Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is just a few hours from much of anywhere in the U.S. Santa Teresa is located just north of Montezuma, Costa Rica on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Montezuma, Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches and some of the best surfing in the world. While I don’t surf I have watched in amazement as the surfers do their thing all along the coast of Montezuma.
Montezuma, Costa Rica is known for its rolling green hills and lush surroundings thanks to the abundance of rivers and underground water streams in the area. Due to its remote location and I do mean remote Santa Teresa for me is a little piece of heaven.
It’s extremely mellow and low-key so if you are looking for a party town – wrong place. Keep reading my Santa Teresa Guide.
What’s So Special About Montezuma, Costa Rica
Santa Teresa has not become a tourist trap just yet like so many other parts of the country with the influx of condos and mega-resorts. This little town remains rugged, rustic and natural but I worry that will not be the case much longer because Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is no longer one of my best-kept secrets.
Click here to read 7 Reasons Why People Love To Travel
My Santa Teresa Travel Guide will help you decide when is the best time to go to, how to get to Santa Teresa, and things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica.
Whether it’s a family trip with horseback riding or a romantic getaway with your spouse there a ton of things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica.
Things To Do In Santa Teresa Costa Rica
With the onslaught of backpackers and surfers came the b&bs, boutique hotel, restaurants, and shops and just like that Santa Teresa, Costa Rica has flourished into a one of kind destination that will make you repeat visitors like my husband and me.
On the surface, Santa Teresa appears to be rather remote and unexciting at least that is what my then fiance thought on our first visit to Santa Teresa. Since that first visit we have fallen in love with Santa Teresa and it’s our little slice of heaven right here on earth that is full of excitement and activities.
1. Relax on the Beaches of Santa Teresa & Montezuma, Costa Rica
If you are not a great swimmer please proceed with caution because those waves will take you out and I mean that literally. There are a few small bays on the shoreline where you can possibly swim but they are hard to find and you have to look for them. (Ask a local)
2. Surfing in Santa Teresa & Mal Pais
If you are a surfer or you are interested in taking surfing lessons, Santa Teresa is the perfect destination. This region is known for different beaks and a constant swell all year around. There are surf shops in town that offer surfboard rentals and surfing lessons.
As I stated I am not a surfer but I kept hearing everyone talk about “Suck Rock” which apparently is one of the most infamous surf breaks in Costa Rica. “Suck Rock” located in front of the Red Palm Villas Resort so make sure you check it out.
3. Visit Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is Costa Rica’s first protected area established back in 1963. The reserve is home to a humid tropical forest, a rich jungle, and the marine ecosystem.
The Reserve is only a short drive from Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and offers great hiking trails. Rent a 4 wheeler and make a day trip out of it.
4. Montezuma Waterfalls
The hubby and I again took a 4 wheeler out and made the short drive to the town of Montezuma and followed the signs to the famous Montezuma waterfalls. There are two waterfalls in Montezuma: the upper falls and a lower falls.
The walk to the lower waterfall is easy peasy and should take only about10 mins. After you have taken your Instagram worthy photos keep it moving to see the upper falls.
5. Curú Wildlife Reserve
I love nature and wildlife so I could not pass up the opportunity to visit Curu Wildlife Reserve in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. I promise you will see monkeys, coatis, scarlet macaws, white-tailed deer, and hundreds of other species of birds that are native to this region.
6. Yoga in Santa Teresa
Costa Rica is now synonymous with yoga and there are plenty of yoga classes depending on what you are looking for. I suggest taking a class at Florblanca Resort.
Yoga is engrained in the culture and the daily routine of Florblanca. You can experience seaside open-air yoga dojo to bring you back to your center.
7. Watch a Sunset
Santa Teresa has some of the world’s best sunsets. So, find a beachfront restaurant or just sit on the beach in the sand and watch the sunset.
You won’t be alone either. Playa Santa Teresa and other beaches in the area start filling up come evening time. Catching a glorious sunset is simply a right of passage for anyone spending time in beautiful Santa Teresa.
If you didn’t do a zip line in Costa Rica, were you really even there? Like just about every town in the country, Santa Teresa has it’s own zip line option. However, Canopy Mal Pais a surfboard zip line.
