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Santa Teresa

Tired of overcrowded beaches and tourist traps? You’re not alone. Many travelers are seeking out the quieter, more authentic spots where they can unwind without the hustle and bustle.

Enter Santa Teresa, a gem on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast that promises both serenity and adventure.

Nestled on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is turning heads as one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach havens. With its stunning shoreline and chilled-out atmosphere, it offers a unique blend of relaxation and excitement for visitors.

Whether you want to ride the waves or just bask in tropical bliss, this guide will reveal how to make your time in Santa Teresa truly unforgettable. Ready to discover paradise? Keep reading!

Key Takeaways

  • Santa Teresa boasts an array of beaches like Playa Carmen known for surfing, Playa Santa Teresa with consistent waves and golden sands, and the tranquil Playa Hermosa suited for families and those seeking peace.
  • Activity options in Santa Teresa cater to all interestshorseback riding on the beach at sunsetcatching waves for surfers of all levelsexploring tide pools rich with marine life, or venturing out on a day trip to nearby Montezuma.
  • Dining experiences in Santa Teresa range from local Costa Rican dishes at Banana Beach Restaurant to international cuisine like BBQ at Kooks Smokehouse, French-style breakfasts at Couleur Café, or sushi at Nami Sushi.
  • Accommodation choices vary from luxury stays such as Hotel Nantipa facing the ocean to cozy retreats like Zula Inn Aparthotel; each offering a distinct experience that complements the Pura Vida lifestyle of this coastal town.
  • Traveling to Santa Teresa is achievable through various means including renting a car for flexibility or taking domestic flights to Tambor Airport followed by a scenic drive.

Why Visit Santa Teresa?

Santa Teresa appeals to travelers seeking the cool vibes of a beach town with a rustic, bohemian flair. Imagine waking up in a cozy bungalow surrounded by verdant jungle flora and fauna, stepping out onto sands that stretch under the sweeping arcs of palm trees, where pelicans glide above gentle waves perfect for both beginner surfers and seasoned wave riders.

Embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle as you mingle with locals at vibrant marketplaces or savor Costa Rican cuisine at one-of-a-kind eateries overlooking Santa Teresa’s clear blue waters.

Adventure lovers will find no shortage of activities in this coastal gem—zip-lining through treetops, hiking to hidden waterfalls, or joining ATV tours along dusty backroads promise an adrenaline fix alongside nature’s splendor.

Evenings in Santa Teresa bring unforgettable sunset views that paint the sky shades of orange and purple; visitors gather on the beach, cold drink in hand, sharing stories as stars begin to pepper the night sky.

This destination encapsulates Costa Rica’s rich culture and stunning natural beauty all within its laid-back rhythm – making it an undeniably magnetic spot for those who seek to unwind or chase adventure under the sun.

Exploring the Area

Nestled along the Pacific Ocean’s turquoise waters, Santa Teresa invites intrepid travelers to uncover its scenic treasures and sandy havens. Wanderlust beckons as you step into a postcard-perfect realm where each beach tells its own story of beauty and tranquility, from Playa Carmen’s energetic waves to Playa Hermosa’s serene sunsets.

Playa Carmen

Playa Carmen draws in beach lovers and wave chasers with its exceptional surf conditions. Mid-level and experienced surfers dot the shoreline, eager to tackle the consistent swells that make this spot a surfing paradise.

Buzzing with activity, it’s not just about surfing; sunbathers and families also flock here to enjoy the golden sands and vibrant atmosphere.

Visitors have plenty of choices when it comes to lodging near Playa Carmen – from budget-friendly hostels to upscale accommodations like Hotel Nantipa. At this luxury boutique hotel, guests indulge in spacious rooms with breathtaking ocean views while savoring meals at their onsite restaurant or lounging by the large pool set within a serene garden setting.

For those seeking both adventure on the waves and relaxation on shore, Playa Carmen serves as an ideal destination amidst Santa Teresa’s enchanting landscape.

Playa Santa Teresa

Ride the waves at Playa Santa Teresa, a surfer’s paradise that boasts some of Costa Rica’s best breaks. With its long stretches of sand and consistent surf conditions, this beach attracts wave riders from all over the globe.

Beginners and seasoned pros find their Eden here, surfing against the backdrop of breathtaking sunsets.

Explore beyond the surf and discover tranquil tide pools teeming with marine life. The adventurous spirit can rent an ATV to navigate the rugged landscape or simply stroll along the shore feeling warm golden sands between their toes.

In Playa Santa Teresa, every day promises a new adventure under the expansive blue skies.

