Chontales, Costa Rica is a community with the common denominator of shared experiences among expats. It is evocative of what makes the Southern Zone of Costa Rica different, with its extensive green zones, filled with mountain springs and rivers, and its impeccable ocean and mountain views. Areas like Chontales are why we love it here. This is a community unlike anywhere else in the world and you are unlikely to find real estate elsewhere that looks like this.
The international residents of Chontales have chosen this location with purpose. Having visited everywhere else in Costa Rica, those who find this remote-feeling community immediately know that they have found their home in Costa Rica. These people have decided that they don’t want to be anywhere else. They have stayed in Ojochal. They have friends in Uvita. And they vacation in Guanacaste regularly. But these are the people who are more adventurous and value their privacy and peace enough to travel that little bit further than everyone else.
Vacation home renters love coming to Chontales, too. They fall in love from the moment they arrive and instantly feel their everyday tensions melt away. The Southern Zone of Costa Rica is not a place with a commodified cultural history. Most of the souvenirs that visitors to this region come away with are memories. And the sensory-rich memories that people create in Chontales keep them coming back again and again.
Homes in Chontales are representative of the high-end clientele that find there way here, who are seeking a uniquely impressive experience. The houses built here tend to be well-constructed and detailed with high-end features. Since this is a relatively new community, most homes are designed in a modern style and include many of the luxury amenities that selective buyers and renters are looking for in the best vacation homes. The delightfully warm weather in Chontales invites outdoor living and many homes feature large, shaded terraces and infinity pools facing the fantastic ocean views.
Visitors cannot get enough of this lifestyle that truly feels like the ‘pure life’ message that Costa Rica shares with the world. Accompanied by the development of the surrounding regions, tourism is very strongly positioned to continue a fruitful period of growth that has been trending now for five-years.
Those who are adventurous enough to make it to Chontales, Costa Rica know that the journey is worth the destination. Chontales is a three-and-a-half-hour coastal drive south from San Jose’s International Airport, Juan Santamaria. Or you can head to the domestic terminal next door to the main airport and take a 30-minute flight to Palmar or Quepos.
Traveling to Chontales is nowhere near as difficult as some people might imagine. The main development of Chontales is situated at an elevation that averages around 800 feet above sea level. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the entrance of Ojochal to the entrance of Chontales. From there, it is a closer drive up to the homes in Chontales than it is in most of Ojochal and you’ll be traveling on impeccably-maintained roads. You can reach almost anywhere you need to go to in the Costa Ballena within a 30 minutes’ drive from your place in Chontales.
Chontales is also located 15 minutes north of the commercial hub, Palmar. Palmar is among the oldest towns in the region and was once the site of the United Fruit Company’s vast banana plantations. There are still relics of this era in Palmar, such as the colorfully-painted heritage buildings leftover from those running the plantations, as well as the mystery that they uncovered when clearing the land. Costa Rica’s mysterious stone spheres are possibly the most ancient cultural treasures found in this country, and some have even been uncovered in the lushly forested hillsides of Chontales.
The village of Chontales exists among a functional network of communities in what is locally known as the Southern Zone. Much of the community is made up of migrants from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Neighbors frequently take turns organizing get-togethers, hosting whoever is around at the time. Vacation renters, snowbirds, and full-time residents all get into the close-knit vibes of this welcoming community, which has every feeling at home as soon as they arrive.
There is no crime in the community and no need for police to patrol the streets as a deterrent. The main deterrent is the location and its remoteness from most other communities in the area. Everyone knows everyone and they look out for one another. As a result, there hasn’t been a single crime in the 6 years since the community has been christened.
Those adventurous enough to make it south to Chontales feel that they have earned the peaceful relaxation that this natural paradise offers. This is a place where fresh mountain air abundantly caresses the jungle’s canopy, bringing relief from the heat to the region’s hillside homes. The weather in Chontales is warm and fresh, with prevalent breezes alternating from the mountains and the sea. Those who are more sensitive to the cold may need a long-sleeved shirt in the mornings and evenings, although the temperature heats up to the mid-80s on most days of the year.
