Santa Teresa Costa Rica Travel Guide: Best Hotels + Things to Do in Santa Teresa

the beach at santa teresa costa rica

Santa Teresa Costa Rica is a trendy beach town located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean.

There are plenty of epic things to do in Santa Teresa including enjoying the world-class Santa Teresa Costa Rica surf conditions (perfect for beginners and intermediates!), exploring the cool new-age shops and restaurants in Santa Teresa, and spending time on the idyllic beaches and inviting azure waters.

The town of Santa Teresa takes up a 10km stretch of white sand coastline that includes smaller sub-communities. When it comes to the best hotels in Santa Teresa, communities like Santa Teresa Beach, Playa Carmen and Banana Beach are the most popular attracting a younger, livelier, international crowd, with Mal Pais and Playa Hermosa serving a traveller seeking more solitude.

What’s great about staying in Santa Teresa, is the many exciting day trips you can take. From the bohemian town of Montezuma Costa Rica with its epic Montezuma Waterfalls, and the paradisical Tortuga Island, to the underrated Cabuya Island Cemetery and Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. There is so much to discover.

In this detailed guide to Costa Rica Santa Teresa, I’ll give you the low down on how to get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica, where to stay in Santa Teresa, the best things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica, best Santa Teresa Costa Rica restaurants, the ideal time to visit and much more!

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Quick Guide

BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE
Check Prices of HeyMondo Insurance
*I used the single-trip policy in Costa Rica

SHARED & PRIVATE SHUTTLE TICKETS
Check Shuttle Prices on BookAway

BEST SANTA TERESA HOTELS
Luxury | Hotel Nantipa
Mid-range | Somos
Economy | Hotel Santa Teresa
Hostel | Selina South

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Map

So, where is Santa Teresa in Costa Rica? Santa Teresa is located on the Nicoya Peninsula in the Province of Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The town of Santa Teresa Costa Rica can be reached from most tourist destinations, including San Jose International Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport within 5 hours.

Click on the map of Santa Teresa Costa Rica below to interact with Google Maps.

About Santa Theresa Costa Rica

St Teresa Costa Rica is a small beach town located at the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. The ‘town’ is spread along the 10km stretch of coastline and includes a few different sub-communities connected by one main road running parallel to the shore. I put town in quotation marks because I would describe Santa Teresa as a collection of small beach villages that make up a whole.

The centre of Santa Teresa, and where most people will choose their Santa Teresa hotel is surrounding the main playas Santa Teresa Costa Rica offers like Playa Santa Teresa, Banana Beach and Playa Carmen. This is where you will find the most action and amenities. Each of these beach communities has something a bit different to offer and attracts its own distinct crowd.

Santa Teresa’s popularity has boomed in the last decade due to its consistent world-class surfing conditions and laid-back vibe. A once quiet village has turned into a lively and trendy hub. The main strip sees constant development with trendy cafes, restaurants and shops popping up everywhere.

Don’t expect Santa Teresa to be cheap like other bohemian beach towns like Montezuma Costa Rica, accommodation and food costs match that of the USA and Canada.

TIP | Parts of the main road are still unpaved and can create a lot of dust in the dry season between December – April. Remember to bring something to cover your face like a kerchief or even goggles, if you plan to drive an ATV.

Two people looking out at santa teresa beach costa rica

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Neighbourhoods

Playa Santa Teresa is the main area of Santa Teresa and can only be described as having a new-age bohemian surf town vibe. Attracting a young international crowd with part-time digital nomads and influencers. ‘Sleep, eat, party, repeat’ is the motto here. You’ll find trendy guesthouses like Selina North or Somos and casual but cool villas. Avocado toast, healthy bowls and upscale coffee can be found here, too!

Drive just 5 minutes south and you hit Banana Beach Costa Rica. Here you will find a transitional community between Santa Teresa Beach and Playa Carmen. This area is known for chill beach hangs and great surf. This is where I stayed. If you are looking for where to stay in Santa Teresa Costa Rica and want a bit of both worlds – lively, yet chill, Banana Beach is for you.

And further down south still, you find Playa Carmen Costa Rica. Here is where you will find older millennials, serious digital nomads, avid surfers and people seeking a bit more solitude. The Playa Carmen area still has great access to awesome cafes and amenities, too, like one of the most popular restaurants in Santa Teresa, The Bakery (a Santa Teresa institution), and the best Asian cuisine at Katana.

