What to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Santa Teresa is a village located on the Pacific cost of Costa Rica in Peninsula Nicoya and there are plenty of things that can be done here. This 6 km long beach (including Playa del Carmen and Playa Hermosa) is a perfect spot for surfing and enjoying amazing sunsets. One of my plans for Central America was to stay somewhere for a longer time and learn surfing, so Santa Teresa was most probably the best spot for me in Costa Rica. I was really lucky that thanks to my blog and a presentation that I did in Slovakia in January, I got a contact to a person who lives in Costa Rica. After getting in contact with this guy, I was offered a volunteer job in a hostel in Santa Teresa and that’s how I found out about this amazing spot. I spent three weeks in Santa Teresa, and if I wouldn’t have a travel bug, this would be a place where I would have stayed for much longer. And because I liked it so much, I would like to share some tips with you in case you’ll go to this great place.

Playa del Carmen beach

Playa del Carmen beach, next to Santa Teresa

Horses on a beach - I love it

Horses – I love it

Where to stay: I was so lucky, because I managed to find a volunteer work before I arrived to Santa Teresa. I think that before this experience I stayed in about 100 hostels during my previous travels. I’ve seen great places, dodgy places, party places, boring places, but there is only place that I will remember as “my hostel” – where I worked and stayed for 3 weeks. The name is Pura vida Minihostel in Playa del Carmen (just next to Santa Teresa). Lucky me, this hostel was located 5min from a surf spot ☺ I worked in Mini hostel for 3 weeks, doing all kind of things e.g., checking-in people, offering tours, doing laundry, cleaning the common area, being a pool girl ☺ I also helped the Slovak family who runs the hostel to learn Spanish and I baby-sitted their 4 year old son and taught him Spanish too. This was an interesting experience that brought me to an idea that I actually like to teach. I might be looking for some teaching volunteer opportunities in the future.

Minihostel Santa Teresa used to be a very popular place, known for relaxed crowds and party atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Israeli family that managed this hostel in the last two years didn’t care about this place too much and a lack of attention and no maintenance resulted into bad reviews and drop of clients. The Israeli family decided to rent this place to a new owner, and that’s how my boss appeared on the scene ☺ When I started working in Minihostel, the main goal was to get things up and running again. Having so many diverse tasks was a bit exhausting situation for me as volunteer. I see volunteering as a learning experience not a “cheap” work force, but I managed to do my best and I learned a lot about hostel industry and how things work in Costa Rica. The owner managed to do lot of things during the first 3 weeks and I’m sure that by the time I’m writing this post, Minihostel is getting new and very good reviews again. This place deserves to be maintained well, because it has a perfect location (5min from the beach), very nice common area and a good atmosphere. Good luck Minihostel!

In Minihostel where I worked as a receptionist

In Minihostel where I worked as a receptionist

Where to eat (also for vegetarians): Santa Teresa offers a good variety of local and international food. Costa Rica is not a cheap country to travel and to eat, so don’t expect prices like in Nicaragua. The cheapest meal that I found was a “vegetarian casado” (a typical dish with rice and beans) for 2100 COL = 4 USD. I ate many times in Soda La Amistad or Soda Coral Blanco and the food was always delicious and harmless ☺ From international and more expensive restaurants, I recommend Red Snapper Seafood Restaurant for baby fried calamari, Umi sushi has a great vegetarian sushi plate, The Bakery has some nice pastries and pizza, Zula Restaurant has a fantastic and huge falafel plate and I spent many evenings at Banana beach, drinking Piňa colada (just one per evening, because I hate to spend my travel budget on alcohol ☺

Diverse food in Santa Teresa

Diverse food in Santa Teresa

What to do:
Surf, surf, surf! This is a great spot for all kinds of surfers, beginners too. Sometimes it can get too crowded, but the beach is very long, so there is space for everyone. But the best about this beach is that from most of the hostels or hotels, it takes approximately 5-10minutes to leave your room and surf. No need to take a shuttle or drive somewhere (like in e.g. San Juan del Sur/Nicaragua). Santa Teresa and the villages around are very well equipped with surf shops where you can rent a surf board or take classes. I had my surf board from Ollie’s adventures (just down the street from Minihostel). The owner Adrian was very helpful and I could exchange the surf board for a different one whenever I wanted. The price of a surf board rental is around 10USD for 24 hours. Try to get a better price or buy a surf board if you’re staying longer.

Surfing and sunsets - the best!

Surfing and sunsets – the best!

Horseback riding
What can be better than watching a sunset on a back of a horse? Not that many things 😉 If you’ll have a chance, go for a ride either in Santa Teresa or to Malpaís. I did a 2-hour ride with Ollie’s adventures, including 1 hour beach ride and 1 hour mountain ride with great views on all beaches in Santa Teresa.

Horseback Riding with Ollie's adventures

Horseback Riding with Ollie’s adventures

Rent an ATV and experience the dusty roads of Nicoya (in dry season) and drive to the nearby villages. I recommend visiting a hippie and bohemian Montezuma and stay for a couple of nights. I stayed in Hotel Lucy, which turned out to be a very nice, cheap and clean place located 10m from the sea.

Rent an ATV

Rent an ATV

Beach bonfire
Bonfire under many stars and by the ocean is a popular thing to do in Santa Teresa. I experienced several bonfires and nothing happened to me, but some guys from my hostel were robbed while “forgetting” the world around them and spending a quality time with their partner 🙂 There is no light on the beach, so some thieves slither silently to the people laying or sleeping on the beach and they steal whatever they can. So have a good time, but be careful.

Bonfire on the beach

Bonfire on the beach

Santa Teresa offers many places that offer yoga classes, so you can balance your surfing or horseback riding.

I didn’t party that much in Santa Teresa, because I surfed and worked almost everday. And luckily, this is not a party place. But you can find some “clubs” and the only party that I can recommend is a full moon party in Rancho Ita una. Electronic music, yes!

Long walks and amazing sunsets
The beach is 6km long, so it’s perfect for walking or running, but the best of all is getting energized by the sunsets. This was on my everyday schedule and while staying in Santa Teresa, I haven’t missed a sunset.

I miss you Santa Teresa, I’ll be back…

Amazing sunsets

Amazing sunsets

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7 Comments on “What to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

  1. Pingback: What to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica | Unboxing TravellerUnboxing Traveller

  2. Hey Silvia,
    Your info about Central America and good surf spots has been epic. I’m heading there as a lone female, hoping to score some great waves and conduct volunteer ecology work from May 2015. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and hope to emulate your adventures! Any hints about conservation or ecology research would be really appreciated 🙂

    Kind Regards,

    Steph (NZL)

  3. Looks like we were here at about the same time (February 2014 in my case). I did some online work while here and ended my days on the surf board while the sun set on the horizon. The good life!

    As for tips: there is a super steep climb up to a luxury place called Vista de Olas. They have a pool that overlooks the beach and they serve great cocktails that you can drink in the pool, while enjoying the sunset. Unforgettable!

    • Hi André. I’m happy that you visited my site 🙂 Thanks for the tips and hope to meet you somewhere surfing and digital-nomading 🙂

  4. Pingback: 27 things I learned from my first year of surfing

  5. Hola Silvia!
    Felicidades por la página, no sabes como he disfrutado de leer tu post!
    En dos semanas me voy a santa teresa, también deseando aprender surf y hacere yoga. Y estoy buscando tambien trabajo voluntariado. Estoy mirando varios hostales, y llegué a tu post.
    Traté de buscar la pagina web del minihostel donde estuviste pero no la encontré. Podrías darme un contacto? Sabes si todavía buscan voluntarios?
    Muchisimas gracias

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