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Updated October 2023. Contributed by Alex Wieteska, a travel blogger and content creator at Roam & Thrive.

Santa Teresa is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful and popular destinations. Known for its relaxed boho vibe and surf culture, the beach town of Santa Teresa attracts all types of travelers from around the world. While this might be a small backpacker town, there are many things to do in Santa Teresa. Plus, the surrounding area will keep you busy for a few days discovering waterfalls, surf breaks, and wildlife.

In this guide, you’ll find out more about the area, and where to stay and eat in Santa Teresa. You’ll also find out about the best things to do in Santa Teresa. These are all of my recommendations and tips for visiting the area.

Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Santa Teresa:

  1. The Green House, for the best design-focused boutique hotel
  2. Hotel Nantipa, for the best wellness-focused hotel
  3. Selina Santa Teresa South, for the best design for dollar hotel

Looking for more Costa Rica inspiration? Check out the top 10 things to do in Costa Rica or this travel guide to Guanacaste!

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica 

What To Know Before Visiting Santa Teresa

How Do You Get to Santa Teresa?

The best way to get to Santa Teresa is by rental car, transfer, or plane. Transfers can be organized from many other tourism-focused places in Costa Rica such as Tamarindo, San Jose airport, Manuel Antonio, etc.. The prices vary depending on the distance covered. 

If you have a rental car, which I highly recommend, you can easily drive to Santa Teresa. Just note that the road here is not paved, potholed, and dusty/muddy. I recommend a 4×4 or SUV is recommended. I use Discover Cars to find the best rental car deals.

You can also fly into Tambor Airport which is the closest airport to Santa Teresa. This is the most popular domestic route from San Jose. 

What is the Currency in Santa Teresa?

Costa Rican Colones are the official country of Costa Rica. Most official businesses will take USD, just note that you won’t be getting the best exchange rate so always try to pay in colones if possible. For tours and excursions, you can pay in dollars. 

Many places in Santa Teresa and Costa Rica take debit and credit cards. However, it’s always good to have some cash on you. While there are a few ATMs in Santa Teresa note that they aren’t that reliable so bring some cash with you just in case. 

How Do I Get Around in Santa Teresa?

Santa Teresa itself is a small place and you can walk around once you arrive. If you do want to get between places and explore the surrounding areas you can rent an ATV or motorbike. Most people in Santa Teresa get around by car, motorbike, or ATV. There are many places to rent an ATV along the main road in town, which is great for the dry season.

I would consider renting a car to reach restaurants in Santa Teresa, destinations like Montezuma Waterfall, and more. I book mine with Discover Cars.

What Should I Pack for a Trip to Santa Teresa?

Make sure to bring insect repellent as there are a lot of mosquitos, especially during the rainy season. It’s also a good idea to bring a sunhat, towel and swimwear, rain jacket, and reusable water bottle. 

Where to Stay In Santa Teresa

The Green House

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For an incredible, design-focused boutique hotel in Costa Rica, the Superior Villa at the Green House is one of the best places to stay. Surrounded by a jungle with infinite views of nature, staying here is a real treat. Located just outside Santa Teresa town for a peaceful retreat. Book the best rates here.

Address: Calle Buenos Aires 60111, Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Hotel Nantipa

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Hotel Nantipa is one of the best beachside wellness-focused hotels in Santa Teresa. It perfectly combines luxury with boho, this retreat is one of a kind. Offering stunning suites with a pool, this is a great option for anyone looking for luxury, beautiful accommodation, great food, wellness options, and world-class service. Book the best rates here.

Address: Unnamed Road, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

Selina Santa Teresa South

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For those looking for a sophisticated, backpacker vibe, Selina is a great option in Santa Teresa. You’ll also meet like-minded travelers in the area. There’s also a great cafe full of healthy food options and a large pool. Plus the co-working space and a yoga shala for morning yoga sessions. Book the best rates here.

Address: 20 meters north and 50m east from “Ronnys #1” Super Market Formerly known as Tranquilo Backpackers Provincia de Puntarenas Cobano, 60111, Costa Rica

Where to Eat in Santa Teresa

The Somos Cafe

Converted airstream turned cafe with outdoor seating, this cafe serves up amazing plates for breakfast and lunch. Some must-tries are their acai bowls, avocado toast, and breakfast burritos.

Address: 30 metros sur de la lora amarilla, Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Eat Street

Santa Teresa’s very own street food marketplace. Come here to try the latest and tastiest food options available that including burritos, mushroom burgers, and smoothie bowls.

Address: Eat Street, Puntarenas Provincia de Puntarenas Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica

Ani’s Bowls and Salads

One of the best places in town for healthy, plant-based friendly bowls and salads — both sweet and savory.

Address: Calle Cobano Galeria Zeneidas seguido a la Lora Amarilla Puntarenas Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica

El Tercer Ojo

For amazing seafood, drinks and cocktails, don’t miss this excellent spot for dinner in Santa Teresa. A great spot for many gluten-free options.

Address: Banco Nacional 300m. Norte, Puntarenas Province, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica

The Best Things to Do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Get a Surf Lesson or Rent a Board

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica 

Santa Teresa is one of the best places in Costa Rica to learn to surf or to go for surf if you’ve already mastered the sport. For beginners, the best breaks are on Playa Hermosa and Playa Carmen. More advanced surfers go to Santa Teresa Beach as well as all the other breaks in and around town.

If you’ve never surfed before and you want to give it a go it’s definitely worth paying for a few lessons to help get you started. There are many surf schools in town but the best rated one seems to be Pelican Surf Lessons.