The outlying communities of Playa Mal Pais and Playa Hermosa Santa Teresa will be found a 10-15 minute drive north and south along the coastline outside of the main Santa Teresa Costa Rica town. These villages are great for longer-term stays.

Being a Digital Nomad in Santa Teresa

people at restaurant tables in Costa rica santa teresa

Where to Stay as a Digital Nomad in Santa Teresa

If you are coming to Santa Teresa and plan to do some work while you are here, I recommend staying in the Playa Carmen area (quieter!). If you can get a spot at Selina South, that is your best option for access to a dedicated co-working space.

If not, find a villa or apartment away from the main road. ATVs and cars seem to race down this road kicking up dust and making quite a lot of noise, which makes it hard to concentrate.

The Playa Santa Teresa Costa Rica area caters to a younger crowd where socializing and nightlife are a priority. So depending on your prerogative in visiting Santa Teresa, bare in mind that there will be noise until the wee hours of the night.

Working in Santa Teresa Cafes

man working on his laptop in Costa rica santa teresa

While sitting in one of the trendy cafes in town with your laptop seems idyllic, the cafes here tend to play very loud music for the entirety of their opening hours. So, if you don’t have noise-cancelling headphones, need to take a zoom call, or have a hard time concentrating with excess ambient noise, I wouldn’t consider this a great option for you.

The best place we found while working in Santa Teresa was The Roastery cafe. They have a ton of plug-ins and fabulous internet. The seating leaves a bit to be desired, though.

Best Things to Do in Santa Teresa
Costa Rica

While Santa Teresa is mostly about surfing and hanging out on the beach (which I will also cover), there are a few things to do Santa Teresa Costa Rica if you need a break from the sun. From horseback riding at sunset to exciting day trips to Montezuma Beach, Tortuga Island and Cabuya Island Cemetery, what to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica is pretty diverse!

Here is my comprehensive list of Santa Teresa things to do:

Surfing in Santa Teresa

man riding a wave on a surfboard at santa teresa beach costa rica

One of the best things to do in Santa Teresa is to surf! The waves here are some of the most consistent in Costa Rica and are perfect for beginners and intermediates. Many great Santa Teresa Costa Rica surf spots are spread out along the coast which means you won’t be faced with intensely packed lineups, either.

READ MORE | Surfing in Santa Teresa: Ultimate Guide

If you are looking for the best surf camps or surf lessons Santa Teresa Costa Rica has to offer, look no further than Lapoint Costa Rica. You can also find a few Santa Teresa surf shops that offer hourly board rental around Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen’s south end.

Surfing Santa Teresa Costa Rica breaks are my top recommendation for what to do here.

Explore Santa Teresa Town

motorbike with surfboards driving down the main road in playa santa teresa

Santa Teresa Costa Rica is a small town that can easily be explored by bicycle in an afternoon. Start at the north end of Playa Santa Teresa and ride south down the main road. You’ll pass by restaurants, cafes, surf shops, and trendy stores before arriving in the Banana Beach community.

Continuing south, you’ll find Playa Carmen on the right through a thick layer of jungle, and to the left, you will find more cafes and shops. If you are thinking of walking the main road instead, keep in mind that there are some blank areas with no development, especially between Santa Teresa Beach and Banana Beach along the main road.

NOTE | Do keep in mind that the main road can be quite dusty during dry season.

Alternatively, if shopping and cafe hopping isn’t of interest to you, you can make the same journey by walking down the shoreline. Santa Teresa Beach, Banana Beach and Playa Carmen are all connected and can be explored on foot. Walking along the beach is one of the best free things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica. I especially loved walking along Playa Carmen at sunrise and sunset!

Mal Pais Tidal Pools

The Mal Pais tide pools are one of the most unique things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica. These natural rock pools fill with water at high tide and make for a great swimming spot when the tide goes back out. You can find a plethora of small marine life here (don’t touch!), and spend some time frolicking in the pools. Do be aware of larger waves spontaneously washing in and stay safe!

To get to the tide pools, park your ATV or rental car in front of the campground at Playa Mar Azul. From here you can head down to the beach and walk along the rocks to your left. Around the corner, you will find the Mal Pais Tidepools out on the peninsula. The tide pools at Mal Pais are definitely one of the best things to see in Santa Teresa!

drone shot of tidal pools near santa teresa beach costa rica

TIP | I would highly recommend a pair of grippy watershoes to safely climb the rocks.

