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Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

A remote surfing town that you'll fall in love with

The Santa Teresa Vibe

There is a really relaxed hippie/ surfer vibe in Santa Teresa. We love this area when we just want to escape it all and chill on some palm tree lined white sand beaches.

Santa Teresa is located on the Pacific Coast at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, which makes it a bit difficult to get to. The remote location definitely contributes to the relaxed feel of this part of the country.

Now on to the rest of the Santa Teresa guide!

Map Of Santa Teresa

Montezuma is located on the Nicoya Peninsula, the little hook of Costa Rica.

This area is not the easiest to access, but that seems to give it a lot of its charm.

Santa Teresa at a Glance

Nearest International Airport

Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia

 

Popular Things to Do

Take a day trip to Isla Tortuga, walk the miles of beaches, visit the Montezuma Waterfall

 

Best Way to Get Around

Rental car, walking in the downtown area

 

Best Time of Year to Visit

Dry season is from late December until mid-April

 

Best Hikes

The nearby Cabo Blanco Reserve

 

Book Your Trip

Getting to Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is located on the Nicoya Peninsula, in other words, it is a little hook off the coast of Costa Rica. If you are traveling from the center of the country or the Southern Pacific coast, the easiest way to get here is by taking the ferry from Puntarenas. We have a full guide to the ferry for more info on that. 

Cheapest Way to Get to Santa Teresa

The cheapest way to get to Santa Teresa is by public bus (if coming from San Jose).

However, this will take seven hours and involves switching busses three times and going on the ferry. You can check out the bus schedule here.

Also, keep in mind that the bus leaves from downtown San Jose, not from the airport. 

And, the bus price does not include your ferry ticket. You will have to buy that separately at the ferry terminal.

Most Comfortable Way to Get Here

For the most comfort, we like to take a private shuttle. Our go-to shuttle company is Adobe Transfers. We have worked closely with Adobe for almost five years now and trust them completely. You can get a private transfer quote here.

Fastest Way to Get to Santa Teresa

The fastest (but most expensive) way to get to Santa Teresa is by plane. From San Jose, it is possible to fly with a domestic airline to Tambor Airport. From Tambor, you can take a private shuttle or taxi 45 minutes to Santa Teresa.

Our Favorite Way to Get Here

We always suggest renting a car and driving to Santa Teresa on your own. The best way to do this (if coming from San Jose) is by going on the Puntarenas ferry to Paquera. In total this trip will take about five to six hours.

However, about two of those hours will be spent on the ferry/ getting off the ferry. So, in actuality, it is not too much driving.

Check out our ferry guide for more on that.

We like to rent a car because Santa Teresa is remote. If you plan on taking day trips you will likely want a car and there are not many car rental places in the Santa Teresa area.

You do not necessarily need a 4×4 for the drive, but an SUV with decent clearance is suggested because the roads near Santa Teresa are not paved. 

Pro Tip: Rent a car with our favorite Costa Rican rental car company and save 10% plus other great perks!

Getting Around in Santa Teresa

Downtown Santa Teresa is very walkable. However, keep in mind that some hotels are on remote side roads and not necessarily on the main road where all restaurants and activities are. 

Another option is to rent an ATV for a few days to get around.

Book Your Transportation

Santa Teresa Weather

Like most of the country, the dry season here runs from mid-December until April or May.

From May until August you can expect some afternoon rainstorms, however, we once visited in early August and we didn’t have any rain during the four days we were there. You just never know!

From mid-August until December a lot of things close down because the weather can be really rainy.

We visited one year in late September and it rained every day but the next year we visited at the same time and had perfect weather. It’s impossible to predict.

Grab a free copy of our Costa Rica guide

(with great Santa Teresa tips)

Santa Teresa Hotels

Booking.com

High-End Hotels

Hotel NantipaEnjoy luxurious modern rooms directly on the beach. There is a restaurant, bar, and pool on the property.

Vista del AlmaAn adults-only resort with amazing ocean views. All units have a kitchen, balcony, and some units have a private hot tub. There is also a nice pool for guests to use.

Mid-Range Hotels

Griss Lodge & VillasLocated just 200 meters from the beach this hotel is well manicured and has a beautiful pool.

Lua VillasLocated north of Santa Teresa, this is a great place to stay for relaxation away from the crowds but still within 300 meters of a nice beach. We love this property.

Fuego LodgeBungalow-style accommodation options. They also have apartments with multiple bedrooms if you are traveling with a group. All units have a small kitchen, so this is perfect for those of you that want a place to cook your own meals. 

Casa MarbellaWe like this place because it is adult-only and has crazy nice views. Plus, this is a weird thing to say, but you can’t always find comfortable beds with nice bedding in Costa Rica. Casa Marbella checks all my bedding boxes. 

Akwa Resort – Bungalow-style accommodations with private pools at each bungalow. They also offer a larger villa if you are traveling with a group.

Budget Hotels

SomosThis place is amazing! It is possible to stay in a private room or in a shared dorm. The property has a nice pool, restaurant, and is just 200 meters from the beach.

