I slipped from the rocks into the cool placid water, refreshing even at 7:00 a.m. compared to the heat and humidity beginning to rise from the beach and rainforest. I couldn’t believe how clear and still the water was, especially when big, frothing waves pounded only a dozen or so yards away.
I was swimming in the giant tide pool between Santa Teresa Beach and Hermosa Beach – better known as “Playa Hermosa” – on Costa Rica’s southern Nicoya Peninsula. The larger-than-Olympic-sized shallow sea water swimming pool is one of the best-kept secrets of the area.
Since Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa – listed by TripAdvisor as Top 10 Beaches in Central America and Top 10 Beaches in Costa Rica for 2015 – are better known for being some of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica, the tide pool often gets over-looked for great waves. Also, you can only find the tide pool at low tide, when the long, flat beach widens immensely. It is located between Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat and “El Peñón,” or the big rock, where Santa Teresa Beach turns into Playa Hermosa.
The sun-warmed clear water ranges from knee-deep to about chest-deep and is filled with all kinds of interesting sea creatures that get trapped when the tide goes out. You can find sea anemones, sea stars, crabs, mussels, hermit crabs and lots of little brightly colored fish. Rocks and volcanic reef create the structure around the tide pool. Since the water is shallow and it’s right off the beach, this is a perfect swimming and snorkeling site for families with kids.
You will want to wear water shoes, or strap-on beach sandals that can get wet, to be able to walk and stand up on the rocks. Keep in mind when you are snorkeling in Costa Rica that the country is located very near the equator and the tropical sun reflecting off the water will fry your skin faster than a fish over fire. Wear a T-shirt or nylon shirt, a hat, and a generous layer of SPF 30 or 50 waterproof sports sunscreen.
The long, curving beach of Playa Hermosa is known to be the most beautiful beach of the Santa Teresa area. Officially called “San Martin,” visitors to the beach commented so often on how beautiful it was that it became known as Playa Hermosa, or “beautiful beach” in Spanish. Playa Hermosa recently was honored once again with the Costa Rica Ecological Blue Flag Award by the Costa Rican Tourism Board for being one of the cleanest beaches in the country. Walking down the pristine beaches of Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa, you see no high rises or crowds, only trees, jungle, sand and surf.
Where to stay at Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Very near the giant tide pool and also the great surfing breaks of Playa Hermosa is award-winning Pranamar Oceanfront Villas & Yoga Retreat. The beautiful Bali-style beachfront hotel in Santa Teresa is a wonderful place for a relaxing Costa Rica beach vacation. Pranamar Villas specializes in Costa Rica yoga retreats, and Costa Rica surfing vacations, with daily yoga classes for hotel guests and the public.
You can’t go wrong with these recommendations: Pranamar Villas received TripAdvisor’s 2015 Certificate of Excellence, and was named a Top 5 Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Santa Teresa Beach was chosen one of the Top 15 Places to Go in 2015 by Condé Nast Traveler.
Article by Shannon Farley