If you are looking to get away, immerse yourself in nature, and focus on relaxation and wellness…look no further than my Clean Travel Guide to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Santa Teresa is a small surfer village on the southern Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula (a blue zone – where the population is noted to live past 100). Although Santa Teresa is ever-growing, this beautiful beach town still maintains its quaintness and charm.

This destination has attracted yogis, ex-pats, surfers, tourists, and nomads from all over the world. People come for the beaches, jungle, wildlife, surfing, food, and most of all the Pura Vida lifestyle.

As you arrive from a long and bumpy drive to Santa Teresa, you\’ll find local surf shops, wellness hotels & resorts, yoga studios, health food cafés, and boutique stores!

I\’ve written a Clean Travel Guide to Santa Teresa…exploring and enjoying what this \”off the beaten path\” surf town has to offer in the realm of non-toxic living, clean eating, and wellness activities. Pura Vida!

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Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

How to get to Santa Teresa

To get to Santa Teresa, you\’ll fly into either San José International Airport or Liberia International Airport to start your journey.

  • From San José, Rent a Car, take the Puntarenas to Paquera Ferry (mostly paved route) – about a 5 hour trip.
  • From Liberia, Rent a Car and drive south on Route 21 (most paved route) – about a 4 hour trip.
  • If you arrive in either San José or Liberia you can take a Shared Tourist Shuttle – about a 4-5 hour trip.
  • Fly into San José or Liberia, take a domestic flight to Tambor, and take a 1 hour ride to Santa Teresa.

*Check out my post on Traveling to and around the Nicoya Peninsula for more detail!

Things to know before traveling to Santa Teresa

  • Go with a 4×4 if you choose to rent a car. Many of the roads on the southern Nicoya Peninsula are not paved and can be rough, pot holed and bumpy. This gets worse in the rainy season.
  • If you fly domestic or take a Shared Tourist Shuttle to the peninsula, there are rental car companies and ATV rentals in each major village. Hotels can also set up transportation for their guests.
  • Always allow for extra travel time, because road conditions and circumstances can be unpredictable and cause unexpected delays.
  • If you are planning to rent a car or drive in Costa Rica – be sure to have Google Maps or Waze installed on your phone. If you get Google Maps, you can download the country or area on your phone in order to use it while you don\’t have cell service.

Where to Stay

There are a lot of unique retreats and resorts to choose from in Santa Teresa. However, I like to find and promote those that are committed to the wellness of their guests and creating a non-toxic experience.

Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

Pranamar Villas & Yoga Retreat is a tranquil oasis tucked into a piece of the jungle right on the beaches of Santa Teresa. This casual retreat is focused on wellness through the food served, the environment fostered, and the treatments and activities offered.

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View of the Pranamar Pool from Kavita Restaurant

The resort is made of villas and bungalows sprinkled throughout the resort\’s jungle-like grounds with garden, pool, or ocean views. These villas are so relaxing, and you won\’t find any TVs so you can truly unplug and immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings.

The gorgeous pool in the center of the resort seems to be rarely occupied. It almost feels as if it\’s just there for you. Right next to the pool is the open-air yoga shala that holds daily complimentary classes for guests.

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Pranamar Pool

Take the path to the private beach area and you\’ll find shaded hammocks, a full-service tiki bar, and tables and chairs to relax and watch the tide come in. Low tide is the perfect time to explore the incredible tide pools right in front of the resort. 200 meters to the north is Hermosa Beach – which is easily walkable and great for surfing and swimming.

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Why I Love Pranamar

  • Kavita Restaurant is the resorts open air restaurant and their food philosophy focuses on organic and locally sourced ingredients. The menu is awesome!
  • Guests can enjoy a complimentary sit-down breakfast with a full variety of options.
  • The products used in the guest rooms for toiletries come from the local Costa Rican company Aromas. Aromas makes high quality organic, non-toxic products.
  • Pranamar offers a daily complimentary yoga class to each guest.
  • The Spa offers massages and focused treatments with 100% organic products.
  • Pranamar will set up tours and activities for you; so you can get active and experience the wonders of Costa Rica!
  • If you are looking for a yoga retreat or to get teaching certification – this is a great choice!

Horizon Hotel

The Horizon Hotel and Yoga Center is a quaint, locally-owned hotel that rests in the hills of Santa Teresa, overlooking the beautiful Pacific coast.

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Horizon Hotel

There are villas and cabins throughout the property with access to different pools, a spa, and an open-air yoga studio.

Why I Love Horizon

  • Guest villas include a private kitchen. This can help save money and also accommodate dietary restrictions!
  • The Horizon Hotel Restaurant is 100% organic, locally sourced, and vegetarian. They also have an organic garden where they grow their own herbs. Closed on Sundays
  • Daily yoga classes are held on the open air yoga desk just above Horizon Hotel Restaurant.
  • Horizon is tucked in the hills of Santa Teresa giving guests a peaceful stay, away from the main road, but close enough to walk into town and to the beach.

FlorBlanca

FlorBlanca is a beautiful luxury resort in Santa Teresa. Their property has winding paths through the jungle to each villa, the Nectar Restaurant, Spa Bambu, and the seaside open-air yoga shala.

The staff focuses on embodying the Costa Rican motto \”Pura Vida\” by inviting guests in for a time of healing, restoration, and peace.

You will be nourished with local and organic food, body treatments at the spa, grounding in the yoga studio, non-toxic and luxurious amenities, and Costa Rican adventure.

