It seems that when people are researching online and deciding where to go for their Costa Rica vacation, they often overlook Santa Teresa. Maybe this is because it is a very small town at the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Ticos (this is what Costa Ricans call themselves) call the whole area Malpais, because it includes the towns of Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, Playa Hermosa, and Malpais, so this might add to the confusion.
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is an off-the-beaten path surfer town on the Pacific coast, northwest of Cabo Blanco National Park, which occupies the majority of the southern point of Nicoya Peninsula. It is one of Costa Rica’s up and coming hot spots, but when you go there it still feels like you have discovered a secret, cool destination at the end of the world few people know about.
Most tourists go to Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio, or Jacó because they are much easier to get to. However, if you want to discover a real gem and have a huge stretch of beach mostly to yourself, make the effort to get to Santa Teresa. Getting there is part of the fun!
From San Jose airport you can take a small plane to Tambor airport, about 40 minutes away by taxi from the vacation rentals and hotels by the beach, but you miss out on part of the journey. Most people come by shuttle or bus.
The shuttle picks you up at the airport and drives you to town with a group of other people in a 10 person van. Big groups can arrange a van all to themselves. First the van drops you off at the ferry in Puntarenas. The ferry is one of the funnest parts of the journey. It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes, and offers fantastic views of the Gulf of Nicoya and the surrounding green hills. The ferry even has a bar/disco area, indoor & outdoor seating, and dining area. Another van picks you up at the other side, and drives you over the mountain and down to the beach at Playa Carmen and on to Santa Teresa.
The bus follows the same route as the shuttle, but a little slower. You can catch the bus to Santa Teresa at the San Carlos bus terminal in San Jose. The benefit of the bus is that it goes on the ferry too, so you do not have to take your luggage off. It is also cheaper than the shuttle.
Many people rent a car as well. This is great because it gives you much flexibility once you arrive in town, and allows you to get out an explore the whole region.
Don’t be scared off by the six-hour journey because once you get there, you’ll realize that it was all worth it, and the journey only helps to set up the adventures that will surely follow on your Costa Rica vacation. Now that you know where Santa Teresa Costa Rica is, go ahead and book your vacation rental in Costa Rica and get ready for the time of your life.