Last updated on February 1st, 2024 at 10:00 am
Looking to add Santa Teresa Costa Rica surf to your itinerary of things to do in Santa Teresa? Playa Santa Teresa, Palay Hermosa, Playa Carmen, and Suck Rock are some of the best beaches for your Santa Teresa Costa Rica surfing.
Nestled on the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa’s sandy shores and azure waters beckon surfers from around the globe. From its world-renowned breaks to the laid-back beach vibe, this tropical enclave embodies the spirit of Pura Vida.
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Beyond the call of the waves, Santa Teresa offers a harmonious blend of nature, adventure, and culture. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer chasing the next big wave or a traveler simply looking to bask in the sun, this guide unveils the treasures that make Santa Teresa, Costa Rica a dream destination.
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Getting There – Santa Teresa Costa Rica Surf
Tambor Airport: The closest domestic airport to Santa Teresa is Tambor. Several daily flights operate from San José’s Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) to Tambor, with a flight time of around 25 minutes. From Tambor, it’s an easy one-hour drive or taxi ride to Santa Teresa.
Puntarenas to Paquera Ferry: A scenic option involves a ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, which takes approximately 70 minutes. Once in Paquera, it’s about a 1.5-hour drive to Santa Teresa. This route offers the chance to see the picturesque coastline, and if you’re lucky, a dolphin or two!
Direct Bus from San José: There are daily buses from San José to Santa Teresa. The journey takes about 7 hours, including a ferry ride. This is a budget-friendly option, though it might be a bit longer.
From San José: If you’re up for a road trip, you can rent a car in San José and drive to Santa Teresa. The journey is approximately 5 hours (not counting waiting time for the ferry). Make sure to check the ferry schedules in advance.
- The roads in and around Santa Teresa can be rough, especially in the rainy season. Consider renting a 4×4 vehicle.
- Always check the ferry schedule if you’re taking that route and try to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure.
- The last stretch of road into Santa Teresa is gravel and can be quite dusty in the dry season, so be prepared!
Santa Teresa Costa Rica Surf Beaches – Top Places for Surfing in All Levels
- Overview: A surfer’s dream and arguably the crown jewel of Santa Teresa’s coastline, Playa Santa Teresa stretches impressively, its golden sands kissing the azure Pacific.
- Best Time: Year-round waves cater to a wide spectrum of surfers. The seasoned will enjoy May to November, when the Pacific becomes a playground of swells.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: The adjacent town has blossomed around the surf culture, boasting an international tapestry of culinary delights from sushi to tapas, friendly hostels, luxurious villas, surf schools, and vibrant markets selling local arts and crafts. Come evening, the beach transforms into a vibrant setting of bonfires and impromptu music jams.
- Overview: As its name suggests (‘Beautiful Beach’), Playa Hermosa is the picturesque sibling in the Santa Teresa family. Lush tropical foliage frames the sandy expanses, and its waves are more approachable.
- Best Time: December to April sees milder waves, proving to be a learning ground for many beginners.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: The tranquil ambiance has given rise to yoga retreats, cozy cafes serving organic delicacies, and boutique accommodations that merge seamlessly with the surroundings. Nature trails lead to nearby viewpoints, rewarding hikers with panoramic vistas.
3. Playa Carmen
- Overview: Playa Carmen is a harmonious blend of surf culture and relaxation. Strategically positioned between Santa Teresa and Mal Pais, it offers consistent breaks.
- Best Time: Waves offer year-round joy, with June to August bringing larger surges ideal for those looking for a challenge.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: Here, shopping avenues intermingle with restaurants offering global cuisines. Those looking to explore can rent ATVs, while evenings can be spent sipping cocktails at beachfront bars, recounting surf tales.
4. Suck Rock
- Overview: A spot of legends, Suck Rock is not for novices. The formidable right-hand reef break challenges even the seasoned.
- Best Time: For those keen on testing their mettle, May to October offers the best odds.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: The remoteness ensures lesser crowds. However, this means limited amenities. Nearby, explorers can find hidden coves, often resulting in secluded beach picnics under the shade of swaying palms.
5. La Lora
- Overview: A magnet for the energetic youth, La Lora’s waves break fast and hard, beckoning those skilled with their shortboards.
