There are many places in Costa Rica that are known for their nature sightings. Most of these wildlife rich areas are in national parks and reserves, which cover most than 25% of the country. But you can’t live in these protected areas in Costa Rica, so people settle on the developed regions that surround the nature preserves.
Chontales is different. This Southern Zone community is tucked away deep in the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range and it is home to some of the most pristine wilderness living that Costa Rica has to offer. Residents of Chontales claim to have regular sightings of animals like ocelots, jaguarundis, coatis, tapirs, and even the elusive puma – the types of wildlife that you would typically have to spend time on a nature reserve to see. That’s because Chontales is quiet; far away from any highway traffic and deep in the thick jungle with amazing lookout properties set amongst the thick, green wall of nature.
What is Chontales
The term ‘Chontales’ has its origins in the Nahuatl (Mexicano) language. It is said to mean “foreigner” or “a rude, rustic person” and was applied to various ethnic groups across Central America dating back to the Mayan empire. The Nahuatl of current-day Central Mexico were the first to agree to Hernan Cortes and his proposal that they join the Spanish Empire. And as Cortes traveled down this narrow strip of land between the two American continents, he brought this word meaning foreigner from one land to the next.
Over time, the name ‘Chontales’ came to refer to tribes from a specific region of Nicaragua, in a region east of Lake Nicaragua. This name eventually found itself in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, where it represents one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls above Dominical, and this remarkable development south of Ojochal that is the subject of this article.
The tribes that came to be known as ‘Chontales’ lived in highly varied terrain, where no single landform dominates, and there exist many bodies of water. Given this description, it is evident why the name was chosen for this particular landscape. Sitting at an elevation of 1000+ ft, this highland community was laid over a series of green foothills, amidst winding rivers, with numerous waterfalls, and tons of wildlife. This is also one of few locations where Costa Rica’s mysterious stone sphere can be found, where they were brought or built by the ancient Diquis tribe, who were known to reside in these parts.
What it’s like to live in Chontales
Chontales today is a quiet location where the sounds of nature are both deafening and easy to fade into the background – it all depends on your perception. If you are the type of person who loves to look up from their devices every now and again and take in the scenery around you, you will not be disappointed with the dynamic scenery. Lush green hills roll down towards the mighty Terraba River and the agricultural valley that feeds off of its riches. These views extend all the way to the Pacific Coast, which, from many vantage points, stretches as wide as the eye can see. The Osa Peninsula and the Whale’s Tail are both within view on a clear day. And sunsets are remarkable as they set over the sparkling blue ocean.
Costa Rica’s Chontales is in the region of Puntarenas, in the hills above the port city of Cortes. It is located 73 mi / 118 km south-east of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. This is a community with the shared experiences of a land with extensive green zones, away from the buzz of humanity, where all manner of tropical wildlife thrive off of the mountain springs and rivers that zig zag all across this landscape.
Chontales is a community unlike any other in the world. Made up of international residents, the thing that unites each Chontales resident is their love of nature and privacy. This remote-feeling community is at the tail-end of one of the biggest booming areas for tourism and real estate in Costa Rica today. If you make it this far south in your travels in search of pristine nature, you will likely consider yourself at home in Chontales, away from the bustle of this burgeoning region.
Chontales is for the more adventurous expats – those who don’t need paved roads and stores nearby to feel comfortable at home. The people who most enjoy their lives here are those who can plan their lives for days at a time and who would rather experience a tranquil existence than hurry around, running errands every day.
Located roughly half way between Ojochal and Palmar and above the sizable city of Cortes, Chontales is perfectly perched to enjoy non-touristy priced groceries to the south and incredible, world-class restaurants to the north.
Melt your tensions away with the exquisite sensory experience of hearing flowing water, birds chirping, and wind rustling through the trees. Feel the delightful tropical weather beckoning you outdoors, where the majority of your living will be done.
Types of properties in Chontales
New, high-end, modern homes are being built across this vast development, spaced out by jungle and rolling hilltops. Uniquely impressive features are showcased throughout these homes, with owners taking the time to select the right items because they know how much their home will mean to them. These are the little things that matter most when you know you want to spend the majority of your time on your property, enjoying the fruits of the land.
Renters also appreciate the special touches on top of the fantastic nature and privacy of Chontales properties. People who rent in Chontales will spend at least $200 per night to live in this tranquil development with its lush, green, river valleys and spectacular sunsets that they observe from large, shaded terraces and infinity pools. Souvenirs from this region are the magical memories we create through simple daily life. This is what it feels like to live pura vida.