Things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
by Josien - 06 May, 2020
Santa Teresa is one of those places where you probably want to linger much longer than you thought beforehand. The relaxed vibe, amazing beaches, and beautiful jungle definitely help. Many travelers come to this beach town to surf, but even if you can’t surf, there are many other things to do in Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa is upcoming but not yet discovered by mass tourism. You will not find big resorts and traffic lights here and life is a bit slower than in the rest of Costa Rica. The town is tucked away in the south of Nicoya. This peninsula is well known for being a so-called Blue Zone. These are rare regions where people live much healthier and, above all, longer than elsewhere in the world.
But what is there to do then? I lived in this small town for a little while and made a shortlist of my favorite things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica:
- Explore national park and waterfalls
- Horseback Riding
- Yoga and Massages
- Visit the local brewery
- Eat, drink, party
- Infinity Pools at sunset
- Road trip on a quad
- Whale watching
SURF! (OR SUP)
Santa Teresa is one of the best places to surf in Costa Rica. In the rainy season (read here about the weather in Costa Rica), the waves are huge and only for advanced surfers. In the dry season, you can very well take surfing lessons or indulge as a less experienced surfer. We were here during the low season and sometimes we had the entire beach to ourselves. No fear of crashing your board in other surfers or annoying surf classes that snake all your waves!
Big plus: Santa Teresa has so many beaches that if the swell isn’t great for the main beach, Playa Carmen, you can go to Playa Hermosa or even Manzanillo, Cabuya or Montezuma. We have seen a few people having fun on Stand-Up-Paddle-boards, so if you’re not into surfing, this could be a fun activity too!
Explore national parks and waterfalls
Costa Rica has a great deal of National Parks and is known for the jungles, wildlife, and volcanos. The Nicoya Peninsula does not disappoint! Our favorites around Santa Teresa: National Park Cabo Blanco. This park close to Santa Teresa has three different routes your can hike and lots of wildlife to offer. Easy to spend a full afternoon here.
You can also drive to Montezuma for the famous waterfalls and hike around it! The first (and biggest) waterfall can be touristy, but the hike to the second is a bit rough so for sure you won’t find many other explorers there. For the daredevils: you can jump from the highest point into the natural pool! The third waterfall is a bit lower, but still high enough to activate your fear of heights. Absolutely recommend going find these waterfalls!
At Playa Manzanillo, you can go for beautiful horseback riding adventures. You will start and end at the beach, but in between, you cross farmers’ land, valleys, and rivers. A beautiful ride and absolutely recommended doing during your stay in Santa Teresa!
Tip: book this activity in the afternoon so you will come back at sunset: galloping on the beach during sunset. A Dream!
Yoga and massages
Santa Teresa is a bit of a hipster town with healthy food restaurants and organic stores (which we love!). There are a lot of places to practice yoga or to get a nice (after-surf) massage. Enjoy!
We didn’t experience this ourselves, but there are organized tours to learn and improve your freediving skills. For the truly adventurous travelers out there!
Visit the brewery for sunset
One of our favorite spots for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday night! At Que May Brewery you will find several home-brewed beers on draft and to-go. Their menu offers delicious finger food (their wings and pretzels are to die for!!) and therefore an absolute chill location to go to after a great surf session at Playa Hermosa.
Since the brewery is situated on a high hill, they have the most spectacular view on the ocean. Have a stretch on the yoga deck or enjoy the sunset from a hammock.
To get to Que May Brewery from Santa Teresa, you drive for like 15 min, so don’t drink too many beers or stay the night at the brewery! They have great rooms with awesome wifi available too.
Eat, drink, and party
Santa Teresa is a small town, so don’t expect a boulevard with lots of bars and beach clubs to party the night away. But the few restaurants in the village are amazing. Read our top 10 restaurants blog and our other recommendations here.
For fine cocktails and a romantic location, you go to Nantipa.
Coffee and breakfast: The Bakery, Earth Cafe, Zwart Cafe, and Bali Bowls.
Drinks: Drift Bar and Banana Beach Bar
Party night: Kika Bar and La Lora (very local though)
Sunday Funday: Habanero Beach
Sunset in an entrance-free infinity pool
Hotel Vista De Olas, just outside of Santa Teresa is the perfect spot to have a view on all the beaches of Santa Teresa AND sunset. Watch the sun sink into the ocean while sipping from your favorite cocktail and floating on the edge of an infinity pool. A great place for date night or just a fun location to hang with friends.
Free entrance, but with minimum spend of around 25 usd.
Road trip on a quad
One of our favorite things to do was crossing around on our quad! The roads in Santa Teresa (and around it) are not the best. You absolutely need a 4×4 or quad to get around town, and that is exactly what we love about it!
We can recommend to rent a quad and drive to Montezuma. NOT via the main road (to Cobano) but the “jungle road” via Mal Pais and Cabuya. Please ask at your rental place if the roads are open and check the route you’re going to take with them. There is a big change is that you won’t have any internet or phone reception on the way, so download a map on your phone and let them know when you will be back.
We went in October, in the middle of the rain season, and experienced no issues. Muddy roads, big pools to cross, and lots of fun. Guaranteed that the adventurous traveler will enjoy this!
We didn’t experience this in Santa Teresa, but we have seen whales jumping out of the water from time to time. So there is a big chance you will meet them if you book a whale watching tour. We heard great stories from other people who went on a boat trip to see humpback whales from up close! Besides whales, you most likely also see dolphins and sea turtles!
More things to do in Santa Teresa
If you have more time to kill in Costa Rica, think about the following things to do around the Nicoya Peninsula:
- Visit the Arenal Vulcano, hot springs, and waterfalls.
- Visit Palo Verde National Park
- Go to Isla Tortuga
- Visit Parque Nacional Barra Honda
- Go to Curú Wildlife Refuge
- San Lucas Island
- Visit Black Stallion Eco Park & Estates
- Monkey Jungle Zip Line Canopy Tour
- Processing plant “Diria Coffee Tour”