The formerly sleepy fishing village of Santa Teresa is now a lively surfing spot with a burgeoning bar and restaurant scene. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, it has good surfing all year round, and long stretches of white sand and glittering blue sea. The native plants and wildlife are flourishing in the verdant jungle that runs behind the coast. Watching the sunset on the beach is a nightly custom for locals and travellers alike, ahead of hitting the bars, clubs or dancehalls to see in the sunrise.
Lots of hostels in Santa Teresa have surf camps or lessons available, perfect for first-timers. You can choose a place with a pool, yoga classes or relaxing hammocks to chill after a day hitting the waves. It's easy to find a Santa Teresa hostel with a private room for extra peace and quiet. Some hostels in Santa Teresa have self-catering kitchens too.
The town of Santa Teresa is small compared to Costa Rica's other surf hot spots, but its nightlife is buzzing. There are authentic restaurants serving international cuisine plus practical amenities in the area. Playa Carmen, the central hub, is where you'll find the liveliest beach. Playa Malpais has a more peaceful vibe and unspoiled jungle backing the sands. Head to Montezuma to hike to its waterfalls. You can swim in the pools and even leap into some of them from the falls above.
Surfing is the Nicoya Peninsula's main attraction, and it's no different in Santa Teresa. All experience levels are catered for, from Playa Hermosa which is ideal for beginners to Suck Rock for the experts. You can even go night surfing at Playa Carmen, as the sea is lit up. Head to Santa Teresa North for calmer waters, snorkelling and swimming. The nearby Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is a protected tropical forest with huge numbers of sea birds and native trees. You might spot an armadillo, howler monkey or white-tailed deer on the tours.
The nearest airport to Santa Teresa is Tambor Domestic Airport, which has daily flights from Juan Santa Maria International Airport in San José. Catch a bus to bring you the 35km to town. You can also take the ferry around the peninsula from Paquera, which takes just over an hour. To get around, renting a car is a good option, although the roads are potholed and dusty. There are public buses too, which will take you between the different beaches.