Santa Teresa Practical Information
The core of Santa Teresa extends along 4 km of road, from the intersection of “El Cruce” on Playa Carmen until the discotheque “La Lora” on Playa Santa Teresa. Without a vehicle you will sometimes have to walk long distances on the dusty road to get from your hotel to supermarkets, bars and venues. The main commercial center, with banks, car rentals, pharmacy and doctors is at the Cruze at Playa Carmen.
Santa Teresa has become the bucket term for the entire beach area stretching from Manzanillo until Malpais.
At the main intersection “El Cruze” at Playa Carmen are two banks, both with ATM cashier. Banco Nacional open hours are from 1pm – 5pm, BCR is open 9am – 4pm. Keep in mind that for all bank affairs in Costa Rica you need your passport. During holiday season there are long waiting lines at the banks, at peak season (end of the year) the ATMs sometimes run out of money. Best to bring some cash money with you.
Dollars are widely accepted and at supermarkets, shops and restaurants you can also pay with dollars. Change money can be received in Colones, the local currency, and the exchange rates are often the same as you receive at the bank.
The Santa Teresa gas station which was 2 km out of town, on top of the hill, closed in January 2019. Now the closest gas stations are in Cobano, 16 km before you arrive in Malpais and Santa Teresa. You should definitely fill up on gas before you continue to the beach.
The roads on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula are among the worst in all of Costa Rica. Few parts are paved and you will have to climb up steep hills with loose sand and gravel – impossible to manage without a 4WD. In rainy season there are muddy parts and small rivers to cross. When you pick up your vehicle at the car rental agency make sure that they really give you a 4×4 car – sometimes it’s just stated on the paper but the car is a 2WD.
The community of Santa Teresa urges everybody to respect a volunteer 25km/h speed limit. It makes sense because each vehicle stirrs up dust from the dirt road – one of Santa Teresa’s major problems. As there are no sidewalks there are also many people walking on the road which at night are hard to see. You might also come across vehicles and motorcycles with no lights and surfboards askew.
There are two general doctors in Santa Teresa, a chiropractor, two or three physiotherapists and a dentist. Also a pharmacy at the Playa Carmen road intersection. For specialists, like internists, orthopedists, etc you have to go to San Jose. You can’t even have a radiographia on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula. Take care of the Emergency Services – they will first check your credit card before even looking if you’re still alive. Also, most of their staff are just paramedics, no doctors. In case of a serious illness or accident you will have to be transferred to San Jose by helicopter or on a 5.5h drive by car and ferry.
While the beach of Santa Teresa is great for surfing, swimming is not recommended because rip tides can pull even experienced swimmers into the ocean. While bathing take care that you always have ground under your feet.
Use common sense at don’t be too trustful. At night don’t walk or stay alone on the beach of Santa Teresa, never leave valuables unattended in your car, leave doors and windows of your room closed, watch your stuff at the beach and in bars or restaurants.