CommunityMalpais and Montezuma, along with Santa Teresa, Manzanillo, and Cabuya, are small beach-side villages that have a very similar mix of people. Most of the native “Indian” cultures of this part of Costa Rica have been absorbed into the population many decades ago, and since then, there has been a constant stream of Costa Ricans from the mainland, and foreigners moving to the area. Generally the Ticos (Costa Ricans) moving to the area are looking for work or a family farm by the beach. Foreigners generally come to escape the rat-race culture back home, and are hoping to live “in paradise” on a tropical beach, with a simpler way of life. To make money, most are involved with catering to foreign tourists, although a few have found that their technical skills, such as electricians, are highly in demand due to poor local knowledge and training.

Unlike Guanacaste Province to the north, there are far fewer elderly retirees, probably because there’s no large hospital nearby, and because of the bad roads and general lack of services. The Southern Nicoya Peninsula appeals to adventures, people who secretly wish they could live like Tarzan, professional surf bums, and younger retirees who are trying to re-invent themselves in what they see is a much better place to live their lives and raise a family. Very many of the foreign couples who move and live here have kids, who grow up learning multiple languages, climbing trees, and becoming expert surfers, horse-riders and yogis.

Then there are those who came here on vacation, and were so enraptured by the area’s beauty and ambiance, that they simply couldn’t bear to go home. So they didn’t. They’re here until the money runs out, often working for Costa Rican wages, or trying to start a small business, living cheaply and enjoying Costa Rica’s extravagant natural bounty for as long as they can.

Malpais Artists and Artisans Malpais Environmentalists and Conservationists Malpais Area Designers Malpais Health and Healing Malpais Area Music and Dance Sustainabilility Diagram

Art & Craft



Health & Healing

Music & Dance


Art and Craft Community

    Painting by Margriet ZwartCrafts – Many people subsidize their income by producing small artistic products, such as Claudia in Cabuya, who produces beautiful lamps out of natural materials. The work of these artists can be found in some of the area’s gift shops, or sometimes at the Organic Market on Saturday.

    Galleries – Santa Teresa has several galleries, the most well known is Margfiet’s “Zwart Cafe” and Gallery. Also, check out Alex Lanau’s graphic-style surf art at his t-shirt shop in the Playa Carmen Mall. In Montezuma, Playa de los Artistas restaurant has a small gallery of the owner’s paintings.

    Jewelry – Many talented young jewelry makers are on both sides of the peninsula. In Santa Teresa you can find a few of them set up on the beach in front of the pizzeria in Playa Carmen. In Montezuma, they are lining the streets with small tables of hand-made wares.


      Margriet Zwart is available for commissioned paintings and can be found at her gallery and Zwart Cafe. Her work decorates many of the homes and restaurants in the area. Zwart Cafe Fanpage
      Gaudan On the Montezuma side, contact Daniel, who does painting, sculpture, and incredible signs, such as the one in front of Montezuma Yoga or Villa Prana. Daniel’s fan page on Facebook. Phone: 8584-6099
      Cassandra – Another great painter is Cassandra, who lives on the beach in Cabuya. An online gallery of her work is here.

    Santa Teresa Art Facebook Fan Page: Click Here


      Playa Montezuma Turtle SanctuaryTurtle Protection – Montezuma has two turtle sanctuary projects. The first at Playa Montezuma and the second at Playa Grande. Right after the eggs are layed, volunteers take them to a protected area where they are watched until they hatch and are protected until they reach the sea. Until a few years ago, egg poachers robbed more than 90% of the sea turtle eggs. The Santa Teresa side of the peninsula badly needs a similar program, and nearly 100% of the eggs are now stolen for food by locals who patrol for turtle nests nightly.

      Beach Cleanup – Trash washes up daily on the beaches after flowing down rivers from San Jose, and unfortunately the government leaves it to the locals to clean up their mess. In Santa Teresa, a committee led by Roberto de la Ossa, the manager of Hotel Tropico Latino, organizes regular beach cleanups to make sure the beaches can keep their “blue flag” certification. In Montezuma, the trash pileup is even worse because of the many remote beaches and that fact that it’s directly across the bay from where the trash flows from the city. Hotel Ylang Ylang does regular cleanups, and so does Anamaya Resort’s yoga teacher training program as part of the “karma yoga” requirement for certification.

      Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary – Wild animals that have been injured are taken to Rainsong in Cabuya, where owner Mary treats them with the volunteer help of local veterinarian Deanne Sharer, the owner of “Dog the Cat” veterinary clinic in Playa Carmen. Most injuries are due to electrocutions on the area’s electric lines and transformers, or dog attacks. Abandoned baby animals are sometimes found as well. Rainsong releases the animals that are able to fend for themselves in the wild after they’ve healed.


      costa rica fashion bikiniFashion Shows – Once or twice a year, the local designers gather together to have a fashion show. They used to happen at Hotel El Rey Patricio in Playa Hermosa, but lately have been more frequent in Montezuma, at Anamaya Resort or in town as part of the local tourism board’s occasional fund-raisers.

      Pasion de Tres – Designer Yasmin Tobon has her workshop in Delicias at Rancho Delicioso eco-village. She does custom-made bikinis, dresses, skirts, and many other things. To arrange to drop by to see her work, find her from her website: Pasion de Tres. You can also see an assortment of her products at the gift shop at Anamaya Yoga Resort.

      Amantes del Sol – Montezuma designer Jillian Bight specializes in custom-made bikinis, and produces them for her fans and friends out of her house there. Contact her from her facebook fanpage: Amantes del Sol Fan Page

      Tica Surf Bikinis – Veronika produces bikinis full time in Santa Teresa and sells them to nearly every female who visits. Check out this article online about her: Tica Surf Bikinis

    Health & Healing

      group massageAcupuncture

        Clinica Holistica – in Playa Carmen, offering acupuncture and a variety of types of massage. 8449-8166
        Panacea – In north Santa Teresa, owner Lori offers acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2640-0116

      Chiropractic – Neill Wright has his chiropractic medicine clinic in the center of Santa Teresa. More about this can be found here. 2640-0085

      Organic Food

        Organic Market – On Saturdays, you can visit Honey’s weekly organic market, which is in Montezuma in the park starting at 10:30am, and in Santa Teresa at 3:30pm.
        Organic Store – Honey also has a small store in the center of Cobano, with many dried and jar goods, healthy cleaning supplies, etc.
        The Healing Cuisine

      Yoga – The Southern Nicoya Peninsula has more yoga centers than any other part of Costa Rica. A list of them can be found in here in our Yoga Guide.

    Music & Dance

    The Gaudan ProjectGaudan Project Fanpage


    Rancho Delicioso – Check out, a local organic farm, green building, permaculture, and volunteer center in Delicias.