Santa Teresa is a sleepy surf town known for its world-class waves, endless summer vibes, and impeccable landscape views. Forbes has ranked it one of the top beaches in the world for good reason. Santa Teresa main road is lined with quaint eateries, surf shops, small hotels and clothing boutiques. The roads in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are still unpaved giving the town a rustic and authentic feel. Often you feel as if you have stepped back in time especially for visitors who live in bustling cities. You’ll often see tourist and locals using dirt bikes and ATV’s as their main form of transportation which can take some getting used to but it’s honestly the best way to get around especially during the green season. This surf town offers a little something for everyone, whether you like to surf, fish, hike, zip line, paddleboard, kayak or snorkel you will be sure to find something to do. Santa Teresa offers many forms of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs from hostels to mansions and is home to many celebrities. Here you can enjoy a mix of nature, adventure and relaxation making it the perfect backdrop for your beach vacation.
Best time to visit
Santa Teresa has two seasons the green season also known as the rainy season and the dry season.
November-April is the Dry season pretty much throughout all Costa Rica. In Santa Teresa it tends to be very dry this time of year leading tourist to flock here for some much-needed beach time and good surf. The waves this time of year are great and are slightly smaller than in the green season. The peak season of Santa Teresa is generally all of December. If you are planning to visit here in December its best to reserve a room month in advance to make sure that you are able to get a bed especially at a decent price. During New years the town is packed with both tourist and locals and prices tend to skyrocket so be prepared
April-October is known as the green season meaning its likely to rain. The green season is a beautiful time to visit especially in April-July as it gets very little rain and won’t put a damper on your day, there are also less tourist visiting this time of year so you feel as if you almost have the beach to yourself. During green season hotels and tour companies offer special low season rates which allow you to save a few dollars here and there. The heaviest rainfall during the green season is usually during August- October.
Visit Isla Tortuga
While visiting Santa Teresa, Mal Pais or Montezuma be sure to dedicate a day to visit Isla tortuga. Just a 45 minute boat ride from Montezuma lies a private island surrounded by clear blue water called Isla Tortuga. The island is uninhibited leaving it in pristine conditions. On your way to Isla Tortuga, you will have the chance to snorkel or scuba dive. While emerged in the water you will have the opportunity to see tropical fish, vibrantly colored coral and turtles. Once you are done snorkeling your tour guide will take you to Isla Tortuga. While you are visiting Isla Tortuga you can kayak around the island, bronze your buns in the sun or play some beach games while the tour guide sets up your island BBQ. After a couple hours of island fun, you will be ready to get your grub on. The Island BBQ offers fresh fruits, drinks and your choice of fish, chicken or beef. After enjoying your tropical island getaway you will head back to Montezuma and watch as the sun sets over the horizon meanwhile painting the sky with an array of colors.
Learn to surf
Santa Teresa has been voted one of the top 10 beaches by Forbes magazine for a reason. World class waves, picturesque beaches, and even better sunsets. Santa Teresa beach offers conditions for every type of surfer from beginning to advanced. There are an array of surf shops scattered throughout the town that offer lessons from anywhere from $45-80 a session depending on what time of year you are visiting.
To get to Santa Teresa by plane you can book a domestic flight into Tambor. The two airlines operating out of Tambor are Sansa and Nature Air. Once you reach Tambor you will take a 45 to 1-hour drive to your accommodations. The transportation from Tambor airport to Santa Teresa roughly cost about $50-$60. It’s important to note that if you are flying there are weight restrictions on your luggage and surfboards. Please read the airline’s luggage restrictions prior to purchasing your ticket.
The least expensive option to get to Santa Teresa or Mal Pais is to take public transportation. Two buses depart Downtown San Jose at 6 am and 2 pm daily. The trip in total is about 6 hours. The bus will take to the ferry then the bus gets on the ferry. Once you reach the other side you will get back on the bus and take the remaining ride to Santa Teresa or Mal Pais. The far is about $12-14 and includes your ferry ticket. The bus will generally drop off at the beginning of town and also drive through the town of Santa Teresa. We recommend asking your hostel or hotel the best place to get dropped off on the main road. If you are staying in an accommodation that can be reached easily on the main road its best to tell the driver where to stop. If your accommodation is not off of the main road or in a hilly area its best to get dropped off at the beginning of town and take a taxi from there. For more information, you can reach the bus company at (506) 22217479.
If you are looking for a door to door from the airport to your accommodation service taking a shuttle is the best option. The shuttle will pick you up at the airport and drop you off directly at your hotel. The shuttle will take you to the ferry and unload your bags. You will enjoy approximately a 90-minute ride on the ferry. Once you have docked on the other side a shuttle from the same company will pick you up and take you the remainder of the way. If you book a private shuttle or a more expensive shuttle then the shuttle that picked you up at the airport will get on the ferry and take you the entire way. Meaning you do not need to unload your bags once you board the ferry.
Uber is widely used throughout Costa Rica. Many people have used it rather than using shuttle services. It’s best to get a quote directly in the app to see if it is cost effective for you.