Surf by the Wave and Santa Teresa Surf Lessons also come recommended by many. They also have board rental if you just want to rent a board and continue improving your skills solo. 

Hire an ATV and Explore

Mal Pais Adventure & Montezuma Falls
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ATV is one of the best ways to get around Santa Teresa and is the locals’ choice. Roads in Santa Teresa are dusty, uneven, and very muddy during the rainy season so if you don’t have a 4×4, renting an ATV is a good idea. 

Renting an ATV is not only fun in itself but it will let you explore Santa Teresa town, the surrounding area, the local beaches, waterfalls, and even Mal Pais. 

Renting an ATV costs about $50-60 per day but if you’re staying longer you might be able to get a weekly or monthly discount.

This Full-Day ATV and Ziplining Mal Pais & Montezuma Falls Experience is also a great way to explore the surrounding area.

Visit Montezuma Falls

Montezuma Falls

A 45-minute drive from Santa Teresa, about 5 miles south of Cobano, you’ll find Montezuma Falls, one of the most stunning local waterfalls in Costa Rica. Montezuma Falls isn’t actually one waterfall, it’s three separate tiers of waterfalls. 

To get to the first waterfall, start out on the main road by Hotel Amor de Mar from which it’s a 20-minute walk upstream following the Montezuma River. From there you can continue to reach the other two tiers. Once there, you can jump in to cool off from the sweaty jungle hike. 

When exploring make sure to keep an eye out for the local wildlife which includes roseate spoonbills, river otters, sloths, toucans, and Jesus Christ lizards that run across the water. 

Relax on the Beach

The beaches in Santa Teresa are wild, wide, long, and simply stunning. There’s so much space to simply explore, find yourself a spot for the day and relax. It’s also a good idea to pack yourself a little picnic before heading out because you won’t find too many eating or drinking options on the beach. It’s a lovely way to connect to nature, to the ocean, and to meet some new friends. 

Take a Yoga Class

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica 

Santa Teresa is a yogi paradise. Many resorts and hotels offer morning classes, wellness centers, and yoga centers. You can find everything you might need to continue your practice in paradise. 

If you definitely want to flow when in Santa Teresa, my advice would be to stay somewhere that already offers yoga classes in the mornings. For this Nantipa and Selina are great options. Alternatively, there are many other places in town that allow drop-ins. 

Go Boutique Shopping

Costa Rica isn’t exactly New York or London when it comes to shopping but Santa Teresa is one of the best places in the country to shop for unique conceptual style pieces from local artisans. 

There’s a nice selection of cool surf shops selling all kinds of apparel, vibey concept stores, and boho boutiques. You’ll be able to find anything from local swimwear brands to unique homeware and of course surf and yoga apparel. 

My favorite boutiques to check out are Pacific Wolf Factory (PAWO) for swimwear and Studio Collectiva for beautiful, conceptual pieces. 

Watch the Sunset from Santa Teresa Beach

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica 

No doubt you’ll see many sunsets on the coast of Costa Rica but there is something completely otherworldly about the sunsets in Santa Teresa and you don’t have to go far to see them. 

For some of the best views of the sunset in Santa Teresa, head straight to Santa Teresa Beach — the one right by town. Take a few coffees, beers, or kombucha and relax on the sand and watch the sunset from this beautiful beach. Everybody else will be doing the same thing. The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous even if you don’t think they’ll be one, there is and the whole sky just glows.

Sign up for the Wellness Experience at Nantipa

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Nantipa is one of the best places in Santa Teresa that offers wellness-focused activities. It allows you to fully restore and recharge on your vacation. This is especially if your Costa Rica itinerary turns out to be a bit full. Providing you with a space to connect with nature and achieve health and harmony in this tranquil space, Nantipa offers the perfect wellness package that enhances all aspects of wellness. 

Their 5-day wellness program provides you with yoga classes, wellness coaching, meditation, sound therapy, and even personal training. It’s everything you might need to boost your own health and wellness. 

Go on a Snorkeling Trip to Isla Tortuga

Photo by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash

Not far from Tambor Beach, you’ll find the little white-sand island paradise of Isla Tortuga. It’s heaven for beach lovers and snorkelers, set with a beautiful beach. Most travelers come out here on a day trip from the mainland where you can snorkel. You can observe some of Costa Rica’s most amazing marine wildlife species such as angelfish, spotted eagle rays, porcupine fish, and even sometimes whales and dolphins. Book a Isla Tortuga snorkeling day trip here.

While it might seem a bit far to get here it’s totally worth the relaxing boat ride. Tours can be organized in town or at Nantipa Resort.

Visit Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve

Playa Cabo Blanco

Another amazing day trip from Santa Teresa, a visit to Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve. This is perfect for anyone wanting to get a little closer to Costa Rica’s abundant plant and animal life. Here you’ll find many species of monkeys, reptiles, sloths, and many birds including toucans. 

You can venture down to Playa Cabo Blanco yourself for the day if you have an ATV or 4×4. Alternatively, you can also arrange a tour and a private guide in town. From my experience in Costa Rica when it comes to spotting wildlife, nothing beats the knowledge and expertise of a local guide. 

Go Horseback Riding on Santa Teresa Beach

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica 

There’s nothing quite like finishing off the day with a sunset horseback ride on the beach. In fact, it’s a pretty common activity here. Most horse riding tours depart in the morning and evening from various outfitters around town. 

Groups are normally kept quite small and horses can go as fast or as slow as you’d like them to. Both group and private tours are available. Santa Teresa is a beautiful beach to enjoy this way!

Looking for More Costa Rica Inspiration?

Check out the top 10 things to do in Costa Rica or this travel guide to Guanacaste!

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PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


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