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Nosara vs Santa Teresa – Which is the Better Vacation in Costa Rica?

Nosara vs Santa Teresa Costa Rica – Nosara and Santa Teresa are two popular destinations in Costa Rica known for their beautiful beaches and outdoor activities. Both are on the Nicoya Peninsula in the northwest of Costa Rica. Read here Nosara vs Tamarindo

Both Nosara and Santa Teresa are popular among surfers, yogis, and nature lovers. And while Nosara is a more developed beach town, Santa Teresa is more laid-back and rustic. It’s up to you what kind of vacation you want to have!

Related Travel Guides on Costa Rica:

SIM CARD AT SAN JOSE COSTA RICA AIRPORT

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Booking Your Travel Insurance – Tamarindo vs Santa Teresa

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For $135 USD, you can get your Heymondo Travel Insurance with this Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review here

Read here for Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 day. Safetywing for $50 per month with kids until 10 years old included.

Comparing Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Let’s compare Nosara vs Santa Teresa and see how each of these Costa Rica beach towns compare with each other.

Surfing – Santa Teresa vs Nosara

Both Nosara and Santa Teresa are known for their consistent waves and variety of surf spots, but the types of waves and surf spots are slightly different. Nosara is known for its beginner-friendly waves and is often considered one of the best places in Costa Rica to learn how to surf. The most popular surf spot in Nosara is Playa Guiones, which has a long, sandy bottom and gentle waves that are perfect for beginners. Other surf spots such as Playa Pelada and Playa Nosara are also considered beginner-friendly.

In contrast, Santa Teresa is known for its more challenging waves and is considered more suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The most popular surf spot in Santa Teresa is Playa Hermosa, which has a rocky bottom and bigger, more powerful waves. Other surf spots such as Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen are also considered intermediate-advanced.

Yoga

Nosara is known for its thriving yoga community and offers a variety of yoga studios and retreat centers, like the Nosara Yoga Institute and the Harmony Hotel Yoga Retreat Center. These centers offer a wide range of classes and retreats for all skill levels and styles of yoga, and many of the teachers are internationally recognized. Santa Teresa also has yoga offerings, but not as many options as Nosara. Santa Teresa has a few yoga studios, but they tend to be smaller and less well-known than those in Nosara.

Wildlife Watching

Both locations have a variety of wildlife, but Nosara is home to a higher number of monkeys and sloths, and a wider variety of bird species. The Nosara Biological Reserve is a popular spot for wildlife viewing, where visitors can see monkeys, sloths, and different species of birds. Santa Teresa also has some wildlife, but it’s not as diverse as in Nosara, and wildlife viewing opportunities are more limited.

Nightlife

Santa Teresa is known for its vibrant nightlife and variety of restaurants and bars, and it’s popular among the younger crowd. The town has a lively atmosphere, with many bars, nightclubs, and music venues. In contrast, Nosara is quieter and more laid back, and it’s popular among families, couples and older travelers.

Accommodation

Both locations have a wide variety of accommodation options, but Santa Teresa tends to be more developed and has more options for luxury accommodation. Santa Teresa has a wider range of luxury resorts and villas, while Nosara has more budget-friendly options such as hostels and eco-lodges.

Transportation

Nosara is a bit more isolated than Santa Teresa, and it can be harder to access and get around, while Santa Teresa is more easily accessible by bus or car, and has more options for transportation. Nosara is located about 30 minutes from the Nicoya Peninsula’s main road, and it

Surfing Beaches in Nosara

Nosara is a popular destination for surfers due to its variety of surf spots and consistent waves. Some of the most popular surf spots in Nosara include:

Playa Guiones

This is the most popular surf spot in Nosara and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners. The wave is also known for its consistency and the water is warm and clean.

Playa Pelada

This spot is located just a short walk from Playa Guiones and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide. There are also a few beach breaks in this area.

Playa Nosara

Playa Nosara - Nosara vs Santa Teresa, Santa Teresa vs Nosara
Playa Nosara – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

This spot is located just a short drive from Playa Guiones and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa Ostional

This spot is located about a 30-minute drive from Nosara and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa Garza

This spot is located about a 30-minute drive from Nosara and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners.

Playa Marbella

This spot is located a short drive from Playa Guiones and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa Sánchez

This spot is located about a 30-minute drive from Nosara and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners.

