Santa Teresa, Costa Rica offers much for the visitor looking for relaxation and peace after a rough 2020. Here’s our two cents on how to make the most of this perfect part of Central America. This article contains some affiliate (referral) links, where we earn a small commission if you buy anything after clicking, at no extra cost to you.
In recent years, Santa Teresa has blossomed into one of Costa Rica’s most magical travel destinations. Situated on the Pacific coast on the Nicoya Peninsula, this delightful village forms a gateway to some of the most picturesque beaches in the world.
It has every amenity you may need, from luxury accommodations and world-class local dining to adventure tourism opportunities. Oh – and Santa Teresa is near some of the most biodiverse nature preserves on earth. What’s not to love?
So don’t miss out on what this incredible destination has to offer. Here are our top six simple ways to make the most out of your vacation in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
1. Take advantage of this surfer’s paradise
If Santa Teresa is known for only one thing, it’s the surfing.
There are a few factors that make Santa Teresa beaches so ideal for surfing. First, they’re accessible year-round. The warm water and perfect breaks make the waves perfect for beginners and experts, no matter the season.
There are also many beaches to access here, not just Playa Santa Teresa itself. Different beaches have different types of wave strengths and breaks. Some are better for beginners while others are best left to more experienced surfers. Ask around the surf schools when you arrive for a beach that fits your surfing level.
Talking of surf schools, you’ll find no lack of them to choose from in Santa Teresa. In fact, first-time surfing lessons are among the most popular attractions, so take advantage of it while you’re here. You can choose from one-day packages where you spend a day paddling and learning the basics, or you can opt for a surf camp that’s usually a minimum length of one week. Even if you end up being a bad surfer, splashing around on a beautiful sandy beach is a great way to spend a vacation.
2. Visit the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Your trip to Santa Teresa would be incomplete without a visit to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.
Cabo Blanco is home to some of the world’s densest biodiversity. On your visit, see if you can spot rare birds, anteaters, wildcats, monkeys, and many more incredible creatures. This place is a botanist’s dream, too—you’ll find over 150 kinds of trees.
Located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Cabo Blanco encompasses both beachfront and rainforest. This means you’ll find trails across a couple of biomes, and you’ll enjoy incredible ocean views along the way. You can also camp here, but book in advance, as the spaces are limited and sell out fast.
There are stations with potable water and toilets if you’re planning on hiking. To make your hike easier and learn a little something along the way, book a guided tour of the park. Nature is so much more magical when you understand what makes the birds, plants, and climate work harmoniously together to support such biodiversity.
3. Choose the right season for your purposes
There are distinct seasons in Costa Rica that will affect your vacation. No season is bad for travel, but some seasons are going to be packed with tourists while others have a high chance of rain. It depends on why you’re visiting.
In Costa Rica, the rainy season runs approximately from May to October. From November through April, you can enjoy a warmer, sunnier, climate. This, as you might have guessed, makes the holiday season an extremely popular time of year to visit. So book ahead if you plan to visit for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
You might not think to visit in the rainy off-season, but it’s actually one of the most popular times for surfers. Fewer tourists in the water and optimal weather conditions make surfing at these times just right. Booking in the rainy season is also much less expensive.
If you’re going with the goal of laying out on a sunny beach, you should plan your visit for the warm months. No matter your preference, do your research and find out what season is best for the reason you’re traveling. No season in Santa Teresa is a bad season.
4. Try yoga on the beach
Yoga is a popular activity in Santa Teresa, and the village is full of studios willing to set up on beaches or in your private villa.
You can find yoga studios for any skill level, so don’t be intimidated if you’re a beginner. Vacations are a perfect time to try new things. And remember, many of the visitors to these studios are just as green as you are.
Guided meditation experiences are also popular in this area. You’ll often find these services incorporated with yoga studios, but you can also book them privately with many places around the area.
Many studios are more than willing to send their yoga and meditation experts anywhere you’d like to host them, so if you wanted, you could arrange a private class for the group you’re traveling with. This makes an excellent activity for relaxing during a family reunion or destination wedding.
5. Visit the Montezuma waterfalls
One of the most famous attractions in the southern Nicoya Peninsula is the Montezuma Waterfalls, a short journey away from Santa Teresa.
Thrill-seekers can climb to the top and jump into the water if they’re careful. The jungle is hot and sticky most of the year, and taking a dip in the pools at the base of the falls is a popular way to cool off. Bring lots of sunscreen, water, and a picnic lunch and have a day trip to remember.
There are three sets of waterfalls that make up the Montezuma Waterfalls, and there are different ways to get to each. The top waterfall is the smallest at 15 feet, but it’s the best for jumping in and swimming. The lower two are the biggest, so guides don’t recommend jumping here for safety reasons. However, all of the pools at the base of the falls are refreshing to take a swim in.
Want to make your visit to Montezuma more exciting? Rent an ATV. Getting around by ATV is common in Santa Teresa, and incredibly fun.
6. Enjoy the beachside dining and nightlife
What better way to spend a tropical vacation in Costa Rica, than by sitting back with a cocktail and watching the sunset over the beach? In Santa Teresa, there are many spots where you can do just that.
In terms of food, Santa Teresa has just about everything, from organic vegan eateries to upscale restaurants serving seafood just plucked from the ocean. You’ll find a wide variety of cuisine here, like traditional Costa Rican fare and internationally appealing burger joints. No matter if you’re traveling with foodies or a picky child; you won’t have a difficult time finding something for everyone.
The nightlife in Santa Teresa is renowned, although it’s worth noting that COVID restrictions are in place here, like everywhere else in Costa Rica. But outside of this temporary situation, the village has a vibrant, young culture. You can party if you’d like to (current COVID restrictions permitting, of course), but if that’s not your scene, it’s also very easy to find an isolated, relaxing beachside bar that’s quiet enough to hear the waves and the birds in the background.
Our favorite eateries are The Bakery for an exquisite breakfast, Habaneros in the luxurious Playa Cielo Hotel, Koji’s for local seafood served Japanese-style, Al Chile Viola’s for Mediterranean cuisine, and La Cevicheria for the freshest ceviche in Santa Teresa. Explore the area and see what strikes your fancy.
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica – Simplicity in a vacation!
Whatever you choose to do in Santa Teresa, whether it’s sampling the best restaurants, unwinding on the beach, or catching some of the best waves in the world, you’ll find the best way to enjoy yourself is to simplify your plans to what suits you best. Go ahead: make it an experience that lives up to the pura vida in every way!
Katie Tejada is a freelance writer. Her interests lie in the travel industry, as well as writing about health and wellness and fitness.