8. Horseback Riding
You could watch the sunset in Santa Teresa sitting on the beach or you could watch it from horseback as you stroll along the shore towards Malpas. You will not be disappointed if you take a private Horseback tour with Ollie’s Adventures
9. Treat Yourself To A Spay Day
I love a good deep tissue massage and Spa Bamboo at Florblanca Resort offers one of the best deep tissue massages I’ve probably ever had. I LOOK FORWARD TO THIS EVERY YEAR! I pampered myself with the following: a deep tissue massage, manicure, pedicure, and incredible facial.
10. Rent a Bike
Florblanca Resort offers bikes free of charge to their guest but there are a few bike rentals right in town and for me, there is not a better of getting to know a small town than by renting a bike. Get to know the people, businesses, and fun areas in the place you’re staying.
11. Rent an ATV
My favorite thing to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica was renting an ATV. ATV’s can be kinda expensive in Santa Teresa running around $70 per day. You can rent a car for that! A half day is around $40. The hubby and I opted for one ATV and I hoped on the back and we explored the coast on our own time and it was so much more fun than sitting in a stuffy car.
Montezuma is very safe, so you will be able to freely explore the entire peninsula, including the back-roads that are impassable by car for part of the year.
Hiking is something that almost everyone wants to so when they visit Costa Rica. Montezuma tends to attract nature lovers and adventure travelers.
Being outside in the jungle for an extended amount of time is the best way to catch a glimpse of some exotic species or beautiful birds. And to really see a special and rare animal, such as an anteater or wild jungle cat, you have to walk a lot of miles so turn your Apple watch on and track your miles.
Snorkeling in Santa Teresa can be an awesome experience especially in the dry season (Dec-Apr) when the water is generally more transparent. The area has very clean water and thus an abundance of fish and other creatures. Moray eels, sea turtles, and octopus are commonly seen. Please, be careful because the waters in Costa Rica can be extremely rough and are not made for beginning swimmers.
Best Snorkeling Spots in Montezuma:
Anywhere there’s water you can jump in with a snorkel and see some fish, but there are special spots where the fish really seem to gather, and you’ll find very interesting rock formations. The more convoluted underwater terrain, with lots of small cracks, crevices, and caves, makes a much better home for small fish, and where there’s lots of smaller fish, there are many other larger predators that hunt them.
The following snorkeling map shows the best places for snorkeling, which include:
Kayaking is super fun and I experienced kayaking for the first time in Costa Rica. While it was really fun and I felt really connected to the water my arms felt like they were going to fall off afterward. It is a total body workout!
There are two basic types of sea kayaking adventures that you can try:
Beach Kayak – These are generally inexpensive sea kayaks that you strap yourself onto in your bathing suit and can play in small waves, falling over repeatedly, climbing in and out, etc. It’s a great water toy and a lot of fun.
Long Range Sea Kayak – This is the type with the water-proof “skirt” that keeps the water from getting inside. You can put food, clothing, and camping supplies in these kayaks and go for overnight journeys.
13. How To Eat and Drink like a Local In Montezuma, Costa Rica
Eating has got to be the best thing about exploring Costa Rica. When it comes to good eats Santa Teresa has all of the boxes checked off from street food to 5-star dining.
The best ways to experience a different culture is to approach it like a local. Here’s my guide to show you what and where to eat in Santa Teresa.
Basic dishes in Costa Rica
There are several staples that are an integral part of most meals in Costa Rica. Rice and beans along with Corn tortillas are served with almost every meal including breakfast.
A typical Costa Rican breakfast is a plate of Gallo Pinto, eggs, homemade corn tortillas or fresh bread from the bakery, and sweet plantains.
A typical Costa Rican lunch is rice, beans, and chicken, pork, beef, or fish, a salad, and sweet plantains. You can also eat tortillas, avocado, and Picco de Gallo. Additional lunch options are shrimp, mixed seafood, pork, mixed vegetables, or fresh ceviche.
A typical Costa Rican dinner has the same options as at lunch.
14. What to drink in Costa Rica
Jugos frescos or jugos de naturales frescos are the main drink of choice whether it’s for lunch or dinner. Most locals make their own homemade juices using native fruits like tamarindo, passionfruit, mango, pineapple, strawberry, lime, and orange are very refreshing. You will find locals selling these juices in a plastic bag that is tied with a knot with a straw sticking out of it.