As you arrive here from the first world and all of its daily stressors, Chontales offers a space away from humanity’s noise. There is no highway pollution and no road or air traffic. But you will find all of the amenities that you need nearby. You are as close to lost in the wilderness as is comfortable while living in a modern home that was built to host you in harmony with the elements. Wonders abound here, where you can watch as a family of scarlet macaws flies past a three-toed sloth hanging in the trees. Or peer from a distance as an ocelot or jaguarundi crosses your path. This is a wilderness paradise within a functional network of communities and an awe-inspiring location for a true getaway.
Those who choose Chontales don’t need everything to be paved or for the roads to be illuminated by streetlights. Driving on the local highways is great, even at night. Lines are painted on flat pavement and reflectors keep traffic in bounds. But within the community of Chontales, the well-maintained dirt roads are just that, nothing more. That means that at night time, you can rest in the peace of complete darkness. Or you can stay up and see incredible starry skies on clear nights.
Those who choose Chontales also don’t need to have a supermarket around the corner. When living in Chontales, day-to-day shopping is most often done in Palmar. Even people from Uvita travel to the Palmar BM Supermarket for better prices and selection. Shopping in Palmar averages around 20% less than Uvita’s BM in price, mainly because there are more local and less expat clientele. Palmar’s variety store, Hermanos Mora, also has the best selection of produce in the region. And the two full-service gas stations and banks make Palmar an all-in-one errands destination.
International travel has also become faster and simpler for those living near Palmar, thanks to the newly-expanded domestic airport. The recent additions of an air-conditioned terminal and an illuminated runway will allow for more scheduled daily flights to take-off and land between the Southern Zone and the capital, San Jose. Many people choose to travel by domestic flights, which cost around $110 per person to fly from San Jose to Palmar and takes only 20 minutes (the cost is less if you are a resident of Costa Rica). This regional upgrade means that getting to the airport in San Jose from your home in Chontales can take less than an hour in total.
Palmar is also the gateway to Sierpe and the Osa Peninsula — two of the region’s most important biodiversity zones. Sierpe’s extensive mangroves are home to an enormous ecosystem that includes crabs, dolphins, caymans, crocodiles and hundreds of bird species. Boat tours along the Sierpe river are a popular way to relax and take in the sights of the fascinating wildlife. The Sierpe river flows into the Pacific Ocean and daily boat tours can be organized to Caño Island for snorkeling or Drake Bay for sport fishing. Divers around Caño Island can swim near humpback whales during their mating season between July and October.
Visitors enjoy how close Chontales is to adventure activities. It is almost easier to be in Chontales than Uvita, which is where many of the local tour companies have their offices but end up traveling south past Chontales for zip lines and boat tours.
Chontales is the fastest-growing community in all of the Southern Zone. Development in Chontales began around six-and-a-half years ago in 2013 and since then, five or six new homes are constructed every year. Prior to that, there was very little foreign investment in this region. The first people to purchase property in Chontales arrived in an area with nothing but newly-carved roads and jungle. They had to hike through the bush to choose their favorite location. There are now around 35 homes in Chontales, with more being built on a regular basis.
Thanks to recurring visitors and new recommendations, nearly half the homes in Chontales are regularly used as vacation rentals. According to local property managers, there aren’t presently enough rental properties available in Chontales to meet the international demand for vacation rentals in this area. Frequent visitors know to book three years in advance for their favorite properties because they want to be in Chontales.
Welcome Home to Chontales, Costa Rica
Once you arrive in Chontales, the distance to anywhere else no longer matters. The feeling of being immersed in nature is monumental here and just coming here has inspired different choices and changed many lives. And yet, because it is relatively unknown to the wider world, the prices for homes and properties in Chontales still reflect the growth of this region.
Chontales’s jungle-covered mountain valley landscape feels wide open with its many green zones between properties. Chontales was planned in such a way that property views are not closed in by the mountain roads and almost every subdivision has excellent views of the Pacific Coast and the Talamanca Mountains. So hop in your four-wheel drive, head up the sleek mountain roads and travel past the expansive Mamon Chino farm that shines red between July and November. You have arrived home.