Long swaths of gold and light beige sand, warm, clear aquamarine water, world-class surf conditions and spectacular sunsets – the Pacific beaches of Santa Teresa and Malpaís in Costa Rica consistently win recognition for being the best beaches in Central America.
Both top Costa Rica beach destinations are found on the western coast of the southern Nicoya Peninsula. Poor or non-existing roads kept this tropical utopia off the beaten path for decades. Backpackers and surfers camping their way along the coast discovered the paradise of small fishing villages in the early 1990s. Today, they are popular with tourists from around the world.
The jungle sweeps down to the Pacific Ocean from coastal mountains hugging the shore, creating some of the most beautiful and hidden beaches of Costa Rica. The road from the ferry port at Paquera across the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula ends at the beach of Playa Carmen. To the right (north) is Santa Teresa and most of the tourist development; to the left (south) lies the sleepy beach hamlet of Malpaís.
At the southwestern end of the Peninsula, Malpaís sits opposite the popular beach town of Montezuma, with the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve lying in between. It is a very relaxed jungle lifestyle, with tourist lodging and restaurants interspersed in the thick forest along the beach – you’ll probably find more monkeys than people! There is exceptional surfing with consistent swells year round, along with a canopy zipline tour and horses for riding along the beach.
Santa Teresa is known for pristine Blue-Flag beaches, easy-to-ride waves, volcanic reef formations and picture-perfect sunsets. The bustling town is full of high-end luxury resorts, little hotels, top-notch restaurants, shops and tours.
Where to stay in Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Between Santa Teresa and Malpaís at Playa Carmen, the beachfront Hotel Tropico Latino is a relaxed, charming oasis on four acres of abundant gardens – an ideal Costa Rica vacation destination. Hotel Tropico Latino offers exquisitely-designed tropical bungalows and suites, a beachfront spa, yoga classes and retreats, surf instruction and retreats.
Article by Shannon Farley