Playa Hermosa

Just a short drive from the bustling streets of Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa offers a serene escape for beachgoers looking for tranquility. Its wide stretches of soft sand and postcard-perfect shoreline make it an ideal spot for sunbathers and families seeking a more relaxed atmosphere.

With fewer crowds than its neighboring beaches, you’ll have plenty of space to lay out your towel or take a peaceful stroll along the water’s edge.

Surfers flock to Playa Hermosa not just for its laid-back vibe but also for its consistent waves that are perfect for all levels. You might spend your morning catching surf in the warm Pacific waters or perhaps join a yoga class overlooking the sea.

This pristine beach encapsulates Costa Rica’s pure life philosophy – ‘Pura Vida’ – inviting visitors to slow down and savor every moment under the tropical sun.

Activities in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa beckons adventurers and relaxation seekers alike with a diverse array of activities that embody the essence of a quintessential Costa Rican escapade—dive in to discover more!

Horseback Riding

Imagine riding along the soft sands of Santa Teresa Beach as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with shades of orange and pink. This dream becomes reality for visitors who choose to experience horseback riding, a favored activity especially enchanting at sunset.

Local guides lead you on well-trained horses, offering an opportunity to explore the coast in a unique way that connects you with nature and provides a serene break from life’s hustle.

These rides not only offer breathtaking views but also allow for encounters with Costa Rican wildlife in its natural habitat. Gallop gently by the water’s edge or take a leisurely trot through nearby trails; either way, it’s an unforgettable journey.

Ready for more adventure after your ride? Santa Teresa also boasts some great surfing spots perfect for catching waves at any skill level.


After a peaceful horseback ride along the scenic shores, it’s time to switch gears and dive into the exhilarating world of surfing. Santa Teresa beckons beginners and pros alike with its consistent surf breaks that offer year-round waves.

Grab your board and head to Playa Carmen, where the beach break promises an unforgettable ride on the swells. Here in the heart of Santa Teresa’s surf culture, you’ll find a vibrant community ready to share tips or cheer you on as you catch wave after wave.

Surf lessons abound for those looking to sharpen their skills or learn from scratch. Local instructors stand by with boards at the ready, eager to guide you through every step of this thrilling sport.

Whether it’s mastering your first pop-up or carving along a glassy face, surfing in Santa Teresa adds an edge of adventure to any traveller’s story without skipping a beat on excitement and fun under Costa Rica’s hot sun.

Visiting Tide Pools

Explore the magical microcosms hidden in Santa Teresa’s tide pools, where you can immerse yourself in a unique aquatic world without venturing far into the ocean. These natural wonders form as seawater collects in rocky crevices along the shore during low tides, creating safe havens teeming with marine life such as tiny fish, colorful anemones, and delicate sea stars.

Slip on some sturdy water shoes and wade carefully through these miniature ecosystems for an up-close encounter with some of Costa Rica’s fascinating underwater inhabitants.

As you navigate around these rock pools, keep your eyes open for hermit crabs scuttling across sand patches and sea urchins nestled within nooks. A snorkel mask transforms this visit into an extraordinary visual feast beneath the surface revealing vibrant scenes normally reserved for divers at greater depths.

Perfect for families seeking adventure or solo travelers craving serenity by the seaside – tide pool exploration is one of the best things to do in Santa Teresa that combines fun, education, and relaxation amidst nature’s intricate splendor.

Day Trip to Montezuma

Embark on a day trip to Montezuma and experience its unique charm, just a short drive from Santa Teresa. Discover the enchanting waterfalls where you can hike and swim in natural pools surrounded by lush greenery.

Stroll through the small village to absorb the creative energy of local artisans whose shops dot the streets, offering one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Montezuma’s laid-back atmosphere is palpable as you explore its bohemian character along sandy shores. Relax at beachfront restaurants with sweeping ocean views while savoring fresh seafood or traditional dishes, all part of Montezuma’s diverse culinary scene.

This coastal escape serves as an ideal complement to your journey around Nicoya Peninsula’s breathtaking landscape and serene vibe, giving you a taste of Costa Rica’s peaceful essence before returning to Santa Teresa’s own paradisiacal beaches and attractions.

Now let’s look at some dining options that will tantalize your taste buds back in Santa Teresa.

Dining Options in Santa Teresa

In Santa Teresa, your palate embarks on its own adventure, with a smorgasbord of dining choices that cater to every taste and mood. From the fresh catch at beachside grills to the international flavors served up in chic eateries, each meal complements the town’s carefree spirit and stunning scenery.

Banana Beach Restaurant

Banana Beach Restaurant is a must-visit dining spot in the heart of Santa Teresa, where flavorful dishes meet ocean views. Visitors can indulge in an array of culinary delights tailored to suit all preferences, from fresh seafood to local Costa Rican cuisine.