Salty EnthusiastsThis hotel offers dorm-style accommodations as well as private rooms with shared bathrooms. There is a shared kitchen on the property for guests to use. In all honesty, it’s one of the nicest hostels we have experienced ever. 

Hotel Buenos Aires – Simple accommodations on a nice property with a pool. This is our choice for those of you who want privacy with your own room on a budget. 

Santa Teresa Villas

If you are traveling with family or a group of friends, renting a villa is often a great accommodation option. We like this because then our group can have their own pool and cooking space.

Villa Akoya – This villa is on the smaller side (it sleeps eight guests in three bedrooms). Despite that, we love it because it is a very nice home with a pool and is located directly on the beach. If you are coming to Santa Teresa for some daily surfing, this is a good option for you.

Casana – This would be a nice place to stay with a group of other couples. The house has five bedrooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom. The home is modern and well maintained. However, the real draw is the huge deck area with pool, rancho, and Pacific Coast views.

Villa Bonita – This villa sleeps nine guests in four bedrooms. It is located directly on the beach and has a private pool. I like this place for the style of the home and the proximity to the beach. The staff here are amazing and will go above and beyond to help you with whatever you need.

Things to Do in Santa Teresa

santa teresa

Go Fishing

The fishing in Santa Teresa is on point. We suggest heading to Mal Pais for the best fishing around. From here it is possible to go in-shore or off-shore sport fishing. You might catch tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper, etc. 

Walk the Beach

Playa Santa Teresa is long. It is possible to walk for miles and miles. Just be warned, at high tide this can be a bit more difficult because little streams form which you will have to cross.


Go Surfing

Santa Teresa Costa Rica is known as a world class surfers paradise. The waves are big, there are plenty of surf shops, plenty of surf spots, and the whole vibe of the town just screams “surfing”.

Catch the Sunset

We like to grab a few beers and head to the beach to watch the sunset. It is the perfect way to end the day!

Relax at a Beach Bar

We are all about some good beach bar vibes. Our favorite in Santa Teresa is definitely Banana Beach

Definitely try out some other spots as well. Next to Banana Beach is another beachfront place called Habaneros which is also supposed to be great.

Visit nearby Mal Pais, Costa Rica 

Mal Pais is the closest village to Santa Teresa. It is popular for fishing but it is also a good place to go if you just want to get away from all the tourists in Santa Teresa.

Take a Day Trip to Montezuma

The small town of Montezuma is a short drive away from Santa Teresa. We love this spot for hiking the waterfall, walking the beach for hours, and visiting the butterfly garden. Check out our full Montezuma guide for more info. 

Visit Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga is an uninhabited island with white sand and crystal clear waters. It is only possible to visit on a fun day tour. Check out our Isla Tortuga guide for more info.

Rent an ATV

The roads around Santa Teresas are not paved, which means that this can be a fun ATV spot. It is possible to take an ATV tour with a guide, but you can also just rent an ATV and explore on your own.

Check out Nearby Beaches 

If looking for beautiful beaches near Santa Teresa, our picks are Playa Carmen, just south of Santa Teresa, and Playa Hermosa, just north of Santa Teresa. 

Hike at Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

This is the perfect place to take a day hike. We have a full guide to visiting here

Go Horseback Riding

There are several companies in town that offer horseback riding tours on the beach. Arrange a tour at sunset for a really amazing experience.

Santa Teresa Restaurants

Fine Dining

Nectar– This restaurant is located at Florblanca resort. It is the perfect place for a romantic dinner date. They have amazing seafood, sushi, and plenty of other options as well. 

Mid-Range

Banana Beach Restaurant: This is our go-to hang out spot in Santa Teresa. They have good food and a nice two for one drink menu, but really, the atmosphere is what makes this place really stand out.

It is located directly on the beach and you could easily spend a long lazy afternoon/evening here.

The Bakery: I think it is a bit pricey, but that is part of the hipster vibe. The Bakery serves great food though and is definitely the best breakfast spot in town.

Earth Cafe– Our go-to healthy lunch spot. They have amazingly fresh bowls, salads, etc. 

TostoMetro– We like this spot for dinner. They serve up great seafood, but if seafood is not your thing there are plenty of other options as well.

Restaurant Al Chile Viola– A great dinner spot with delicious Italian food.

Budget-Friendly

Taco Corner:  They serve good tacos at a reasonable price. The burritos aren’t my fave (too much rice and not enough good stuff), but the tacos are on point and served quickly.

Chicken Joes: If you are looking for a relaxed spot with some tasty food, this is a great option. The chicken is amazing! They also serve good tacos.

Burger Rancho: Amazing burgers, but they also serve tons of other tasty foods as well. The prices are fair and the atmosphere is nice.

Soda Tiquicia– Our go-to spot for tasty Costa Rican food. They serve huge portions as well. 

Santa Teresa Travel Tips

– Montezuma is one of the few places in the country where I would suggest spending at least four or five nights. There is just so much to do nearby.

– When we recently went to Montezuma we spent two nights in Paquera (where the ferry lands). It is not a place where most tourists stay, but we actually really enjoyed it and recommend it.

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