When in Mal Pais, the the thing not to miss is Cabo Blanco, it is a rainforrest with lot's off wild life, but you have to get there early to be able to see it. Just don't expect to see big cats, cause you won't (and if youy do, you are one of the few lucky ones).
Just make sure you will bring enough water to drink, cause you will sweat alot, at the entrance of the park at the ranger station you can buy water but NO food, so have a good breakfast and bring some with you, but don't leave the trash behind, keep it pristine and clean.
There are always some iguana's near by, they're just everywhere. You don't have to be afraid, cause they're always even more scared of you. So if you stand still and just watch you can have the feeling you're watching National Geographic happening in front of you.
I was on St. Teresa beach and saw the Iguana male running towards that dead tree. He climbed up and fetched a she-Iguana from this hole on the top of the tree. He grabbed her by the neck, found a more steady place and... well...
I was really amazed but thankfully i had enough reaction to grab my camera!
Definitely rent an ATV while in the area----the only way to get around and also for day trips to Cabuya and Montezuma---we rented from Quad Rental in Playa Carmen close to the crossroads----$130 for 2 days (48 hrs) plus taxes and credit card charges---also good for going to restaurants at night without walking the dusty roads.....wear goggles at all times if possible.
I am not a surfer but plenty who come to Mal Pais love it---you can watch them from Playa Carmen or parts further north in Playa Hermosa and you can rent boards and get lessons at plenty of places around town.
These guys provide a great outdoor experience zipping through the tops of the trees safely in a harness seeing the jungle from the bird's eye view---lovely area right on the edge of the Cabo Blanco National Refuge.
They have tours at 9am, 11am, and 3pm cost is $40 per person
close to the end of the road from the crossroads
Mal Pais is alot of rocks and not much sand, but the beaches it does have are gorgeous. Where we were staying was in Mal Pais proper, which is mostly big rocks and little rocks and a few isolated swimming places in between, but close by we found a little inlet which allowed us to sunbathe and swim au natural---not many beach walkers this way but a few Ticos (native CR's) walking to work maybe. Water shoes are very helpful here. There are a few places open to the public with beach access so look out for a place to grab a beer or a meal.
Tracy has a place on the road near the Vista de Olas signpost where she puts out her sign when business is open. She is one of the most complete massage therapists I have ever been to---technical and also personal, she gives a full body massage for $40 an hour but does raise her rates a little during high seasons. Absolutely one of the best massages ever, done outside with the parrots and other birds flitting through---like listening to Enya but live! Definitely recommended.
The Perfect Sunset School is actually in Playa Hermosa but it is just a mile or so down from Mal Pais---you can learn Spanish or surfing here in a cool environment with gardens and jungle all around, and the gorgeous Playa right across the road with surf breaks known worldwide.
Rates for a week of surf school start at around $500 which includes breakfast and dinner and a shared room---see the website for more info....
At the end of the road (sort of) is the Fishermen's Bay where they leave and come back after their day of fishing---a great photo spot and you can also get fresh fish when they come in (if they are wanting to sell that day---sometimes their catch is pre-sold). Walk around once you get there (by car or ATV) and check out the pelicans in the bay doing their own fishing.
We were lucky enough to have a great place right on Mal Pais beach and often enough, Howlers would come through the tops of our trees----a really cool experience. There were a couple of times we saw them hanging out in trees right next to the road, so anyone can see these magnificent animals when visiting the area...8am and 4 pm were good times to look out for monkeys...
This is an old hotel location that is literally falling apart---walk around the fishing village til you see the gate for the Sunset Lodge---go around the gate and walk around this weird decrepit hotel from 10 years ago---could be haunted but it does give a haunting view of Secret Beach, reached by the road going past the locked gate but only ATV or 4WD's...
Heard from a local that Mel Gibson (who has a house/villa up in the hills) might be spending some $$$ to redo this place)
Known by both names Secret Beach (Playa Secreto) and Swiss Beach, located past the fishing bay up the road past Sunset Lodge (closed)---get to the gate and park then walk to the beach from there....great place to get naked if you want---very private and gorgeous with palm trees and great views...
Almost anywhere in Mal Pais there is a nice view of the sunset out over the ocean---either on the beach or up in the hills----take your time and enjoy nature's beauty.
This huge squirrel has a mostly red body with a dark grey tail and back---up- in the palms and other beach trees on the western coast
about 18-30" from tip to tail.