Travel Around Mal Pais
Mal Pais is a tranquil little village with charming hotels loosely spread out along three kilometers of road.
At the southern end, it borders the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve while to the north it merges with Santa Teresa where you find shops, tourist facilities, and a vibrant surfer scene.
Although Mal Pais is famed as one of the top surf destinations in Costa Rica, the most popular surf spots are actually on the beaches of
While in recent years Santa Teresa has seen a boom in development, Mal Pais has largely retained its quiet atmosphere with large areas of unspoiled nature.
The coast of Mal Pais is in many places rocky, with some bizarre volcanic formations creating fascinating scenery.
On a beach, walk flocks of pelicans will sometimes be your only company.
Old growth forest spills down to the shore where rocky outcroppings alternate with sandy stretches and beaches made up entirely of tiny shells. Playa SuecosAt the southern end of Mal Pais is the small fishermen port which is also the basis for tours by boat around the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
The maritime sanctuary of Cabo Blanco serves as a nursery for many aquatic species and from your boat, you can watch dolphins, manta rays or whales. If you are into fishing, a good catch is almost guaranteed. There is no entrance to the Cabo Blanco Park from the Mal Pais side but there are various options to explore the direct neighborhood of the National Park.
You can swoop through the jungle on a canopy tour, amble on horseback through the hills of Cabo Blanco, or hike along the coast: Playa Las Suecas lies on the border to the National Park. You get there by passing by the fishermen port, then follow the dirt road until you see a small path to your right which takes you to the beach. The large rocky pool of Playa Las Suecas is the best spot for snorkeling in Mal Pais.
The village of Mal Pais is essentially devoid of shops and tourist services. Hotels and dining options, however, range from top-notch to rustic though Mal Pais Costa Ricascenic beachfront with the surf bashing over jagged cliffs and views across the beach of Santa Teresa and far beyond to the hills of Guanacaste.
From Mal Pais to the Cabo Blanco National Park
From the village center of Mal Pais, it’s a scenic 9 km drive to Cabo Blanco on a little road over the hills and via the small village of Cabuya. The first 2 km of way passes through a river valley with marvelous lush jungle covering steep slopes on both sides. Then the road goes steeply uphill into the rolling hills of the Cabo Blanco backlands. There are no houses all the way to Cabuya (7 km from Mal Pais) and you have to cross two rivers. In rainy season this is not always possible.
Before the road drops down to Cabuya you will have a panoramic view of the valley of Cabuya with the prominent Cemetery Island.
The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve opens at 8 a.m. and the earlier you go the more you will see. A hike to the beach of Playa Cabo Blanco and return takes approx 4 hours. Open hours are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mondays and Tuesdays the Cabo Blanco Reserve is closed.
A small coastal community some 150 km west of the capital city San Jose, Mal Pais lies at the southeastern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Puntarenas province. Around 4 km north of the Cabo Blanco National Park, this quaint beachfront village is fast becoming one of Costa Rica’s hottest tourist attractions. Extending some 6 kilometers east to west, Mal Pais is a great place to kick back, relax and surf some great waves.
A surfer’s paradise with consistent waves, good swells and a long beach break, Mal Pais is a rocky beach with sandy stretches and is covered with pretty seashells. With lush vegetation growing alongside the coast, this uncrowded area is perfect for those who want a peaceful and quiet vacation away from the crowds. Regarded as one of Costa Rica’s best Pacific Coast beaches, Mal Pais is just a few miles south of Playa Santa Teresa, Costa Rica’s top surf spots.
With waves that are ideal for the beginner as well as the expert surfer, this beach also offers plenty of water sports such as fishing tours, sports fishing, scuba diving, kite surfing, and snorkeling. For those who prefer some land-based activities, there is horseback riding, canopy tours, mountain biking, quad biking and some great hiking trails to explore.
If you are an avid bird watcher, Mal Pais is home to a huge number of coastal and migratory birds that are a treat to see. The nightlife here is also plenty of fun, with a number of bars and parties held on a frequent basis. However, there are plenty of quiet places along the beach’s secluded coves, reefs and tide pools to have a romantic evening.
Great weather all year round makes Mal Pais, among Costa Rica’s trendiest vacation destinations. Usually uncrowded most of the time, enjoy the area’s natural beauty with plenty of luxury and affordable accommodations, top real estate agents, bars and restaurants dotting the coast. A major pastime here is just relaxing on the beach or sunbathing.
When getting to Mal Pais it is important to keep in mind that there are two ways to get here. One is to catch a ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera or Playa Naranjo and then drive out here. Or you could take a domestic flight from San Jose to Tambor then take a taxi out to Mal Pais.