortable gaits so they are easy to ride for beginners and children.
The Malpais Canopy Tour is situated in the tropical forest adjacent the Cabo Blanco National Park. Taking a zipline tour through the tree tops offers an exhilarating and thrilling experience while at the same time you enjoy great views of the Pacific Ocean and the jungle. Zip past giant trees where you can spot birds and monkeys. The guides can also explain the flora and fauna of the surrounding forest to you.
The Mal Pais canopy tour is almost 1 mile long and counts with 11 platforms. The longest rides are 500 m along a creek, and 300 m across a canyon over an altitude of 30 m. Tours are offered every day at 9:00, 11:00 and 15:00 for $50 per person. Transportation to and from your hotel can be arranged.
Another canopy tour is near Montezuma where you can zip across a river and waterfall in the jungle.
Yoga of course is also a very popular activity in Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. Practising yoga reduces stress and relieves anxiety while improving your overall physical fitness, flexibility and strength. For many surfers the health gym is a perfect complement to their sport as the yoga postures force stretching and strengthening of the muscles. You also train your sense of balance. Doing yoga in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais is particularly beautiful with the stunning backdrop of the beach and jungle, and the calming sounds of the ocean.
Tours in the Mal Pais Area
Isla Tortuga Snorkeling Tour
A 1-hour boat ride from Montezuma lies the picturesque island of Isla Tortuga. Here you can snorkel or scuba dive in crystal-clear water. Isla Tortuga is one of the most beautiful islands in Costa Rica. With its white sand beaches and emerald waters it’s the picture perfect tropical beach, where you can relax, go for a hike and frolick in the water.
A full-day tour to Isla Tortuga includes the tour by boat, snorkeling and lunch on the beach. You depart from Montezuma at 9 am and return at 4 pm in the afternoon. During the 1-hour boat ride you often see dolphins, sea turtles or manta rays.
The same tour can also be booked for scuba diving.
Montezuma is only a 30-min drive from Malpais. The colorful little town is known for its scenic beaches, but above all for its gorgeous waterfalls, rivers and pools in the jungle. The main waterfall is reached on a 30-min hike from the village center. You should wear good shoes as the trail leads over roots and rocks and you cross the river several times. Another two cascades are located on top of the first waterfall. To get to the upper falls you drive to the Montezuma Canopy tour from where you can walk through the jungle on suspended bridges.
In the forest around Montezuma you can often watch families of white-faced capuchin monkeys.
Cabo Blanco National Park
Cabo Blanco was the first national park that was created in Costa Rica, in 1963. The nature reserve covers 1172 hectares of humid tropical forest and is a must-see for any nature lover. The main trail leads you to the white sand beach in front of the Cabo Blanco island. Among the animals in the reserve you find howler and capuchin monkeys, deer, coatis, anteaters, small wild cats, a great variety of birds, bats, butterflies and other insects.
Although Malpais is located directly at the side of the reserve, the only entrance to Cabo Blanco is 9 km away, on the other side of the peninsula.
For bird watchers Costa Rica is one of the most interesting travel destinations in the world. The small country hosts over 900 resident and migrant bird species. In Mal Pais you can see birds of the Pacific lowland, along with sea birds who are protected in the wildlife sanctuary of Cabo Blanco. Among the regularly spotted birds are Hummingbirds, Motmots, Tanagars, Blue Jays, Trogons, various types of Egrets and Herons, to name just a few.
Specialized guides offer birdwatching tours on the beach of Malpais, along rivers and into the hills of Cabo Blanco. Tours start in the early morning, when the birds are most active.
Your days can be filled with sport activities and tours, but Malpais also provides perfect conditions for doing absolutely nothing – an essential part of any vacation. So just kick back and relax with the sound of rustling palm fronds and the rythmic crashing of the surf while enjoying the scenery and nature.