The restaurant sits right on the beach, allowing guests to enjoy their meals with the soothing backdrop of waves and sunsets.

After a day spent surfing or lounging on Playa Carmen’s sandy shores, Banana Beach Restaurant beckons with its laid-back atmosphere and friendly service. The eatery serves as a perfect gathering place for both families and friends looking for quality food paired with beachside vibes.

With its proximity to various accommodations, including Banana Beach Bungalows, it offers convenience alongside delicious fare—making it a top choice for travelers seeking refreshment without straying far from the ocean’s rhythm.

Kooks Smokehouse

Nestled on Playa Carmen’s vibrant main strip in Santa Teresa, Kooks Smokehouse beckons lovers of BBQ and comfort food. Here, guests gather to savor the flavors of expertly smoked meats paired with a selection of craft beers, all while soaking up the sports-bar ambiance that buzzes with energy.

Whether you’re refueling after a surf session or simply enjoying the town’s laid-back lifestyle, Kooks offers an inviting spot where casual dining meets hearty cuisine.

As twilight envelops Santa Teresa’s skies, the aroma from Kooks’ sizzling grills signals an end to action-packed days and the start of evenings filled with laughter and good company.

For those who crave a taste adventure beyond classic Costa Rican fare, this smokehouse is a must-visit culinary destination within this beach town paradise. After indulging at Kooks Smokehouse, visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth at another beloved local haunt – The Bakery awaits just around the corner.

The Bakery

The Bakery in Santa Teresa tantalizes your taste buds with a delightful selection of fresh breads and scrumptious pastries. Imagine sipping on aromatic coffee as you bite into a flaky croissant or savoring a lush smoothie alongside a hearty, freshly-made sandwich.

This cherished hotspot has been drawing in both locals and travelers for years with its warm ambiance and mouthwatering baked goods.

Visitors heading to the beach pack their bags with goodies from The Bakery, knowing that their flavorful sandwiches and energizing juices make the perfect seaside snack. Between exploring tide pools and catching waves, it’s an ideal spot to recharge.

Offering more than just food, The Bakery provides an experience—an indulgent break where every sense is catered to amidst the laid-back vibes of one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach towns.

Couleur Café

Nestled at the gateway to Playa Hermosa, Couleur Café blooms with a distinct French flair that delights visitors early in the morning or during a laid-back afternoon. Guests savor surfer-friendly breakfasts and unwind over leisurely lunches amidst this charming café’s vibrant, colorful ambiance.

Its unique European twist adds to Santa Teresa’s reputation for diverse and high-quality eateries.

Colorful chairs and fragrant coffee aromas welcome patrons into Couleur Café, where every meal is an invitation to relax and indulge in simple pleasures. Perfect for refueling after catching waves or exploring Santa Teresa’s beauty, this quaint spot exemplifies Costa Rica’s Pura Vida lifestyle through its combination of Gallic charm and local hospitality.

Nami Sushi

After indulging in the cozy ambiance of Couleur Café, sushi enthusiasts will find their next stop at Nami Sushi to be a delightful change of pace. Located conveniently on the main road of Playa Santa Teresa, this sushi haven serves up exquisite rolls and sashimi that capture the fresh flavors of Costa Rica’s coast.

The intimate and elegant setting is perfect for those looking to enjoy a meal with sophistication and style. Expert chefs craft each dish with attention to detail, ensuring a memorable dining experience that stands out in Santa Teresa’s vibrant restaurant scene.

Dive into Nami Sushi’s menu where innovation meets tradition; diners rave about the unique combinations that elevate classic Japanese cuisine. Whether it’s for a light lunch between surf sessions or an elegant dinner after sunset, visitors can expect top-notch service here amidst tropical breezes.

This small yet inviting spot not only adds diversity to your culinary journey but also offers an atmospheric pause from the laid-back beach life surrounding it.

Where to Stay in Santa Teresa

When considering the enchanting Santa Teresa, selecting a comfortable abode is crucial for an immersive experience. Whether it’s beachfront luxury or cozy villas nestled amongst tropical gardens, you’ll find accommodations that promise to elevate your stay in this paradisiacal slice of Costa Rica.

Hotel Nantipa – A Tico Beach Experience

Stepping into Hotel Nantipa, guests are wrapped in the essence of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula with a touch of luxury. This boutique hotel blends seamlessly into the stunning Santa Teresa landscape, offering spacious accommodations that boast expansive ocean views.

Picture yourself lounging by the large pool or wandering through vibrant gardens, your senses tingling with the salty ocean breeze and the soft murmurs of waves.

