Costa Rica

9 Best things to do in Santa Teresa – The Ultimate Guide

Playa Hermosa Santa Teresa Costa Rica Two Surfers

Santa Teresa became one of the most popular beach towns in Costa Rica, and that’s for a good reason. It offers some of the most stunning, long beaches, fantastic surf breaks, lots of trendy shops and cafes, and even some nightlife. In this ultimate Santa Teresa travel guide, we share all our favorite places in the area and what to do while visiting.

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Best time to visit Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa has two seasons – the dry season and the green season (or the rainy season). From December to April, you will experience dry weather, a lot of sunshine, hot temperatures, and the highest prices. It’s the best time if you are looking for a beach holiday. May to November is the wetter and rainier time of the year, but also off-season for tourism, which means better prices when traveling. It does not mean you will have rain all day. Usually, tropical rains can come and go quickly.

Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? You can find All you need to know to plan your perfect trip here.

How to get to Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is located at the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can get there either by car, bus or domestic flight.

Rental Car

Our preferred way of traveling in Costa Rica is by rental car. This gives you the most freedom to explore and is the most convenient way to travel on your own schedule. Driving in Costa Rica is easy. If you visit Santa Teresa in the Rainy Season, a 4×4 car is recommended. We always find the best rental car prices on Discover Cars

Local Ferry

Depending on where in Costa Rica you drive from, you might want to take the Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera (especially coming from San Jose; this saves you many hours of driving). You can find all the ferry information hereand also get your ticket online.

Domestic Flight

If you want to fly from San Jose domestically, you can fly to Tambor Airport, which is a small Airport about 1 hour from Santa Teresa. From there you can take a Taxi to get to your final destination. This route is operated by Green Airways.

Santa Teresa Town explained

Santa Teresa is an extensive beach town built along two beaches: Playa Carmen and Playa Santa Teresa. Most of the shops and restaurants of Santa Teresa are located along the main road. 

As the popularity of Santa Teresa grows, the town itself grows too and now has some outside parts as well. Malpais is a neighborhood south of Santa Teresa famous for its tide pools and more affordable accommodation.

North of Santa Teresa is Playa Hermosa, which is a beautiful and quiet area as well. The accommodation in this area is mostly more luxurious, with big villas. But the beach is stunning and great for surfing.

9 Best things to do in Santa Teresa

Go surfing or take a surf class

Surfing while in Santa Teresa is an absolute must. Whether you are experienced, intermediate, or a complete beginner in surfing, the surf in Santa Teresa is suitable for everyone. One of our favorite places to surf as beginners is Playa Hermosa. You can rent surfboards or book surf classes all around town. Alternatively, you can even go to a surf camp if you want to take your surfing to the next level. For example, at La Point, a renowned international surf camp.

Enjoy Santa Teresa’s beaches

The beaches in Santa Teresa are a highlight. They are long, vast stretches of light sand lined with countless palm trees. As mentioned above, there are two main beaches, Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen. It’s usually where there are most people and the most incredible vibes at sunset with music and beach bars. Additionally, you can go north to Playa Hermosa or south to Malpais to enjoy less crowded beaches. And it’s even worth it to visit Montezuma and Cabuya to find empty beaches. 

An aerial view of a beach with palm trees.

Horseback Riding with Horizonte Horse

Our favorite activity in Santa Teresa is going on a horseback riding tour with Horizonte horse. Michelle and her team are excellent guides and genuinely passionate about horses. The tour takes you along stunning empty beaches, through rivers and fields. There is no better way to enjoy Costa Rica’s beautiful nature than from the back of a horse. The absolute highlight is galloping back along the beach at sunset. Adrenaline and dopamine pure!

Take a Yoga Class

Next to being the most famous surf town in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa is also renowned for its extensive yoga offers. You can book a private yoga class or join a group class in paradise.

Enjoy the tide pools in Malpais

Malpais is located south of Santa Teresa and offers stunning empty beaches and tide pools. These are pools formed by the rocks that occur when the tides are low. They are fantastic to relax and have a fun day by the beach. 

Explore Santa Teresa Town and shop at small & local businesses

There are a lot of boutiques in Santa Teresa, and here are our favorite shops:

PAWO – Pacific Wolf

A popular slow fashion brand with amazing designs offers clothing & swimwear for women and a smaller selection for men. I love the long & flowy dresses they sell.

Greenfolk

Concept store with women’s clothing from natural fibers, designed in Costa Rica.

Youmeandthesea

Concept store with a beautiful selection of sustainable brands, partly local brands.

Slothy

Sustainable clothing and swimwear made in Costa Rica.

Calm & Co

The best store to buy self-care products like natural beauty products, candles, crystals, and jewelry.

Greenworld Store

If you want to cook in your Airbnb and need to get groceries, we highly recommend stopping by Greenwold Store. The shop offers organic fruit & vegetables, some zero-waste products, and more.

