Ylang Ylang Beach Resort

Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Book from Book from £178 per night

A relaxed little Pacific paradise, with jungle bungalows and beach-facing rooms, and a welcoming restaurant and bar

On the tip of the Nicoya peninsula, just 15 minutes' walk from bohemian backpacker mecca Montezuma is this tranquil resort, set in lush foliage on a white sandy beach. Ylang Ylang is backed by a pristine rainforest reserve, with more coves and long unspoilt beaches to explore nearby. There's a mix of rustic accommodation – 23 dome-shaped bungalows with balconies, simple cabinas, beachside family rooms – most with fabulous views of the ocean. The friendly restaurant serves delicious unpretentious fare, which makes the most of the local seafood and tropical fruit and vegetables. We definitely recommend the cocktails.

The verdant grounds also contain a lovely shaded swimming pool, a small spa and plenty of wildlife, which obligingly present themselves even when you're horizontal on hammock or lounger. Talking of wildlife, visit nearby Cabo Blanco or Curú nature reserves for monkeys, stunning birdlife, iguanas and more, or take a boat trip in whale-watching season. For the actively minded, go horse-riding, take surf lessons or hike to waterfalls. Conversely just sprawl out on the beach and wait for happy hour. An absolute highlight of our time in Costa Rica.

Highs

  • A stunning beachside setting
  • Good value especially for families (breakfast and dinner are included in the rates)
  • The restaurant and bar serve delicious Pacific Rim-inspired meals and a good range of cocktails and smoothies
  • Friendly laid-back staff who can arrange all excursions and activities for you
  • Plenty to entertain you: a lovely pool, the beach, daily yoga classes to the sound of the sea in the studio, massages in the spa and abundant wildlife

Lows

  • On arrival you'll have to wait in Montezuma for the 4WD shuttle service to bring you and your luggage along the beach; if self-driving park in Montezuma otherwise your car will likely get stuck in the sand (there isn't a paved road to the resort)
  • The hotel beach isn't suitable for swimming due to submerged rocks and strong waves
  • Rooms are rustic and quirky, but beautifully situated
  • You're likely to find wildlife in unexpected places
  • Popular so book ahead

Best time to go

In dry season (November to March), the sky is cloudless and daytime temperatures are very hot (30-35c). Come in the ‘green’ season (May to October), when it’s more humid and average temperatures are 25-27c, for quieter beaches. Usually it’s clear in the morning and rains in the late afternoon, so you have plenty of good weather. September and October normally bring very heavy rain.

Our top tips

We got a lot out of going to Curu Wildlife Reserve with Ylang Ylang's own expert multi-lingual guide, Eduardo, a fount of local knowledge when it comes to the natural world.
Tortuga Island is the only place in Costa Rica where you can dive year round, both day and night, with 3 sunken boats and volcanic pinnacles to explore.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
  • Beach Resort
  • 23 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Yoga studio
Room:

Rooms

There's quite the range of rooms to choose from, due to the organic evolution of the resort over time.

Secreted in jungle the Tree Top Canopy suite features an egg bath, an outdoor shower and covered open-air living room with ocean views – great for honeymooners.

Most popular are the dome-shaped one-bedroom Bungalows, scattered about facing the beach or in foliage; all are close to the pool. Designed by the owners, they have triangular windows and hand-painted interiors of palm trees, and their own little balcony with seating.

Two additional bungalows work for families of four: beach-facing split-level Coco Joe’s has a queen bed above and kingsized bed on the ground floor; while the Colibri Bungalow has two queensize beds. Both have balconies, ensuite bathrooms and outdoor showers.

At the furthest end of the pathway is a separate ocean-facing building comprising three split-level Family Beach Suites on the upper level, each with twin queensize beds downstairs and a loft with kingsize bed and balcony upstairs. Below are three more compact Standard Beach Rooms, where we stayed, each with two queensize beds and their own small outdoor sitting space. We loved reading in their beach hammocks rocking to the sound of the waves.

For friends travelling together, near the entrance are eight simple Cabinas surrounding an area of lawn, each with a kingsize double or twin, balcony and chairs.

All have air-conditioning, mini-fridges, pool and beach towels and complimentary toiletries; all except the Cabinas have coffee makers.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Family friendly
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Pool and beach towels
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Ylang Ylang’s pleasant restaurant is a vaguely Mayan-style building, open to the waves and warm sea breezes, with a wide terrace area, prettily lit at night for a romantic atmosphere. The feel is distinctly tropical, with stone pillars featuring exotic carved stone animals, and the sound of the ocean.

The food is imaginatively prepared to showcase local fish and tropical fruits, and appeals to all palates – there are specific raw food, gluten-free and vegan menus; portions are generous. My blackened fish fillet with passion fruit sauce was delicious, as was the Thai chicken teriyaki stir-fry and the catch of the day. There’s also Ylang Ylang curry, lovely salad starters, pasta dishes and some creative sushi combinations.