- Best Time: High tides, irrespective of the month, promise the best barrels.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: When the sun sets, La Lora’s vicinity pulsates with energy. Nightclubs, bars, and street performances keep the nocturnal spirits high.
6. Brunela’s Point
- Overview: A touch of nostalgia can be felt here, where longboard riders trace arcs on long, unhurried waves.
- Best Time: For those leisurely rides, December to April is your window.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: The surroundings whisper tales of old Costa Rica. Rustic eateries, serving generations-old recipes, dot the landscape. Local artisans often display their wares, offering a piece of Brunela’s soul to take back home.
- Overview: For those in the know, Bananalama is a treasure. Its waves dance gracefully, away from the madding crowds.
- Best Time: Consistency is key here, with the rainy season bringing a touch more vigor to the waves.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: With fewer footfalls, commercial establishments are sparse. It’s common to see locals engaging in fishing, offering fresh catch for a beachside barbecue.
8. Playa Mar Azul (Mal Pais)
- Overview: A serene alcove, Playa Mar Azul, is where the forest whispers to the ocean. Both reef and beach breaks coexist harmoniously.
- Best Time: High tides amplify the reef breaks, while beach breaks offer joy throughout the day.
- Facilities & Nearby Attractions: Though less commercial than Santa Teresa, a few gems await discovery. Quaint shacks serving seafood, local musicians strumming melodies, and a backdrop of a fiery sunset make this a place of simple pleasures.
Other Things to Do in and Around Puntarenas – Santa Teresa Costa Surf
1. Puntarenas Promenade (Paseo de los Turistas)
A bustling boardwalk lined with restaurants, cafes, and local souvenir shops. It’s the perfect place to try local delicacies, especially seafood, and enjoy a picturesque sunset over the Gulf of Nicoya.
2. Isla Tortuga
A pristine island located in the Gulf of Nicoya, Isla Tortuga is famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Many companies offer day tours which often include snorkeling, beach volleyball, and even a local lunch.
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest
About a 2-hour drive from Puntarenas, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a biodiverse paradise. Walk along hanging bridges, explore its diverse flora and fauna, and if you’re up for it, experience one of Costa Rica’s best zip-lining tours.
4. Curú Wildlife Refuge
Situated on the Nicoya Peninsula, this refuge is a blend of marine and terrestrial habitats. It’s a great spot for bird watching, hiking, and spotting diverse wildlife such as white-faced monkeys, scarlet macaws, and even anteaters.
5. Marino Ballena National Park
Known for the unique whale tail sandbar formation, this park is also a prime location for whale watching (especially between August and March). Dolphins, turtles, and a plethora of fish species also reside in these waters.
6. Guaitil Pottery Village
A short drive from Puntarenas, this indigenous village is known for its unique handcrafted pottery. Learn about the ancient Chorotega techniques and even take a piece of art home with you.
7. Horseback Riding Tours
Explore the coastline, forest trails, or countryside around Puntarenas on horseback. Several local outfits offer guided tours suitable for all experience levels.
8. The Butterfly Garden in El Castillo
Experience the magical world of butterflies in a lush tropical setting. Learn about various species and witness their lifecycle from caterpillar to butterfly.
9. Visit Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve
Located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, it’s the oldest nature reserve in Costa Rica. With secluded beaches and abundant wildlife, it’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
10. Taste the Local Cuisine
Don’t miss out on trying the local “ceviche” at Puntarenas or grabbing a refreshing “copo” (a local shaved ice treat with condensed milk and powdered milk).
Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or a food enthusiast, Puntarenas and its surrounding areas offer an array of experiences. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture, natural beauty, and culinary delights.
Final Thoughts on Santa Teresa Costa Rica Surfing
Santa Teresa, a symphony of waves and culture, is more than just a surf destination. Each beach, with its tales and nuances, invites surfers and travelers to be a part of its narrative. Whether it’s the thrill of the ride, the allure of local life, or the embrace of pristine nature, Santa Teresa promises memories etched for a lifetime.
As the sun sets over the horizon of Santa Teresa, casting golden hues over its vast coastline, one cannot help but feel a deep connection to the ocean, the land, and the community that thrives here. With every wave ridden and every beach explored, Santa Teresa promises memories that linger long after the tan fades. Embrace the essence of surfing, savor the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this coastal gem. Until the waves call you back, keep the spirit of Santa Teresa’s surf alive in your heart.
About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.