I spent a week in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica as the perfect way to transition myself back into “real life” after finishing my yoga teacher training. Even so, I’d heard rave reviews from many people about Santa Teresa and that the small beach town was a must-visit while in the area.
The lush jungle runs right up to the picture perfect beaches, and with a small contingency of expats in the community, the town is friendly and welcoming. With a hippie, beach bum vibe, it offers the perfect way to relax and enjoy the tropical paradise.
After a week, I walked away with a list of favorite places to stay, eat, and play. If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, see if you can schedule some time in Santa Teresa – you won’t be disappointed.
Here is your essential travel guide for Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
An Overview of Santa Teresa
The “city center” of Santa Teresa is all along the beach, and as you go inland from the beach, it’s essentially all jungle. The central area of the Santa Teresa is one long strip that runs along the water making it pretty easy to find everything you want and need.
Also, unlike other places in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa doesn’t have clean water, so you have to buy bottled water. And it ain’t cheap. My recommendation is to buy the big, gigantic jugs at the grocery store and then refill your water bottle throughout the day as needed.
Located in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Penninsula, it’s not exactly hard to get to Santa Teresa but it can take a while. Depending on your budget and time, there are a few different ways you can get there, including renting your own car.
To those considering renting a car, be warned that the roads in Santa Teresa can be brutal due to massive amounts of rain. If visiting during the dry season, chances are they’ll be better, but they’re unpaved roads with many buses and potholes.
Here are your various options:
- A 30-minute flight from San Jose to Tambor. You’ll then a taxi or arrange a shuttle to Santa Teresa. A one-way trip will likely cost you between $100-140. More information is here.
- Take a private shuttle and a ferry. The entire trip takes around five to six hours and costs around $60, including pick-up, drop-off, and a lovely ferry ride from Puntarenas. You can book this through any place you’re staying in San Jose.
- Take the public bus. I believe it costs $15-$20 to go directly from San Jose to Santa Teresa and this link has more information about times and cost.
- Water taxi from Jaco. If you’re feeling adventurous and coming from Jaco, it’s possible to take a speedboat from Jaco to Montezuma and then take a shuttle, bus or taxi to Santa Teresa. Boats leave at 10:30 AM, and this link has more information.
** Double check all departure times and prices to confirm as things have been known to change…
Depending on your budget, accommodations vary from renting an Airbnb to budget hostels to swanky hotels. You’ll pay around $15-$20/night for a dorm bed during high season, and prices drop to about $10-$12/night during low season.
Casa Zen Guesthouse & Yoga Center
Probably your most budget-friendly option in Santa Teresa, without being disgusting. I stayed here for a week and for the price it was fine. The bathrooms could be a bit nicer, but there’s a kitchen, it’s on the beach and in the center of town, and it offers yoga throughout the day.
Casa del Mar
Located across the street from Casa Zen, Casa del Mar is a bit more expensive but the overall the accommodations are a bit nicer, too. The hostel also has a bar, restaurant, and cafe.
Hostel Dos Monos
It’s located a bit more towards the entrance of town and offers a kitchen. It’s also about the same price as Casa Zen and is another solid option in my opinion.
Santa Teresa and Costa Rica in general offer great, organic, locally-grown restaurants. They’re not cheap, but the food is delicious.
Zwart Art Cafe
The charming cafe offers delicious breakfast and lunch options such as smoothies, wraps, salads, burritos, pancakes, and pastries. It also has an excellent used bookstore if you need a new book. Finding it on the main road is easy.
Chop It – Holy Cow Burger
A fellow yoga teacher training friend took us here for lunch one day, and it was awesome. An expat family started the restaurant, and they offer fresh organic salads and wraps made to order along with gourmet burgers made from 100% certified hormone and antibiotic free Brangus beef. If you feel like splurging, buy some of the $10 locally-make chocolate they sell. It’s the best chocolate I’ve ever had.
The cutest little bakery you ever did see, I only went there once, but it’s adorable. It’s another easy one to find on the main road, and they have AC if you need to escape the heat and humidity for an hour. A perfect place to enjoy a coffee and pastry and read your book or get caught up on work.
While I can’t necessarily recommend the food or the drinks (they’re just way too expensive for what I’m willing to pay), it’s a great place to grab a beer and enjoy the sunset. It’s located right on the beach making it a perfect place to soak in the tropical paradise.
Casa del Mar
I’ll admit that I ate here more than I probably should have, but it was right across the street from my hostel and the food is good. If you want to a cheap lunch, try some of their empanadas. They also have a woodfire pizza oven and make excellent pizzas and burgers. And for the sweet treat, those brownies are killer. Oh, did I mention they have a happy hour, too? Because there’s that.
Do These Things
Santa Teresa is known for it’s surfing and draws people from all over the world to its beaches. If you’re a surfer, you’ll want to check it out. If you’re interested in learning, renting a board and taking a lesson is easy to do.
Beach Training Academy
If you feel like working on your beach bod with a bunch of locals, check out the Beach Training Academy sweat sessions with Jonah. All of the workouts are on the beach and times are posted on his site. I can say from personal experience that he’ll kick your butt and you’ll feel damn good walking around in that bikini the rest of the day.
Visit Play Hermosa
Located just outside of Santa Teresa is Playa Hermosa, one of the prettier stretches of beach in the area. Rent a four-wheeler and drive to the beach for the day, or if you feel like the exercise, it’s walkable, too. If you stay for the evening and make a bonfire, I recommend taking a taxi or finding a ride back to Santa Teresa.
Shopping at Holly
Santa Teresa has some great shopping, but Holly takes the cake. I walked into this store with the girls and had to sit on my hands so I didn’t try anything on. Great dresses, shirts, bathing suits, jewelry, sunglasses, their stuff is adorable. It’s also not cheap. Not expensive, but not cheap. So if you’re on a budget, you’ve been warned, but it’s a fun place to splurge on something great that nobody else at home will have. It’s also on the main road, close to The Bakery.
The Yoga Scene
There’s an incredible amount of yoga going on in Santa Teresa. From yoga retreats to teacher trainings to daily classes – if yoga is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Almost every hotel in Santa Teresa offers yoga classes, but the cheapest place to take a class is at Casa Zen. They offer a variety of classes seven days a week on an open-air balcony with mats you can borrow (bring a towel, though). You can purchase yoga packages and save some money if you plan to stay longer, too. Try to take a class with April while you’re there.