Playa Hermosa

This spot is located about a 30-minute drive from Nosara and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa San Juanillo

This spot is located about a 45-minute drive from Nosara and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners.

Surfing Beaches in Santa Teresa

The region of Santa Teresa is known for its many surf spots with different levels of difficulty and not all of them are known or easily accessible. Some of them are located in remote areas and can only be accessed by boat, 4×4 or by foot.

Additionally, Santa Teresa is a relatively small town, but the surrounding areas have many surf spots to offer, such as Playa Hermosa, Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, Playa Mal Pais, and Playa Manzanillo.

Playa Hermosa

This is one of the most popular surf spots in Santa Teresa and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners. The wave is also known for its consistency and the water is warm and clean.

Playa Santa Teresa

Playa Santa Teresa - Nosara vs Santa Teresa in Costa Rica
Playa Santa Teresa – Nosara vs Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

This spot is located just a short drive from Playa Hermosa and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide. There are also a few beach breaks in this area.

Playa Carmen

This spot is located about a 10-minute drive from Santa Teresa and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa Mal Pais

This spot is located about a 20-minute drive from Santa Teresa and is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers. The wave is a fast and powerful right-hand point break that is best surfed at low tide.

Playa Manzanillo

Playa Manzanillo in Santa Teresa - Santa Teresa vs Nosara, Nosara vs Santa Teresa
Playa Manzanillo in Santa Teresa – Santa Teresa vs Nosara

This spot is located about a 30-minute drive from Santa Teresa and is suitable for all skill levels. The wave is a long, slow-breaking left-hand point break that is great for longboarders and beginners.

It’s important to note that, even though the waves can be consistent and suitable for different levels, the ocean is unpredictable and conditions can change rapidly. Always check the forecast and be aware of the current and tide before going out to surf. It’s also important to respect the local surfer’s etiquette and always use caution when surfing in unfamiliar areas.

Surf Schools – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Nosara and Santa Teresa are both popular destinations for surfers, and there are several surf schools in both locations that offer lessons and rentals for all skill levels.

Nosa Surf Schools

Nosara Surf Shop: This surf school is located in Playa Guiones and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They have experienced instructors and a wide range of surf equipment available.

Costa Rica Surf School: This surf school is located in Playa Guiones and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They also offer yoga and fitness classes to help improve your surfing skills.

Nosara Surf Academy: This surf school is located in Playa Guiones and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They have experienced instructors and a wide range of surf equipment available.

Santa Teresa Surf Schools

Santa Teresa Surf School: This surf school is located in Playa Santa Teresa and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They have experienced instructors and a wide range of surf equipment available.

Escuela de Surf Santa Teresa: This surf school is located in Playa Santa Teresa and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They have experienced instructors and a wide range of surf equipment available.

Playa Hermosa Surf School: This surf school is located in Playa Hermosa and offers lessons for all skill levels, as well as surfboard rentals. They have experienced instructors and a wide range of surf equipment available.

Other Top Things To Do – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Nosara – Other Top Things To Do

Yoga: Nosara has a thriving yoga community and offers a variety of yoga studios and retreat centers. Some popular yoga centers in Nosara include the Nosara Yoga Institute and the Harmony Hotel Yoga Retreat Center.

Wildlife Watching: Nosara is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and a wide variety of bird species. Visitors can take guided tours to see wildlife in their natural habitat, such as the Nosara Biological Reserve, where you can see monkeys, sloths, and different species of birds.

Hiking: Nosara is surrounded by lush rainforests that offer great hiking opportunities. Visitors can take guided hikes through the jungle to see waterfalls and other natural wonders, such as the Nosara Waterfall, which is a great spot to swim and take a picnic.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Nosara has great conditions for stand-up paddleboarding, with calm waters and beautiful scenery. You can rent a board and explore the estuaries and mangroves on your own or take a guided tour.

Santa Teresa – Other Top Things To Do

Horseback Riding: Santa Teresa offers visitors the opportunity to explore the area on horseback. You can take guided tours through the jungle and along the beach.

Zip-lining: Santa Teresa offers visitors the opportunity to experience the jungle from a different perspective by taking a zip-line tour.

ATV tours: Santa Teresa offers visitors the opportunity to explore the area on an ATV, taking guided tours through the jungle, along the beach, and to hidden waterfalls.

