Exploring Costa Rica: Where to stay, eat, beach and workout in Santa Teresa
By Michael Chapman
WHERE TO: STAY
Santa Teresa has everything from super budget to super luxe, spanning hotels, villas and hostels. We love an Airbnb, and tried out loads during our time here. Have a look around depending on your budget, and if you’re lucky enough to be exploring Santa Teresa for a week or more, I’d recommend spending most of your time in a spot that’s walking-distance from the beach (and cafes, restaurants, shops etc), but throw in at least a couple of nights of bliss up in the jungle.
Here's just a few of our 'Stay' ideas in Santa Teresa…
BEST FOR: BUDGET
Selina North or Selina South - we personally haven't stayed here, but Selina's have a great reputation around the world for solo travellers. These Selina's offer surfboard rental, yoga lessons and co-working space.
Villa Cacao - available on Airbnb, these villas share a pool and are just off the main beach road. Choose from smaller studio apartments, or a more spacious 2 bedroom villa with a terrace.
BEST FOR: MID-RANGE
Kana-Mar Two - Just a couple minutes walk from the beach, this 2 bedroom villa is in a quiet location, and has it’s own pool.
Casa Wakiki - A quiet one bedroom jungle house, a 5 minute drive from the main part of the beach.
BEST FOR: LUXURY
Nantipa - beautiful beachfront bungalows and suites, with it’s own restaurant and bar literally on the sand, and our favourite spot for a sundowner.
North Creek Estate - our Salt Escapes villa! Lanui is the larger beachfront villa, and Taman is the smaller villa tucked behind Lanui.
BEST FOR: THE EXPERIENCE
Casa La Nina - we spent 2 nights here up in the jungle, and it was spectacular. Falling asleep to the sounds of the cicadas, and waking up to howler monkeys playing in the trees behind the pool. We absolutely loved this place.
WHERE TO: EAT
We'll never get over the food here, and how good we felt after 6 weeks of eating up all the goodness! Here's some of our faves you can’t miss.
- Katana - a fave spot in town. Just so good - don't miss the fish bao.
- Ani's Bowls - the very best bowls, we spent most mornings here after a surf for a smoothie bowl. Try the Dark Bowl (Mike's all-time favourite). Also, you have to head here for lunch and get the Fish Taco bowl (Amy's all-time favourite).
- Nantipa (Manzu restaurant) - best for a sunset marg.
- Eat Street - fun, casual, street-food style place for breakfast and lunch bowls. Good WiFi and a couple of hammocks.
- El Facon - grill, good if you like meat and a good tap beer. Usually has live music in the evenings.
- Rocamar - casual beachfront spot, nice tacos.
- The Bakery - very popular in town, good sandwiches, salads and baked stuff.
- Vermu - cute little cafe situated at the side of the road, but one of our favourites for breakfast.
- Cafe Cafca - good breakfast and great coffee.
Development in Santa Teresa is really going nuts at the moment, and a lot of new places to eat are popping up... let us know if you’d add anything else to this list!
WHERE TO: BEACH
- Playa Santa Teresa - for chill vibes and great surf. Don't forget, there's strong currents here so it's not ideal for swimming if you're not an experienced ocean swimmer. At 5pm it feels like the whole town comes down to the ST beach to watch the sunset with a beer, and watch the surfers catch their last waves of the day. It’s magic.
- Playa Hermosa - great for learning to surf, much smaller waves.
- Playa Carmen - the 'busier' end of the beach so not our favourite spot, but here you'll be very close to lots of cafes and shops. You'll also find El Carmen, a beachfront bar and restaurant, where you can grab a tasty pizza and drink, and a cool spot to watch the sunset.
- Playa Mal Pais - quieter than Santa Teresa and fun for exploring.
The smaller beaches on the way to/from Montezuma waterfall are also worth a stop. Really beautiful and it's much easier to swim here.
WHERE TO: WORKOUT
Offers small group classes run by Owner Ori. Functional training classes are inspired by CrossFit and gymnastics, and are super challenging and fun. Lots of AMRAPs and EMOMs with some really great equipment and we loved training here. Whenever we go back, we’ll be here!
An outdoor gym in the jungle, with all money directed to the lifeguard programme, so it’s pretty old and rusty but at least it goes to a good cause. Can’t say the people that work here were the most friendly bunch, but pop your headphones in and embrace the rust, and you’ll have a good workout.
YOGA & PILATES
If this is more your jam, you’re in the right place. There are heaps of options for yoga and pilates classes, and you can take a class everywhere from within the hotels and hostels, to the Lifeguards Gym and dedicated yoga centres. We didn't try them out, as we bring our own instructor on Salt Escapes, but do drop a comment below if you’ve tried and tested any!