WHERE | Mal Pais Tidal Pools

Horseback Riding on Manzanillo Beach

horseback riding on the beach near st teresa costa rica

One of the best things to do in Santa Teresa is horseback riding on Manzanillo Beach. The beach is located about a 25-minute drive north along the coastline. Manzanillo Beach is a deserted and expansive dark sand beach making for a tranquil yet exciting experience.

I did this experience at sunset (highly recommend!) with Horizonte Horse Experience and you can choose from a private or group tour. Park your ATV or rental car at Atardecer Dorado and enjoy a beer or cocktail before heading out.

The tour will take you along Playa Manzanillo to the north and through the countryside full of greenery and farmland. Stop at a local watering hole for a beer. Then, it’s time to head back to the beach for the most epic sunset experience!

NOTE | The road leading to Manzanillo Beach is pretty rough and requires either an ATV or high-clearance vehicle

WHERE | Manzanillo Beach

Tortuga Island Day Trip

Tortuga Island Costa Rica Santa Teresa

If you are looking for a fun day trip away from Santa Teresa, look no further than Tortuga Island. This is my top recommendation for day trips in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.

Isla Tortuga is a small uninhabited island that boasts a picturesque white-sand beach, clear turquoise waters and a lush jungle. The island is a great place to spend the day swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling or exploring.

A visit to Tortuga Island is one of the best things to do near Santa Teresa Costa Rica. The island is located about a 20-minute boat ride off the shores of Paquera. The trip is especially popular through an organized Isla Tortuga tour via Montezuma, Paquera or Jaco.

READ MORE | Tortuga Island Costa Rica: Detailed Guide

WHERE | Tortuga Island Costa Rica

Montezuma Beach Day Trip

Montezuma things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Another great day trip from Santa Teresa is to the neighbouring beach town of Montezuma. This bohemian beach town is located about a 40-minute drive away from Santa Teresa. Montezuma is famous for its Montezuma waterfalls, natural pools and chill backpacker vibe. The beaches in Montezuma are some of the best in Costa Rica.

READ MORE | Montezuma Beach Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know

WHERE | Montezuma Beach Town

Cabuya Island Cemetery Day Trip

Drone shot of Cabuya Island Cemetery near costa rica st teresa

One of the most unique things to do near Santa Teresa is to visit the Cabuya Island Cemetery. This small island is located about a 7-minute walk from the beach across a rocky surface in the small hamlet of Cabuya. Yes, you can walk all the way out to the island at low tide!

The island is home to a small cemetery full of colourful wooden coffins hand-painted by the deceased’s family members. Visiting Cabuya Island Cemetery also gives you a great view of the Nicoya coastline.

The cemetery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cabuya and definitely worth a visit if you are looking for something different to do. A trip to the Cabuya Island Cemetery can be easily combined with a visit to Montezuma and Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.

TIP | Make sure to visit at low tide and watch the water level closely. People have been known to get stuck out there!

WHERE | Cabuya Island Cemetery

Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve Day Trip

Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is one of the most popular day trips from Santa Teresa Costa Rica. The reserve is located at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and is known for its dramatic coastline, pristine beaches and hiking trails. The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve was the first protected area in Costa Rica and was established in 1963.

The reserve is home to a diverse array of wildlife including howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, sloths, iguanas, lizards and many different types of birds. Visitors can also expect to see plenty of butterflies and other insects.

There are several hiking trails throughout the reserve that range in difficulty. The most popular trail, while difficult will lead you to Playa Cabo Blanco and a lookout point with views of the reserve and the coastline. The hike takes roughly 4 hours round trip.

The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is one of the best places to go hiking in Costa Rica. It is also a great place to enjoy some time on the beach or go swimming.

WHERE | Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Cabuya

Bioluminescence Kayak Tour

Taking a Bioluminescence kayak tour is such a unique experience! It takes place in Ballena Bay and is best done during the dry season from December to April for water clarity.

During a bioluminescence kayak tour, you will paddle through the mangroves and witness the water come to life with glowing plankton. Tours typically leave around sunset and last for about two hours. This is a great activity for couples, families or groups of friends.

TOUR | Check Prices of Bioluminescence Kayak Tour

Enjoy Sunset with a Coconut

orange sunset over the water in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

One of the best things to do in Santa Teresa is simply to relax on the beach with a good book and a refreshing coconut. Santa Teresa is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in Costa Rica. Whether you are staying at one of the luxury resorts or backpacker hostels, make sure to take some time out of your day to enjoy the sunset.

