Tucked away along the Western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa is a little beach village with a whole lot of boho and a touch of luxe. With celebrities flocking to it annually from the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio, Salma Hayek, and Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen (who own a house there), it is one of the more underrated beach towns. While parts of it are reminiscent of Tulum, it differs in that it is still a relatively undiscovered vacation spot among revellers and Instagram models — not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you want a spot that’s a bit more off the beaten path and hasn’t flooded your Instagram feed, Santa Teresa is the perfect answer to a Tulum alternative.
I travelled there over New Years 2017-2018 and instantly developed an affinity for the place. Santa Teresa sweeps you away with its laidback culture, nature — serving as a perfect backdrop for escapism from city life — the friendly and welcoming locals, and the food. Oh, the food. If there’s one thing I didn’t expect before travelling here, it’s that it would be such a foodie destination. I was blown away by how many great restaurants were home to such a tiny place that still has an unpaved main road. Santa Teresa is an alluring escape for surfers, yogi’s, foodie’s, adventurer’s and basically anyone who wants to revel in a little time away from home while leaving their worries and thoughts behind — something about this place makes it impossible to fixate on the things outside of your control.
To get to Santa Teresa is a bit of a mission, but well worth the trip once you’re there. From Toronto, we took a plane into San Jose and then had to hop on a tiny plane that barely fit four passengers with our knees touching and our luggage basically on our laps. That’s the worst part of it though. If you get stuck in a storm it can be a little unnerving but, fortunately, the flight is quick. Then it’s just about a 30-minute drive from the airport in Puntarenas to the town. Transfers from the airport to the hotel or villa can be arranged by the concierge or your point of contact for the rental. Once there, I suggest renting an ATV or Jeep to navigate through the dusty, unpaved roads.
You can also drive to Santa Teresa from the main airports if you’re afraid to fly but we had friends who did that and said it was a bumpy 6-hour journey.
Tip: Bring a dust mask or bandana with you as walking or driving around the roads can get super dusty. If you forget, you can buy a bandana in town for about $2USD.
Where to Stay:
We opted to rent a villa as we were travelling with a group of 8 but there is a range of affordable and high-end hotel options to choose from too. If you decide to go with a rental as we did, don’t worry, some of the places have the option to come with a daily cleaning service so you don’t have to think about it washing towels or sweeping the sand off the floors.
Here is the villa we stayed at:
What To Do:
Santa Teresa has something for everyone, whether you want to rent an ATV and ride around exploring the beaches and jungle (where it’s quite possible you’ll bump into monkeys). Or you want a more relaxed trip and feel like posting up at a beach all day or at a pool (check out Hotel Vista De Olas – the view is incredible, especially at sunset), you’ll find something that suits your needs. Take a Surf Lesson at one of the schools at the beach (ie. Believe Surf Camp, Del Soul Surf School) or take a yoga class in a tree house (Funky Monkey Lodge). If you’re taking a yoga class, check out the Kundalini yoga class for a different experience, one which involves staring into a stranger’s eyes and “tightening your anus,” which will naturally help to centre you and cleanse your aura — much needed after a night of drinking at the Ranchos Itaúna hotel.
Despite being a surfer town there is still a bit of a drinking/party scene here. Whether you want to dance (Reggae band at Kika on Thursdays) or want to grab a few drinks at the beach (Banana Beach), my advice is to ask the locals what’s happening that week. We spent New Year’s Eve at a slammed beach party with a few DJ’s playing.
Where to Eat:
There are so many great options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast try, Cafe Social, The Bakery or Earth Cafe. For lunch try Zula (amazing Israeli food) or Olam. For dinner, try Koji, Katana, Fishbar or Kika. And if you’re looking for something quick and casual try Burger Rancho.
If you have any questions leave it in the comments!