At Hotel Nantipa, each day greets you with an opportunity to indulge in coastal elegance while feeling at home on one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches. The onsite restaurant serves up delectable Tico flavors, inviting travelers to savor each bite amidst picturesque surroundings.

With its prime location on Playa Carmen‘s northern end, this luxury retreat ensures easy access to both relaxation and adventure – truly encapsulating the laid-back beach vibe that makes Santa Teresa a destination unlike any other.

Banana Beach Bungalows

Moving from the upscale Hotel Nantipa, those seeking a more bohemian vibe will find Banana Beach Bungalows an irresistible retreat. Nestled among palm trees on Playa Carmen, these seven cozy bungalows offer a perfect blend of comfort and simplicity for travelers craving tranquility.

Each accommodation exudes a relaxed boho atmosphere that syncs harmoniously with Santa Teresa’s laid-back lifestyle, making it an ideal spot for those wanting to disconnect and embrace nature’s serenity.

Surfers flock to this mid-range haven due to its prime location near some of the best waves in town. After riding the surf, guests can stroll back to their private sanctuary or mingle at the adjacent popular beach bar and restaurant—a social hotspot as the sun sets.

Surrounded by lush greenery, Banana Beach Bungalows serves as a peaceful hideaway where one can unwind to the rhythmic sounds of the sea and experience authentic Costa Rican charm amidst modern amenities.

Zula Inn Aparthotel

Turning our attention from the cozy charm of Banana Beach Bungalows, Zula Inn Aparthotel offers travelers another fantastic accommodation choice in Santa Teresa. Nestled on the lush Nicoya Peninsula, this haven serves as an ideal launchpad for days filled with sand, surf, and relaxation.

Each apartment is designed to provide comfort and ease during your stay in one of Costa Rica’s coolest beach towns.

Guests at Zula Inn Aparthotel can indulge in the local scene with ease, thanks to its perfect position close to popular spots like Playa Carmen and other inviting Santa Teresa beaches.

Offering more than just a place to rest your head after a sun-soaked day at the beach or exploring nearby Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Zula Inn ensures visitors savor every moment of their laid-back tropical getaway.

Lua Villas (Playa Hermosa)

Nestled in the heart of Playa Hermosa’s natural splendor, Lua Villas presents an exquisite escape into Santa Teresa’s tranquil environment. The villas offer a unique blend of comfort and bohemian elegance, reflecting the area’s relaxed vibe perfectly.

Guests delight in easy beach access, where the soft sands and serene waves beckon for endless days under the Costa Rica sun.

Lua Villas stands as an ideal choice for travelers who seek to immerse themselves in all that is Santa Teresa. It provides not just a place to stay but also an experience steeped in local culture and beauty.

Here, visitors bask in awe-inspiring sunsets and find harmony with nature while enjoying modern amenities that ensure a comfortable, memorable stay amidst Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.

Hotel Meli Melo

Hotel Meli Melo provides travelers with an affordable stay without sacrificing comfort or convenience. Tucked just off the main road of Playa Santa Teresa, its location allows guests to easily dive into the local scene, whether they’re in search of beach adventures or town exploration.

Rooms offer a cozy retreat after bustling days out, complete with air conditioning for a restful sleep and access to a shared kitchen ideal for whipping up some snacks or meals.

With this budget-conscious gem as your basecamp, you’re perfectly poised to make the most of Costa Rica’s vibrant attractions and laid-back lifestyle. Guests can seamlessly segue from leisurely strolls along Santa Teresa’s sandy shores directly back to their tranquil accommodations at Hotel Meli Melo.

Next on your travel agenda could be plotting the route for your journey to this tropical paradise; let’s look at how you can get to Santa Teresa smoothly and start experiencing Pura Vida firsthand.

Getting to Santa Teresa

Discover the journey to your Santa Teresa escape, where the adventure begins before you even arrive. Whether opting for a scenic drive along the coast, taking a short flight to nearby Tambor Airport, or embracing local culture aboard a bus, each mode of transportation offers its own unique charm and story as you venture towards this tropical paradise.

Rent a Car

Exploring Santa Teresa gives you the freedom to navigate its charming streets and stunning beaches at your own pace, and renting a car makes this exploration seamless. Improved roads lead travelers straight to Santa Teresa, allowing you to experience the beauty of Costa Rica’s landscapes from behind the wheel.

Choose from various rental options available in nearby cities like San Jose or Puntarenas, or arrange for a vehicle directly in town.

Drive along the coastal routes where ocean views stretch out beside you, ready for impromptu stops at hidden coves or local eateries. A rental car provides not just convenience but also the flexibility to discover places around Santa Teresa and Mal Pais that are off the beaten path.