Sunset Catamaran Tour: Santa Teresa offers visitors the opportunity to take a sunset catamaran tour, where you can see the beautiful sunset and have a chance to see dolphins, turtles, and whales.

Food and Nightlife: Santa Teresa has a variety of restaurants and bars that offer a wide range of international and local cuisine, as well as a vibrant nightlife.

Best Time to Visit – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Both Nosara and Santa Teresa are located on the Nicoya Peninsula in the northwest of Costa Rica, and the weather is generally warm and sunny year-round. However, the peak tourist season is generally considered to be December through April, when the weather is typically sunny and dry. This is also the peak surfing season, with the best waves and conditions.

The low season is from May to November, and it is usually the rainy season, which means that the weather is more unpredictable, and there may be more rain and clouds, but also it can be less crowded and prices tend to be lower. This is also considered the green season, where the forests are lush and the waterfalls are more powerful.

In summary, if you’re looking to avoid crowds and get the best deals on accommodations in Nosara vs Santa Teresa, the best time to visit would be during the low season. However, if you’re looking for the best weather and surf conditions, the best time to visit would be during the peak season.

Check the accurate weather here for Nosara and Santa Teresa

Where to Stay – Hotels And Accommodations

Nosara and Santa Teresa are both popular destinations in Costa Rica, and there are a variety of accommodations available to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are a few of the top accommodations in each location:

Nosara:

Harmony Hotel: This hotel is located in Playa Guiones and offers comfortable rooms, a yoga studio, and a restaurant. It’s known for its eco-friendly practices and beautiful gardens.

Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort: This resort is located in Playa Guiones and offers comfortable rooms, a yoga studio, and a restaurant. It’s known for its eco-friendly practices and beautiful gardens.

Casa Tucan: This hotel is located in Playa Guiones and offers comfortable rooms, a pool, and a restaurant. It’s known for its great location and friendly staff.

Check more hotels in Nosara here

Santa Teresa:

Hotel Tropico Latino: This hotel is located in Santa Teresa and offers comfortable rooms, a pool, and a restaurant. It’s known for its great location and friendly staff.

Villa Pochote: This hotel is located in Santa Teresa and offers comfortable rooms, a pool, and a restaurant. It’s known for its great location and friendly staff.

Blue Spirit: This hotel is located in Santa Teresa and offers comfortable rooms, a yoga studio, and a restaurant. It’s known for its eco-friendly practices and beautiful gardens.

Check more hotels in Santa Teresa here

Cost of Travel – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

In general, both Nosara and Santa Teresa are considered to be more expensive than other destinations in Costa Rica due to the popularity of the area and the high demand for accommodations and activities.

Here are some general estimates of what you might expect to spend on a trip to Nosara and Santa Teresa:

Accommodation

Prices for accommodation in Nosara and Santa Teresa can vary widely, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per night for a basic room, and up to $500 per night for a luxury villa.

Food and drink – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Prices for food and drink in Nosara and Santa Teresa are generally higher than in other parts of Costa Rica. You can expect to pay around $10 to $15 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant, and around $5 to $8 for a drink at a bar.

Activities

The cost of activities in Nosara and Santa Teresa can vary depending on what you choose to do, but you can expect to pay around $50 to $100 for a half-day guided tour, and around $50 to $75 for a full-day surf lesson.

Transportation

The cost of transportation to Nosara and Santa Teresa can vary depending on how you choose to travel. If you choose to fly, you can expect to pay around $100 to $200 for a round-trip flight from the capital city of San Jose to either location. If you choose to take a bus, you can expect to pay around $20 to $30 one way. Once you arrive in Nosara or Santa Teresa, you can get around by renting a car, scooter, or bike, which can cost around $30 to $50 per day.

Based on these prices, a rough estimate of the total cost for a week-long trip to Nosara or Santa Teresa for one person would be around $770 to $2000. This includes accommodation, food and drink, activities, transportation, and additional expenses.

Getting from Nosara to Santa Teresa and Vice Versa

Bus

The most affordable way to travel between Nosara and Santa Teresa is by bus. The bus ride takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes and runs several times a day. The bus leaves from Nosara and stops in Santa Teresa, and vice versa. The bus fare is around $5 to $8 one way. Keep in mind that the bus ride can be bumpy and the bus can be overcrowded.