TIP | For the best sunset experience, head to the beach in front of Hotel Tropico Latino and hang out in one of the hammocks.

Yoga on the Beach

One of the best things about practicing yoga in Santa Teresa is that you can do it right on the beach! My favourite yoga studio with views of the water is located at Hotel Tropico Latino.

Or, simply purchase a yoga mat from a store in town (or bring your own), and set up your solo practice right on the sand. I recommend doing this at sunrise when the light is soft, the sun hasn’t heated up yet and there are fewer people on the beach.

Exploring Santa Teresa Beaches

Man holding a surfboard at Santa Teresa Costa Rica beach

All of the Santa Teresa beaches are beautiful, but each has a different energy and vibe. Three of the beaches are located in the main Santa Teresa proper and are easily visited via walking, ATV or taxi.

But, don’t count out the four outlying beaches of Playa Mal Pais, Playa Cueva, Playa Hermosa and Playa Manzanillo. While they are upwards of 10-25 minutes to reach (depending on which one floats your boat), they are most definitely worth seeing.

In Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Beach

Playa Carmen

Banana Beach

North of Santa Teresa

Playa Hermosa

Playa Manzanillo

South of Santa Teresa

Playa Mal Pais

Playa Cuevas

Santa Teresa Beach

Drone shot of Santa Teresa Beach

Santa Teresa Beach is definitely the liveliest beach in town and is located at the north end of Santa Teresa. Here you will find trendy youngsters prioritizing socializing and nightlife. Expect bonfires at night where you can meet new friends. The beach itself is plushy golden sands with sand bottom waters. Easy to wade into and cool off after laying in the sun.

Don’t expect a lot of amenities here, like most beaches in Santa Teresa. You will have to make the 3-minute walk back to the main road for restaurants and shops, as the beach is lined with dry climate rainforest.

Santa Teresa Beach Costa Rica is also a great spot to learn how to surf. You’ll find a lot of surf lessons taking place in the whitewash close to shore, and a few intermediate surfers outback riding the green waves. If you’re not a surfer, don’t worry! The beach is still beautiful to relax on and people-watch.

WHERE | Santa Teresa Beach

Playa Carmen

Playa Carmen Costa Rica at sunrise

Located at the south end of town, Playa Carmen is popular with millennials, digital nomads and people travelling by camper van. Playa Carmen Costa Rica is a very wide expansive beach making it a perfect place for a beach walk. My favourite time to walk Playa Carmen is in the morning just after sunrise when people are minimal and you can watch the surfers as they hit the waves.

Playa Carmen is also the best beach for surfing in Santa Teresa. At its north end, you can find more beginner-friendly waves, and at its south end more intermediate to advance. Also at the south end toward Mal Pais, you will find popular surf camps like Lapoint Costa Rica.

Come sunset time, people flock to Playa Carmen to watch the sun dip below the horizon. This is the busiest time of day here, but since the beach is large in size, you can still carve out your own secluded spot.

WHERE | Playa Carmen

Banana Beach

sand and ocean at Banana Beach Costa Rica

Banana Beach is smack dab in the middle of Santa Teresa Beach and Playa Carmen. This smaller section of sand is a great middle ground if you want the liveliness of Playa Santa Teresa with the laidback vibe of Playa Carmen. My favourite part about Banana Beach is the hammocks at Hotel Tropico Latino and the upbeat vibes at Banana Beach restaurant.

Banana Beach isn’t an official beach in Santa Teresa, so you won’t find any signs directing you there. But this section of sand seems to have a different vibe and offers different amenities than Santa Teresa Beach and Playa Carmen, so I thought it deserved its own spot on this list of best beaches in Santa Teresa.

Banana Beach Costa Rica is where I stayed for my month spent in Santa Teresa, and I loved the central location.

WHERE | Banana Beach

Playa Mal Pais

Playa Mal Pais Costa Rica

Playa Mal Pais itself isn’t anything to write home about, and in my opinion, is a bit too rocky with too strong of a current to swim. But what Mal Pais, a small village south of Santa Teresa has, is advanced surf and tidal pools. This area takes about a 10-15 minute drive via ATV or rental car and is definitely worth visiting.

Start your day at Nula Plant-Based Kitchen for a yummy breakfast, then check out the tidal pools near Playa Mar Azul (make sure it’s low tide!). Then spend the rest of your day at Playa Cuevas.

