I Returned to Montezuma and Saw it For the First Time -

I Returned to Montezuma and Saw it For the First Time



One year ago I ran, and I mean ran, out of Puerto Viejo as fast as I could.

I was so hurt, so wounded, by someone I had trusted so much that I couldn’t bear to stay.




I headed to the sunny Pacific shore of Montezuma with a closed heart and mind. I grieved the loss of a love and the loss of the first place that felt like home. I was distracted, blinded, by my pain.




I recall climbing to a nearby beach and perching on a large rock. The scene should have been beautiful, but instead,  in search of privacy from my friends, I sat and cried.




This time

Montezuma opened its patchouli scented arms and swaddled me in motherly love.




Our hostel, more like a home, housed warm, adventurous, open-hearted women.




We hiked to hidden beaches and waterfalls.




We wandered the streets gawking at artisan jewelry, hula hoop dancers, and creamy gelato.




We found community at a yoga class in an empty basketball court in the center of town.




And danced to electro beats on the beach under the starry night sky.


Isla Tortuga


We hopped a boat to Isla Tortuga


Sea star Isla Tortuga


snorkeling with sea stars


Sea star Isla Tortuga


along the way.


isla tortuga


We feasted on grilled fish, watermelon, and pineapple


isla tortuga


Played with the resident wild pig


isla tortuga


And simply laid on the sunny shore, blinded by the glowing turquoise sea.


isla tortuga


As the boat turned back we sang girl band songs with all of our might, competing with the sound of the wind and the motor.


tambor ferry


We left Montezuma, missing it already, and took a ferry back to the mainland.


tambor bay ferry


With full hearts


tambor bay ferry


We held hands


tambor bay ferry


As we watched the sun set behind the hills sweeping its glow over the sea.


tambor bay ferry


And we knew


tambor bay ferry


that one day we would return.




Montezuma, Costa Rica





Luz en el Cielo

$15 for a dorm bed inclues full breakfast of fruit, eggs, gallo pinto, toast, and coffee

This is probably my favorite hostel I have ever stayed in. The small hostel set back in the jungle with its big communal table and deck with hammocks feels more like staying in someone’s home than in a hostel. There is an incredible community and family vibe here that begins with the warm and accommodating employees. We made friends over breakfast, swinging from a hammock, and with drinks downstairs at night. The hostel even arranged for a large group of us to head to Isla Tortuga without taking a commission. STAY HERE! We loved it.


Luna Llena

$15 for a dorm bed, $28-55 for a private

Luna Llena is a small intimate jungle hotel. Rooms and communal areas are clean and beautifully decorated. Guests tend to be more mature rather than young backpackers.


Ylang Ylang Beach Resort

$200-400 for a private bungalow

If you are looking for luxury, you will find it at the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort. A short walk from town the hotel sits on a beautiful, quiet beach. Bungalows are set in the jungle surrounding the hotel. The onsite bar and restaurant overlooks the sea and offers delicious, inventive cuisine. If it’s not in the budget to stay here, come for happy hour with drinks on the beach surrounded by tiki torches, or for a morning yoga class with a sweeping view of the ocean.






$7-15 for entrees

Get your health fix at this organic cafe. Delicious salads with tofu and spirulina, vegan homemade gelato, and a lovely breakfast. Come on Monday night to hear live music.


Playa de los Artistas

$10-20 for entrees

The most famous place for a fancy meal in Montezuma. The menu changes daily and is handwritten. Food is outstanding.


Homemade onion bread from the grocery store

$1 for a small loaf

This is the best bread I have ever eaten. I think half of the guests at our hostel were slathering it in avocado and eating a loaf nightly. It’s fluffy but still chewy with lots of air bubbles and soft caramelized onions. It’s absolutely delicious plain but also makes great sandwich bread.






The one “happening” bar in town. At night they throw on the disco balls and locals and tourists get down to hip hop and reggaeton. We shook our hips here with with the town drunk who was shirtless with his liquor bottle sagging down his pants.


Beach party

The two main beaches in town host electronic music parties with fire dancers and hula hoopers. Bring your own drinks from the corner store. A small bottle of vodka and a carton of mango juice makes several drinks and will only set you back $4.





Take a tour to Isla Tortuga with Zuma Tours

$50 for a six hour tour includes transportation, snorkeling, fruit, and lunch.


Hike the beach to the waterfall

Ask at your hostel or hotel how to get there or hire a guide, though I don’t believe one is necessary.


Shop for some the best handmade jewelry in Costa Rica


Free yoga in the park at 4pm




Want to create a truly life changing trip to Costa Rica? My eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica will show you how!


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  1. Shawna Beamish Says: March 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

    ohhh gallo pinto i remember that- sooo good. man, when i go back to CR i want to go to Montezuma now! it sounds amazing!!

  2. […] I wanted to share with all of you a recipe I made back in Montezuma. Just the thought of it makes me feel healthier. Makes my day feel brighter. Perhaps I’ll […]

  3. […] Montezuma […]

  4. I spent one month in Montezuma and I will never forget it. Every single photo makes me want to leave D.C. and head back there, just in time for Reggae night at Chico’s :-)

  5. great post and great blog! ive been stalking the heck outta your blog lately as im currently in costa rica for the 2nd time and looking for new places to see. im sitting in montezuma as we speak and enjoying the lazy and laid back atmosphere :)

    keep writing! im enjoying reading it all! and good luck on your upcoming travels…please let me know if you’re ever in northern europe (we dont have tropical beaches sadly haha) and ill take you out for a drink :)

    • This American Girl Says: October 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks Megan! I will definitely let you know. Perhaps next summer, I’m too much of a warm weather chaser for any other time of year 😉

  6. I fell in love with Montezuma in dec 2012, after a tough year, I finally closed a door on a few things while I was there. I effectively found myself again and being there makes me feel at peace and grounded. I got back from a return trip a week ago and was apprehensive about I would feel about my spot in paradise a second time, but I’m more in love with it now than ever.

    I love to hear it when people love the places I love, montezuma and Costa Rica as a whole. Safe travels

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 19, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      I completely understand Caroline, Costa Rica has that magical power over me too. I’ve made a friend here in Southeast Asia from New York who had a very similar experience in Montezuma in February 2013. Her whole face beams when she talks about that town. x

  7. Has anyone travlled there alone? If so how safe is it?

    • Camille Willemain Says: February 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      It is definitely safe for a solo traveler. Of course like anywhere be careful on the beach at night but it’s a tiny town with a tight knit community.

  8. Hélène Says: June 23, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Dear Camille,
    I just “surfed” into your blog and I must say that it really resonates with me. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and insights. I am planning a little holiday in Costa Rica with my family for next winter and (despite reading your comments :)) am still wondering weither to choose Montezuma or Samara (carillo) as a beach retreat. Would you mind if I let you know a bit more about what I am looking for and then share from your experience? Thank you, sincerely, Hélène.

  9. […] Montezuma […]

  10. Hello! Love your posts..
    Did you deal with a lot of mosquitoes in montezuma? Were you there in both dry and wet season?


  11. Hi there,
    I’m Rachel and I came to Costa Rica about a month ago. I started in Puerto where I used your blog to help guide my stay. I met a guy. It went terrible. I ran away just like you. I’ve read so many of your blogs and I relate to your life so much as far as love and in Costa Rica. Thank you for your blog, it has helped me so much.

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 26, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Rach, I’m so sorry for your any pain you may have experienced. I understand <3 And I’m really glad that my blog has offered some support, hope you know that you’re not alone xoxo