Shuttle

You can take a shuttle service that runs between Nosara and Santa Teresa, it’s more comfortable than the bus and faster, the cost is around $25 to $30 one way.

Car Rental

Renting a car is a good option if you want more flexibility and freedom to explore the area at your own pace. The drive takes about 2 hours, and the cost of renting a car is around $50 to $70 per day.

Private Taxi

Hiring a private taxi is another option for traveling between Nosara and Santa Teresa. The cost of a taxi is around $70 to $80 one way, depending on the distance and the time of day.

Flight

You can take a flight from San Jose to Tambor airport and then take a taxi or shuttle to your destination. The flight from San Jose to Tambor airport is around $100 to $150 round-trip, and the taxi or shuttle will cost around $30 to $40 one way.

Compare the Digital Nomad Scene – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

Nosara has a smaller and more laid-back digital nomad scene compared to Santa Teresa. It’s a quieter and more remote location, which can be ideal for those looking for a more relaxed and peaceful environment.

There are a few coworking spaces in Nosara such as “The Gilded Iguana Coworking“, which offer a comfortable and productive workspace and the community is growing. Additionally, there are also a few yoga and wellness retreats in Nosara that offer digital nomads an opportunity to work and relax in a peaceful and rejuvenating environment.

Santa Teresa, on the other hand, has a larger and more vibrant digital nomad scene. It’s a more developed and touristy location, which can be ideal for those looking for a more social and active environment.

There are several coworking spaces in Santa Teresa such as “Espacio Santa Teresa” and “The Hive” that offer a comfortable and productive workspace and the community is growing. Additionally, Santa Teresa has a wide range of restaurants, bars, and cafes, which can be ideal for networking and socializing with other digital nomads.

Nosara vs Santa Teresa – More Instagram worthy or photography-worthy Places

Nosara

Nosara Biological Reserve: This reserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and it’s a great spot for taking photos of monkeys, sloths, and birds.

The Gilded Iguana: This popular surf bar and restaurant is located on Playa Guiones and it’s a great spot for taking photos of the surf, the sunset, and the beach.

Santa Teresa

Cabo Blanco National Park: This park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and it’s a great spot for taking photos of monkeys, sloths, and birds.

Mal Pais: This small town is located next to Santa Teresa and it’s known for its beautiful sunsets and it’s a great spot for taking photos of the surf, the sunset, and the beach.

Where To Go Before or After – Santa Teresa vs Nosara

Before or after Nosara:

San Jose

Many people fly into the capital city of San Jose before heading to Nosara, and some people also visit the city after their stay in Nosara. San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica and offers a variety of cultural and historical attractions, as well as restaurants and nightlife.

Tamarindo

This is another popular surf town located in the Guanacaste province and is often visited before or after Nosara. Tamarindo is known for its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife, and it’s a great spot for those who want to do some more surfing.

Manuel Antonio

This is a national park located on the central pacific coast and is often visited before or after Santa Teresa. The park is known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and wildlife, and it’s a great spot for those who want to explore more of Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Montezuma

This small town located on the Nicoya Peninsula is often visited before or after Santa Teresa. Montezuma is known for its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and laid-back atmosphere, and it’s a great spot for those who want to explore more of the peninsula’s natural beauty.

Jaco

This beach town located on the central pacific coast is often visited before or after Santa Teresa. Jaco is known for its beautiful beaches, nightlife, and adventure activities, and it’s a great spot for those who want to experience more of Costa Rica’s lively atmosphere.

Currency and ATMS – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

The currency of Costa Rica is called Costa Rican colón and as of now, $1 USD is worth 620 CRC Costa Rican colón. Do not exchange your currency at the airport because you’ll get less than what you’ll get with the city’s exchange.

Final Thoughts – Nosara vs Santa Teresa

While both Nosara offers relaxing remote Costa Rica beach town vibes, Santa Teresa is more advanced with more options for surf schools and accommodations than Nosara. If you want the most relaxed and laidback stay and don’t mind going more off the beaten path, Nosara is for you. If you want it a little bit more balanced, then go for Santa Teresa. Either way, you won’t regret choosing to stay in these beach towns. Tell us which you ended up choosing and have fun on your trip!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.