Chontales: The Budding Nature Capital of Costa Rica

May 13, 2023 in Discover Costa Rica, Discover Costa Ballena, Real Estate in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country known for its sightings. The most wildlife rich parts of Costa Rica are located in or near national parks and reserves, which cover more than 25% of the country's territory. But you can’t own real estate in these protected areas of Costa Rica, so nature lovers looking to buy property in Costa Rica naturally look to the less developed regions that surround nature preserves. And the community of Chontales in South Pacific Costa Rica is one of these magical areas. Chontales is Costa Ballena's next best kept secret. The word is out on Ojochal, Uvita, and Dominical, where ongoing construction and congestion are becoming a reality of everyday life. However, the Southern Zone community of Chontales, just 15 minutes south of Ojochal, is tucked away deep in the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range and 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. These are the types of wildlife sightings that you would typically have to spend time on a nature reserve to see and you'd still have to be lucky, at that. Chontales allows for more opportunity to happen upon these wonderous wildlife sightings because this community is quiet, far away from any highway traffic, and deep in the thick jungle with amazing lookout properties set amongst a 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 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 as well as this remarkable development south of Ojochal that is the subject of this article. The tribes that came to be known as ‘Chontales’ typically 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 -- the village we now know as Chontales de Osa. Sitting at an elevation of 1000+ ft, this highland community is laid over a series of green foothills amidst winding rivers with numerous waterfalls and a varied biodiversity with many rare sightings. Chontales is also one of few locations where Costa Rica’s mysterious stone spheres can be found. They are scattered across this elevated landscape, far from the Diquis Delta where they are thought to have been brought or built by the ancient Diquis tribe. The Diquis people were known to reside in current-day Chontales and likely brought these spheres with them for ceremonial rituals or ornamentation.

What it’s like to live in Chontales

Chontales today is a quiet location where the sounds of nature are soothing and easy to fade into the background. Nature lovers will not be disappointed with the dynamic scenery that includes lush green hills that roll down towards the mighty Terraba River and the agricultural valley that is nourished by this important watershed. 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 from the right angle, and sunsets are remarkable as they set over the sparkling blue ocean. Costa Rica’s southern village of 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 living on land with extensive green zones, away from the buzz of humanity, and where all manner of tropical wildlife thrive off of the mountain springs and rivers that zig-zag across this properous landscape. Chontales is a community unlike any other in the world. Made up of international residents, the thing that most unites each Chontales resident is their love of nature, tranquility, 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 are likely to 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 can plan their errands ahead of time and do everything all at once because they would rather experience a tranquil existence than hurry around running errands every day. Located roughly halfway 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. This is life in Chontales.

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 best items because they know how much their home will mean to them and how much time they will spend on the property. It is 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 and the show provided by nature.  People who come to enjoy vacation rentals in Chontales 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.

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