Mal Pais may be smaller than other communities in Costa Rica, but it is undoubtedly one of its most trendy and popular beach spots. Located in the southwestern section of the Nicoya Peninsula, this coastal village is the kind of place stripped of the hustle and bustle familiar to urban living.
Tourists can come here to completely unwind and rejuvenate the mind and the body. This may also be the reason it attracts the rich and the famous, including Hollywood actors and international celebrities. As a result, Mal Pais always has that happening, yet understated class to it. A vacation here usually means spending relaxing days on sandy beaches and enjoying gorgeous sunsets.
The beaches are, of course, the highlight attractions in Mal Pais, which boasts a coastline that spans about 6 kilometers. Most of the coastline is occupied by long stretches of sand, but you can also find some considerably big sets of rock. Near the shore is a lush jungle rich in flora and fauna. The beach itself barely has any development. The hotels and resorts are mostly found on the sandy stretches of its sister village of Santa Teresa. This is also where you can find bars, restaurants and shops to rent surfing equipment. A number of people include Santa Teresa and the Playa Carmen area when they talk about Mal Pais.
Unlike Nicoya Peninsula’s neighboring villages like Montezuma, there are less tours and activities offered in Mal Pais. This is actually the point of coming here, to relax and do very little. But after a few days of lazy relaxation, you may feel like doing something, and you can always go fishing, ride a horse along the beach or sign up for canopy tours to nearby forested region.
The Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve is quite accessible from Mal Pais and makes a great day trip destination for those who love the jungle environment. Cabo Blanco covers about 1,270 hectares of land area, and is the first protected area in Costa Rica. Bird watching has also become a popular activity in the area because of the wide range of coastal and migratory birds that frequent here. Some of the bird species to watch for are falcons, kingfishers and scarlet macaws.
Mal Pais is highly regarded for its big swells and long beach breaks, which are consistent throughout the year. That is why it is no surprise that surfers from all over make their way to this sleepy beach town to ride the waves. From the water, you can admire the volcanic formations that populate the shore. The breaks generated in Mal Pais is perfect for intermediate and expert level surfers. If you are a surfing novice, there are some spots you can go to for practice. In addition, Santa Teresa’s beaches have swells ideal for beginners.
You can reach Mal Pais by taking the Highway 160. If you are coming from the city of Puntarenas, you can take a ferry first to Narajo Beach or Paquera. From these places, you have the choice of driving a rented vehicle or take the bus. If you prefer to fly; you can book a domestic flight from San Jose International Aiport or Pavas International Airport to Tambor Domestic Airport, which is the closest airport to Mal Pais. Once you land in Tambor, you can easily hire a taxi to take you to this beautiful coastal community.