Cocktails on deck!
I love love love a good cocktail. Did I say I love cocktails! If you are with your hubby or hanging out with your girlfriends there is nothing better than listening to the waves crash and drinking a good cocktail. If you are in Costa Rica I would drink what the locals drink which includes Imperial, Pilsen, and Bavaria.
- You must try guaro – the national liquor of Costa Rica. There are a few signature cocktails that are a must-try when visiting Costa Rica. Chili guaro is a famous shot in Costa Rica. It kind of tastes like a light Bloody Mary and it is made with guaro, tomato juice, Tabasco, and lime.
- Miguelito is another delicious shot that is similar in taste to a pina colada but stronger. A basic Miguelito shot is made with guaro, coconut milk, and evaporated milk.
- A guaro sour is a traditional cocktail that is made with guaro, lime, club soda, and a little raw sugar. This is always my go-to cocktail when visiting Santa Teresa.
Koji Hyodo’s sushi shack offers fresh seafood every single day! Try the grilled octopus you will not be disappointed.
This restaurant is definitely the highest priced in Santa Teresa so if you are looking for a more upscale restaurant, this is it. Their menus are handwritten on blackboards and their seafood dishes are delicious. I highly recommend the Mixed Seafood main entrée.
Brisas del Mar is by far my favorite meal and is a must-have whenever the hubby and I visit Costa Rica. There are so many things to do in Santa Teresa Costa Rica including letting your inner fat girl be free!
Santa Teresa is Perfect For Reconnecting With Your Spouse
We all love a good adventure but Costa Rica is so much more than zip lining, hiking, and kayaking. Jungles and deserted white-sand beaches might be the first things that come to mind when visiting Costa Rica but this beautiful country also offers just as many activities for couples.
You can just chill out by the pool, disconnect from social media and enjoy each others company.
What To Know Before You visit Montezuma Costa Rica
Costa Rica isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and you will get hit with a 13 percent tax at every hotel and restaurant in addition to a 10 percent service charge at every restaurant. I am doing most of the work for you but you will need to set airfare alerts to make sure you get the best rates.
- Bug Spray – Bring bug spray. You are traveling to a tropical climate and that means bugs. Bugs everywhere. Aside from the more serious Zika. Bug spray is extremely expensive in Costa Rica so don’t leave it at home.
- SunScreen – Costa Rica is close to the equator. If you are coming from a northern climate, ie the United States, Canada or Europe, you will quickly notice the sun is a lot stronger. Wear sunscreen.
- Renting A Car -Seeing the country by car is a great experience. Although it is recommended to hire a driver Renting a car in Costa Rica is NOT like renting in the US. It is a lot more expensive and you are required to purchase basic coverage, doesn’t matter if your credit card offers insurance, it is a must and the cost is typically higher than the car rental.
Driving in Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica especially Santa Teressa will be completely different from what you’re used to in the states. Traffic rules (laws) in Costa Rica are often looked on more as guidelines. There are no street signs or street addresses as we have in the US.
Credit Cards or Cash
Both debit and credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica. ATM’s are everywhere but there are few considerations to keep in mind.
- Call your bank or financial institution and let them know you are traveling.
- Nothing more frustrating than, after a great meal, your card is declined.
- Cash is King.
Travel Safely in Costa Rica
Crime is part of life no matter where you travel to and Costa Rica is no exception. I have been to Costa Rica dozens of times and nothing has ever happened to me or my husband. It’s unlikely you will experience any violent crime unless you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Remember, Costa Rica is a third world country and most people are poor. Don’t let your common sense go, listen to that gut feeling, if something feels wrong it probably is wrong. Don’t Leave valuables in the trunk of your car and not on the seat, in plain sight.
How To Get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica
The most common ways to get to Santa Teresa are either by plane or ferry. Other options include a speedboat then shuttle via Jaco and driving (which is a bit treacherous) so hold on to your hat because you will think you are about to meet your maker.
2 options on How To Get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica.
Fly to Santa Teresa
The quickest and easiest way to get into Santa Teresa is to take a quick 25-minute puddle jumper flight from San Jose to Tambor then arrange a private taxi/shuttle from Tambor into town. Please arrange for transport from Tambor to your hotel prior to arrival to arrange for a driver to pick you up!
