Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula

The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information


The beaches of Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa has no central focus, instead it sprawls for several miles along the street, parallel to the coastline. See » Santa Teresa detail maps

Playa Carmen

Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Arriving in Santa Teresa

Most visitors enter Santa Teresa at its southern edge, at the intersection of Playa Carmen, where the perpendicular street from Cobano meets the coastal road. To the left lies the community of Mal Pais and to the right you turn into Santa Teresa. Locals refer to the intersection as "El Cruze" and it remotely ressembles the village center with car rental agencies, banks, taxis, surf shops, restaurants and hotels.

Playa Carmen Santa Teresa
The beach of Playa Carmen

On the beach of Playa Carmen is a parking lot and tall palm trees provide shade for hanging out. Looking south you gaze upon the rocky shoreline of Mal Pais and still farther south are the verdant hills of Cabo Blanco at the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Playa Carmen is popular with sun bathers and surfers who enjoy a long beach break here. You can even surf at night, when the waves are lit by flash lights. Swimming however, on Playa Carmen and Playa Santa Teresa, is not recommended as the surf is too big.

Playa Santa Teresa

Playa Santa Teresa Costa Rica
On the beach of Playa Santa Teresa

As you continue north through Santa Teresa the road is lined by restaurants, shops, hostels and hotels. The actual Playa Santa Teresa is situated around 3 km north of Playa Carmen, past the soccer field. » Map of Playa Santa Teresa
In recent years this section of Santa Teresa has become quite popular and more and more hotels and restaurants are popping up. The beach here is a broad and long expanse of white sand edged by forest. Surfing Playa Santa Teresa is more challenging, presenting both point and beach breaks.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica
On the way to Playa Hermosa: El Peñon

A local landmark is the discotheque of "La Lora" where a road goes down to a small parking lot on the beach. Venturing further north, constructions along the shoreline and parallel road become more spread out. In this part, most hotels in Santa Teresa are more upscale and though the beach is rocky in many parts, it presents a picturesque coastal landscape, beckoning for a hike. 2 kms past "La Lora" you pass by the "Peñon", a sugar-loaf shaped rock in the ocean. For around 400 m the road skirts a scenic beach where at low tide you find a large rocky pool that is nice for bathing and snorkeling.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa
North of Santa Teresa: Playa Hermosa

2 kms after the "Peñon" you arrive at a T-junction where an uphill road to the right leads to Manzanillo and on to Samara and Nosara, while a turn to the left brings you to Playa Hermosa.

Playa Hermosa means Beautiful Beach in English and the term is appropriate: it's a picture perfect tropical beach, wide and sandy with swaying palm trees and almendros. As there are no underwater rocks it's good for bathing and the gentle surf is easy for beginners learning to surf. Be careful with swimming however, as there is often a strong current, especially on the northern part of the beach.
Playa Hermosa is Santa Teresa's most recent addition to the booming development. Only few years ago you could often find yourself alone on its scenic wide sand beach but it's becoming crowded nowadays and there is busy construction activity behind the beach and crawling up the hills.

North of Playa Hermosa: » Playa Manzanillo

Attention: on all beaches of Santa Teresa take care of your belongings. Never leave any valuables unattended in your car and at night don't walk alone on the beach. More » Travel Safety