WHERE | Playa Mal Pais

Playa Cuevas

Cuevas playa santa teresa costa rica

Playa Cuevas is a small secluded beach located south of Playa Mal Pais. An idyllic piece of sand that you can easily spend half a day at. Park your ATV or rental car in the dirt lot (make sure to tip the attendant before heading to the beach!), and take the short, scenic jungle walk toward the beach. What makes Playa Cuevas special is the rocky pools out front, primed for casual snorkelling or relaxing without waves.

Again, like most other Santa Teresa beaches, you won’t find any amenities here, so make sure to bring what you need!

WHERE | Playa Cuevas

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa Santa Teresa

For a more secluded experience, head to Playa Hermosa which is about a 15-20 minute drive north of Santa Teresa. This golden sand beach is one of the most beautiful in the area and is great for swimming, surfing and relaxing. Because of its size, you can easily start up a beach volleyball game here, too!

The beach itself does not have any amenities, so make sure to bring what you need. Grab a bite further up the road at Couleur Cafe, and spend the afternoon exploring Playa Hermosa!

NOTE | The road from Santa Teresa town to Playa Hermosa is dusty and unpaved. I recommend an ATV or high-clearance rental car to make the trip.

BOOK | Playa Hermosa Surf Lesson

WHERE | Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa

Playa Manzanillo

Manzanillo Beach a top playas santa teresa costa rica

Playa Manzanillo is another great option for those who want to get away from the crowds as it is located a 25-minute drive north of Santa Teresa. This beach feels very secluded and undiscovered and is the only dark sand beach on this list. Park your vehicle at Atardecer Dorado, enjoy a pint of local beer and then relax on the soft sands.

Playa Manzanillo is also where you will find the best horseback riding tour in Santa Teresa. Check out Horizonte Horse Experience on Instagram.

TIP | Similar to Playa Hermosa, the road leading to Playa Manzanillo is unpaved and bumpy. An ATV or high clearance is best to make the trip

WHERE | Playa Manzanillo

How Many Days in Santa Teresa
Costa Rica

Because of its remote destination, I recommend spending 3-4 days minimum in Santa Teresa Costa Rica to make it worth the trip.

This allows time to relax on the beach, try your hand at Santa Teresa surfing, and take a few day trips to neighbouring attractions like Montezuma Waterfalls, Isla Tortuga, and Cabuya Island Cemetery. And, don’t forget to leave some time to try all of the trendy and tasty Santa Teresa restaurants.

colourful storefront in Costa Rica Santa Teresa

Simple 4-Day Santa Teresa
Costa Rica Itinerary

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 1:

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 2:

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 3:

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 4:

  • Beach Day at Playa Hermosa
  • Horseback riding on Manzanillo Beach for sunset

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 5:

Best Hotels in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Somos best hotels in Santa Teresa
Somos via Booking.com

Travellers to Santa Teresa will find a variety of the best hotels Santa Teresa Costa Rica has to offer. When it comes to where to stay in Santa Teresa Costa Rica, I wouldn’t expect any all-inclusive beach resorts or resorts, in general.

Best Santa Teresa Hotels: A Detailed Guide

Here, it is more common to stay in luxury villas, with the exception of the Nantipa Beachfront Hotel. Mid-range accommodation options for the best hotel Santa Teresa Costa Rica range from Airbnb-style apartments to trendy digital nomad guesthouses. Casual, laidback surfer hostels make up the budget-friendly options when it comes to Santa Teresa Costa Rica hotels.

Here are my top picks for best hotels in Santa Teresa Costa Rica:

Luxury Santa Teresa Costa Rica Hotels

Hotel Nantipa via Booking.com

Hotel Nantipa (Top Pick!)

Features: Beachfront villas, private pools, beachfront dining

Best For: Couples, Groups of Couples

Distance from Beach: Beachfront


The Green House – Adults Only via Booking

The Green House – Adults Only

Features: Spectacular Views

Best For: Couples

Distance from Beach: 4-minute drive


Mid-range Santa Teresa Costa Rica Hotels

Somos via Booking.com

Somos (Top Pick!)