Sansa flies out of the SJO airport but in order to get to their planes, you have to go on a quick walk to their ‘terminal’. You’ll be bombarded by taxi drivers, private shuttle services and a ton of people with signs providing tour services. Just keep walking and you’ll see a gated parking lot with arms blocking the entrance, that’s where you turn in.
The Security guards will open the gates for you and then you walk to the building where you check-in and wait in their ‘departure’ area.
NatureAir flies out of SJO as well but you can get to their departure area without leaving the airport. Once you exit the arrivals area, go back up to departures and follow the signs that say “domestic flights”.
The great thing about flying is the ease and the stunning view of the jungle as you fly overhead. Please note that these are all propeller planes that are tight for space and have limited seating capacity. Also, keep your luggage below 30lbs! For every lb over 30, you’re required to pay $1 in fees (i.e $1/pound).
Ferry to Santa Teresa
The Ferry is from Puntarenas to Paquera. Click here for the Ferry Schedule. It’s roughly $1.40 for a ticket!
There are three Ferry options:
- Direct Bus: This bus leaves from the bridge at Villa Bonita in Alajuela at 6:20 AM and 2:20 PM. The cost of the ticket is $15.50 and the bus will take you from Alajuela to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. It does not drop you off in front of your hotel so have a good idea of where you’re going to get off at a landmark.
- Regular Bus: Go to the bus station in San Jose and take the local bus to Puntarenas which departs every 40 minutes. Once you arrive in Paquera, get on another bus to Cobano and once you’re in Cobano, you’ll have to take another bus into Santa Teresa. Click here for the Cobano bus schedules.
- Private Shuttles: This is by far the easiest way to go about doing the transfers but it will cost you roughly $50USD.
I would recommend the following companies for the private shuttle-ferry-shuttle service:
- Tropical tours:
- Montezuma Expeditions:
Best Time To Go to Costa Rica
High season is December through April, with reliable sunshine but larger crowds and prices to match. The rest of the year is the green season, with better deals and regular rain showers. October is the wettest month, but if you don’t mind a little rain every evening I say go for it.
The hubby and I got in a torrential downpour riding our bikes back to Florblanca but what’s the point in being pissed? We were in Costa Rica things could be worse.
Weather In Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. The weather in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica varies depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.
November through mid-April – These are warm, sunny comfortable months. You will experience warm days with cool offshore breezes, cooler nights, and lush greenery throughout the Nicoya Peninsula area. You may have the occasional rain shower, but typically these months are full of sunshine and clear skies. Although there is always some humidity in Santa Teresa Costa Rica, these months are typically the driest of the year.
Late-April through August – You will experience some rainfall during these months, generally during the evening or nighttime. It’s a beautiful time of year and travelers even get to take advantage of fewer crowds in the area and lower prices. While this is still considered the green season and rains can be expected, you will still experience plenty of sunshine.
September and October – This is when my hubby and I typically visit Santa Teresa and the rains are a little heavier during these months. You will still have extremely gorgeous days with heavy rains about an hour or so every afternoon and the sun pops back out like it never left.
This is the perfect time kick back in your hammock with a good book and just relax to the sound of rain on your tin roof. These months are beyond relaxing and peaceful which is why the hubby and I keep returning and the weather in Santa Teresa has never deterred us from going back.
BEFORE YOU GO TO MONTEZUMA: Don’t forget travel insurance!
I can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially when visiting a country like Costa Rica. You will need insurance even if you just plan on hanging out on the beach. What’s the worse thing that could happen? Hindsight is always 20/20. What if you decide to go hiking, surfing, scuba diving, or zip-lining), you need to be protected on your travels and peace of mind is irreplaceable. I learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way last year in the Czech Republic and now I will never travel without coverage.
Get a quote through my recommended insurance provider, STA Travel Tours, and Insurance.
Montezuma, Costa Rica is an experience, a “Pura Vida” experience. What makes Santa Teresa so appealing is the undeveloped landscape. Let the Pura Vida take you on its journey (go with the flow), and remember to have fun!
Santa Teresa has to be on your radar otherwise, you wouldn’t know this little sleepy town existed.
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Have you visited Montezuma, Costa Rica? Remember, there are enough things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica for everybody. I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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