Exploring Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: A Traveler's Guide

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Santa Teresa in Costa Rica is one of those places where you want to linger much longer than you thought of beforehand. The relaxed ambience, beautiful beaches, and a wide variety of unique spots for food and stay contribute greatly to its charm. Santa Teresa is tucked away in southern Nicoya. This peninsula is unique in that it is a so-called Blue Zone. These are rare regions where people live remarkably healthier and especially longer lives than in other places around the world.  Curious about what to do? Then quickly scroll down and read all the tips for Santa Teresa.

How to get there?

Reaching Santa Teresa, Costa Rica can be an adventure in itself. Here's how to get there from two common starting locations, Monteverde and San Jose. 

From Monteverde to Santa Teresa:  First, you'll need to travel to Puntarenas, which can be done via bus or a rental car. The drive is roughly 3 hours. From Puntarenas, take the ferry to Paquera, which lasts about an hour and a half. Once you arrive in Paquera, you can either take a bus or drive to Santa Teresa, which will take about an hour and a half to two hours.

From San Jose to Santa Teresa:  You have a few options from San Jose. You can choose to take a direct shuttle bus, which typically takes about 5-6 hours. If you prefer flying, there are daily flights from San Jose to Tambor with Sansa Air or Green Airways, followed by a 45-minute taxi ride to Santa Teresa. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive. The journey involves driving to Puntarenas (about 1.5 hours), taking the ferry to Paquera (1.5 hours), and then continuing to Santa Teresa (1.5-2 hours). 

Remember, travel times can vary depending on traffic and weather conditions.

What to do in Santa Teresa?

Many travelers come to Santa Teresa to surf or do yoga but even if this is not your thing it is still a wonderful destination. You will find many good restaurants, nice stores and an entertaining nightlife where there is something fun to do every day of the week. The following things to do in Santa Teresa are not to be missed:

Horseback riding: Horseback riding is one of the best things to do in Santa Teresa. On different locations you can book a tour where you will go horseback riding over Manzanillo Beach, afterwords you trek into the countryside and cross rivers. Going horseback riding during sunrise or sunset makes it extra special. You do not need to have experience riding a horse.

Explore the many beaches: Playa Santa Teresa is the most famous beach and is situated next to the village. During the day there are a lot of people surfing, swimming and sunbathing. Around sunset, many people come to Playa Santa Teresa to watch the colorful sunset. Because with the right conditions it can be truly phenomenal.

Playa Hermosa is located north of Santa Teresa and is a wonderful place for swimming and surfing. The beach has lovely soft sand and light waves making it an excellent place for beginner surfers to take a lesson.

Playa Carmen is located south of Santa Teresa. The beach is full of palm trees, there is a relaxed atmosphere and you will find a few restaurants and stalls.

Located roughly 9 km (5.6 miles) north of the village, Playa Manzanillo is a secluded beach that remains relatively undiscovered. It's a haven of tranquility where you can truly unwind and feel like you're in a private paradise. A 25-minute drive by rental car will bring you to this peaceful beach.

The last beach we want to mention is called Playa Cuevas, but is also nicknamed Secret Beach. You can only get there by following a footpath from the parking lot through the trees and eventually you arrive at this hidden beach. At low tide, a pool forms between the rocks where the water is wonderfully calm.

Swim at Vista de Olas: Vista de Olas is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon relaxing and watching the sunset. Vista de Olas is a little higher up which gives you a great view of Playa Santa Teresa. From the infinity pool you can enjoy a beautiful sunset and as the sky turns into more warm colors, you can see the campfires being lit on the beach. Vista de Olas is a hotel and non-guests pay $30 (2022) in advance for food and drinks.

Explore the Mal Pais Tide Pools: Nature sometimes creates stunning landscapes. Mal Pais Tide Pools are natural pools that are filled with seawater during high tide and during low tide you can enjoy bathing in them. The pools are crystal clear and warm up quickly from the sun. Make sure to know the times of the tides before you go.

Surfing or taking surfing lessons in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is one of the best places to surf in Costa Rica. In the rainy season between May and November, the waves are very big and only suitable for advanced surfers. In the dry season between December and April, the waves are less high and better for the beginner and intermediate surfer.

At Playa Hermosa you will find the best waves for beginner surfers and surf instructors can always be found here as well. Playa Santa Teresa is also a good spot for surfing.

Yoga in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa serves as an ideal spot to press pause on your journey and immerse yourself in the practice of yoga, a well-loved pastime among visitors. Selina Santa Teresa South offers yoga classes on the yoga deck and on the beach.

You can also take a yoga class at Horizon. They have a beautiful panoramic yoga deck with cool ocean views. Check their Instagram for their schedule of yoga classes.

Tips for good restaurants in Santa Teresa

El Corazón: This restaurant is simply perfect. If you're vegetarian or vegan this is the place to be. It can compete with the worlds best vegetarian restaurants. Vibrant with spectacular flavours.

The Somos Cafe: The atmosphere and decor of this place is beautiful. They also have great vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Liked the Somos Green Salad which will definitely fill you up.

Bajo el arbol: This place has a lovely vibe, all outdoor with beautifully lit trees and plants and a garden with lounge seating. Lots of fresh fish specials, vegetarian and vegan options and amazing wine.

The Bakery: Whether you want breakfast, lunch or dinner, The Bakery is the place to be. This is one of the most popular eateries and its extensive menu includes paninis, bagels, avocado toast, pizzas, pastas and much more.

Where to stay

A stone's throw from Santa Teresa Beach, Horizon Hotel & Yoga Center offers a unique blend of comfort and tranquillity. This peaceful hideaway impresses with its air-conditioned accommodations, cocooning guests in comfort while providing captivating views.

The hotel staff truly shine, making every effort to ensure guests have a memorable stay. The food here stands out as well, offering delicious dishes that cater to a variety of palates.

The outdoor pool is an excellent place to meet new people and to cool down. The yoga deck, however, steals the show. Regardless of your yoga experience, the serene setting makes each session an amazing experience.

Best time to visit

Santa Teresa has very high maximum temperatures year round ranging between 31°C (88°F) and 35°C (95°F). The best time to visit is during the drier months: January, February, March, April and December. Have a look here for more climate information.

This article was last updated on August 03, 2023.