The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information
Santa Teresa has no central focus, instead it sprawls parallel to the coastline for several miles along the potholed and dusty road. See » Santa Teresa detail maps
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.
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.
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. » Map of Playa Santa Teresa
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.
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.
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.
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