Why I Love FlorBlanca

  • Nectar Restaurant at FlorBlanca uses local and sustainably raised pork and chicken, and utilizes local organic produce. They also advertise a Farm-to-Table and Hook-to-Fork philosophy.
  • FlorBlanca has daily yoga classes lead by the resorts yoga master. There is also an oceanfront pilates studio with classes or private session available.
  • The guest room toiletries are from the local Costa Rican company Raw Botanicals. These are organic, non-toxic, clean products infused with essential oils.
  • Activities offered through the resort include SUP, yoga, surfing, zip line, local tours, pilates, and fishing.
  • FlorBlanca is committed to sustainability.

Thea Retreats

Thea is an all-inclusive boutique retreat center and holistic spa. You\’ll find Thea set back in the hillside, looking over Santa Teresa and the Pacific Ocean. Just a 5-minute drive from Santa Teresa town.

These wellness and detox retreats are holistic because they focus on every part of the guest to nourish and renew. You can choose your program based on your personal needs, create a custom program, and/or participate in Thea\’s detox program.

The network of holistic health and wellness providers at Thea help guide you through your stay and provide services included in the retreat package.

Why I Love Thea Retreats

  • Thea offers so many different experiences and offers to curate a custom program based on your personal needs.
  • Retreats at Thea are all-inclusive with food, treatments, activities, and more!
  • Healing and wellness are the primary focus of Thea Retreats.
  • The retreat prices are extremely reasonable for what you receive.
  • Whether the juice cleanses or meal plans, food served at Thea is raw, superfood, and supports detox pathways.

Where to Eat

Horizon Hotel

Horizon restaurant is 100% organic and vegetarian, and sources many of its ingredients from their organic garden and locally.

The atmosphere is quaint, with casual seating options, stocked bookshelves, and a patio that boasts a beautiful view of the pacific coast.

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One of our favorites here was their house organic herb-infused tea with herbs from their garden!

*Closed Sundays

Koji Sushi

Koji’s is a popular sushi restaurant, featured in blogs, articles, and travel magazines! If you look at any blog or article about where to eat in Santa Teresa, Koji will be on it.

There are organic options, grass-fed and aged beef, and a great wine list.

*Closed on Sunday & Monday and be sure to make a reservation!

Kavita Restaurant

Kavita is the open-air restaurant located in Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat. It serves breakfast (complimentary to guests), lunch, and dinner.

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Their food philosophy focuses on organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Enjoy Budda Eyes – Pranamar\’s Oceanside Tiki Restaurant from December – April

Zwart Café

Zwart is a cute, local, open-air cafe and art gallery owned by an artist that also offers art classes.

The menu is NOT organic. Be sure to pay attention to the “base” of the smoothie, because they do serve traditional cows milk in some of them. However, there are great dairy alternatives.

They have great smoothies, juices, and menu options for breakfast and lunch. Open Daily.

Earth Café

Earth Cafe is a must-eat when you are in Santa Teresa! It is a small cafe on the main road open daily for breakfast and lunch.

The breakfast and lunch menu offers bowls, salads, sandwiches, & smoothies. They have organic, vegan, dairy-free, and paleo options.

One of our favorite meals in Santa Teresa was the Vegan Earth Bowl here!

Chop it

Chop it is in the Playa Carmen Mall and is a great place to stop for lunch. They have salads, wraps, and burgers with local produce and a sustainable mindset.

Their beef is hormone and antibiotic-free, and they serve organic chicken breast as a sub for beef on your burger.

Orgánico (in Montezuma)

Orgánico is a 100% organic restaurant (just north of Montezuma Waterfall trailhead) that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.

The menu is mainly pizza, fish dishes, and also vegan options that include curry, salads, and patacones.

*Closed on Tuesdays

Green World Store

If you are renting an Airbnb or staying at a hotel that has a kitchen (like Horizon Hotel), making some of your meals is a great idea! Green World is your go-to in Santa Teresa for organic and healthy food!

Activities in Santa Teresa

Visit the Montezuma Waterfall

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Montezuma Lower Falls

The drive from Santa Teresa to Montezuma is about 30 minutes. Montezuma Waterfall Trailhead is right by the Rio Montezuma bridge and has a small parking lot with a local attendant.

You’ll find a trail map with directions to the lower, middle, and upper falls. The lower falls trail is the least strenuous. However, it is still a moderate hike. The lower falls are also the most popular to visit because of the jumping rock and large swimming hole.

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Montezuma Entrance

Along the trail are a few shallow river crossings, so be sure to wear shoes you can get wet and have good soles for hiking. We wore our Chacos and they were great!

*Locals are available for hire to help you reach the mid and upper falls from the lower falls.

Take a Surf Lesson

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Santa Teresa has some incredible beaches for surfing – perfect for any level! Some of my favorite spots are Playa Hermosa and Playa Santa Teresa.

There are surf shops up and down the main strip of Santa Teresa that offer lessons, but most hotels and resorts offer lessons through a local company as well!

Go to Yoga Class

Get to grounding and hit up Pranamar or Horizon Hotel for a yoga class!

Take a Day Trip to Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island is a small island off of the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is a Costa Rican gem and a popular day trip tour that many resorts offer for their guest.

The boat ride out to Tortuga Island varies depending on where you leave from and you may even get lucky and see a humpback whale if it\’s the right season.

Many tours stop off at Isla Nancital or Spider Monkey Island because of its proximity to Tortuga. This tiny island is inhabited by the endangered spider monkey and is a bit of a treat to see in person.

Once you arrive at Tortuga, you get to enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal clear water. There are chairs and tables to lounge on, kayaks for rent, and also a few vendors with different food to buy. However, most tours provide lunch.

Visit Mal Pais or Montezuma

If you can\’t get enough of these small, eclectic beachfront villages; then check out Mal Pais or Montezuma! Both of these are easily drivable from Santa Teresa and have great beaches, surfing, cafés, and local boutiques.

The Nicoya Peninsula has been one of my favorite places to travel to date. I hope this wellness guide was helpful and inspiring…Pura Vida!

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