The aura of wellness inherent to Costa Rica’s Blue Zone in the Nicoya Peninsula can be fully grasped as soon as one sets foot in Santa Teresa. This magical corner of the Pacific Coast is a favorite for both international stars and thrill-seeking backpackers due to its uncharted appeal and enveloping authenticity.
As a beach town, Santa Teresa offers an eclectic amalgamation of a surfer’s paradise, a bohemian yogi setting, and an easy-going and unpretentious natural oasis where to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life by way of enthralling tropical beauty and the world-famous pura vida lifestyle.
Santa Teresa’s growth over the years make this stand-out Puntarenas destination one of the most coveted places where to settle and/or develop in the country. The tourism infrastructure is there, with countless offerings in terms of activities, tours and conveniences, but there’s also the unparalleled feel of knowing you’re sharing with like-minded individuals who also find joy in the quaint charm of this marvelous coastal stretch.
Just north of Santa Teresa is the iconic Playa Hermosa (not to be confused with the beach of the same name closer to Jacó). With a flat and wide beachfront, Hermosa presents smaller waves perfect for beginners and those seeking a more relaxed surfing experience, which is why many surf schools have it as their preferred setting.
Playa Santa Teresa
The namesake beachfront of the iconic town runs the length of the coastal road. This is a beach with many peaky breaks, which means it’s a natural destination for powerful swells and waves between 5 and 8 feet. Despite its thrilling conditions, the beach also features smaller 3-foot waves on the secondary swell on the fair end, where beginners can feel more comfortable.
Part of the beautiful Mal Pais area, Playa Carmen is a favorite for professionals and advanced surfers. Its big swells create overheads and double overheads that can challenge the best surfers, but the reef around Mal Pais manages to keep everything under control as well.
Another excellent option for experienced surfers around Mal Pais is Punta Barrigona. The beach really shines when the stranger swells come, and 6-foot waves start rocking its paradisiacal beachfront. Barrigona’s waves have been described as long and hollow, making them a great test for higher experience levels.
Also known as Lajas, this beach is on the eastward side of the Nicoya Peninsula, right next to Cabo Blanco National Park. The gorgeous tropical surroundings serve as the ideal backdrop for its 6-foot waves and rolling right point break. This is definitely one of the more scenic surfing environments in the area.
Given the sheer volume of conservation areas, it’s no surprise that interest has grown for setting beyond the usual suspects. That’s not to say that Manuel Antonio National Park, Poas and Arenal aren’t worth it, they’re “musts” for anyone visiting the country for the first time, but it’s also important to shine light on some lesser known gems hidden amidst Costa Rica’s lush vegetation. One of those is sneakily located next to the iconic beach town of Santa Teresa: Cabo Blanco. Since it’s establishment in 1963, the Absolute Natural Reserve of Cabo Blanco has been an important reforestation effort in Nicoya. Two kinds of forests, the original primary and the regenerated secondary, are part of this distinctive location, which hosts nearly 140 species of tropical trees.
For animal lovers, Cabo Blanco offers a magnificent opportunity to see endemic species of the Pacific Coast like crabs, lobsters, Congo monkeys, cougars, coyotes and hundreds of birds. Many of these can be caught in their natural habitats by taking one of the two different walking trails: Sendero Sueco on the way to Cabo Blanco Beach, and the circular Sendero Danés. Cabo Blanco is located on the southwestern edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, a couple kilometers away from Cabuya, and 16km from Cobano. Given its many natural features, this is truly a place to be visited by anyone in Santa Teresa’s whereabouts.