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Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

A fun surfers beach town
santa teresa costa rica
santa teresa costa rica

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!

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 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 green season, this area tends to be super hot and sunny during the day. 

Learn more about Costa Rica weather here.

Santa Teresa Transportation

Getting to Santa Teresa

Flying into 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 and then about another hour driving to Santa Teresa.

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.

FIND OUT HOW TO GET UP TO 10% OFF YOUR CAR RENTAL IN COSTA RICA!

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.

Definitely get to the bus terminal early. 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.

Things to Do in Santa Teresa

Go fishing: The fishing in Santa Teresa is on point. We suggest heading to Mal Pais for the best fishing around. 

Thomas is the fishing lover around here and his go-to guy in Mal Pais (the town next to Santa Teresa) is Pecsatica. This guy has a boat for deeper sea fishing, but he also has kayaks for kayak fishing. 

Thomas has caught jacks, mackerel, tuna, and more while kayak fishing here.  

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, 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.

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 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.

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 Hotels

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.

Thea VillasLocated in the hills above Santa Teresa, this is the perfect relaxed jungle destination. Enjoy the amazing infinity pool, sauna, yoga deck, and more.

Latitude 10 Beach ResortLocated directly on the beach, this hotel has an outdoor pool, restaurant, and free bicycles for guests to use.

Mid-Range Hotels

Otro Lado LodgeLocated 300 meters from the beach this hotel has an outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, and simple but very nice rooms. 

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.

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.

Lost BoyzHostel with private rooms and shared dorms. This place is located 200 meters from the beach and has a shared kitchen for guests to use.

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. 

Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here

airbnb credit

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.

Banana Beach 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. 

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