With travel by car, access remote spots like Cabo Blanco National Park without worrying about public transport schedules or availability.

Arrive by Plane

Arrive by Plane

Touching down in Costa Rica for your Santa Teresa adventure begins with a flight to one of the country’s two main airports: San Jose or Liberia. From San Jose, a scenic 70-minute ferry ride whisks you across the shimmering Gulf of Nicoya, adding a splash of maritime charm to your journey.

If you land in Liberia, prepare for an overland trek spanning about five hours that bypasses the need for sea travel. Each route offers its own unique vistas and slices of Costa Rican life, so choose based on whether you crave coastal views or prefer speedier access.

Once your plane’s wheels lift off the tarmac at home, excitement builds as you fly into Tambor Airport – the closest airstrip to Santa Teresa. This tiny airport is just minutes from the laid-back beach town where surfboards dot golden sands and monkeys occasionally steal glances from lush canopies overhead.

All modes of transport are waiting to whisk travelers off towards rustling palms and whispering waves at their favorite boutique hotels or infinity pool-equipped villas. Next up, consider taking the bus for those seeking a more budget-friendly option without compromising on adventure.

Take the Bus

Jump on a bus and let someone else navigate the improved roads to Santa Teresa, where adventure awaits. With about 5.5 hours of travel time from San Jose, you can relax, enjoy the scenic views, and perhaps make friends with fellow travelers en route to this laid-back town.

Buses are not only a cost-effective way to reach Santa Teresa but also an environmentally friendly choice for conscious travelers.

Once you arrive in Santa Teresa, local buses offer convenient access to various hotspots around the area. Head straight to stunning beaches or quaint restaurants without worrying about car rentals or parking hassles.

The bus system connects key destinations within Santa Teresa, ensuring you can explore all that this vibrant coastal gem has to offer while saving your colones for surfing lessons or beachside snacks.


Santa Teresa beckons with its pristine beaches and an aura of tranquility that captures the heart of every traveler. The town emerges as a picturesque paradise, boasting activities from horseback riding along the coast to exhilarating surfing on world-class waves.

Visitors relish diverse dining options, ranging from fresh seafood at Banana Beach Restaurant to gourmet delights at Nami Sushi. Accommodations in Santa Teresa blend comfort with authentic Costa Rican charm, ensuring stays are memorable and cozy.

Embrace the serene vibe of this coastal gem and let Santa Teresa’s laid-back lifestyle enchant you into staying a little longer under its sun-kissed skies.


1. What makes Santa Teresa a must-visit town in Costa Rica?

Santa Teresa is one of Costa Rica’s treasures, with its stunning beaches like Playa Carmen and relaxed atmosphere. It’s the ultimate guide to enjoying nature, surfing, and experiencing the laid-back vibes typical of Costa Rican towns.

2. When is the best time to visit Santa Teresa for a beach vacation?

The best time to visit Santa Teresa is during the dry season when you can enjoy beach parties at Playa Santa Teresa or explore nearby Playa Manzanillo under perfect conditions.

3. Are there activities for adventure seekers in Santa Teresa?

Absolutely! Adventure lovers can hop on an ATV to discover hidden spots around town or head out to sea from minutes away at Mal Pais for some excellent surf experience at world-renowned breaks.

4. Can I find comfortable accommodations in the area of Santa Teresa?

Yes, there are plenty of hotels in Santa Teresa catering to different preferences, whether you seek luxury with VIP lounges or cozy places that offer yoga studios and proximity to local restaurants.

5. Is it convenient getting around within the town of Santa Teresa?

Getting around town is quite simple—many visitors choose ATVs as their main way to get around, making stops easier as they travel from one beautiful spot like Tortuga Island to another across this destination full of surprises just minutes away from each other.

6. Should I prepare anything specific before my trip to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?

It’s smart thinking to carry some Costa Rican colones for small purchases and always have travel insurance; remember that even if you’ve surfed before, respect Mother Nature’s powerful waves which make up much of what people think about when they hear “Santa Teresa.”



Monteverde Cloud Forest


Santa Elena


Curi-Cancha Reserve


Selvatura Park


Carara National Park


Tarcoles Crocodile Bridge


Isla Tortuga




Montezuma Waterfalls


Puntarenas City


Isla San Lucas


Santa Teresa




Jacó Beach


Playa Blanca (Punta Leona)


Herradura Beach


Esterillos Oeste


Playa Hermosa (Puntarenas)


Manuel Antonio National Park




Bejuco Beach








Marino Ballena National Park

South Puntarenas

Cabo Matapalo

South Puntarenas

Drake Bay


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