Santa Teresa is reputed to be one of Costa Rica’s top-ten best surf beaches. Spreading northward from the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, the ultra-popular beach town borders the open Pacific Ocean and is famed for its beach breaks, point breaks, and an idyllic stretch of palm-lined white sand beaches.
What seems like one continuous and elongated town is actually a string of individual pueblos. They include Mal País, Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa, and Playa Hermosa. Each little town merges into the next following the main road as it heads north along the coast towards Guanacaste Province.
Santa Teresa and neighboring towns cater to all types of travelers, offering everything from backpacker hostels to five-star luxury resorts and local eateries to gourmet fine dining.
How to Get to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Although Santa Teresa beach, Costa Rica, is only 185 km (115 miles) from San José, getting there takes about 5.5 hours. Fortunately, not all of the trip is on the road but combines driving with a scenic ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya.
Drivers should program their GPS for the Tambor Ferry in Puntarenas. Once there, a uniformed Tambor employee will give each driver a vehicle pass, which is needed to buy the ferry passage to the Port of Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula. The trip costs approximately $20 for a regular car, $1.75 for adults, and $0.80 for kids, and takes about 1.5 hours.
The scenic cruise is excellent for picture taking as the ferry passes uninhabited tropical islands blanketed in seabirds. Once arriving in Paquera, follow the signs, or your GPS, towards the town of Cobano, and from there towards Mal País. The drives on both ends of the ferry ride are about 1.5 hours each way.
By land – with Adobe Rent a Car
The only drawbacks to visiting Santa Teresa are its notoriously bad roads. From Cobano, most are unpaved, and the ones that aren’t are usually riddled with potholes. This final stretch of road is the most challenging. The rugged terrain and steep incline down to sea level can be daunting for vehicles without 4WD.
Renting a 4×4 car is the smartest choice. The extra clearance will help you navigate the rough roads, and the added power will ensure you don’t get stuck in a rut in the middle of the jungle. Ask the Adobe Rent a Car representative which type of vehicle best fits your itinerary and vacation needs.
Adobe is proud to have the largest fleet of rental vehicles in all of Costa Rica. Rest assured that your rental car will be either brand new or less than two-years old.
Visitors can also take a private shuttle or public bus from San Jose Airport to Santa Teresa. Unfortunately, however, once there, visitors will need to either walk from destination to destination or find alternative transportation for getting around.
By Air – Costa Rica’s In-country Flights
Santa Teresa is not accessible by air; however, the closest airport to Santa Teresa is located near the town of Tambor only 50 minutes away. Travelers who are short on time can arrange for an Adobe vehicle to be waiting for them upon arrival for an additional charge. Speak with an Adobe agent for more information.
History, population, and climate
Santa Teresa was initially a sleepy agriculture, ranching, and fishing village before being co-settled by adventurous foreigners wishing to experience authentic Costa Rican culture, and surfers enjoying the still-undiscovered world-class waves. Today the town residents earn most of their revenue from tourism.
Due to its growing popularity as an exclusive tropical getaway, the Santa Teresa, Costa Rica population has grown considerably. Even the rich and famous are attracted by its laid-back surf town allure, including Mel Gibson, Tom Brady, and model Gisele Bundchen who have built homes in the area.
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica Map
Santa Teresa weather
Santa Teresa is beautiful year-round. However, most people consider the best time to visit to be the dry season, which runs from December to April. The period also coincides with the country’s high tourist season when the population skyrockets with tourists, and the restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs are hopping.
Virtually every evening, locals and tourists alike gather on Playa Carmen and Santa Teresa beaches for the daily sunset ritual. Surfers ride the waves, children play in the sand, and revelers relax with friends to take in the fabulous natural display of the sea meeting the dazzling Costa Rican sky.
Things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Yoga and surfing are the area’s biggest draws, and just about every hotel caters to both. Many wellness retreats combine the two and make good use of the local providers offering surf lessons.
Beginners and experts alike will find amazing surf conditions all along the coast. Remember that It’s always best to ask a local where to find the right wave to match your skill level, and to avoid potentially dangerous currents and riptides.
The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, located on the southernmost tip of the peninsula, just past Mal País, is the country’s oldest protected area. It was first dedicated as an absolute reserve with the aim of regenerating native tree and plant species displaced by ranching. It is said that its creation spearheaded Costa Rica’s national park movement.
Visitors can hike along the park’s well-maintained trails either accompanied by a naturalist guide or independently. The main trail ends at a secluded white-sand beach. At low tide, hikers can walk across the exposed sandbar to Cabo Blanco Island where an old indigenous cemetery is located.
Snorkeling and scuba diving tours to Tortuga Island and around Cabo Blanco are favorite day trips. Visitors also rave about the canopy tour in nearby Montezuma, which includes zip-lining over the picturesque Montezuma River and waterfalls.
Horseback riding is another exciting way to explore the beautiful beaches and coastal forest habitats. Among the prolific wildlife, riders are likely to see howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, iguanas, pizotes, and a variety of marine and tropical bird species.
For those that just want a break from their regular routine, enjoying the warm open air beneath a palm tree on one of Costa Rica’s most cherished beaches is just what the doctor ordered.