A sleepy beach town on the edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, what was once a remote fishing village is now a booming bohemian haven for sun-seekers from across the globe. Four years ago, The New York Times outed one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets, but even so, the city has not lost an ounce of its charm. And while the unpaved roads may (at least for now) prevent Santa Teresa from full-on becoming the next Tulum, the abundance of chic boutique hotels, mouth-watering vegan cuisine, and some of the most pristine white-sand beaches I’ve personally ever seen are definitely not going to stop captivating attention.
The road to Santa Teresa is not an easy one, and rightfully so, the road to paradise is without a doubt a rocky one. But the payoff, I promise you, is worth it. Miles of unspoiled coastline punctuated by a lush (albeit somewhat dusty) jungle, it’s the type a place you’ll be dreaming about for months to come.
I was reluctant to share this little secret, but I figured I owed it to the owners to spread the love. Nestled in the hills above Playa Carmen, this boutique retreat boasts a few tiny well-equipped cabins (each with their own kitchen and outdoor hammock), an open-air yoga studio, an infinity pool overlooking the jungle and the sea, and one of the best vegetarian restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in. Book a few nights, and you’ll want to stay forever.
One of the many female-owned businesses in town (another reason to love Santa Teresa) Swedish-born Katinka Bronge has totally mastered vegan fare. From the bowls (topped with a plethora of perfectly-cooked veggies) to the smoothies (mixed with the freshest fruit and nutrients) Earth is definitely one to put on your regular rotation.
Definitely one of the most buzzed-about spots in town, The Bakery pretty much always has a line, and it’s not hard to see why. It has the best brunch (and the best bread) on this side of the Nicoya Peninsula. Opened in 2009 by an Adi Tal, an Israeli who had recently relocated to Santa Teresa with her husband for its warm vibe.
There is no shortage of yoga studios in Santa Teresa, each with a few different offerings per day. Pranamar Villas is probably the most well-known one (they also have a location in Bali we’ve covered) and offers a ton of workshops and meditations (like Ecstatic Dance), but we also love Hotel Horizon and Casa Zen’s open-air decks, and Tropico Latino’s proximity to the ocean.
A must-visit if you’re in the area, we recommend renting an ATV and taking the road like a local. Once you’ve reached Montezuma, the hike up to the waterfall is pretty intense, but the view definitely makes up for it. Surrounded by lush jungle, expect to see lots of wildlife, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a zip line canopy tour to experience the greenery from a new perspective.
Santa Teresa is also home to world-class waves, yet another reason its buzz continues to grow. If you’re new to the sport, but looking to take on something new, visit any of the arrays of local surf shops to get a lesson from a local.