Go on a day trip to Montezuma & Cabuya

If you want to escape the hustling and bustling of the town and explore some more remote beaches and nature reserves, you have to go on a day trip to the Montezuma and Cabuya area. 

You can read all our tips for visiting in our detailed Montezuma travel guide.

Montezuma Waterfall

One of our favorite waterfalls in Costa Rica for swimming and spending some relaxing time in is Montezuma Waterfall. It is a 45-minute drive from Santa Teresa but so worth a visit. The drive is scenic, and you can combine your visit with exploring Montezuma and the beaches in this area.

Spend a day on Tortuga Island

A Tortuga Island tour is a fun and popular excursion from Santa Teresa. We have not done this tour yet, but hopefully, we will visit next time when we are in the area. After a 45-minute boat ride from Montezuma, you reach the paradise island with white sand, tall coconut palms, and turquoise water. You can snorkel and enjoy the island. Tours are usually a full day, including Lunch served on the island and snorkeling gear.

Best places to eat in Santa Teresa

In our opinion, Santa Teresa has some of the best food options in Costa Rica, and we have a few favorite restaurants that are a must-try!

Eat Street

Eat Street is one of the most popular places to eat in Santa Teresa. This open-air concept restaurant features different sellers like a food court style. You can meet with friends and everyone orders from the place they like. We love to go for Smoothie Bowls at lunch or Tacos and Salad Bowls in the evening.

Drift Restaurant & Bar

We love Drift Restaurant for dinner. It’s mainly Vegetarian and has a lot of Vegan Options. The vegan dumplings, spring rolls, and Lasagne are a must-try. Also, don’t skip dessert when you eat there.

Anis Cafe

Our favorite smoothie bowl ever is the Dark Bowl with Coconut Milk at Anis Cafe. It’s like dessert for breakfast. They also offer delicious coffees, matcha, and Avocado Toast — an excellent place for Breakfast or Lunch.

Somos Cafe

House of Somos is the place to be in Santa Teresa town. The surf hotel offers everything from surfboard rental, surf shop, yoga, and Somos Cafe — a great place to have a coffee and breakfast.

The Bakery

The most popular place in town is The Bakery. This cafe offers many pastries and good coffee but is open until dinner. In high season, there is often a line in front, so plan enough time or come for early breakfast.

El Corazon

We only had dinner at El Corazon once, and it was delicious — great vegan options and vibes. We love this place for a dinner out with friends.

Nula Plant-Based Kitchen

Nula is a fully vegan Restaurant located in Malpais at the eco-community Zunya. We highly recommend this place as we love the delicious food options and the beautiful location at the beach.

Manta Raya Cafe

A lovely cafe in Playa Hermosa. A great place to have breakfast after a beautiful morning at the beach.

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

There is a great selection of accommodation in Santa Teresa that ranges from more budget-friendly to super luxury. We usually find our accommodation for Santa Teresa on Airbnb. But there are also beautiful boutique hotels that we can recommend:

Lua Villas a beautiful, small boutique hotel located in Playa Hermosa

Nautilus Villas for surf & yoga and very central location in walking distance from the beach and restaurants

Bohemia Experience Glamping style with jungle vibes

House of Somos Most popular and stylish surf hotel in the center of Santa Teresa

How to get around in Santa Teresa

The most convenient way to get around in Montezuma Costa Rica, and to be able to explore the area with all its pristine beaches is by renting either a car, ATV, or Motorbike. 

We always find the best rental car prices on Discover Cars. If you want to rent an ATV or motorbike, there are various rental companies in town. Expect to pay around 40 – 60 USD per day for an ATV.

Travel tips

Internet Access

In Costa Rica, Internet Access is usually not bad, and most places (like cafes & restaurants) offer wifi. We recommend buying a local SIM card upon arrival. The most convenient option for travelers is the eSim Card (digital SIM card) from Airalo. You can download and install a digital data pack and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land, so there is no need to waste time looking for a local plastic SIM card. 

Money

The local currency is Colones. You can pay almost everywhere in USD Dollar, but we recommend using the local currency for better prices. There are two ATMs in Santa Teresa town. We recommend using BCR (Banco de Costa Rica) when you get cash because they don’t charge you ATM fees.

You can pay with a card in most restaurants and shops, and no additional fees are charged for that. We usually only use cash in markets or in small local places.

Conclusion

Santa Teresa is one of the busiest beach towns, especially during the high season. But due to its extensive size and beaches, it usually doesn’t feel too crowded. Also, if you need a break from the hustling and bustling of the town, there are many nature adventures close by. It’s one of these places in Costa Rica that we keep returning to, and every time, we have a great time. If you are looking for a place to surf, do yoga, eat healthy food, and connect with like-minded people, then Santa Teresa is the place to be.

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