The first time we visit Santa Teresa we hated it. We just could not understand the hype.
However, we have visited for multiple times since and we now love this area.
There is a really relaxed hippie/ surfer vibe here. It is not the easiest part of the country to get to so most people stay for several days. This definitely contributes to the relaxed feel of this part of the country.
Now on to the rest of the Santa Teresa guide!
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 visited in early August and we didn’t have any rain during the four days we were there. We also heard from some people that most of the rain they had been getting was only at night.
From mid-August until December a lot of things close down because the weather can be really rainy. When we visited in late September it rained every day (but Tropical Storm Nate was also on its way so that may have made a difference).
Even during the rainy season this area tends to be super hot and sunny during the day. Load up on that sun block!
Getting to Santa Teresa
Flying into the Liberia or San Jose airport are both good options for going to Montezuma. If renting a car (which we recommend) from San Jose you have two options for getting here. You can either drive up like you are heading towards Liberia and then back down on the hook of Costa Rica called the Nicoya Peninsula. This route will take you about six hours. We have done this route and were a bit nervous about it because we heard most of the roads are unpaved. I think they’ve been doing a lot of maintenance because we found most of the main roads on Nicoya were actually OK. You’ll definitely want a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but there was nothing TOO crazy.
Your other option is to drive to Puntarenas and take the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. From Paquera it will take you about an hour to drive to Santa Teresa. This is a great option because it means less driving and is usually faster. It will take you about two hours from the airport to the ferry. It takes about 70 minutes on the ferry. The problem with this route is that during high season the ferry fills up with cars fast. You either have to get to the ferry early or just risk that you might not get a spot and wait for the next ferry. You can check out the complete ferry schedule and prices per person and car here. From Liberia, it will take about four hours to drive to Santa Teresa.
You’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle because some of the roads along the drive are unpaved.
If coming from San Jose or from Liberia you can rent a car from close to the airport (but free transportation to the rental car office is provided from the airport).
We suggest using Adobe because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country (in our opinion) and we have a 10% discount for you. You can read more about renting a car here.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving to Santa Teresa on your own, the cheapest option is to take the public bus. The bus leaves from San Jose every day at 6:00 and 14:00. The ride takes about five hours (the bus goes on the ferry). There is no direct route from Liberia to Santa Teresa by bus that I can find. It’s not the most comfortable ride, but it’s cheap (under $10 per person). I wouldn’t suggest the bus if you get car sick, though. The roads are really curvy and bumpy (because they are unpaved) in spots and as someone with major car sickness, I find that I’m an absolute mess on the bus. Definitely get there early before the departure time because once all the seats are taken you may be left standing for a long ride.
Although you can take the bus to Santa Teresa we suggest renting a car and driving. The reason we suggest this is because Santa Teresa is great but if you are in the area you will probably want to explore other spots as well. We always suggest Adobe for your car rental needs and they do not have an office on the Nicoya Peninsula so it is not possible to take the bus to Santa Teresa and then rent a car with them once there
Getting Around in Santa Teresa
We suggest depending on a rental car while in Santa Teresa. The downtown area and beaches are easily accessible by foot, but you’ll probably want to take day trips while you are here and that is easiest to do by car. If you plan on just relaxing on the beach and exploring the downtown area, save yourself some money and skip the rental car.
You definitely need a vehicle with 4 wheel drive because most of the roads in this area are unpaved.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here.
Go fishing: The fishing in Santa Teresa is on point. We suggest heading to Mal Pais for the best fishing around. There are many fancy companies, but if you want a more local experience we suggest going out with Costa Rican Tropical Tours. We paid $180 for up to 4 people for a little over two hours. We caught several tuna which we were able to keep. They also had pineapple and water on board for us and they filleted our fish when we got back on shore.
Walk the beach: The Santa Teresa beach is long. You can walk for miles and miles. Just be warned that 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 a total surfers paradise. The waves are big, there are plenty of surf shops, and the whole vibe of the ton just screams “surfing”.
Catch the sunset: Every evening while we were in Santa Teresa we would walk to the beach with a beer and 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 was definitely Banana Beach. We loved that place! Definitely try out some other spots as well. Next to Banana Beach is another beachfront place called Habaneros which is also supposed to be really fun.
Enjoy the nightlife: There is a big nightlife scene in Santa Teresa Costa Rica. Just please please be careful and do not walk back to your hotel alone.
Visit nearby Mal Pais, Costa Rica: Mal Pais is the closest viillage to Santa Teresa. It is popular for fishing (as I already mentioned) but it is also a good place to go if you just want to get away from all the tourists in Santa Teresa.
Hostel La Posada: For about $50 a night you can stay in a double room with breakfast included. The vibe here is really chill. There is also a nice outdoor pool and a shared kitchen guests can use.
Disfrutalo Resort: For about $50 a night you can stay in a double room with a nice breakfast included. This place is about a 2-minute walk from the beach.
Cuesta Arriba Hotel: For about $45 a night you can stay in a double room near the beach. There is a pool and shared kitchen on site for guests to use.
The EliLor Home: For about $50 a night you can stay in a private apartment with a kitchen. It’s nice and really close to the beach.
We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well. Sometimes you can get some really great accommodation deals at beautiful places on Airbnb. We like Airbnb because often you can get a place with a private kitchen. This definitely helps us to save some money so we are not constantly eating at restaurants. Also, often staying at an Airbnb will give you a more local experience.
Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here
Taco Corner: They serve good tacos at a reasonable price. I suggest getting three. The burritos aren’t my fave (too much rice and not enough good stuff), but the tacos are on point and served quickly.
Banana Beach Restaurant: This is our go-to hang out spot in Santa Teresa. They have tasty food and a nice two for one drink menu. Banana Beach is located directly on the beach and you could easily spend a long lazy afternoon here.
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.
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.
Burger Rancho: Amazing burgers, but they also serve tons of other tasty foods as well. The prices are fair and the atmosphere is nice.