Features: Trendy cafe + rooms, surf shop

Best For: Digital Nomads, Surfers

Distance from Beach: 4-minute walk


Hotel Tropico Latino via Booking

Hotel Tropico Latino

Features: Beachfront bar with hammocks, beachfront yoga shala

Best For: Sunsoakers, Yogis

Distance from Beach: Beachfront


Selina South via Booking.com

Selina South

Features: dedicated co-working space, trendy digs, food truck

Best For: Digital Nomads

Distance from Beach: 4-minute walk

Economy Santa Teresa Costa Rica Hotels

Hotel Santa Teresa via Booking.com

Hotel Santa Teresa

Features: Proximity to the beach, motel-style rooms

Best For: Couples, Small groups, Friends

Distance from Beach: 2-minute walk


Santa Teresa Surf Vista Villas via Booking

Santa Teresa Surf Vista Villas

Features: Pool with spectacular views of the coastline

Best For: Socializers, Surfers, Yogis

Distance from Beach: 5-minute drive


Best Restaurants in Santa Teresa
Costa Rica

Close up of food at Nula a best restaurants in Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Santa Teresa Costa Rica restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and cater to most dietary needs, from clean vegan eats to indulgent burgers, there is something for everyone. Whether you are working from a laptop, backpacking with a group of friends, toting along a full family, or here on a honeymoon, Santa Teresa had some of the best restaurants in the country.

Read the full guide to the best restaurants in Santa Teresa

Depending on your preferences, you can enjoy a healthy salad bowl at Ani’s Bowls (my fave!), dig into a plate of tacos at The Somos Cafe, sip on the best coffee in town at The Roastery, enjoy a Greek shakshuka at The Bakery, chopstick some stellar sushi at Katana, or twirl some pasta around your fork at Angelina. For variety, head to the artisanal food court at Eat Street.

To check out more recommendations for the best restaurants Santa Teresa has to offer, check out my foodie guide to Santa Teresa restaurants.

How to Get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica

There are three common ways to get to Santa Teresa: by airplane, car or shuttle. If you travel by land from San Jose to Santa Teresa Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly need to board a ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya. The ferry can accommodate foot passengers and cars alike, so I recommend renting a car as the best way to get to Santa Teresa.

I use and recommend Discover Cars. What’s great about Discover Cars is they compare local and international companies to get you the best price. Plus, they have full coverage insurance for $7 USD a day! Reserve your car for pick up at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) and make the journey to Santa Teresa from there.

READ MORE | How to Get from San Jose to Santa Teresa: Full Guide

By Plane

airplane is the quickest way on how to get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Airplane over the Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula

Domestic airlines like Costa Rica Green Airways fly direct from San Jose Airport (SJO) to Santa Teresa Costa Rica multiple times a day. The flight takes roughly 30 minutes with stunning views over the peninsula.

What is the closest airport Santa Teresa Costa Rica has? Tambor Airport is where you will land. From here, you will need to hop in a taxi or arrange a private transfer with your hotel to make the 45-minute drive to your Santa Teresa hotels. Arriving from San Jose to San Teresa via airplane is a great option if you plan to spend the majority of your Costa Rica trip here.

By Rental Car

Renting a car in Costa Rica is the best way to see the country, especially if you plan to visit more than one or two destinations along your Costa Rica itinerary. Most locations do not require a 4×4 vehicle, but I highly recommend reserving a vehicle with high clearance for better mobility on unpaved roads.

The journey from San Jose to Santa Teresa by rental car will take approximately 5 hours. First, drive from San Jose Airport (SJO) to the port of Puntarenas where you will board a 90-minute ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya. From Paquera, drive the remaining 1 hour and 15 minutes along winding roads to reach Santa Teresa.

I recommend making this journey as early in the day as possible. Roads on the Nicoya Peninsula are not well-lit, and driving in the dark can be dangerous.

Check Prices on Costa Rica Rental Cars

NOTE | If you’ve opted to rent through Discover Cars and have purchased the $7USD/day full coverage insurance, be sure to refuse any additional insurance offered by the Costa Rica car company upon arrival

By Private or Shared Transfer

Costa Rica shuttle waiting to pick up travelers

A common way to get around the country for those who do not want to drive a rental car is by Costa Rica shuttle. Most transfers are made in a large multiple-seat van or small bus, with air conditioning and comfortable seating. If you want some peace and quiet after your long flight to Costa Rica or between other locations, you can opt for a private transfer experience.

A shared transfer is the most economical way to get to Santa Teresa and is a common means of transportation to get from nearby locations like Montezuma, Monteverde, La Fortuna and Nosara.

I use Book Away to reserve and purchase my private and shared transfers in Costa Rica since you can usually find a small discount in comparison to purchasing directly with the tour company.

