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Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula

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

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The beaches of Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa has no central focus. It's a street village that sprawls parallel to the coast along a potholed, dusty road.

Playa Carmen

Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Arriving in Santa Teresa

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

  » Map of Playa Carmen

Playa Carmen Santa Teresa
The beach of Playa Carmen

The beach at Playa Carmen has a parking lot with tall palm trees providing shade for hanging out. Looking south, you gaze upon the rocky shoreline of Mal Pais and still farther south, at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula lie the verdant hills of Cabo Blanco. 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 can be overwhelming.

Playa Santa Teresa

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

As you continue north into 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.
In recent years this section of Santa Teresa has become more and more popular and many new hotels and restaurants have popped up. The beach here is a broad and long expanse of white sand edged by jungle. Surfing Playa Santa Teresa is more challenging, presenting both point and beach breaks.

  » Map of Playa Santa Teresa

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

A local landmark is the discotheque of "La Lora" where a road descends to a small parking lot on the beach. Venturing further north, constructions along the shoreline and parallel road become more sparse. This zone is home tot he most upscale hotels in Santa Teresa. Though the beach is rocky in several parts, it presents a picturesque coastal landscape, beckoning for a hike. 2 kms past "La Lora" you pass by the "Peñon", a sugarloaf shaped rock in the ocean. For the next 400 meters the road skirts a scenic beach where at low tide you find a large rocky tidepool that is nice for bathing and snorkeling.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa
North of Santa Teresa: Playa Hermosa

2 kms further north of 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.

  » Map of Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, meaning Beautiful Beach, is an appropriate moniker: it is the paragon of the tropical beach, both wide and sandy, ringed by swaying palm trees and almendros. There are no underwater rocks, making it ideal for bathing and the gentle surf is easy for beginners. 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 boom area. Only few years ago you could often find yourself alone on its scenic wide sand beach, backed by forested hills. But now the crowds spill over from Santa Teresa and the forests are more and more destroyed to give way to more construction. It will be another paradise lost.

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