Santa Teresa is a small beach town situated on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.
Due to its laidback hippie vibe and incredible surf beaches, it’s been popping onto a lot of people’s radars over the past few years. Without a doubt, Santa Teresa is growing in popularity as time goes on and is becoming one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica.
Although dedicated surfers and backpackers certainly feel it’s worth the journey, Santa Teresa is a little hard to get to. On the plus side, this has somewhat slowed Santa Teresa’s growth in tourism.
Once you get to Santa Teresa, you’ll be greeted by miles of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and some of the best waves in Costa Rica.
If you’re visiting Santa Teresa soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this hipster beach town in Costa Rica.
Also, check out our list of the best activities in Santa Teresa!
Is Santa Teresa worth visiting?
Santa Teresa is the kind of place where you chill on the beach and eat great food whenever you feel like it – and there are a lot of incredible places to eat. The food options match the vibe of the town. Lots of hipster cafes, healthy restaurants and ideal places to just hang out.
This rustic vibe that we keep on going on about is infectious. Visitors fall in love with the place and the people, both locals and other travellers.
There are also plenty of things to do aside from just lounging on the beach or going for a surf. You can take a day trip to one of the nearby nature reserves or hire an ATV and wizz around the jungle.
If Santa Teresa is on your list, we’d recommend going there as soon as possible, before that magic vibe is diluted by too much tourism!
How long should you stay in Santa Teresa?
People tend to get stuck in Santa Teresa. They fall in love with the vibe, enjoy the daily routine that they’ve created and can’t face leaving the beach. Some people stay for months!
If you can’t afford to set aside this amount of time, then three to four days is a good amount of time. The journey to get to Santa Teresa can be a bit of effort, so any shorter may not be worth the journey.
You can also split your time between Santa Teresa and the nearby town of Montezuma, if you don’t want to spend too long in one place.
Where to stay in Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa is a small but fast-growing beach town, with only around 5 km of both paved and gravel roads.
In this case, small also means a small number of areas to stay in. Easy!
Close to the beach
A good way to choose where to stay in Santa Teresa is easy. Just chose to stay close to the beach.
Santa Teresa Beach is the main beach in the town. Behind it, you’ll find a road that runs the length of it. This road is full of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and accommodations.
If you want to be right in the hustle and bustle, you can choose an accommodation that’s actually set on this road.
For those fancying a bit more peace and quiet, there are plenty of roads that branch off inland from the main road. Any of these smaller roads still won’t be far from where you want to go!
Accommodation in Santa Teresa
The law of supply and demand comes into play in Santa Teresa. It’s still a small beach town, but its popularity is growing exponentially!
The number of accommodations hasn’t been able to grow in line with the influx of people. For this reason, prices tend to be higher than in the rest of Costa Rica, and places get booked up quickly. Plan in advance!
Private rooms in hostels start at around $40 per night. Meanwhile, prices for private rooms in a hotel start from $70 and go all the way up to $350 per night!
Where to eat in Santa Teresa
When you’re staying in a beach town, two of your biggest activities become lounging on the beach and eating!
The town’s predominant audience is young travellers, boasting a hipster vibe that has attracted those sorts of cafes and restaurants.
There are lots of healthy vegetarian and vegan places to eat, modern restaurants and of course, there are still some local spots.
Here are our 3 favourite places to eat in Santa Teresa:
The Bakery — one of the best places to eat in Santa Teresa
If somebody has to recommend just one place in Santa Teresa, it will most likely be The Bakery.
The Bakery is certainly not only about pastries and baguettes. It’s a great place for any meal of the day. If you go for breakfast or lunch, you can enjoy some delicious pancakes, avocado on toast, or one of the other many delicious dishes.
Dinner boasts some crispy tacos, schnitzel and pasta. Make sure to head down on a Monday, when they have an all-you-can-eat pizza night a.k.a heaven!
It’s also a great place to spend the day working with its fast wifi and relaxing atmosphere.
Zula Restaurant — affordable and delicious israeli dishes
Zula Restaurant serves mouth-watering Israeli dishes such as hummus, shawarma, falafel and kebab. This is alongside a number of variations of the traditional Costa Rican dish, Casado.
The portions are pretty big, so you’re guaranteed to leave feeling full and satisfied. The outside area of the restaurant, strung with fairy lights, boasts a social atmosphere and a great place to make new friends.
Katana — fresh and great quality Asian food
If you want to eat at Katana, you will need a reservation because it’s a super popular place. It’s the place to go if you’ve been craving Asian food. They serve amazing fresh fish, noodles, curries and buns.
The service is great and the quality of the ingredients is great. This, alongside the beautifully designed interior and outside area, makes for a great place to go for dinner.
Also read: Top 11 Things to Do in Santa Teresa
How to get around Santa Teresa
Since Santa Teresa is pretty small, getting around is an easy task.
Getting around can be an adventure in itself by using ATVs, bicycles or a moped to hop between the beaches or anywhere else you want to go.
Here’s how to get around Santa Teresa:
If you’re staying close to the beach area, then you can walk to pretty much anywhere you need to go within the town.
However, dirt roads can get pretty dusty and are not that fun to walk on for long distances during the height of the day.
You’ll see a lot of people using bicycles to get around in Santa Teresa.
It’s a way more efficient way to get to places than walking, and if you get a basket, you won’t have to carry any bags.
You can rent a bike for around $10 for 24 hours. Ollies Adventures offer bikes for one week for $50. Great if you’re sticking around for a while!
Another popular way to get around is to hire an ATV. They handle dirt roads really well and can be used to visit destinations in the surrounding area too.
Rental places, such as Savannah ATV Tours, tend to offer rentals for 8 hours, 24 hours or more. Prices start from $50.
You’ll probably go your whole time in Santa Teresa without using a taxi. They are mainly used for visiting destinations a bit further afield, like the nearby town of Montezuma.
This 40-minute-long journey should cost around $30.
If you do need a taxi, you’ll be able to find them clustered around the Banco de Costa Rica.
There is a public bus that runs in Santa Teresa and connects it to other nearby towns, such as Cobana and Montezuma.
Unlike with the taxi, the journey to Montezuma isn’t direct. On the plus side, it’s considerably cheaper. You would need to go to Cobana first and then catch a bus to Montezuma. This would cost you around $2.50 per person.
You don’t really need a car while you’re in Santa Teresa. There are many easier ways to get around and in most cases, you can simply just walk.
The dirt and gravel roads can also make driving a bit tricky if you don’t have an SUV-style car.
On the other hand, getting to Santa Teresa can be a bit of a pain if you don’t have a car. Public transport is convoluted, without a direct route. In most cases, you’ll have to take several buses or a ferry.
For this reason, we would recommend renting a car from San Jose rather than in Santa Teresa. Instead of using it to get around in Santa Teresa, the car will already fulfil its purpose to get there. You can rent an SUV for around $40/day from San Jose.
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Santa Teresa. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in Santa Teresa. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Santa Teresa.
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