There comes a point on a long backpacking journey when you find a special place that beckons to you to stay longer than you had planned.
One of those places was the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in the small surf town of Mal Pais & Santa Teresa. Little more than a dirt road with restaurants and surfboard shops, the draw to town are the picture perfect waves that roll in down the endless stretch of beach and the post card perfect sunsets, which I featured in a recent Photo of the Week.
You’ll find as many locals as expats here; there was even a section of the beach dubbed, “Canada Beach” due to the number of Canadians that have made the surf resort town their home away from home.
The icing on the cake was our accommodation at the Mal Pais Surf Camp & Resort, which may have just been the best value for money accommodation on our entire backpacking trip.
This sprawling jungle getaway has everything from open-air rancho style rooms with single beds for up to four people complete with hilltop views overlooking the resort, to private cabanas and apartment style rooms with full kitchens. Dorm rooms start from $15/night and apartments start from $55/night. Reservations are recommended as rooms tend to book out in advance. Whatever style of room you book, you can enjoy all of the resort amenities including a well-supplied communal kitchen, restaurant and bar, pool table, surf board rental, free Wi-Fi and a lovely swimming pool.
For someone like myself, there is no better treat than being able to lay the day away poolside with a good book in hand. For the surfing crowd, the beach is easily accessed just across the street and rentals can be arranged on a daily or weekly basis.
Nights are quiet here with days revolving around the changing tide schedule. For a treat, head up to The Papaya Lounge and enjoy a drink with breathtaking views of the sunset. Don’t forget to pack a flashlight or headlamp as the walk back to town will be quite dark.
There’s a well-stocked grocery store in town to grab supplies, but prices here are higher than elsewhere in the country. There’s a good variety of restaurants in town serving everything from traditional Tico fare to pizza, steak, seafood and burgers. Don’t miss The Bakery for freshly baked treats and more.
However long you plan to stay in Mal Pais, be sure to leave yourself a few extra days if possible. Many an expat will tell you how they came to surf for a week and haven’t looked back since!