Breakfast starts with fresh fruit and juice, cooked options include banana pancakes, breakfast burrito, omelette or eggs your way, and the tipico Costa Rican breakfast including gallo pinto (the ubiquitous rice and beans) and plantain. Rates include breakfast and dinner, and there’s a long happy hour from 3-6pm.

As an alternative, there are several recommended cafes and restaurants in Montezuma that we never managed to try out, no doubt due to the 15-minute trek along the beach.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Family friendly
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a boat trip to pretty Tortuga island, go snorkelling before a barbecue lunch. Note this is a popular outing with several tour groups operating. In season look for dolphins, turtles and whales en route
  • Swim in the shaded pool. For ocean swimming you'll need to walk to Montezuma's flat sands, because of submerged rocks at Ylang Ylang
  • Walk 25 minutes to gorgeous Playa Grande, a long beach with a wild feel, for swimming and surfing; surf and boogie boards can be hired. Book an instructor for a 3-hour lesson
  • Visit Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Costa Rica's first nature reserve (30-minute drive) which has a lovely 2-hour hike to a great beach or Curu Wildlife Refuge (45-minute drive) for incredible birdlife, monkeys and reptiles
  • Hike up from Montezuma to a waterfall, or horse ride along deserted beaches to El Chorro waterfall
  • The canopy tour takes you on 9 zip lines and includes a swim in the Montezuma waterfalls
  • Go deep sea fishing. Any catch can be cooked up by the kitchen staff
  • Practice yoga in the lovely open-sided studio above the restaurant accompanied by the sound of the ocean (morning classes offered daily)
  • Book an ATV and explore the Nicoya peninsula
  • Enjoy a massage in the small tented spa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

All ages are welcome; we think it's best for primary school age children and teenagers. Our kids absolutely loved the pool, beach and abundant wildlife. Keep a close eye on younger children because of the setting and strong sea currents on the beach.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

We'd recommend a Family Beach Suite, which sleeps 6, and has a fridge and basic cutlery and crockery, along with a little sink. Standard Beach Rooms sleep 4 and lead right onto the beach. Alternatively book 2 Bungalows or Cabinas if you have older kids happy to have their own room. For a small family (2 adults, 1-2 younger children), book Coco Joe's Bungalow or Colibri Bungalow.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Night light
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Food is available most of the day; there's a good kids menu in the restaurant plus half portions of adult mains for them. You can also walk along the beach to other child-friendly restaurants.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Plenty of room to run around
  • The beach
  • Wildlife to spot (iguanas, squirrels, hummingbirds, monkeys, parrots, herons)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Playground
  • Horse riding
  • Boogie boarding and surf lessons
  • Waterfall hikes
  • Boat trips
  • Canopy tour with zip wires
  • Cabo Blanco nature reserve

Families Should Know:

You're not advised to swim on the hotel beach itself due to the rocks and strong currents (there are swimming beaches within easy walking distance). The nearest shop for nappies, toys, food etc is a 10 minute walk away.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Medical clinic: 15 minutes
  • Hospital: 25 minutes by air
Kid Friendly:

Location

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort is on the Nicoya Peninsula on the west coast of Costa Rica, a 25-minute flight from the capital city San José.

By Air:
Tambor (24km) is your closest airport, served by domestic flights from the capital city San José. If you're coming from abroad, you'll fly into San José Juan Santamaria International (140km) or Liberia (190km); click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport:
The hotel can collect you from either airport. A transfer from San José - see Rates - will take 5-6 hours. Eduardo will pick you up at the airport or another hotel.

By Boat from Jacó:
One quick way of getting here is to take the taxi boat from Montezuma to Jacó - it takes an hour and costs US$35-40pp. There is also a private water taxi/speed boat from Manuel Antonio to and from Montezuma.

By Car:
You don’t really need a car once you’re in Ylang Ylang, as you’re more likely to walk to beaches, or organise trips into nature reserves with local guides. If you do want to drive check out our car rental recommendations, but think twice before doing the drive from San José: it takes 6 hours, via the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, and the last stretch is pretty rough. The ferry can’t be booked so you'll need to arrive an hour before it departs to buy a ticket and get in line. If you do drive yourself make sure you rent a 4-wheel drive.

From Montezuma, everyone has to take the hotel’s own shuttle service, which operates, in theory, on demand. In practice you may have to wait an hour to be driven along the beach. When you check out of the hotel, the shuttle runs at either 7.30am or 11am, to coordinate with the ferry from Paquera. Luggage can be stored at Sano Banano until you feel like walking over to collect it.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around

Airports:

  • Tambor 24.0 km TMU
  • San José Juan Santamaria International 140.0 km SJO

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 0.7 km
  • Restaurant 0.7 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

Staff were wonderful. Lovely hotel and ambiance. Really enjoyed our 3 night stay and wish it could have been a couple of nights longer.

10/10,

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Rates for Ylang Ylang Beach Resort

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