Santa Teresa, Costa Rica – a surfer’s paradise, full of board rental shops, surf schools, and (somewhat) affordable restaurants

Santa Teresa is a surfer’s paradise, full of board rental shops, surf schools, and (somewhat) affordable restaurants (or numerous options for supermarkets for the economical option).  It is the place that most embraced the “pura vida” approach to life.


There aren’t many 4-star options in the area – but I do see adverts announcing forthcoming openings, so this could change – but there are tons of hostals, bungalows, and privately owned accommodations.  What you won’t find is your typical chain hotel anywhere in the area.

I stayed at the newish Selva Boutique Villas ( which really are stunning.  The rooms all offer something different, and some have their own wee pools which, when it is hot and humid as it is apparently here most of the time, these might be the room for you.  I opted for the Villa Ivory, also lovingly referred to as the treetop, villa and I must admit, the views are stunning and the sounds of nature very relaxing.  But there are some things to be aware of, and prepared for, if choosing the Selva is right for you: 1, the entrance to the hotel is up a steep incline behind motorized doors so be prepared if driving a stick for the first time in a long time; 2, the steep incline continues up to the villas; 3, many of the villas are up numerous flights of steps so this is not for the faint of heart and they are not for persons with disabilities; 4, the front office opens at 9.30 and closes at 16.30 and can only be reached via WhatsApp; and 5, there is no place for breakfast on the property.  The rooms come with kitchens (outdoor, for the most part), but I don’t want to cook for myself when I’m paying this amount of money.


There are tons of places to eat along the main street of Santa Teresa, in all different price ranges.  For my short stay in ST, I can recommend Katana, a fusion sushi restaurant or Drift, a cool Mediterranean inspired place.  Both places – like many, but not all – are outdoor seating so you’ll be reliant on fans and nature’s breezes to stay cool.      


It’s the beach.  Everyone comes here for the surf and there really isn’t any more to do here, other than to eat and drink. Remember, ST really is a bohemian paradise.

I did do a tour to Isla Tortuga with Zuma Tours which wasn’t crazy expensive, and was a fun outing for the day.  The day started with pick-ups in ST, and then transport to the other side of the tip of the peninsula to Montezuma from where we departed on a large speed boat.  We stopped at tow very close places for 45 minutes (each of snorkeling), followed by lunch on Isla Tortuga, before leaving the island back to Montezume at 15.00.  The tour had plenty of fresh fruit, drinks, beer, and vodka and fruit juices so libations were definitely free-flowing.  There’s nothing to do on Isla Tortuga as it is a protected island so you can rent a lounge chair, lie on the beach, or rent any of the over-priced “sea adventure activities”.  Just come prepared.

WHAT I WISH I KNEW IN ADVANCE: the roads in the Nicoya Peninsula region are unpaved and may be worse than anywhere else that I drove in CR.  I found the roads to be stressful, especially as I tried to avoid the various car-destroying holes and ravines everywhere. In Santa Teresa, the primary means of transport is the 4-wheeler, followed second by the moped.  You have to go slow and take your time, and if it were me, I’d avoid driving at night: it should come as no surprise that with unpaved dirt roads, there is a serious lack of any street lights.  There are some sidewalks in ST, but there is also a lot of uneven roads (ankle injury, waiting to happen) and a lot of mud so this is not the place for nice shoes or, arguably, open-toed anything (but everyone wears flippies 24/7.)

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