You can expect to be picked up at the Arrival Hall if you are travelling from San Jose Airport, or picked up directly from your hotel in other Costa Rican destinations.

Travelling by shuttle will follow the same route as described above for travelling by rental car.

Check Prices on Costa Rica Shuttles

How to Get Around Santa Teresa
Costa Rica

Because of the layout of Santa Teresa town, it can take upwards of 45 minutes to walk from the top of Santa Teresa to the very south end of the town. If shopping and cafe hopping is on the agenda, do keep in mind that there are no sidewalks on the main road, so please keep an eye out!

Best Way to Get Around Santa Teresa

atv rental santa teresa costa rica

I recommend either picking up a rental car in San Jose upon arrival in the country or renting an ATV when you arrive in the town.

Some of the roads in and around Santa Teresa and the Nicoya Peninsula are unpaved and can be bumpy in sections making it necessary to have a high-clearance vehicle. ATV or car rentals in Santa Teresa Costa Rica is particularly good if you plan to do a day trip or two in the area.

NOTE | An ATV rental can be on the expensive side starting at $400 USD a week.

NOTE | There are no gas stations in Santa Teresa. The closest service is the Cobano gas station in the town of Cobano a 30-minute drive inland.

Most Economical Way to Get Around Santa Teresa

Bicycle rentals in santa teresa costa rica

If walking 40 minutes from tip to tip in Santa Teresa in the glaring sun along dusty roads doesn’t sound that appealing to you (go figure!), renting a bicycle is the most economical way to get around.

You can rent a bike at a daily, weekly or monthly rate from DELMAR Surf Shop. You are looking at roughly $50 USD a week for a rental. If you don’t plan to leave Santa Teresa proper, then renting a bicycle is ideal.

Best Time to Visit Santa Teresa
Costa Rica

Santa Teresa has two distinct seasons, the dry season (November to April) and the wet season (May to October).

Wet (or Green) Season

During the wet season, you can expect daily showers which often last an hour or two in the late afternoon. The upside of visiting during this time is the weather in Santa Teresa Costa Rica is clearer and you’ll find fewer crowds. Plus, you won’t get the dusty conditions from the roads during this time, albeit maybe a little mud.

The wet season is also the best time to surf if you are an intermediate or advanced surfer. With larger and punchier waves with a whopping 90% consistency.

Dry Season

The dry season is the best time to visit Santa Teresa for most travellers, which runs from December to April. The weather is sunny and dry with very little rain. With a high of 27°C (80°F) during the day and a low of a comfortable 20°C (68°F) at night, you can pack light. The downside of the dry season in Santa Teresa is the dusty conditions. Expect most vegetation to be coated with a layer of dust.

Also, while surfing in Santa Teresa in the wet season is more consistent with larger and punchier breaks, surfing in the dry season is more beginner friendly with smaller (still 6-10ft!) waves. And you still get an astounding 70% consistency.

The Sweet Spot

While on tour to Tortuga Island, my knowledgeable local guide mentioned that visiting Santa Teresa in November is the sweet spot. The rains from the wet season have subsided but you still get to enjoy the lush green rainforest before it dries out. Plus, hotels in Santa Teresa have lower rates and you can experience fewer crowds.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Packing List

Generally speaking, the dress code in Costa Rica is comfortable and casual. In Santa Teresa, especially during the dry season (December-April), with its dry rainforest climate, I would recommend clothing that is quick-dry or moisture-wicking. 

I lived in athletic shorts, a cotton tank top and a light linen cover-up for most of my trip in Costa Rica, especially in Santa Teresa. You also couldn’t find me without a trusty ball cap to keep the sun off my head, even when it’s cloudy, you can still be affected by UV.

Since you will be on and off the beach frequently, a pretty surong to quickly cover up is also a great idea. A packing list for Costa Rica also always includes mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

TIP | A grippy pair of watershoes can come in handy when climbing over rocks to check out Montezuma Waterfall or the Mal Pais tidal pools.


VIFUUR Water Sports Unisex Shoes Black - 12.5-13 W US/ 11-11.5 M US (44-45)

WATER SHOES | I used my water shoes to climb around waterfalls, and natural hot springs. They are particularly grippy and come in so many sizes and colours. Good for the whole fam!

Teva Women's Tirra Sandal,Black/Grey,9 M US

HIKING SANDALS | I lived in a solid pair of hiking sandals for the entirety of my trip in Costa Rica. These sandals have great grip and strap you in so your foot doesn’t move around. Plus, they look cute, in my opinion.

Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket, Black, Medium

RAIN JACKET | Because Costa Rica is covered in rainforest, that means the weather can be pretty unpredictable. Make sure to bring a hooded rain jacket with you that can pack up small in your day bag just in case. I definitely used mine.

ZOMAKE Lightweight Hiking Backpack Water Resistant,20L Packable Daypack Foldable Small Backpack for Travel

WATER RESISTANT DAYPACK | Costa Rica is a wealth of adventure and with that comes multiple day trips or days spent in and out of your rental car. Make sure to have a water resistant daypack that can carry your water bottle, snacks, mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

LARQ Bottle Movement PureVis - Lightweight Self-Cleaning and Non-Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle with UV Water Sanitizer, 32oz, White/Pebble

PURIFYING REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | I travel full time, so I’ve seen the devastation single-use plastic can have on our environment. Once I purchased this purifying reusable water bottle, I never looked back. It’s super stylish and you can recharge it through USB!

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel,Blue,24 X 48 Inches

MICROFIBRE TOWEL | Costa Rica is humid, so a normal cotton towel will take forever to dry. Let’s try to avoid that moldy towel smell. For those day trips to waterfalls, hot springs, rivers and beach, make sure to carry along a microfibre quick-drying towel.

JOTO Waterproof Case Universal Phone Holder Pouch, Underwater Cellphone Dry Bag Compatible with iPhone 13 Pro 12 11 Pro Max XS XR X 8 7 6S, Galaxy S21 S20 S10 Note Pixel Up to 7.0" -2 Pack,Black

WATERPROOF PHONE CASE | Plan on repelling or canyoning down a waterfall? Snapping pics in the hot springs? You will need a good waterproof phone case.

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen – Safe, Natural Sunblock for Sports & Active Use - Water Resistant Sun Cream –UVA/UVB Sun Protection – Vegan, Reef Friendly Sun Lotion, 6oz

SUNSCREEN | Y’all, the sun is HOT in Costa Rica as the country is located close to the equator. Make sure to throw on some sunscreen even if it’s cloudy out. That’s what it gets you. There are some great reef-safe sunscreens out there nowadays, so let’s protect our ocean life!

Natrapel 12-Hour Insect Repellent, 6 oz. Eco-Spray Picaridin Bug Spray – Family Insect Repellent for Mosquitoes, Ticks, & More, Black (0006-6878)

MOSQUITO REPELLENT | Yup, there are mosquitos in the rainforest, who would have thunk. I like to use a more natural mosquito repellent.

women floating on their surfboards in the surf in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Budget

Costa Rica is known for being a relatively expensive country. Why? There are several reasons. With a relatively stable government (rare for Central America), Costa Rica enjoys higher-quality labour laws, a better national health system and generally speaking, higher quality of life. 

It’s important to note, that Costa Rica’s top earning economy is tourism, and the majority of that tourism comes from the USA. Given that, the government decided to price tourism-related amenities closer to American prices. 

Also, the government puts a lot of money into preserving the biodiversity of Costa Rica, making the rainforests in Costa Rica some of the best maintained in Central America. 

You most definitely can do Costa Rica on a budget, just make sure you have extra time built into your Costa Rica itinerary to deal with multiple bus transfers.

Costa Rica uses both the Costa Rican Colones (CRC) and the American Dollar (USD).

Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (for 2 people)

*excludes international flights

  • Santa Teresa Hotel: ~$115USD Nightly (on average)
  • Santa Teresa Car Rental: ~75 USD Daily
  • Santa Teresa Tours: ~$100 USD per Person
  • Santa Teresa Food: $30 USD Daily per Person

Total Daily La Fortuna Costa Rica Budget (for Couple): ~$450 USD Daily Budget (or $250 USD excluding day tours)

White sands and palm trees at Playa Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Travel Insurance for Costa Rica
Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Costa Rica is known for water and jungle adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.

Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!

I used HeyMondo insurance on my trip to Costa Rica and can recommend it.

What’s great about HeyMondo:

  • No out-of-pocket fees
  • 24/7 doctors available through their handy app to answer all of your questions
  • Covers travellers from any country in the world
  • Offers short-term, long-term and multi-trip annual plans (I recommend single-trip insurance for Costa Rica)
  • Covers trip cancellation – very useful these days!

>>> Find the perfect travel insurance for you. (and get an exclusive 5% discount for being my reader!)


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